Alan Grayson, Outspoken Florida Congressman, Could Be in Trouble

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) Nicholas Kamm / AFP-Getty Images

Love him or hate him, everyone's got an opinion on Alan Grayson. And a new poll suggests more voters in his district fall into the latter column than the former.

Grayson is the loudmouth liberal from Florida's Eighth Congressional District who's known for saying the Republican health-care plan was "don't get sick, and if you do get sick, die quickly"; calling an aide to Fed chair Ben Bernanke a "K Street whore"; and a variety of other intentionally inflammatory comments I won't bore you with here.

A new poll from Susquehanna Polling and Research and Sunshine State News has Grayson pulling only 36 percent of the vote, with his GOP opponent, Dan Webster, at 43 percent among likely voters. Now, it's a Republican pollster and this is also the only independent poll we've seen in the race. But it's still bad news for Grayson. As RealClearPolitics puts it, "An incumbent congressman at 36 percent almost never wins; Grayson is in real trouble."

Despite the hatred Grayson inspires, Republicans initially struggled to recruit a candidate to oppose him, but were eventually able to draw in Webster, a former speaker of the state House of Representatives. The district has traditionally voted Republican, although it's started to move to the left.

Grayson began as a brash young congressman who attracted plaudits among liberals for speaking harshly against Republicans. It was, for the Netroots crowd, a breath of fresh air to see a Democrat using the scorched-earth tactics of Rush Limbaugh against conservatives. But as his stream of comments has continued, there's been a gathering backlash against him; the nonpartisan political scientist and media critic Brendan Nyhan has called him "loathsome."

However, Grayson has taken a damn-the-torpedoes approach, airing two ads that attacked his opponent as a "draft dodger" and then as "Taliban Dan Webster," claiming Webster had said wives should submit to their husbands. The nonpartisan service blasted both ads as false and said he had "lowered the bar" (see the latter ad below and judge for yourself—it's ruthless at the very least).

There's not data to show how the ads have affected the race, but it appears that Grayson's aggressive style certainly hasn't won him an adoring majority at home. If Grayson loses, he looks like a classic Icarus archetype. If he wins, however, look for more fireworks from the, um, gentleman from Florida.