Poll: Harris' support in own party not great

Published July 1, 2006

TALLAHASSEE - U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris doesn't have overwhelming support among fellow Republicans in her bid to be their nominee for the Senate, according to a poll released Friday.

Harris of Sarasota also still lags far behind in a general election matchup with incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Melbourne, who would beat any Republican, according to the poll by Quinnipiac University.

Nelson, who has no intraparty challenger, polled 59 percent to 26 percent for Harris, virtually unchanged from a month ago.

Harris is nationally known for her role in certifying Florida's contested presidential election for George Bush, who won the White House after getting the state's electoral votes. But only 35 percent of Republicans polled said they wanted her as the nominee. Nearly two in five named "don't know" as their preference.

Harris' support, though, was well ahead of three GOP challengers who have recently joined the race, where Harris was the lone candidate for months: William McBride, Peter Monroe and LeRoy Collins Jr., son of a Democratic governor of half a century ago.

Nearly three of four Republican voters said they didn't know enough about Collins, McBride or Monroe to form an opinion. McBride had 16 percent support, possibly skewed by name recognition - Tampa lawyer Bill McBride was the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in 2002.

"No matter who wins the Republican primary, Sen. Nelson appears to be in very strong shape for re-election," poll spokesman Peter Brown said.

The telephone survey of 1,311 voters was conducted June 20-26. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2.7 percentage points. The poll of 520 Republicans had an error margin of 4.3 points either way.