American Future Fund, a conservative group, has released a poll showing Republican Gov. Rick Scott with not just a lead over Democrat Charlie Crist, but a relatively substantial one: 4 percentage points.
With the margin of error, however, one could call Scott's 42-38 percent lead a tie as well.
Just as Republicans do when their guy is losing, Democrats are sure to doubt this poll's validity. It's an outlier, for now. And McLaughlin & Associates have what are generally known as "tight screens" for their likely voter polls, which could make this one inherently more-conservative leaning.
That's because a likely voter in a Florida mid-term tends to be more conservative than one in a presidential race. And that's why there are no Democrats elected statewide who hold a position in the state Capitol.
And that's why it's not a bad idea to guess that the race between Scott and Crist will be close. It might be already. Not only have more-conservative-leaning polls shown a tighter race as of late, but Scott is on pace to burn about $8.5 million in just over two months on TV alone.
Money like that has to have an effect. Because it always has.
The McLaughlin poll is composed of 37% Democrats, 40% Republicans, 23% Other/independent voters. Other polls showing Crist up had more Democrats and independents. (2006 turnout was R=43% D=42%, OTH=15.3%; 2010 turnout was R=44%, D=40%, OTH=16.0% -- but note, there are wonky debates over self-ID and registered voter polls that might not make the polling and turnout percentages listed here as completely analogous).
The last Quinnipiac poll late last month had Crist up by 10 points (background here), other polls showed smaller Crist leads generally. When the polls were "unskewed," however, the race became pretty tight (background here).
Here's the press release
President Obama holds a disapproval rate of 53%, with just a 43% approval rate in the Sunshine State. 50% of Florida voters prefer electing a Republican governor to check President Obama and his policies while only 39% of Florida voters support electing a governor in the mold of the President.
By a wide margin, nearly a majority (49%) of Florida voters believe the economy is the most important issue in this year's midterm election. And on the issue of ObamaCare, just 41% of Floridians support the President's signature law while 53% oppose it - including 44% of voters who strongly disapprove of ObamaCare.
In the Florida gubernatorial race, the poll found Governor Rick Scott (R-FL) leading former Governor Charlie Crist (D-FL) 42% to 38%. 53% of Florida voters approve of the job Governor Scott has done in office and by a 44% to 36% margin Florida voters view Governor Scott favorably. Former Governor Crist; however, is only viewed favorably by 39% of Florida voters and is viewed unfavorably by 41% of voters.
Governor Scott also has a significant advantage over former Governor Crist on specific issues of concern to Florida voters. Florida voters believe Governor Scott is best positioned to better handle improving the economy and creating jobs by a 39% to 25% margin. And on the issue of which candidate would do a better job keeping taxes low and reducing wasteful spending, Scott again outpaces Crist 38% to 23%.
Nick Ryan, Founder of the American Future Fund, said: "Florida, Florida, Florida, as Tim Russert once said, will once again be a leading battleground state in this year's midterm election. Voters clearly disapprove of President Obama's economy and his signature healthcare law, and Governor Scott is holding his own in a head-to-head against the unpopular former Governor Charlie Crist. The majority of Florida voters believe Governor Scott has done a good job and he is well positioned to win a second term this fall."
The live interview poll was conducted between May 4- 6, 2014 of 800 likely Florida voters on both landlines and cell phones by the polling firm of McLaughlin & Associates. The poll consisted of 47% male respondents and 53% female respondents, 37% of respondents were self-identified Democrats while 40% were self-identified Republicans. The poll has a 3.4% margin of error.