Most of the reporting about the recent Mason-Dixon poll that showed Rick Scott within 14 points of Bill McCollum focused on exactly that, the 14 point gap. But from where I sit, it isn't the 14 point cap that should scare the daylights out of Camp McCollum, it is the other number: 38.
McCollum has run for statewide office now four times. He has very high name ID and and even higher name ID among core Republicans.
On the other hand, less than a month ago, probably not more than four people could pick Rick Scott out of a line-up.
Even today, according to the same poll, McCollum holds a substantive name ID advantage among Republicans of 57-29 and a favorable advantage of 46-28. Take these factors into play and he should be above or at least close to 50 in a head to head with Scott.
Yet he is at 38.
And 40 percent aren't sure how they will vote.
Even in the early days, when Rubio had low name ID, Crist was frequently above 50 percent. It took nearly a year for him to catch up and tie Crist. Scott's on pace to do it in 6-8 weeks. In other words, it almost seems like Republicans have been wanting an alternative to the Attorney General and as soon as it popped up, they jumped to it.
Further, he has an even bigger problem. Rick Scott has already spent more than McCollum has raised and is on place to outspend him 4, maybe even 5 to one.
Now, Scott isn't without his own problems, namely that he once ran a company that got whacked by the federal government for a $1.7 Billion (yes that is Billion with a B) fine for defrauding the government. And his decision to stand up and defend the oil industry with the gusher in the gulf may be courageous, but hardly smart politics.
But the problem for McCollum is it appears his voters are ready and willing to look for an alternative and in the end they may not care, just as they brushed aside Rubio's credit card and other woes. And if McCollum doesn't start taking this guy seriously and at least try to get some negative earned press, a few more weeks and a few more 4-5 million on TV and he could find himself in a dead heat, or even behind the man from Naples, at which point, it will be Katy Bar the Door time for the presumptive nominee.
Which is why this week's most important number is in fact not 14, but 38.