Steve Southerland is vulnerable in 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
A new Democratic poll shows Gwen Graham with a slight lead over Rep. Steve Southerland II, R-Fla., but still within the margin of error.
Graham, the likely Democratic nominee, had the support of 45 percent of survey participants, while Southerland trailed with 43 percent. Eleven percent of respondents were undecided.
Ocean Champions, an environmental group that endorses Democratic candidates, commissioned the poll.
The margin of error is 4.4 points, which means the survey reinforces the view of many national operations hold on Florida’s 2nd District race: It’s a dead heat. The race is rated Tossup/Tilts Republican by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call, and Southerland is on Roll Call’s most recent list of the 10 Most Vulnerable Members.
As for the incumbent, 42 percent of respondents viewed his job performance favorably, while 47 percent viewed him negatively. Southerland is running for a third term and was the subject of negative advertising in previous campaigns.
Both candidates have aired positive campaign ads in recent days and weeks. But Graham, who had the financial advantage in the most recent reporting period, went up on the airwaves earlier than Southerland with ads featuring her father, former Sen. Bob Graham.
Graham scored positive marks from respondents: 39 percent of those surveyed viewed her positively, while 15 percent saw her in a negative light.
Southerland is getting a little bit of heat on the airwaves as well. Ocean Champions went up with a small, $35,000 two-week ad buy in the Panama City television market featuring this spot:
The live-interview poll was conducted by Bryan Dooley of Pathfinder Opinion Research, a South Carolina-based Democratic firm. The survey polled 500 respondents over landlines and cellphones. It was conducted Aug. 11-12.
Dooley’s polling memo noted a point that Southerland underscored in a recent interview with CQ Roll Call: President Barack Obama is an unpopular figure in the district. Thirty-seven percent of those polled approved of the president’s job performance.