Republicans Bondi, Putnam, Atwater Lead Down Ballot Races
46% Floridians Concerned About Contracting Ebola
The Florida governor’s election between former Gov. Charlie Crist and incumbent Gov. Rick Scott is statistically tied, according to a new poll from the Saint Leo University Polling Institute.
With less than two weeks before the election, Crist leads, 43-40 percent, with Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie pulling 8 percent, and 9 percent of likely voters saying they are undecided. Crist’s lead is within the poll’s margin of error, and the race can be described as a statistical tie.
With speculation about what effect Libertarian Wyllie may have on the final outcome, Saint Leo University also asked voters to imagine Wyllie were not on the ballot. Given a choice of voting for only Scott or Crist, the two candidates deadlocked at 45 percent each, with 10 percent undecided. A majority of voters say they have either never heard of Wyllie (46 percent) or don’t know enough about him to offer an opinion (11 percent).
“It appears as though Charlie Crist’s attacks against Rick Scott are working, as the race has swung away from the incumbent in the last few months,” said Frank Orlando, instructor of political science at Saint Leo University. According to Orlando, Crist’s lead is still tenuous. “Pre-election polls tend to overstate support for third party candidates. When it comes time to cast their ballots, voters seem to settle on one of the two main parties for fear of ‘wasting’ their vote. It appears that Wyllie is drawing more support from Scott than Crist, and, if Wyllie is removed from the race, Scott gains 5 percent of the vote, while Crist only gains 2 percent and the poll is a dead heat,” stated Orlando.
Orlando also thinks voter turnout is critical to the election’s outcome. “Despite the negative nature of the campaign, voters’ valuations of candidates haven’t really changed. This suggests that voters have had their minds made up for a while and that there is a very small group of undecided voters. The election seems certain to hinge on mobilization and the amount that Wyllie can pull voters from Scott,” concluded Orlando.
Republican candidates have an advantage in down ballot races. Incumbent Attorney General Pam Bondi (47 percent) leads challengers Democrat George Sheldon (39 percent) and Libertarian Bill Wohlsifer (6 percent), with 8 percent undecided.
Republican Adam Putnam holds a 51-35 percent lead over Democrat Thad Hamilton in the election for Commissioner of Agriculture, with 14 percent undecided. In the election for the state’s Chief Financial Officer, Republican Jeff Atwater leads Democrat Will Rankin, 50-35 percent, with 15 percent undecided.
When asked which candidates for the state legislature voters preferred, 42 percent said they plan to vote for Republican candidates for state house and state senate, while 41 percent plan to vote for Democratic candidates. “A tied generic ballot suggests we won’t see a big swing in the partisan composition of the state legislature after the election,” remarked Orlando. “Many legislative districts aren’t drawn to be competitive, and since the Republicans controlled the last round of redistricting, I would expect them to have an advantage.”
Saint Leo also asked voters how concerned they are “that you or someone you know will contract the Ebola virus.” While a narrow majority (52 percent) said they were either not very (30 percent) or not at all concerned (22 percent) about the virus, a large minority of 46 percent said they are very (21 percent) or somewhat concerned (25 percent) about the contracting the virus.
To view the Saint Leo University Polling Institute’s survey results about Florida’s gubernatorial race and politics, including methodology, visit the polling institute’s website, http://polls.saintleo.edu. You can also follow the institute on Twitter @saintleopolls. Saint Leo’s main website is www.saintleo.edu.
About the Saint Leo University Polling Institute/Methodology
This Saint Leo University statewide poll of 500 likely voters in Florida was fielded between October 16 and 19, 2014, using a blended sample reached by Interactive Voice Response and an online panel. The margin of error is +/- 4.5 percent with a 95 percent confidence level. 350 respondents (70 percent of sample) were reached on randomly dialed landline telephones using an automatic dialer, pre-recorded questions, and touch-tone telephone keypad responses. To ensure that a representative sample of younger voters, Hispanic voters, and cellphone-only voters was included, 150 respondents (30 percent of sample) aged 18-39 were reached using an online panel. The Saint Leo University Polling Institute conducts its surveys using cutting-edge online methodology, which is rapidly transforming the field of survey research. Sample is drawn from large online panels, which allow for random selections that reflect accurate cross sections of all demographic groups. Online methodology has the additional advantages of allowing participants to respond to the survey at a time, place, and speed that is convenient to them, which may result in more thoughtful answers. The Saint Leo University Polling Institute develops the questionnaires, administers the surveys, and conducts analysis of the results. Panel participants typically receive a token incentive usually deposited into an iTunes or Amazon account for their participation.
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