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« Strategy Memo: Economic Politics | Blog Home Page | KY: McConnell +1 »

FL 13, 18: GOP Leads

In 2006, Democrats did surprisingly well in Pennsylvania, picking up four Republican-held seats. This year, the party is targeting Florida with similarly ambitious plans, but they have serious work to do, according to two new polls, to earn similar success.

The polls, conducted by Research 2000 for DailyKos, surveyed 400 likely voters in both Florida's Thirteenth and Eighteenth Congressional Districts between 9/23-25 for margins of error of +/- 4.9%. In the Thirteenth, GOP Rep. Vern Buchanan and banker Christine Jennings were tested, while in the Eighteenth, Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and businesswoman Annette Taddeo were tested.

General Election Matchups
(All / Dem / GOP / Ind)

Thirteenth District
Buchanan......43 / 11 / 68 / 40
Jennings......31 / 65 / 7 / 30
Other..........6 / 8 / 3 / 9

McCain........51 / 10 / 82 / 49
Obama.........38 / 83 / 7 / 37

Eighteenth District
Ros-Lehtinen..53 / 18 / 84 / 54
Taddeo........36 / 71 / 6 / 35
Other..........1 / 1 / 1 / 1

McCain........52 / 14 / 86 / 51
Obama.........37 / 74 / 6 / 35

Buchanan, a freshman who only barely beat Jennings in 2006, is well below the crucial 50% mark, but he's going to once again outspend Jennings on television. Ros-Lehtinen is in much better shape, easily outpacing her opponent.

Both seats are on the edge of Democratic target lists in the Sunshine State. For the moment, the party is seriously looking at six of Florida's sixteen Republican incumbents as serious targets. Reps. Tom Feeney, Ric Keller and Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart are top-tier races, while challenges to Buchanan and Ros-Lehtinen could be farther out of reach.

In Pennsylvania two years ago, Democrats won two seats that were trending their way and two seats that should still be solidly Republican, beating Reps. Don Sherwood and Melissa Hart. Sherwood lost for ethical reasons, but Hart was just on the wrong side of the wave.

If Democrats hope for a repeat of their Pennsylvania success in Florida, they will need to win districts like Buchanan's and Ros-Lehtinen's, which have almost the same partisan breakdown as Hart's old district outside Pittsburgh. With five weeks to go before Election Day, both Buchanan and Ros-Lehtinen look safer than Hart did.