CQ Politics also upgraded the prospects of Rep. Tom Rooney, a second-term Republican, as a top Democratic recruit passed on the chance to challenge him in the 16th District.
Democrats insist it is too early to write off their candidates. Mr. Jotkoff, echoing Mr. Obama, said voters’ perceptions of the health care bill will shift as they learn more about its benefits and as memories of the frantic final lobbying push fade.
“As Floridians learn more about the details of the bill, Floridians are more supportive” of the reform, Mr. Jotkoff said.
The University of Florida’s Mr. Craig agreed, predicting the Mason-Dixon poll numbers may change as the campaign season proceeds.
“My feeling is, ‘So what? It’s March,” he said.
“So many other things can happen. Many people are reacting to the process, not the content,” he added.
Mr. Maxwell, the columnist and blogger, said that while passions over the health care debate are high now, by November pocketbook issues like jobs will reassert themselves.
“I think the economy is going to be the biggest issue,” he said.
The 2012 presidential election is even further away, but Mr. Obama clearly faces a major selling job in the Sunshine State. Mr. Obama narrowly defeated Sen. John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, to claim the state in 2008.
Mr. Obama did not need Florida to clinch his Electoral College victory, but the state has shown it can be a kingmaker in tight presidential contests. Florida has voted for the winning presidential candidate in nine of the past 10 elections.
“I think it’s pretty clear that Obama’s job-approval numbers are already beginning to float down,” said longtime Republican political strategist Ralph Reed.
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