St 2014 Gubernatorial Primary Poll Analysis; Crist In Pole Position?

Will more RPOF ads like this weaken Crist?

The much talked about St poll which surveyed the potential 2014 Democratic Gubernatorial Primary has been hailed as a great victory for Governor Crist. But is it really? Thoughts below. Meanwhile another poll with different methodology and very different conclusions was conducted last month.

Summary of Scientific Results:
In a hypothetical match-up for the 2014 democratic primary for Governor, who would you vote for:
Charlie Crist, Buddy Dyer, Nan Rich, Alex Sink or Rod Smith?
Charlie Crist: 60.9%
Buddy Dyer: 7.0%
Nan Rich: 3.5%
Alex Sink: 25.1%
Rod Smith: 3.4%

Crist has a huge lead partly because he has higher name ID and largely because he has been in the news lately. This accounts for part of the spike from the aforementioned poll conducted last month as well as the differing methodology.

Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Charlie Crist?
Favorable: 73.1%
Unfavorable: 16.2%
Do not know: 10.7%

This is the most significant piece of news from this polling date. Crist has an overwhelmingly favorable rating among likely Democratic Primary goers. We found his ratings were similar in 2010 yet most Democrats who voted supported Kendrick Meek for US Senate. Still someone with a 4:1 favorable to unfavorable with very few undecideds( ie. a candidate who is already defined) is going to be extremely tough to defeat in a primary unless his negatives are raised. That may very well be happening as we speak, thanks to the Republican Party of Florida’s advertising campaign.

Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Buddy Dyer?
Favorable: 20.1%
Unfavorable: 25.1%
Do not know: 54.7%

Buddy Dyer has been a good Mayor of Orlando but the last sustained run of statewide news he got was in 2005 when he was embroiled in scandal and briefly suspended as Mayor. Dyer was cleared of all charges but when I mention him as a likely candidate to some friends they keep bringing up that scandal. A more reasonable critique of Dyer could be that he has been a big spending Mayor that has wasted taxpayer money on projects like this.
Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Nan Rich?
Favorable: 13.3%
Unfavorable: 22.3%
Do not know: 64.4%

I don’t have an explanation for this. I believe as progressives get to know Senator Rich they are more likely than not to have a favorable impression of her, whether or not she gets their support. Rich has earned the right to be viable in a primary where other progressives seem reluctant to step forward and represent the “Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.”

Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Alex Sink?
Favorable: 55.1%
Unfavorable: 20.6%
Do not know: 24.3%

Sink’s name ID is actually higher than I thought it would be and favorable to unfavorable is quite good. Still she has a lot to ground to make up on Crist according to this poll but is in a statistical dead heat according to last months’ poll. The big question is why so many Democrats, even in that poll are willing to consider a life-long Republican over our 2010 nominee?   That almost certainly bodes poorly for Sink’s prospects. Given the amount of room for growth with those who do not know Dyer or Rich, they may actually have a  better chance of upsetting Crist should he run than Sink.
Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Rod Smith?
Favorable: 13.8%
Unfavorable: 22.0%
Do not know: 64.2%

Smith closed strong in the 2006 Gubernatorial Primary but seems to have been forgotten since then. Smith proved in that race a coalition of north and southeast Florida is not enough to even win a Democratic Primary let alone a General Election. Smith was routed up and down I-4 corridor and managed to lose Broward County despite having the support of just about every major elected official save one. (that one was Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a big Jim Davis backer who counted more than everyone else combined locally).

Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Rod Smith?

Favorable: 13.5%
Unfavorable: 21.8%
Do not know: 64.7%

Race Breakdown:
White, Not Hispanic 855 responses
Favorable: 13.5% Unfavorable: 17.4% Do not know: 69.1%

Black, Not Hispanic 334 responses
Favorable: 12.9% Unfavorable: 31.1% Do not know: 56.0%

Rod Smith’s ratings among African-American and other ethnic black voters is abysmal according to this survey. This is odd given his emphasis on racial issues and a certain degree of “reverse” race baiting during the 2006 campaign when he was in desperation mode. Jim Davis had voted against Pitts and Lee compensation as a member of the State House. Ironically this was a compensation package that would be championed by Charlie Crist a few sessions later.

One potential nominee not polled is former Tampa Mayor and Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections Pam Iorio. On paper, she is strongest potential candidate  currently registered as a Democrat. But these battles are not fought on paper and Iorio has never run outside Hillsborough County. Additionally, she would be fourth consecutive Democratic Gubernatorial nominee from Hillsborough County and perhaps it is time to try a nominee from Orange, Broward, Pinellas or even Alachua considering the previous three Tampa based nominees have been defeated. (For those unfamiliar with the Tampa Bay area, Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties are geographically in the same area but culturally and politically as far apart as any two neighboring urban counties in Florida, so I would not count Crist as a “Tampa nominee.”)


One thought on “St 2014 Gubernatorial Primary Poll Analysis; Crist In Pole Position?

  1. From the Conservative blog Shark Tank today:

    Back in the 2002 Florida Attorney General’s race between then Republican Charlie Crist, and Democrat Florida State Senator John Hugh “Buddy” Dyer(currently the Mayor of Orlando) State Senator Debbie Wasserman Schultz was out campaigning Dyer, who was her “very close friend” and colleague, and she is said to have raised $500,000 for his campaign.

    Convicted felon and ponzi-schemer Joel Steinger was one of Dyer’s biggest contributors- he was involved in the “Mutual Benefits” Ponzi scheme that swindled a billion dollars from investors that believed was being legitimately invested in life insurance settlements. Steinger only raised Dyer $20,000, but as the Broward New Times reported, Steinger funneled money through the State Democrat Party to Dyer.

    Steinger also is said to have helped bundle donations for Dyer from numerous sources including past employees, settlement companies and other viaticals.

    In all, Steinger raised about $20,000 for Dyer, but that was chump change in terms of his total contributions. Steinger poured at least $1 million into the political process during the 2002 election, including more than $600,000 that went to the state Democratic Party itself. The party spread that so-called “soft money” around to all its candidates, including Dyer (who received more than $100,000). In all, law enforcement sources estimate that Steinger put $3 million into politics from 2000 through 2004. (Source-Broward New Times)

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