Florida races far from certain: Gubernatorial and Senate races in statistical dead heats, with about a quarter of Floridians undecided

Senate: Crist 30%, Rubio 27%, Meek 15%... Undecided 23%
Governor: McCollum 34%, Sink 32%... Undecided 26%

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Miami, FL – Registered voters in Florida give a slight edge to Independent Senatorial candidate Charlie Crist (who was elected as Republican Governor of Florida in 2006 and recently left the Republican Party) over his Republican opponent Marco Rubio. However, with 23% undecided about how they will vote, there is still a great deal to play for.

Crist’s lead in the polls (despite his recent departure from his Party) is likely due to his overall popularity – after five years in power as Governor, his approval rating is fairly high at 52% (38% disapprove). In addition, a quarter (24%) of registered voters in Florida say that Crist’s departure from the Republican party has made them more likely to vote for him, compared to 21% who say it has made them less likely to vote for him. This is despite the fact that more people believe Crist’s decision to leave his party was opportunistic (47%) than principled (33%).

The Gubernatorial election shows Republican candidate Bill McCollum leading by two points over his Democratic opponent Alex Sink (34% vs. 32%) – but with more than a quarter (26%) saying they are undecided.

Of course, these ‘ballot’ questions assume that the primary elections yield these candidates; while Meek and McCollum both enjoy clear leads over their primary election opponents, there has been some movement there in the last few weeks. On the Democratic side, Maurice Ferre is polling at 10%, and Jeff Greene has received increased publicity over the last week and is polling on 9% – but again the ‘undecideds’ make up the majority of voters, with two in five (41%) Democrats not sure how they will vote at the primary. On the Republican side, Rick Scott is polling on 22%, just under half of McCollum’s 46% – but again we see a quarter (25%) are undecided.

The poll also covered a range of topical issues, some of which underline further reasons for Crist’s popularity:

  • More than half (53%) agree with Crist’s decision to veto the teacher tenure bill, and 29% disagree with his decision
  • More than half (55%) also believe that Crist should veto the new abortion amendment which would require ultrasound tests for pregnant women seeking abortions in the first trimester, and 31% think he should let the bill pass
  • Floridians have divided views on the issue of offshore drilling – 44% support a ban on drilling in Florida waters, and the same proportion oppose such a ban
  • Almost three in five (58%) favor Florida passing an immigration law similar to the one recently passed in Arizona, and 36% oppose such a law. Support for this type of legislation is highest among Republican and Independent supporters, and lower among Democratic supporters
  • 55% of registered voters in Florida indicate that they identify with the Tea Party movement at least a little bit – and 22% identify with it ‘strongly’. A third (33%) do not identify with the Tea Party movement at all.

These are findings from an Ipsos poll conducted May 14-18, 2010 on behalf of the Miami Herald, St. Petersburg Times, BayNews9, and Central Florida News 13. For the survey, a representative, randomly selected sample of exactly 607 adults aged 18 and older across Florida who are registered voters was interviewed by Ipsos. With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate within 4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire population of registered voters in Florida been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error. These data were weighted to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the actual Florida registered voter population according to U.S. Census figures. Respondents were contacted on both landlines and cellular phones, and had the option to be interviewed in English or Spanish. Please note that figures based on Independent voters are indicative only due to very small sample size (25).

For more information on this press release, please contact:
Julia Clark
Ipsos Public Affairs

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Florida races far from certain: Gubernatorial and Senate races in statistical dead heats, with about a quarter of Floridians undecided


Julia Clark
Senior Vice President, US
Ipsos Public Affairs