A new poll shows Florida Democrats are torn over how to resolve the dispute over the state's early primary date, though most don't buy Hillary Clinton's argument that her victory should count toward delegates that would allow her to catch up to Barack Obama.
The Democratic National Committee said in late August that the Jan. 29 vote would not count toward delegates at the nominating convention because only four smaller states were allowed to vote that early. Clinton and Obama ceased campaigning in Florida.
The biggest chunk of the 400 voters surveyed by Mason-Dixon … 28 percent … said Florida should hold another vote so the candidates could campaign in the state and earn delegates. Such a vote would potentially end the stalemate over the nomination, as neither candidate is currently in reach of the 2,025 delegates needed to close the deal.
But most party leaders and elected officials in Florida have ruled out a do-over, arguing that it would disenfranchise the more than 1.7 million Democrats who went to the polls on Jan. 29.
The survey found that 24 percent said the national party should allow Clinton's win in Florida to count toward delegates. Another 15 percent said Florida Democrats knowingly broke national party rules and should accept the penalty, while 13 percent said Florida should send an equal number of Clinton and Obama delegates to the convention so they can participate but not influence the outcome.
The margin of error was 5 percent, meaning that the percentage of voters who want a re-vote is essentially tied with the percentage who want the Jan. 29 vote to count. But those who favor another vote, a delegate-sharing solution or the status quo outnumber those who want to reverse the national party's decision.
"I think there's some concern that the candidates didn't campaign here and they didn't get a chance to see them up close and personal so that Hillary Clinton almost won by default,'' said pollster Brad Coker.
Independent voters would help Republican John McCain trump either of the Democratic contenders for president in Florida, according to the poll.
McCain wins 47 to 37 percentage points over Barack Obama, and 49 to 40 over Hillary Clinton in a potential general election matchup. McCain got at least half of the independent vote in both contests.
The survey of 625 registered voters was conducted Feb. 21-24. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percent.
Gov. Charlie Crist's performance was rated excellent or good by 64 percent of the voters. Reflecting the moderate Republican's bi-partisan appeal, 61 percent of the Democrats and 67 percent of the Republicans gave the governor high marks.
Asked if Crist should accept if McCain offered him the vice presidential spot, 44 percent said he was obligated to finish his term as governor. Crist should accept the spot on the ticket, said 36 percent.
Crist's last-minute endorsement of McCain was widely credited with helping him win the state's Jan. 29 primary, setting him him on course to become the presumptive nominee.
"If the logic is that McCain would pick Crist because he would bring Florida with him, the polls points out there might be a backlash,'' Coker said. îîI think people would feel abandoned.''
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