Pollster sees brighter days ahead for Florida Democrats

Pollster Dave Beattie

Pollster Dave Beattie

Pollster Dave Beattie

Pollster Dave Beattie

— No one thing is going to win Florida for the Democrats, pollster Dave Beattie told the party faithful Wednesday morning.

In a state with more voters than Virginia and more than the entire Mountain Time Zone, "You can't win by doing one thing. The way you win the state is doing everything," he said.

Beattie, who is has done polling for the likes of U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, is recognized as one of the Democrats' leading opinion takers.

Wednesday, Beattie revealed to Florida's delegation at the Democratic National Convention results from a poll completed in the state last week.

The news should be heartening to Democrats who are looking not just to help President Barack Obama win, but also to gain ground in the state Legislature and to unseat Republican Gov. Rick Scott in 2014.

Two-thirds of those polled said they believe Scott is leading the state in the wrong direction, according to Beattie.

In an election pitting Scott against an unnamed Democrat, the Democrat would win by about 8 percent, he said.

In 2010, a generic Republican running for the state Legislature beat a generic Democrat by 10 percentage points, he said. Now that race has narrowed.

Beattie said Republicans are considered to be more fiscally responsible. "We cannot cede that to them" he said.

Democrats need to talk about specifics to overcome the perception that Republicans are better with money.

"When we move beyond the size of government, we win with those issues," he said.

For instance, he said Democrats poll better when people are asked who they think will protect the middle class, strengthen public education and fight for the environment. He said voters view Republicans as more extreme. "We need to remind them (voters) of that," Beattie said.

Republicans do poorly when people are asked about rising homeowner insurance rates and giving handouts to special interests, he added.

Beattie stressed that it will take more than one election for Democrats to turn things their way in Florida.

"Our task is not easy and it's not just winning this election. We need to keep that enthusiasm going to defeat Rick Scott in 2014."

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