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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Two polls, two different outlooks for state House District 68 race



Both Democratic candidates for State House District 68 released polling results today, and each declared he is the favorite among voters for the Aug. 30 primary.

A poll conducted Aug. 2 through 4 by EMC Research of 400 likely district voters showed Eric Lynn, a defense and security consultant, ahead of attorney Ben Diamond by 12 points with a +/- 4.9 margin of error.

An hour after Lynn's campaign released the results of their commissioned poll, Diamond announced numbers from an internal survey showing a nine-point lead over Lynn.

Diamond's campaign polled 300 likely primary voters between Aug. 3 and 4 with a +/- 5.7 margin of error.

While each candidate heralded the results, the discrepancy between both polls shows the challenges of local polling and the difficulty voters can have deciding on candidates in smaller, lesser known races, said American University professor David Lublin.

The small sample sizes and the fact voters are less likely to recognize these first-time office seekers in a state race make the results less dependable, Lublin said. With neither campaign releasing all the questions posed, it's impossible to know if voters were steered towards answering questions on candidates they don't know much about.

“I don't know that voters should consider them at all,” Lublin said of the results. “When you poll people and ask them a question, they like to give an answer...but that doesn't mean they have a very fixed opinion or any opinion at all.”

Both candidates have campaigned aggressively in the district, which covers northeast St. Petersburg and eastern Pinellas Park. The Democrats agree on many key issues like supporting Medicaid expansion and opposing open carry of firearms but bring unique experience to the campaign.

Diamond, 37, is the former general counsel to the Chief Financial Office and Florida Department of Financial Services and has focused on protecting Florida's water and endangered lands, supporting public schools, and developing an expanded solar power policy.

Lynn, 38, worked as a senior adviser to the last three U.S. Secretary of Defenses and is campaigning on increasing funding for public schools, expanding Medicaid and job creation.

The winner of the primary will face Republican Joseph J.B. Bensmihen in the general election Nov. 8.

Meagan Salisbury, Diamond's campaign manager, called Lynn's poll “suspect” because EMC Research's poll “falsely attacks Ben Diamond using the same discredited Republican attacks Rick Scott used against former CFO Alex Sink and then asks voters who they would support 'if that's all they knew about the candidates.'”

Salisbury declined to elaborate on what false attacks Lynn's campaign made. EMC Research Senior Principal David Beattie also declined to disclose the questions Lynn's campaign posed to voters.

Lynn's poll showed he has 48 percent name identification compared to Diamond's 39 percent.

Beattie said private polling can be more reliable than larger public polls because campaigns put in “more rigor” to ensure the sampling is accurate and is conducted by live callers.


[Last modified: Tuesday, August 9, 2016 6:39pm]


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