10/08/2012 06:19 pm ET

Allen West Leads Patrick Murphy By 12 Points, Poll Says

WASHINGTON -- In the latest round of flip-flops in polls, Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) is leading his Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy by as much as 12 points, according to an independent poll released Monday.

The poll by St.PetePolls.org found that West leads by a margin of 52.6 percent to Murphy's 40.6 percent, with 6.8 percent of voters being undecided. The poll screened 902 registered voters in Florida's 18th District and included 350 Democrats, 406 Republicans and 113 Independents. It was conducted Oct. 3-5 and has a 3.3 percent margin of error.

The findings come on a day when the Murphy campaign is highlighting its own advances in an otherwise nail-biter of a race. In a Monday email to supporters, the campaign points out that national political analyst Larry Sabato recently shifted the race from "Leans Republican” to “Toss-Up,” and Politico added West to its "most endangered" list. The campaign also cites two independent polls released last week showing Murphy leading West.

Spokesmen for West's and Murphy's campaigns both dismissed the credibility of each other's polls.

"No serious political observer can believe these St. Pete's polls. They have Republicans winning every competitive race," Murphy campaign spokesman Anthony Kusich told The Huffington Post.

"Two polls last week had Patrick Murphy ahead of West by 4 points and 9 points, respectively, and just this weekend Eric Cantor's Young Guns PAC had to come bail out West with $200,000 in TV time, despite the fact that West claims to have millions left in the bank," Kusich said. "Allen West's extremism and divisive rhetoric have put his campaign on the ropes and he knows it."

West spokesman Tim Edson said Monday's poll reflects what the campaign has already found internally: West leading by more than 10 points.

"Cut off by the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] and lagging badly in fundraising, Patrick Murphy is growing increasingly desperate by the day," Edson said in a statement. "It's not surprising that a man who attempts to smear a decorated combat veteran like Allen West to hide his drunken arrest and verbal assault on a police officer would resort to having his allies concoct ridiculous poll numbers."

Edson was referring to a recent Murphy campaign ad that targets West's military service. That ad came in response to an equally brutal West campaign ad that featured a college-era mug shot of Murphy.

The West-Murphy race is one of the most closely watched in the nation.



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