The recent Mason-Dixon Poll showed McCollum, for the first time with a 34-30 lead over Scott. Another Poll, released today, shows Scott Back on Top with a 42%-32% lead with a whopping 26% still undecided.
This race is nowhere near done and it is now a question of who can win the undecided vote. Both campaigns are banking heavy on early voting and both campaigns are saying that their campaign benefits from the early vote process in place in the Sunshine State. We will see.
Up until the Mason-Dixon Poll, Scott had been consistently tracking ahead of McCollum since early spring. Now, about all the professionals can agree on is that the race, like many in the country, is volatile and up for grabs. McCollum could be pulling off one of the biggest political comebacks of the year if he wins 24 August. As a reminder to all, many had written off incumbent Colorado Democrat Senator Mike Bennett a few weeks ago in a race he eventually won with a surprising margin of victory. Also, despite having had the spotlight for the past year (or because of it -- the media is a two-edge sword, with the sharper edge generally pointed at conservatives), being the Tea Party or outsider candidate of choice does not guarantee a win...one must run a good campaign, as Sharron Angle in Nevada is finding out. All this points to a "Bettie Davis Bumpy Night" series of election nights all the way to November 2nd.
Back to apparent McCollum surge as reflected in the Mason-Dixon Poll conducted 6-10 August. His change of fortune can be attributed to two things: His extremely ugly negative ad campaign, especially his 527 PAC ads which are perfect examples of state of the art 21st Century negative, hardball politics (I say this as observation, not admiration) and that the poll was taken over a weekend and they have a tendency to skew towards one particular candidate whose base is more at home to answer the call vice the others backers. (Rule of Thumb: The more liberal candidate does better on Weekend Polls). In fairness, the Mason-Dixon Poll was of "likely voters" vice the "registered voters" of the St Pete Times Poll (IPSOS conducted) poll.
While the IPSOS poll may take some of the newly found wind out of McCollum's sail, if I were the Scott campaign, I'd still play as hard as I can, because, regardless that it was a crass political ploy, McCollum's August 12th introduction of "his" immigration bill was masterly played. Give credit where credit is due. It was my good (?) fortune to be sick the first part of this week with a some strange stomach bug that shall never be referred to again and I watched the rollout of the Bill throughout the early part of the week.
What made this stunt so impressive and politically powerful is that McCollum (aided no doubt by his establishment Republican ties) was able to get this treated as NEWS on the Fox News Network, as well as the smaller Fox Business Network. For almost two full days, this was treated as hard news by Fox and was part of their hourly summary. McCollum also made himself available for multiple interviews and did it with his "Attorney General" hat on and played it straight. The Fox News anchor of the hour would casually mention offhand McCollum was running for Governor, but that was about as close as it came to connecting the race with the immigration "bill". Only once on Fox did I see it called piece of political hackery and stunt and that was by Charles Krauthammer during the Wednesday's "Special Report".
Now look at this move thru the political prism: McCollum pulled this off the day early voting started and no doubt this had been the plan to do this for weeks now. Most important however, was his getting Fox News to basically report this as hard news and not a political campaign tactic. The folks that are in McCollum's camp or Scott's camp have declared it by now. The fight in the next ten days is for the undecided Florida base conservative who votes by or on 24 August. And make no mistake, the percentage of that group that watches and trust Fox for their news is huge (they know that Fox News department is totally separate from its Prime time pundits and plays down the middle more than any other Cable of Network News Organization - They go out of their way to get both sides). If they were looking for a reason to vote for either candidate, this popular "Arizona Type" immigration bill proposed by McCollum and reported on as HARD NEWS vice a campaign ad, gives the voter a feeling of more respectability and reliability on how he/she decides to vote for. They feel they are making their minds up based on facts and policy, not slime ball political ads. Never mind all the drama and back story and flip-flops that surround McCollum on this issue. These are the voters who have are now a) Just now tuning into the race (they lead real lives and are not political junkies..hint, if you have made it this far in this blog..you are a political junkie) and b) By their very indecision at this point, indicate that they have tuned out many of the political ads. "Burn Out" on ads in the last two weeks is happening for everyone.
So if Bill McCollum manages to pull off this win 24 August, I hereby nominate this political move as a "The Most Effective Political Stunt Of The Year"...at least until something more dramatic comes along.
What should Rick Scott do? First, He needs his supporters at rallies to fight back against McCollum plants. Want to see what an "Honest-To-God Political Whore" looks like in its native habitat? Just watch this YouTube Video of McCollum Backer, Everett Wilkinson. Sort of like being forced to watch opossums fornicate. You know they do it, but do really want to see it in real life and on a public street? Where were the Rick Scott backers on this? When an opponent goes "guerilla" on you (Wilkinson is a McCollum pawn), regular rules go out the door. You shout this guy down and raise hell at him. You don't stop until he retreats or shuts up..period.
Rick Scott also needs to learn how to handle a situation like this better. He is a novice candidate and is going out of his way to be polite, but this was a time to show a little anger. Remember Reagan and HIS microphone? I know Scott can do it, because I saw a flash of that anger during his Tampa Debate with McCollum. Note to Scott's Handlers: WE SCOTT SUPPORTERS want to see an occasional flash of that hard-nosed businessman that is a part of Rick Scott. We are counting on that skill to get us out of the mess we find ourselves in Florida and in the country as a whole!
Also, Scott needs to constantly remind the folks that Bill McCollum is intimately intertwined with Charlie Crist and Jim Greer. There is no way McCollum can hide from the fact that he was the Number Two elected Republican Official in Florida during the time of RPOF misdeeds by Jim Greer. To say he was completely unaware of the RPOF abuses committed by Crist and Greer defies common sense. To elect Bill McCollum is to essentially give Charlie Crist a pass on all of his misdeeds. That the Republican Party of Florida MUST NOT DO. It is time to really clean house and that means electing a Republican Governor with ZERO ties to the inbred GOP political Kabuki Theater that currently still controls the RPOF and Florida Legislature.
Finally, Bill McCollum is on record as refusing to say he would endorse Rick Scott if Scott wins on 24 August. Scott, on the other hand, has always said he would support McCollum if McCollum were to win. This is an inexcusable position by Bill McCollum. It stinks of a man who has had a long and close association with Charlie Crist.
This fact should be hammered hard and often.