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Florida: Call For Offshore Drilling May Help McCain in Sunshine State

There was a time—not too long ago—when calling for offshore oil drilling in Florida was a sure way to lose an election. But, that was back before the price of gas passed the $4.00 a gallon mark. Some political observers think that price increase may be a game-changing event in the politics of the issue and Republican Presidential hopeful John McCain is putting that theory to the test. Early indications are that his call for offshore drilling may boost his campaign in the Sunshine State.

Rasmussen Reports conducted a special Florida survey to measure the immediate impact of the offshore drilling issue on the Presidential race. As one part of the survey, respondents were told that McCain favored offshore drilling and said it would bring down the price of gas and oil. They were also told that Barack Obama opposed offshore drilling and said it would not bring down the price of gas and oil. After hearing the views of both McCain and Obama, most Florida voters agreed with McCain--61% said it was likely that offshore drilling would reduce gas prices. Only 34% disagreed and said that offshore drilling would not accomplish that goal.

Not surprisingly, 85% of Republicans agreed with McCain’s perspective. However, Democrats were evenly divided—45% of those in Obama’s party agreed with McCain and said offshore drilling was likely to reduce the price of oil and gas. Just 48% of Democrats agree with Obama on this point. Among voters not affiliated with either major party, 51% said drilling was likely to reduce prices and 38% disagreed. These findings help explain why the Obama has responded so aggressively to challenge McCain on this issue over the past couple of days.

Rasmussen Reports will release additional national polling data on energy topics later today. Earlier polling showed strong support for offshore drilling.

The Florida survey also found that McCain currently leads Obama in the state by a 47% to 39% margin. Six percent (6%) said they would vote for some other candidate while 8% are undecided.

However, after voters were told that McCain favored offshore drilling and Obama opposed it, McCain’s lead increased to eleven points, 49% to 38%. While a three-point net gain is not stunning, it is significant that the issue didn’t push voters towards Obama. All of McCain’s gains on the offshore drilling issue came from male voters.

The survey was conducted the day after McCain formally called for allowing states to implement offshore drilling and Florida Governor Charlie Crist stunned some politicos by indicating his support as well. It is likely that some survey participants were aware of the candidates’ positions on offshore drilling before taking the survey. Therefore, some of the impact may have been factored into the initial ballot question. A month ago, McCain held a ten-point lead over Obama in Florida. Since then, Obama has clinched the Democratic Presidential Nomination and benefitted from a bounce nationally and in most state polls.

McCain is now viewed favorably by 57% of Florida voters, Obama by 51%. Those figures reflect a seven-point gain over the past month for McCain and a three-point gain for Obama.

Fifty-one percent (51%) of Florida voters say Governor Crist is doing a good or an excellent job, up a point over the past month. Just 17% say he is doing a poor job.

Rasmussen Markets shows that McCain is currently given a % chance of winning Florida this fall. As this poll is released, Florida is rated “Leans Republican” in the Rasmussen Reports Balance of Power Calculator. Balance of Power projections indicate that the Electoral College scoreboard is a toss-up at this time.

Rasmussen Reports will conduct another Florida survey within the next couple of weeks to track the issue further and measure any lasting impact as the campaigns seek to further define the issue.

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Florida

Latest RR Poll

RR Poll Avg.

McCain (R)

50%

49%

Obama (D)

49%

49%

This telephone survey of 500 Likely Voters was conducted by Rasmussen Reports June 18, 2008. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 4.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

See Methodology.


Florida Trends: McCain vs. Obama

Date

McCain

Obama

11/02/2008

50%

49%

10/26/2008

47%

51%

10/19/2008

49%

48%

10/12/2008

46%

51%

10/08/2008

47%

50%

10/05/2008

45%

52%

09/28/2008

47%

47%

09/24/2008

48%

47%

09/21/2008

51%

46%

09/14/2008

49%

44%

09/07/2008

48%

48%

08/18/2008

46%

43%

07/22/2008

45%

46%

06/26/2008

48%

41%

06/18/2008

47%

39%

05/19/2008

50%

40%

04/10/2008

53%

38%

03/12/2008

47%

43%

02/16/2008

53%

37%


Favorable Ratings for Presidential Candidates in Florida

 

McCain

Obama

Very Favorable

38%

43%

Somewhat Favorable

22%

9%

Somewhat Unfavorable

19%

12%

Very Unfavorable

20%

36%

Not Sure

1%

1%


Rasmussen Reports - Electoral College Balance of Power Summary

Republicans

160

Democrats

173

Toss-Ups & Leaners

205


About Rasmussen Reports

Rasmussen Reports is an electronic publishing firm specializing in the collection, publication, and distribution of public opinion polling information.

The Rasmussen Reports ElectionEdge™ Premium Service for Election 2008 offers the most comprehensive public opinion coverage ever provided for a Presidential election.

Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports, has been an independent pollster for more than a decade.