Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) was up 22 points on his Democratic challenger, Keith Fitzgerald, in an internal poll the campaign conducted in March.
Buchanan led Fitzgerald 58-36 in a poll by Public Opinion Strategies that also showed that the redrawn district where the two will square off leans Republican. Mitt Romney beat President Obama 53-44 in the district, according to the poll.
Democrats questioned the veracity of the poll, which was released more than a month after it was conducted. They noted that Buchanan loaned his own campaign about $250,000 one week after conducting a poll that should have reassured him about his prospects for reelection.
Pushing back on Buchanan's poll, Fitzgerald released his own internal poll from Democratic firm Anzalone Liszt Research showing the race a much closer call. Buchanan led Fitzgerald by just three points in that poll, but its release more than two months after it was conducted in February made it of questionable value.
Democrats see a major pickup opportunity with Buchanan, who has faced ethics inquiries from numerous federal entities — including the House Ethics Committee, which is still investigating.
The poll of 400 likely voters was conducted March 20-21 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.
- This post was updated at 6:01 p.m.