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RealClearPolitics Politics Nation Blog

 

Blog Home Page --> House -- Florida -- 13

FL 13: Buchanan (R) +9

While polls have indicated that this Sarasota-based district will likely give Barack Obama more support than John Kerry received, Rep. Vern Buchanan shouldn't be too worried. A Research 2000/DailyKos poll surveyed 400 likely voters from 10/20-22 for a margin of error of +/- 4.9%. Buchanan and 2006 candidate Christine Jennings were tested.

General Election Matchup
(All / Dem / GOP / Ind)
Buchanan (R)........45 / 12 / 71 / 42 (+2 from last, 9/25)
Jennings (D)...34 / 69 / 8 / 33 (+3)

In 2006, Buchanan won by just 369 votes. He looks like he'll win by a wider margin this time, so the many car dealerships he owns will have to go on without him for at least two more years.

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.

FL: Buchanan Leads Rematch

If Rep. Vern Buchanan, a freshman Florida Republican, survived the 2006 election cycle, he might be able to survive anything. Buchanan, who won a narrow victory in 2006 over Democrat Christine Jennings, is well ahead in a rematch, a new Republican poll shows.

The poll, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies for the National Republican Congressional Committee, surveyed 400 likely voters for a margin of error of +/- 4.9%. Buchanan and Jennings were tested, along with independent candidates Jan Schneider and Dan Baldauf.

General Election Matchup
Buchanan.......48 (+4 from last, 7/08)
Jennings.......30 (no change)
Schneider.......6
Baldauf.........1

Buchanan is seen favorably by 47% of district residents, while 27% view him unfavorably. Jennings, meanwhile, has considerably lower name recognition, with 36% seeing her favorably and 29% seeing her unfavorably.

The Republican has an ambitious paid media plan and a significant fundraising advantage over Jennings.

National Democrats have reserved their own airtime to augment Jennings', and the party is hammering Buchanan over lawsuits filed by former employees of companies he owns. Those employees say they were coerced into supporting his campaign.

Bipartisans For Buchanan

Freshman Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan needs fundraising help. His 2006 race, in which he replaced Senate candidate Katherine Harris in Florida's Thirteenth Congressional District, was the most expensive in the country that year, costing him $5.5 million of his own money and $8.1 million in total. With all that help, he still won by just 369 votes in a district that gave President Bush a thirteen-point margin in 2004.

This year, Buchanan will face his 2006 opponent, banker Christine Jennings, who contested the election results in 2006 after dozens of ballot boxes in traditionally-GOP (though Democratic-trending) Sarasota County registered 18,000 undervotes, in which voters cast ballots for other races but not for Congress. Jennings, too, has her own money; she spent $2.1 million from her own pocket two years ago, and she promises to be well-funded again.

Buchanan has already had a good fundraising year, pulling in more than $600,000 in the Second Quarter alone and ending with over $1.5 million on hand. The second quarter put him over $3 million raised for the cycle, his campaign said in a release. Jennings has yet to release her fundraising report this quarter, though national Democrats have included her in the Red to Blue program for top challengers.

For Buchanan, it always helps to have friends. And inside the district, which runs from the south Tampa suburbs in Manatee County through Sarasota and includes two inland counties, Buchanan has found at least one Democratic friend to help him raise precious campaign cash. Investment banker David Grain, along with his wife and another couple, held a fundraiser for Buchanan in Bradenton, Florida, last month, featuring hor d'oeuvres and libations, per the invitation, bringing in $500 a head.

Grain, founder of Grain Capital, and his wife, Dr. Lisa Grain, are big donors, having given $45,000 in the past few cycles, but they're not mega-donors who write massive checks at the drop of a hat. What makes the fundraiser for Buchanan interesting is Grain's history of backing Democratic candidates. He's got a favorite at the moment, too; Grain is a bundler for Barack Obama, as well as a member of his National Finance Committee. The Grains have maxed out to Obama and have raised another $100,000 on the Illinois Senator's behalf.

Too, the couple has ponied up big time to the very group that could go after Buchanan in November. While Grain gave Jennings $1,000 during her failed 2004 primary run, the couple has handed more than $21,000 over to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee this cycle alone, with the latest donation coming just two weeks before the June 13 fundraiser for Buchanan.

Who says bipartisanship doesn't exist?

FL Re-Do Better For GOP

No, not the Florida re-do that's got the Obama and Clinton campaigns' attention. A new poll conducted for the National Republican Congressional Committee shows freshman Republican Vern Buchanan enjoying a significant lead over banker Christine Jennings, the Democrat he beat in 2006.

The race will get more attention than the average rematch this year. Allegations of faulty voting machines that would have propelled Jennings into the House have been lobbed so repeatedly that a special House committee was set up to investigate, though in the end Buchanan's victory was upheld. Jennings, who still feels she was cheated out of a seat in Congress, is trying again.

The survey, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies for the NRCC, polled 400 likely voters between 3/5-6 for a margin of error of +/- 4.9%. Buchanan and Jennings were tested.

General Election Matchup
Buchanan 53
Jennings 37

Buchanan has used the trappings of incumbency to his advantage. With a 51% approval rating and only 20% who disapprove of his job in Congress, the Republican looks like he's in much better position than he was last year. While some Democrats had hoped that outrage over the 2006 election would help Jennings this year, POS pollster Glen Bolger wrote that is unlikely: "[H]er shenanigans and complaining have hurt Jennings. Verbatims show her image is tarnished and voters hold her accountable for being a sore loser," Bolger wrote in the memo to the NRCC.

Democrats have other targets in Florida, including Rep. Ric Keller and three Cuban American Republicans who hold south Florida seats, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and brothers Mario and Lincoln Diaz-Balart. Too, the DCCC must invest in protecting freshman Democrats Tim Mahoney and Ron Klein. Their decision to make: Should Democrats blanket the entire state with advertisements, or should they prioritize elsewhere?

With so many seats to be contested, Florida is a state that is perhaps most likely to be influenced by the presidential race. With John McCain and one of the two remaining Democrats battling it out in November, added turnout from both parties will be crucial in determining who controls Buchanan's and most of the six or more competitive seats in the Sunshine State.