From the News Service of Florida:
A new poll finds Gov. Rick Scott and Democratic challenger Charlie Crist in a dead heat and, with more than 10 percent of voters undecided, sets the stage for an already-brutal campaign expected to get uglier over the next seven months.
The poll by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, Inc., shows Scott and Crist, his most likely Democratic rival, knotted at 42 percent apiece. Adrian Wyllie, the Libertarian candidate, polls at 4 percent. But 12 percent of those questioned said they were undecided -- showing that the race is still volatile.
"Florida voters continue to have reservations and mixed views about both presumptive party nominees for governor," Brad Coker, managing director of Mason-Dixon, said in a telephone interview Thursday.
The poll did not include former Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich of Weston, who is challenging Crist in the Democratic primary.
Scott trails Crist by eight points, 45-37, among Hispanics, a coveted voting bloc that comprises a growing portion of "swing" independents considered critical for a win in November. Scott appointed Carlos Lopez-Cantera, a former state representative who is of Cuban descent, as his lieutenant governor, and has come out this week strongly in favor of in-state tuition for undocumented immigrant students, something pushed by Hispanic lawmakers for years.
Exit polls showed that a majority of Hispanics backed Scott in his initial bid for governor when popular Florida Republican Marco Rubio was on the top of the ticket in the U.S. Senate race, Coker said. Rubio won't be on the November ballot.
"Scott's going to have to appeal to Hispanics without the help of Marco Rubio turning voters out and trying to get them to vote straight Republican. He's going to have a bigger handicap with Hispanics than he did last time. ... Right now, they're just kind of up in the air. They don't know what they're going to do," Coker said.
Crist has a narrow edge among independents, who favor the former governor, 37-35.
But Scott fares slightly more favorably within the GOP than Crist, who was a Republican and an independent before becoming a Democrat, does with his newfound party-mates. Scott gets 79 percent of Republicans to 9 percent for Crist, while Crist wins Democrats 74-12.
Scott leads in the North Florida and Southwest Florida regions -- where Republicans traditionally do well -- and Central Florida. Crist does well in Tampa Bay, his home region, and leads Scott by 21 points in Southeast Florida, a Democratic stronghold.
Scott also leads among men, voters older than 50 and white voters, while Crist has a 10-point lead among female voters and carries African-Americans and younger Floridians.
The poll of 700 likely voters, released exclusively to The News Service of Florida on Thursday, was conducted from April 15-17 and April 21-22. It has an overall margin of error of 3.8 percentage points, though the margin is higher for subgroups.
The survey also showed Scott's favorability jumped to 35 percent, up from 30 percent two years ago.
Coker said Scott is likely gaining ground on Crist and improving his favorability with television ads, including a softer ad released last month in which the former health-care executive talks about growing up in a poor family whose car was repossessed.
The latest survey comes on the same day Scott's "Let's Get to Work" campaign released its sixth TV ad, this one painting Crist as a politician who "ran away" in a failed bid for U.S. Senate instead of seeking a second term as governor in 2010.
"The strategy here is going to be to make people hate the other guy more than me," Coker said.
Democratic campaign consultant Steve Schale, who is advising Crist, downplayed the Mason-Dixon poll results, pointing to a recent conservative-leaning Rasmussen Reports poll showing Crist leading Scott by six percentage points.
In 2012, Coker wrongly predicted Mitt Romney would beat President Barack Obama in Florida by seven percentage points. Obama edged out Romney by nearly one percentage point.
"I don't believe that there's a poll that could show Charlie Crist winning women by 10 points and winning Hispanics and winning the Tampa media market that has the race dead even. I just don't believe that's possible," Schale said. "All due respect to Mr. Coker, he also suggested Mitt Romney was going to win Florida by seven points. Here's the thing. It's going to be an incredibly close election. It's Florida. There's nothing about this state that isn't just by nature competitive. I don't know that it's a five-point race or a two-point race or a six-point race. But I think it is clear that this is an outlier by a pollster who was an outlier last time around."
Scott's campaign, though, suggested the poll showed that their message was beginning to break through.
"We are very confident in our campaign to show Charlie Crist's failure as governor in contrast to Governor Scott's record of job creation," said Sen. John Thrasher, a St. Augustine Republican who serves as Scott's campaign chairman, in a statement. "We already have around 8 million dollars of ads up on TV with this exact message. Polls will surely go up and down, but we know Floridians want four more years of a governor who cares about them and how they will succeed and get a great job."
Schale rebuffed that idea.
"The reality is that most people in this state have a strong impression of either Rick Scott or Charlie Crist, an impression that's not going to be easily changed by television ads or misleading campaigning or campaigning out of the governor's office or you name it," he said.
Additional information about the poll is available at http://mason-dixon.com/florida/....
The New York Times has a front pager on some of Jeb Bush's business dealings since leaving the governor's mansion and suggests it won't be helpful to a presidential run:
As it sought to recruit well-heeled investors, an untested and unprofitable Miami company named InnoVida brought aboard a trusted Florida figure in 2007: Jeb Bush, the former governor and the brother of a sitting president....
Winner of the week
Patrick Murphy. After narrowly defeating outspoken Republican congressman Allen West two years ago in a Palm Beach area district, Murphy looked mighty vulnerable - especially in the climate that appears to favor the GOP. But the respected The Rothenberg Political Report last week shifted its rating to “leans Democrat” based on Murphy’s formidable money-raising....
04/19/14 State Roundup
For two decades, it's been almost like a ritual after the votes are tallied in nonpresidential elections: Wounded activists and leaders wring their hands and bemoan how the Florida Democratic Party has sunk to its weakest position ever.
Well, forgive us for alarming you Florida Democrats, but if you think 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010 were painful election cycles, consider how excruciating 2014 might be. ...
With Democrats scrambling to find a strong candidate to take on newly elected U.S.. Rep. David Jolly in Congressional District 13, not everyone is thrilled with the idea of the Rev. Manuel Sykes of St. Petersburg jumping in the race. Some Democrats are buzzing about the 2007 front page story revealing that the Rev. Sykes, who was single, fathered a child out of wedlock and allegedly encouraged the mother to have an abortion. From the article:...
State Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, is arguably the leading moderate Republican in Tallahassee, and at first blush, not the most likely candidate to be a top legislative ally of Gov. Rick Scott. But the maverick Pinellas legislator who never hesitated to butt heads with Gov. Jeb Bush has emerged as one of Scott's most vocal cheerleaders.
Latvala appears Sunday on Political Connections on Bay News 9, gushing about Gov. Scott and Scott's controversial chief of staff, Adam Hollingsworth. The praise appears genuine, but it also happens to be a wise approach as veto season approaches....
From The Hill:
,,,,Speaking at the New Hampshire Freedom Summit, a gathering of conservative activists and figures organized by Americans for Prosperity and Citizens United, billionaire Donald Trump said Bush’s recent comments on immigrants coming to the U.S. as an “act of love” were “out there.”
“You know, I heard Jeb Bush the other day,” he said, with quiet boos and angry murmurs erupting from the crowd at the mention of Bush’s name.
“And he was talking about people that come into this country illegally, they do it for love,” he continued, with the boos growing louder.......
Winner of the week
David Jolly. The rookie Republican U.S. representative for Pinellas County kept a campaign promise to vote against his leadership's budget proposal; in a Tampa Bay Times Florida Insider Poll, 3 out of 4 said Alex Sink would be unwise to challenge Jolly again in November; and national Democrats have no strong plan B should Sink take a pass.
Loser of the week...
04/12/14 State Roundup
Jeb Bush says he hasn't made up his mind about running for president in 2016, but the overwhelming verdict from 121 of Florida's most plugged-in politicos is that Bush ultimately will take the plunge.
Seventy-four percent of the participants in the latest Tampa Bay Times Florida Insider poll predict Bush will enter the race for president in 2016, while only 33 percent expect that Sen. Marco Rubio will....
Dear Alex Sink,
We read the other day that you are still pondering whether to run against David Jolly again in Congressional District 13, after a narrow loss to the Republican newcomer in last month's special election. You know, of course, that the filing deadline is less than a month away and until you decide, the field of potentially strong Democrats — actually, that field doesn't exist, so let's just say the field of potential Democratic challengers — is frozen out....
State Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg, appears Sunday on Political Connections on Bay News 9 in Tampa Bay, discussing his likely campaign against Bill Young Jr., and his efforts to give consumers a leg up against utility companies. Political Connections airs at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.. Here's a clip.
Jeb Bush says he hasn't made up his mind about running for president in 2016, but the overwhelming verdict from 120 of Florida's most plugged in politicos is that Bush ultimately will take the plunge.
Seventy four percent of the participants in our latest Tampa Bay Times Political Insider poll predict Bush will run in 2016, while only 33 percent expect that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio will run for president in 2016....
Bettina Inclan Agen, the savvy Miami native and former adviser to Rick Scott, the NRCC, and Mitt Romney, has signed on as a senior vice president for the public strategy group Mercury Florida. From a release:
“Bettina possesses a rare combination of communications experience, coalition building and regional ties that will be a great asset to Mercury Florida as we continue to build the state’s most talented team of high stakes public affairs professionals,” said Mercury CEO and founding partner Kieran Mahoney. “Bettina has proven her ability to execute strategic and high-impact communications and political strategies to diverse demographics. We are excited to add Bettina’s wealth of experience to our growing team.” ...
Dear Alex Sink,
We read the other day that you are still pondering whether to run against David Jolly again in Congressional District 13, after a narrow loss to the Republican newcomer in last month's special election. You know, of course that the filing deadline is less than a month away and until you decide, the field of potentially strong Democrats - actually, that field doesn't exist, so let's just say the field of potential Democratic challengers - is frozen out....