Sunday, January 21, 2018
Politics

Poll: Slight lead for Sink over Jolly in Pinellas congressional race

Democrat Alex Sink narrowly leads Republican David Jolly in Pinellas County's hotly contested congressional race, according to a new poll that also shows district voters deeply split over Obamacare.

In the hard-fought and nationally watched campaign, 42 percent would vote for Sink, 35 percent for Jolly and 4 percent for Libertarian candidate Lucas Overby, according to an exclusive Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9/WUSF Public Media poll of likely voters in Congressional District 13. The margin of error was 4 percentage points.

The poll also reveals how the Affordable Care Act has become a virtual litmus test for voters.

Of those who support Sink, 81 percent also support Obamacare. Of those who support Jolly, 84 percent also oppose Obamacare.

Supporters of both candidates felt passionately about the issue.

More than two-thirds of Sink and Jolly supporters said their candidate's position on the law was a "very important" or "somewhat important" reason for their support.

Stephen Gibson, 43, who lives in St. Petersburg and is disabled, said it would be hard for him to support a candidate opposed to the Affordable Care Act "because I think that's not for the well-being of the people."

He said he supports Sink because "she is knowledgeable and trustworthy and from a strong background."

Patty Akil, 55, said she finds Jolly well-spoken and up on the issues, and noted: "One thing I like is he doesn't support Obamacare.

She said she can't imagine backing anyone who supports the controversial health care law.

"The government doesn't belong in health care… it's like a takeover," said Akil, a retired property manager.

Timing, circumstance and millions of dollars have turned this contest into one of the nation's most scrutinized political battles.

The district, which includes most of Pinellas County, is considered a toss-up that could go to Democrats or Republicans. The race comes as the parties are gearing up for nationwide congressional elections, with control of the U.S. House potentially at stake. Outside groups have spent millions of dollars for attack ads against Jolly and Sink.

When pollsters first asked respondents who they would vote for, Sink had 40 percent of the vote, compared to 34 for Jolly, 4 percent for Overby and 17 percent undecided. Five percent either refused to answer or listed someone else.

Pollsters then asked the undecided group if there was a candidate they were leaning toward. Those results found 42 percent supporting Sink, 35 percent for Jolly, 4 percent for Overby and 14 percent still undecided.

Overall, 47 percent of district voters oppose Obamacare, 43 percent support it and 10 percent had no opinion.

Independent voters have the potential to play a big role in the race. According to the Pinellas Supervisor of Elections, about 37.1 percent of district voters are Republicans, 34.7 percent are Democrats and 24 percent have "no party affiliation." (The rest belong to smaller political parties.)

The poll found that independents aren't leaning strongly in either direction. Thirty-three percent of independents backed Sink, 27 percent backed Jolly, 9 percent backed Overby and 23 percent were undecided.

The voters' views on Obamacare may explain the positioning of both major party candidates, who presumably have commissioned polls themselves.

Jolly often campaigns by criticizing Sink for supporting the law while she touts her support of it on the campaign trail.

Jolly has said he would vote to repeal Obamacare, because it's harming individuals and businesses, often limiting choices or raising costs. Sink also brings up the law in ads and appearances, accusing Jolly of wanting to force senior citizens to return to the days of the "doughnut hole" — referring to a much-criticized gap in prescription drug coverage prior to Obamacare.

Republican Rick Gilbert, 61, said he thinks Obamacare amounts to "the seedlings of communism."

He is supporting Jolly as "the best of the evils." He considers himself more conservative than the Republican Party and would consider voting for Overby if he thought he had a chance.

Marsha Ferree, 68, said she supports Sink because women make for better government.

"They're more sympathetic and empathetic," she said. "I just think she's going to be more for the people and more for everyone and less for special interests."

A Democrat, Ferree also said she likes "the idea of the government as a participant that can make our lives better" and believes Sink shares that view.

The telephone survey of 603 registered voters in Congressional District 13 — all likely to vote in the March 11 special election — was conducted Feb. 4-9. The poll, which included respondents using land lines and cell phones, was conducted by Braun Research, a national polling firm based in Princeton, N.J. An independent write-in candidate, Michael Levinson, also is running.

Comments
Congressman combating harassment used public money on own case

Congressman combating harassment used public money on own case

WASHINGTON ó Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., who has taken a leading role in fighting sexual harassment in Congress, used thousands of dollars in taxpayer money to settle his own misconduct complaint after a former aide accused him last year of making un...
Updated: 7 hours ago
The longer the shutdown lasts, the further the economic ripples will spread

The longer the shutdown lasts, the further the economic ripples will spread

The early days of the federal government shutdown wonít slow the U.S. economy much. No workers are missing paychecks yet, and because it is a weekend, few businesses expect to feel the effects of lost customers or suppliers.That could change, quickly...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Romano: If UCF is national champion, then Iím a Hollywood stud

Romano: If UCF is national champion, then Iím a Hollywood stud

Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said people were entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.Clearly, Moynihan never dealt with Florida legislators.Because around Tallahassee, facts are fungible. They arenít just up for debate, they...
Updated: 9 hours ago
U.S. government shuts down; Democrats, GOP blame each other

U.S. government shuts down; Democrats, GOP blame each other

WASHINGTON ó The federal government shut down at the stroke of midnight Friday, halting all but the most essential operations and marring the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trumpís inauguration in a striking display of Washington dysfunctio...
Published: 01/19/18
Updated: 01/20/18
Battle lines already forming for Menendez corruption retrial

Battle lines already forming for Menendez corruption retrial

NEWARK, N.J. ó U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez might spend 2018 asking voters to re-elect him and jurors to acquit him. Prosecutors from the Department of Justice told a federal judge in New Jersey on Friday that they will seek a retrial of the Democratic sen...
Published: 01/19/18
Congress likely racing toward a government shutdown

Congress likely racing toward a government shutdown

WASHINGTON ó A bitterly-divided Congress hurtled toward a government shutdown this weekend in a partisan stare-down over demands by Democrats for a solution on politically fraught legislation to protect about 700,000 younger immigrants from being dep...
Published: 01/19/18
Clearwater City Council candidate John Funk: City needs better planning

Clearwater City Council candidate John Funk: City needs better planning

CLEARWATER ó Voters may not be too familiar with the name John Funk.So since launching his campaign for City Council Seat 5 against well-known incumbent Hoyt Hamilton, Funk said he has knocked on 2,000 doors to introduce himself. Before the March 13 ...
Published: 01/19/18
Clearwater City Council candidate Hoyt Hamilton: Experience is key for critical next term

Clearwater City Council candidate Hoyt Hamilton: Experience is key for critical next term

CLEARWATER ó By asking voters to elect him into office a fifth time, Hoyt Hamilton knows heís now considered part of the old-guard. Born and raised in Clearwater, his family roots stretch back here more than 100 years. Hamilton, 59, spent nearly his ...
Published: 01/19/18

Q&A: Government shutdown looms. Hereís what you need to know

Lawmakers have until midnight tonight to pass legislation to avert a government shutdown.Hereís what that means. Why would the government shut down?Every year, Congress has to approve laws, known as appropriations, that provide money for federal agen...
Published: 01/18/18
Redington Shores mayor, commission positions filled with no opponents

Redington Shores mayor, commission positions filled with no opponents

REDINGTON SHORES ó There will be no election this year, but the changeout of commission members that began last year will continue. When the new commission is sworn in this March, four of five members, including the mayor, will have changed within th...
Published: 01/18/18