Poll: Adam Putnam, Ron DeSantis and Gwen Graham, Philip Levine neck and neck in gubernatorial primaries

The statewide poll shows more than 40 percent of likely primary voters are undecided
Published Feb. 6, 2018|Updated Feb. 6, 2018

A new poll by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy finds neck and neck gubernatorial primaries between Gwen Graham and Philip Levine on the Democratic side and Adam Putnam and Ron DeSantis on the Republican. Both races remain wide open, however, with more than 40 percent of primary voters undecided.

Among the Democrats, former Tallahassee U.S. Rep. Graham leads Miami Beach businessman and former mayor Levine among likely primary voters 20 percent to 17 percent, within the poll’s 4.5 percent margin of error. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum had 10 percent support and Winter Park developer Chris King 4 percent.

A whopping 49 percent of likely Democratic voters were undecided in the Jan. 29 through Feb. 1 telephone poll of 500 registered Democrats and 500 registered Republicans.

Forty three percent of Republicans were undecided, and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam narrowly led U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis 27 percent to 23 percent.  Illustrating how legislative leaders tend to be far less significant to people outside Tallahassee than inside,  Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran drew 7 percent support and 70 percent did not recognize his name (compared to 37 percent for Putnam and 44 for DeSantis).

From Mason-Dixon’s memo about the poll:

It is interesting to note that both front-runners have leads that are smaller than their recognition advantages. Graham, the daughter of former Governor & Senator Bob Graham, has an 8-point name recognition margin over Levine, but just a 3-point lead. Putnam, the only candidate to have run statewide, has a name recognition advantage of 7-points over DeSantis, but only a 4-point lead. 

Graham’s total recognition of 65% among Democrats is likely lower than many insiders would expect, but her father’s name has not appeared on the state ballot in 20 years. Putnam has only 63% recognition among GOP voters, as his position in the state cabinet is low profile. 

Traditional expectations in primary elections based on insider baseball no longer apply in a growing and ever-changing state. As both parties have polarized, establishment backing is no longer a great advantage.