Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., led Democratic challenger Keith Fitzgerald 58 percent to 36 percent in an early general election poll commissioned last month by Buchanan's campaign.
The poll, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, surveyed 400 likely voters in Florida's 16th Congressional District on March 20 and March 21. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent.
Buchanan is widely believed to be vulnerable this year, despite representing a district President Obama lost in 2008, because of ongoing investigations by federal law enforcement and the House Ethics Committee into allegations of financial misdeeds, including allegedly reimbursing business employees for campaign contributions. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has included Fitzgerald in its "Red to Blue" program, which highlights candidates in heavily targeted races.
The greatest threat to Buchanan's seat would be one of the investigations against him taking off, though Fitzgerald has also been hitting the congressman consistently on the Republican plan to convert Medicare into a voucher system for people under 55. But Buchanan begins the 2012 campaign with a cushion over his Democratic challenger.