TALLAHASSEE — Republicans appear headed for a clean sweep of all seats on the Florida Cabinet, according to a new statewide poll of likely voters.
The survey for the St. Petersburg Times, the Miami Herald, Bay News 9 and Central Florida News 13 shows Republicans with wide leads in races for attorney general, chief financial officer and agriculture commissioner, though a significant chunk of voters remain undecided.
On the other hand, most people have made up their minds in the governor's race, where Republican Rick Scott holds a 3-point edge over Alex Sink. Those two candidates have spent millions to blanket the state in TV ads, phone calls and mailers.
"A lot of it has to do with the extra money and attention Sink has had to spend on the race," said Chris Jackson, a pollster with Ipsos Public Affairs, which conducted the survey. "The other people are essentially trading party identification, and the Democratic Party identification is sort of in the toilet."
The telephone survey of 801 registered voters, including 577 likely voters, was conducted Oct. 15-19 by Ipsos, an independent, nonpartisan research company based in Washington, D.C. The margin of error among likely voters is 4.1 percentage points.
In the Cabinet races:
• The attorney general campaign is the closest, with Republican Pam Bondi grabbing 44 percent of voters, compared with Democrat Dan Gelber's 36 percent. Eighteen percent of voters are undecided.
• Republican U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam of Bartow holds an 11-point edge over Democrat Scott Maddox in the agriculture commissioner's race. Putnam draws 44 percent of voters to Maddox's 33 percent, and 22 percent of voters are undecided.
• The chief financial officer's race, which has seen the feistiest campaigning and TV ads, has the widest disparity. Republican state Senate President Jeff Atwater attracts 45 percent of likely voters, compared with Democrat Loranne Ausley's 32 percent. Undecided voters make up 22 percent.
Gelber and Bondi each spent heavily to win their primaries. Since the general election started, Gelber has held a slight financial edge. Atwater and Putnam, who didn't face primary challengers, both have wide money leads.
The Cabinet, along with the governor, sets statewide policy on a wide range of issues, from land conservation to oversight of the state's pension fund. Politically, the Cabinet has often been used as a launching pad for gubernatorial candidates.
The fact that so many voters are undecided, Jackson said, shows that most simply don't know the candidates very well.
"These numbers are falling out along party lines and are less related to the candidates," he said.
Lee Logan can be reached at email@example.com or (850)224-7263.