Poll: Sen. Nelson Leads Rep. Harris in Florida Senate Race

Republican Rep. Katherine Harris, who became a household name amid the 2000 presidential election dispute, remains far behind in her bid to oust Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, a new poll released Thursday shows.

Nelson was favored by 56 percent of those surveyed, compared to 27 percent who preferred Harris in the poll by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

A similar poll two months ago had Nelson ahead 53 percent to 31 percent.

"It's a tough environment for Republicans now," Harris said Wednesday when asked about the latest numbers. "I'm confident that we'll continue to only go up."

Harris was Florida's secretary of state in 2000 when she certified George W. Bush's 537-vote win in Florida's disputed election. That move put Harris in the national spotlight, making quick enemies and friends who have played into her political campaigns since then.

Lately, Harris' Senate campaign has been plagued by staff defections and fund-raising difficulty. While Nelson has $10.3 million in his campaign account, the Harris campaign has $3.7 million.

That difficulty gaining traction has concerned Republicans, including Gov. Jeb Bush, who recently questioned the tone of her campaign. Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Florida, said Wednesday that the race has failed to jell for the GOP.

"She's obviously behind, the money is behind and it's certainly a concern," Martinez said. "As long as Katherine Harris is the only candidate the best thing we can do is be supportive and be helpful."

The telephone survey of 951 Florida registered voters taken between April 11-17 had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.