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Poll: Sen. Nelson Has Big Leads Over Republican Opponents

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WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 02: Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), gives a thumbs up as he walks to vote on the debt limit bill on August 2, 2011 in Washington, DC. The Senate voted 74-26 to approve the bill to raise the debt ceiling, allowing the U.S. to avoid default on its debts. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 02: Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), gives a thumbs up as he walks to vote on the debt limit bill on August 2, 2011 in Washington, DC. The Senate voted 74-26 to approve the bill to raise the debt ceiling, allowing the U.S. to avoid default on its debts. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

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Legislative Session Coverage

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The latest polling numbers for Florida’s U.S. Senate race in November is giving incumbent Senator Bill Nelson some reason to breathe a little easier, at least in the short-term.

According to a new Public Policy Polling poll, Nelson leads Republican frontrunner Rep. Connie Mack 47 percent to 37 percent. He leads restaurant magnate Mike McCalister 47-35 and leads former Senator George LeMieux 48-34 percent.

Part of the problem Republicans are facing is a complete lack of name recognition at this point in the race. Mack has 53 percent of voters unfamiliar with him, while 65 don’t know about LeMieux, and 77 percent aren’t sure about their feelings about McCalister.

Republican voters view both LeMieux and McCalister unfavorably, while Mack receives a 30-18 percent favorable view from Republicans in Florida.

“The race is essentially unchanged from last fall, with Republicans still introducing themselves to voters and Bill Nelson leading the field comfortably,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling.

Nelson’s got reason to be concerned though heading into November. His job approval rating is 36 percent in favor, 32 percent disapproving, and 33 percent unsure about his job performance.

The numbers are similar among independent voters, but he also gets a 15 percent approval rating from Republicans.

The strategy Mack and others have tried to utilize so far is to try and lock Nelson up to President Barack Obama’s numbers.

However, the narrative hasn’t taken hold in Florida as of April.

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