Poll: Voters meh on Fla guv race

Agriculture Commish Adam Putnam and Fox News darling Congressman Ron DeSantis are neck-and-neck, and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham has a slight edge over former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, according to a new Mason-Dixon poll.

“Right now, the only things that are certain about Florida’s 2018 gubernatorial primaries are that the outcomes are far from certain, a lot of money is going to be poured into these two very competitive races and the voters are not fully tuned in,” pollster Brad Coker said in a press release announcing the poll results.

On the Democratic side in the race to replace Gov. Rick Scott, who’s term-limited out of office this year, Graham captured 20 percent of the vote, while 17 percent of Dems said they’re backing Levine. Ten percent of likely Democratic voters support Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and 4 percent are behind Chris King.  And nearly half of likely Dem voters — a whopping 49 percent — are undecided.

On the GOP side, 43 percent of likely Republican voters haven’t yet made up their minds, the poll found. Statewide, 27 percent of GOP voters back Putnam, while 23 percent are for DeSantis. House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who hasn’t announced if he’s running yet, captured support from 7 percent of those polls.

The Mason Dixon Polling & Strategy survey of 500 likely Democratic voters and 500 likely Republican voters was conducted from Jan. 29 through Feb. 1. The margin of error was +/- 4.5 percent.

The current results largely reflect name recognition and none of the candidates appear to be hampered by high negative ratings from their party voters.

Here’s more from Coker:

It is interesting to note that both front-runners have leads that are smaller than their recognition advantages. Graham, the daughter of former Governor & Senator Bob Graham, has an 8-point name recognition margin over Levine, but just a 3-point lead.

Putnam, the only candidate to have run statewide, has a name recognition advantage of 7-points over DeSantis, but only a 4-point lead. Graham’s total recognition of 65% among Democrats is likely lower than many insiders would expect, but her father’s name has not appeared on the state ballot in 20 years. Putnam has only 63% recognition among GOP voters, as his position in the state cabinet is low profile.

Traditional expectations in primary elections based on insider baseball no longer apply in a growing and ever-changing state. As both parties have polarized, establishment backing is no longer a great advantage.