Clinton leads in a new poll out of Florida.
ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (CNN) - It appears that a majority of Florida Democrats want Hillary Clinton to be their party’s presidential nominee.
Fifty-one percent of likely Democratic Florida primary voters support the New York senator in a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll out Thursday.
That’s 30 points ahead of her nearest rival in the Sunshine State, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois.
“Hillary Clinton has a big lead in Florida, but there is evidence that the race may change dramatically in the Sunshine State after Iowa and New Hampshire have their say,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “If the election were held today, Clinton would get support from 51% of Democratic likely voters, to 21% for Obama and 11% for Edwards.”
The Iowa caucuses, which kick off the presidential primary voting, will be held on January 3, five weeks from today. Florida will hold its primary on January 29. The state moved up its primary date to become more of a player in the presidential primary process, but it did so without permission from the national Democratic and Republican parties.
The parties, angered by the move, penalized Florida. The Democratic National Committee voted to prevent the state from seating any of the delegates at the Democratic National Convention next summer. The Republican National Committee voted to hold back half of Florida’s delegates at their nominating convention.
The major Democratic White House hopefuls also agreed to refrain from actively campaigning in Florida. The Republican candidates are stumping in the Sunshine State, and faced off last night in a CNN/YouTube debate in St. Petersburg.
So will the lack of a presence by the Democratic candidates influence the horserace?
“Six in ten likely Democratic primary voters saying they have not made up their minds and a quarter admitting that they will wait until the first primaries to decide who to vote for, so the outcome in the Sunshine State is difficult if not impossible to predict,” says Holland. “Most Democrats have not campaigned in Florida, so it's possible that Clinton's big lead is due to name recognition. If that's the case, the early primaries may provide instant name recognition to one or more of her rivals and make the Florida primary very competitive.”
The poll had a sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.
– CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser