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Rep. Connie Mack Leads Pack To Challenge Sen. Bill Nelson

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(Source: Alex Wong/Getty Images) US Representative Connie Mack IV (R-Cape Coral)

(Source: Alex Wong/Getty Images) US Representative Connie Mack IV (R-Cape Coral)

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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – If the election were held tomorrow, it would be U.S. Rep. Connie Mack challenging Democrat Bill Nelson for his U.S. Senate seat, according to a new poll by TelOpinion Research.

The survey of 780 Republican voters, conducted from Dec. 15-19, shows carrying 39 percent of the vote, far outpacing the rest of the field.

Former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, tea-party favorite Mike McCalister and former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner all trailed in single-digits.

“Mack owns this at the moment, and it is his to lose,” said Bill Lee, a Republican pollster who co-founded TelOpinion and polled contested primary states for U.S. Sen. John McCain’s presidential bid in 2008. Lee’s firm is not working for any of the candidates or so-called Super PACs this cycle.

LeMieux had the largest share of the votes among the three contenders other than Mack included in the poll, with 6 percent. McCalister, who had shown some strength in earlier surveys, was at 5 percent. Despite winning a straw poll of statewide conservative activists earlier this year in Orlando, Hasner draws just 1 percent of the vote in the latest poll.

Mack’s support is strong across the board. He has 48 percent of the vote among tea-party supporters and 38 percent among those who don’t consider themselves members of the movement. Mack would get votes from Republicans across the ideological spectrum, from those who consider themselves “liberal” to those who consider themselves “very conservative,” according to the poll.

While LeMieux cracks double-digits in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale media market with 12 percent, Mack dominates the rest of the state, including getting the support of 65 percent of the voters in his home media market of Fort Myers-Naples.

But the poll also shows that a strong plurality of Republicans have yet to make up their mind about the race. Of those surveyed, 49 percent said they weren’t sure which candidate they would back in the primary. The poll has a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points.

“This is essentially a contest based on name ID at this point,” Lee said.

The poll largely jives with an earlier survey by Quinnipiac University, which found Mack getting 32 percent of the vote in the primary, with the other candidates all trailing in single digits.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.)

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