Matt Towery

After the 2000 presidential race, an odd thing happened in Florida. A little-known Northeastern university decided to try its hand at polling political races. Its first big national target was an unlikely one -- Florida. Once, when publicly asked about a Quinnipiac poll of Florida, then-Gov. Jeb Bush asked, "What's a Quinnipiac?"

The two latest surveys in Florida, conducted at virtually the same time for the Southern Political Report -- one by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research and the other by InsiderAdvantage/Majority Opinion -- differ sharply from the picture that was painted by Quinnipiac's latest Florida survey. Conducted last week, the Quinnipiac poll showed Rudy Giuliani leading Fred Thompson by 28 percent to 17 percent in Florida's critical GOP presidential primary.

Also last week, a previous InsiderAdvantage poll showed Thompson having surged past Giuliani, if only by a modest margin just outside the poll's margin of error. That survey was taken right after Thompson announced he was officially joining the presidential race.

Here are the two polls this week by Mason-Dixon and InsiderAdvantage/Majority Opinion.

Mason-Dixon:
Rudy Giuliani (24 percent)
Fred Thompson (23 percent)
Mitt Romney (13 percent)
John McCain (9 percent)
Mike Huckabee (6 percent)
Ron Paul (1 percent)
Duncan Hunter (1 percent)
Tom Tancredo (1 percent)
Sam Brownback (0 percent)
Undecided (22 percent)


The survey of likely Florida Republican primary voters was conducted September 17-18. It sampled 400 respondents and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent.

InsiderAdvantage:
Rudy Giuliani (24 percent)
Fred Thompson (23 percent)
Mitt Romney (12 percent)
John McCain (11 percent)
Mike Huckabee (5 percent)
Ron Paul (3 percent)
Sam Brownback (2 percent)
Duncan Hunter (1 percent)
Undecided (19 percent)

The survey of likely Florida Republican primary voters was conducted September 17-18 among 637 respondents. The poll has a margin of error of about plus or minus 4 percent.

These results come from two independent polling firms whose overall records both in the South and nationally have usually been reliable. Both show Thompson and Giuliani statistically tied in Florida. So why would Quinnipiac have shown Giuliani with an 11 point lead over Thompson -- especially a week ago, when Thompson arguably was at his apex in the Sunshine State?

Maybe we need to try to answer Jeb Bush's question: What's a Quinnipiac?


Matt Towery

Matt Towery is a former National Republican legislator of the year and author of Powerchicks: How Women Will Dominate America.
 
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