A new poll spells trouble for the Diaz-Balart brothers, who represent neighboring South Florida in Congressional districts. As McClatchy's Washington bureau puts it,
A new poll suggests that two Republican members of Congress from Miami are facing a tight race from their Democratic challengers — the first significant challenge to the incumbents in years.
The poll, by Bendixen & Associates, shows Reps. Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart, Cuban-American brothers with a long Miami political pedigree, are leading their Democratic challengers by only single digits with four months to go to the election. Potentially more troubling for the GOP incumbents, the poll shows neither cracked 50 percent of the vote. That's a far cry from their dominance in previous campaigns.
The Joe Garcia campaign was quick to crow about the results in an email to supporters:
A few moments ago, The Miami Herald released a new, independent poll.
The headline: “GOP incumbents facing a tight race in South Florida.”
Here are the raw numbers:
Joe Garcia 39%
Mario Diaz-Balart 44%
Now, I know some of you may be wondering what all the fuss is about — Joe isn't ahead, so what's the big deal?
Well, here is quick a break-down of these numbers to put things into perspective:
1. Diaz-Balart is in serious trouble. In politics, there is a key figure that analysts look at when determining an incumbent's viability — the “re-elect' rating (whether 50% of the public would vote to re-elect him or her). Mario is at a 44% re-elect, which places him well below the 50% viability threshold an incumbent needs to feel comfortable.
2. Joe has nowhere to go but up. Mario Diaz-Balart enjoys the luxury of near-universal name recognition that comes with being a career-politician — even though most people only know him as 'the brother of the guy that wants to be the future President of Cuba,' but that's besides the point. Joe Garcia has yet to run a single television ad and our work has been limited primarily to grassroots outreach. As is the case around the country, 2/3 of independent voters are voting Democratic. We expect this pattern to hold as more voters learn of Joe Garcia's long record of working across party lines to find common-sense solutions to problems.
3. The issues are on our side. Mario Diaz-Balart is not on the right side of any major issue. Whether it's on the economy, rising gas prices or the Iraq War, Mario Diaz-Balart's blind support for the failed policies of George W. Bush places him out of touch with our community. Meanwhile, Joe Garcia's plan to provide tax cuts for working families, make our country energy independent and bring a responsible end to the Iraq War reflects the values of South Florida and is resonating with voters.
FL-18th's Annette Taddeo, fighting a better financed and more popular opponent, is behind by 27 percentage points — 58 to 31 — with just 11 percent undecided.