Rasmussen, as promised earlier today, has released a pair of general election polls pairing the two leading Democratic candidates with presumptive Republican nominee, John McCain. The states selected were the key states of Florida (carried by the GOP in 2004) and Minnesota (carried narrowly by the Dems in 2000 and 2004).
Link here,for those who wish to check for themselves.
MINNESOTA: Polled by Rasmussen 2/16/08
McCain 47%, Clinton 42%
Obama 53%, McCain 38%
Two things are rather extraordinary about this: McCain leading Clinton in this fairly blue state (Democratic in all presidential elections since 1972, five of eight House seats), and a twenty-point spread between the candidates.
FLORIDA: Polled by Rasmussen 2/16/08
McCain 49%, Clinton 43%
McCain 53%, Obama 37%
This is the first survey I have seen out of Florida that seems to indicate that the primary/delegate kerfluffle is clearly having a negative effect for the Democrats. Not since 1988 has a Republican taken Florida by greater than 5 points. This poll shows McCain leading both candidates by a comfortable margin. Futhermore, this is one of the few states that shows a considerable edge for HILLARY in the head-to-head contest versus McCain.
Most of those states (in recent electoral head-to-head surveys) have been in the South, and the gulf in some of them (Kentucky, in particular, comes to mind) are substantial. One Southern state which seems to be the exception to the rule is Georgia, which both Clinton and Obama trail by around 8 points, including to a new poll late last week.
Clinton supporters will no doubt argue that the South will be written off if Obama is the nominee, whereas she can compete there. To be perfectly accurate, the general election polls lately have borne this theory out.
The problem for Clinton is that the SAME pollsters are showing Hillary Clinton making far too many Kerry 2004 states competitive.
The bottom line--the protracted Democratic primary seems to be helping McCain to some extent. The sooner the Democrats can stop firing on each other and focus their fire on McCain, the better for our chances in November.