polls

It’s official: Trump hearts DeSantis

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis has been boasting for a while now that he’s got the endorsement of President Donald Trump in the primary battle with Florida Ag Commish Adam Putnam to replace Gov. Rick Scott.

But Friday morning, the president made it official, with a tweet to his gazillions of followers.

DeSantis’ campaign quickly issued a press release announcing the endorsement, which could be priceless in Florida’s heated GOP primary.

“We’re proud to have the full support of President Trump,” DeSantis’ campaign spokesman David Vasquez said in the release. “As a top conservative leader in Florida, taxpayer superhero and an Iraq veteran, Ron DeSantis will make a Great Governor of Florida.” 

Trump’s tweet on the heels of a Fox News poll that found DeSantis trailing Putnam by 17 points among likely Republican primary voters.

The poll also found that immigration was the top issue for Florida Republicans, followed by health care, the economy, guns, the opioid crisis, taxes, environmental issues and abortion.

Scott & Nelson: Is it a tie?

A pair of new polls show U.S. Sen Bill Nelson and Gov. Rick Scott either neck-and-neck or give the long-serving Democratic senator an edge over the Florida guv, who hasn’t officially entered the race yet.

A Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy survey showed Nelson and Scott virtually tied at 45-44 percent (a result that’s within the poll’s +/- 4 percent margin of error). The match-up hasn’t budged much since October, when likely voters were evenly split, 44 percent, between the pair.

But in a competing poll, the University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research Lab shows Nelson with 48 percent, compared to 42 percent of respondents saying they plan to vote for Scott. Seven percent of the registered voters surveyed were undecided.

“Even though it appears Nelson has a reasonable lead in the poll, the election results will ultimately get determined by who shows up in November,”  Michael Binder, faculty director of the Public Opinion Research Lab at UNF, said in a release. “Historically, Republicans have enjoyed a turnout advantage in midterms, but with the current mood of the country, and a large number of Republican retirements, Democrats are optimistic about an impending blue wave.”

Read more on the UNF poll here.

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.

Poll: Florida needs to improve race relations efforts

A new poll shows Floridians are divided about undocumented immigrants but are growing increasingly critical of the state’s efforts towards improving race relations.

“In a state with growing minority and immigrant populations, Floridians are growing more critical of their State government’s efforts to improve race relations. Floridians support protecting religious and educational facilities from attacks by hate groups and of requiring employers to check the immigrant status of new hires,” University of South Florida political science professor Susan MacManus, director of the USF-Nielsen Sunshine State survey, said in a release with the poll results this morning.

“Florida’s growth over the past four decades, fueled by people moving into the state from other states and countries, has transformed it into the nation’s third largest state. New arrivals, along with generational replacement, are constantly changing the state’s population makeup.

In this population flux, the 2017 USF-Nielsen Sunshine State Survey shows Floridians growing more critical of the State’s efforts to improve race relations. At the same time, Floridians are highly supportive of protecting religious and educational facilities from attacks by hate groups and of requiring employers to check the immigrant status of new hires. Opinions are more mixed, but negative, toward expanding rights and assistance to undocumented immigrants and creating safe spaces on college campuses for undocumented immigrant students.” — Susan MacManus

Scott, Nelson neck-and-neck (redux)

A second poll shows Florida voters are evenly split between U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Gov. Rick Scott are tied in a potential match-up.

Scott hasn’t announced that he’s running against Nelson, a long-serving Democrat, but everybody expects the Republican governor, who’s amassed a hefty campaign war chest, to jump into the race.

A MasonDixon Polling & Research poll released late Wednesday showed both Nelson and Scott with 44 percent support of Floridians, with 12 percent undecided.

That’s a bounce for Scott, who trailed Nelson by 5 percentage points in a February poll also conducted by Mason-Dixon.

Pollster Brad Coker attributed the jump in Scott’s popularity to independent voters, who favored Scott over Nelson 44-40 percent. In February, Nelson held a 9 percentage-point lead over Scott with independents.

Scott is also up among whites, males and older voters, while Nelson has firmer advantages among women, younger voters, blacks and Hispanics.

The poll also showed Scott’s favorability at 44 percent, compared to 38 percent for Nelson. But more voters also view Scott unfavorably, with 33 percent to Nelson’s 21 percent.

Scott also edged out Nelson in job performance ratings, with 53 percent of those surveyed approving of the governor’s performance and 50 percent giving Nelson a nod.

The two-term governor also has a better brand than Nelson, who’s represented Florida in the U.S. Senate for 16 years.

When asked “Do you recognize the name?” of the two politicians, 2 percent were unaware of Scott and 14 percent didn’t recognize Nelson.

The poll, conducted Oct. 17-19,  shows Scott creeping up on Nelson, who held a 5 percentage-point edge over the governor in a survey conducted in February. In that poll, independent voters gave the senator a 9 percentage-point lead.

And the Mason-Dixon poll mirrors results in a University of North Florida survey released earlier this week that found Nelson and Scott virtually tied — 37-36, with Nelson’s slight lead within the margin of error.

Poll results from Mason-Dixon released late Wednesday showed Floridians gave Scott high marks for his handling of Hurricane Irma.

 On the heels of that poll, Scott’s “Let’s Get to Work” political committee launched a $2 million ad campaign this week — starring Scott with his ubiquitous, storm-induced Navy ballcap — that boasts of the governor’s storm relief efforts.

Nelson used Scott’s ad campaign to raise money for his own campaign.

“Gov. Rick Scott just purchased $2 million in TV ads to try to boost his campaign against me here in Florida. And what’s worse: By not ‘officially’ declaring he’s running yet, Scott is able to avoid our campaign finance laws and use the unlimited corporate money in his PAC to pay for them,” Nelson said in a campaign email on Wednesday. “The timing of these ads isn’t a coincidence — just yesterday, a new poll came out showing our race here in Florida is close. And it looks like Scott and his right-wing friends are willing to spend big now to try to take an early lead.”

The latest Mason-Dixon results, show Nelson and Scott with heavy support from within their own parties.

Nelson is up 47-percent to 40-percent among women, 87-percent to 4-percent with black voters and 54-percent to 32-percent among Hispanics.

Scott has the white voters, 54-percent to 34-percent, and men, 49-percent to 40-percent.

Nelson has voters 34 years and younger, 50-percent to 35 percent. It a tie among the 35-to-49-year-olds, a statistic tie favoring Scott among those 50 to 64, and a 49-percent to 41-percent contest for Scott among those 65 years and older.

The poll was conducted Oct. 17-19, with 625 registered Florida self-identified frequent voters interviewed by telephone. The  poll had a 4-percentage point margin of error.

By Dara Kam and Jim Turner.