Democrat Keith Fitzgerald's campaign has released an internal poll from February that shows Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., to be more vulnerable in their estimation than a Buchanan poll released on Tuesday showed. Fitzgerald's poll shows Buchanan leading, 49 percent to 38 percent, falling short of a majority.
The poll, conducted by SEA Polling, surveyed 400 likely voters in Florida's 16th Congressional District from Feb. 12 to 18.
The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.
Fitzgerald's poll, and an earlier one conducted for his campaign, shows the Democrat hovering in the mid- to high-30s, the same as a Buchanan internal poll from March.
But Fitzgerald's surveys show Buchanan under 50 percent, while Buchanan's poll has the incumbent in safer territory, at 58 percent.
Both polls suggest Fitzgerald has a solid foundation of support at around 35 to 38 percent of the electorate, meaning that he starts already better off than Buchanan's last opponent, who got only 31 percent support in the 2010 election.
But Fitzgerald's poll also suggests that Buchanan has fallen in the eyes of his electorate as news has proliferated that he is the target of probes regarding various financial improprieties.
The SEA Polling survey showed Buchanan with underwater favorable ratings — 44 percent viewing him favorably, 46 percent viewing him unfavorably.
The poll explains why the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has made Buchanan one of its top targets, despite the fact that President Obama lost Florida's 16th District in 2008. If Buchanan has negative favorables and is below 50 percent in a general-election matchup before Fitzgerald's campaign has really begun in earnest, Democratic chances of success in that seat look better.