Even if former Sen. George LeMieux hadn’t unexpectedly dropped out of the U.S. Senate race Wednesday, Rep. Connie Mack was the Republicans’ de facto nominee anyway.
That’s how it looked from a Democratic-leaning mystery poll that coincided with LeMieux’s withdrawal.
Less than 20 minutes after Lemieux quit, an outfit that called itself “Florida Opinion Survey” began polling Florida voters to test a number of political messages that undoubtedly will be used to boost incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson and tear at Mack.
This wasn’t a so-called “push poll” — a call that masquerades as a survey but simply trashes an opponent. Instead, it’s a message-test poll that political consultants use to figure out what helps their candidate and hurts his opponent.
All the info will be boiled down into flyers and radio and television ads that make Florida elections into commercial-driven affairs where one-sided information is broadcast in 30-second increments. It’s a window into both the Democrats’ upcoming campaign against Mack as well as the misleading discourse that defines our politics.
Mack still needs to win the Aug. 14 primary against little-known fellow Republicans. LeMieux was his biggest obstacle. And, owing to Mack’s advantage in fundraising and name ID, LeMieux wasn’t much of an obstacle at all. Mack, however, sustained some damage during the primary.
Running essentially neck and neck with Mack, Nelson plans to pick up where LeMieux left off. According to the call-center operator at Quest, which was hired to conduct the survey, Democrats started to frame their message by asking whether the following statements would make a voter more or less likely to support a candidate:
1) Nelson has supported “closing corporate tax loopholes,” pulling the troops home and raising taxes on the rich to reduce the deficit by about $2 trillion. (The call fails to mention that, despite his years in the Senate, he has accomplished none of this and that he voted for the $800 billion stimulus program that also added to the debt.)
2) Nelson supports a balanced-budget amendment, authority for the president to veto individual spending items in the federal budget and the measure that requires new programs to be paid for as Congress goes along. (The call failed to mention that the first two items require almost-impossible-to-pass constitutional amendments and that the latter, nicknamed “pay go,” is a joke like almost every other “reform” in any Congress.)
3) Nelson is the victim of “ads that some say are a front group for the insurance industry;” but Nelson, “a former astronaut… fought tirelessly to bring jobs to the Space Coast.” (No mention of the fact that it’s not just the insurance industry criticizing Nelson for voting, say, for ObamaCare, which isn’t mentioned, either. And the caller said nothing of the stripping down of NASA that happened under Presidents Bush and Obama while Nelson was in the Senate.)
4) Nelson “fought the Obama Administration’s plan to bring oil drilling off Florida,” and he “fought” BP over oil-spill money. (These statements are largely true. What’s noteworthy here is how some Democrats might be subtly planning to use the not-so-popular Obama as a foil — even though Nelson has supported the president at least 90 percent of the time.)