October 07, 2014

0ptimus FL poll: Adrian Wyllie gaining at 13%; Charlie Crist, Rick Scott deadlocked 40-39%


The new Republican-leaning analytics firm 0ptimus is out with a new Florida governor's race poll and it's probably great news for the least-known candidate: Adrian Wyllie.

The Libertarian is pulling in 13 percent support from likely voters, an improvement of 2 percentage points since 0ptimus' last poll. It's an even bigger pickup compared to Wyllie's standing when 0ptimus first surveyed his name from Aug. 18-Aug. 24, when he registered 9 support.

If Wyllie hits 15 percent support and the Florida Press Association deems 0ptimus a "credible" poll, then Wyllie will likely participate in its Oct. 15 debate featuring Gov. Rick Scott and Democrat Charlie Crist. Wyllie has been shut out of Friday's Telemundo debate.

Update: The Florida Press Association says Wyllie can't participate in its Oct. 15 debate between Gov. Rick Scott and Charlie Crist because, to qualify, Wyllie had to register 15 percent in a poll that had to be taken before Sept. 30 by an independent pollster, which the association defines as one not affiliated with a political party or group. Wyllie also won't be in Friday's Telemundo face-off between Scott and Crist.

Crist and Scott, meanwhile, are essentially deadlocked at 40-39 percent.

"This week, the two candidates stayed neck and neck, and the only 'mover' in the race was Wyllie, who showed gains just outside the margin of error," said 0ptimus' founder and analyst Brian Stobie.  "We view this is a backlash to the two highly negative campaigns saturating Florida airwaves, particularly from those in our modeled undecided voter universes, who seem to be leading this trend toward Wyllie."

If that's the case, Scott's people might have figured it out first. They've gone up with two strong positive spots (if you include Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera's direct-to-camera commercial, it's three). Crist, who has trailed in fundraising and therefore ad-running, is slightly behind but he's also adding more positive spots as well.

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October 02, 2014

In Fla's teetering-tottering governor's race, Charlie Crist regains footing


After trailing in polls, Democrat Charlie Crist is marginally leading Gov. Rick Scott in two new surveys that show the governor’s race will be as close as they come.

The polls from SurveyUSA and a new Republican data-analysis firm named 0ptimus show Crist, respectively, ahead by 6 percentage points and 1 percentage point — leads that are both within the margins of error.

The apparent trend in Crist’s favor dovetails with his campaign’s decision to ramp up its ad spending statewide to counteract the effectiveness of Scott’s longer and larger media blitz.

As of Friday, Scott still led Crist in overall spending, dropping $41 million to the Democrat’s $16.7 million on current and future ads.

“The story here is these guys have been spending a ton of money,” said Scott Tranter, an analyst with Washington-based 0ptimus. “But the only guy who’s seeing any movement here is Charlie Crist.”

The 0ptimus poll of 3,356 likely voters — that ended Sunday — showed Crist garnering 41.1 percent of the vote to Scott’s 40.1 percent. Libertarian Adrian Wyllie is backed by 11.1 percent.

More here

October 01, 2014

SurveyUSA/WFLA poll: Crist keeps climbing, leads Scott 46-40%


Democrat Charlie Crist is nursing a slight 46-40 percent lead over Gov. Rick Scott in SurveyUSA's latest poll for WFLA-TV.

Crist's 6 percentage-point lead isn't so big because the likely-voter poll's error margin is 4.1 percent.

But it ain't the topline, it's the trend to note. And for the past two weeks, the momentum has been for Crist: a net 9 percentage point shift since last week and, compared to the poll released Sept. 9, an 11-point shift.

The movement in Crist's direction corresponds with Crist's increasing ad buys. Scott has been pumping more money into TV as well, but he hadn't been as closely answered as he is now.

Overall, the poll track in the governor's race indicates one clear takeaway: the race is close and prone to minor shifts.

A caveat about SurveyUSA's track: It has had some inexplicable shifts and the independent respondents in the poll have shifted the most. Two weeks ago, Scott led among independents by 13. Now Crist leads them by 8 -- a 21-point shift.

Also, compared to other polls, SurveyUSA is finding far lower support for Florida's medical-marijuana initiative: 52-33 percent. It takes 60 percent of the vote to approve a constitutional amendment in Florida. The average of other major polls puts support at 64 percent.

A bonus for all you poll unskewers: Don't bother. This poll reflects a Republican-Democrat-Independent respondent sample of 40-40-19 percent (numbers are rounded). Blending the 2006 and 2010 turnout rates by party ID, it would likely be a better if the poll had a 38-36-26 percent breakdown. But after rejiggering the poll based on that GOP+2 model, Crist still leads, by about 5 percentage points instead of 6.

Here's more from SurveyUSA and here's what the track looks like as of now

SurveyUSA 0930 gov race

September 30, 2014

FL Chamber poll: Rick Scott leads Crist 43-39 percent

A press release from the Rick Scott-backing Florida Chamber:

ORLANDO, Fla. (September 29, 2014) – According to the latest Florida Chamber Political Institute (FCPI) poll released today at the Future of Florida Forum in Orlando, likely voters continue to have a more positive view of the future and favor Governor Rick Scott in the state’s top leadership race. Jobs and the economy (29 percent) continue to be the number one issue among voters, followed by education (19 percent) and healthcare (6 percent).

“Florida voters are smart. They continue recognizing Governor Scott is doing what he said he would do,” said Marian Johnson, Senior Vice President of the Florida Chamber Political Institute. “More than 640,000 private-sector jobs have been created since December 2010, our education initiatives are working, and Florida families and small businesses continue to see opportunities for growth. The fact that a majority of polls throughout the last six to eight weeks show voters continuing to prefer Rick Scott over other candidates is a sign that his numbers are solid.”

Governor Rick Scott’s job approval rating continues to remain positive, with 49 percent of likely voters approving of the job he’s doing. At the same time, gubernatorial candidate and trial lawyer Charlie Crist’s favorability continues to drop – 39 percent favorable and 50 percent unfavorable.

“I believe a major reason Charlie Crist is visibly losing support is because voters are beginning to realize that Rick Scott’s focus on jobs is working and that Florida continues to move in the right direction,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

In head-to-head matchups:

  • Governor’s Race, Rick Scott vs. Charlie Crist vs. Adrian Wyllie: Scott earns 43 percent, Crist gets 39 percent and Libertarian Adrain Wyllie earns 4 percent. Five percent say they will vote for one of the other candidates and 7 percent are firmly undecided.
  • Attorney General Race, Pam Bondi vs. George Sheldon: Bondi earns 48 percent to Sheldon 31 percent.
  • CFO Race, Jeff Atwater vs. William Rankin: Atwater leads with 43 percent to Rankin’s 27 percent.
  • Agriculture Commissioner Race, Adam Putnam vs. Thaddeus Hamilton: Putnam earns 41 percent to Hamilton at 29 percent.

Of the 813 Florida likely voters polled, 29 percent rank job creation and the economy as their top issues. Additional polling data shows:

  • For six straight months, a plurality of voters continue to believe the Sunshine State is headed in the right direction – 43 percent based on Florida Chamber polling conducted in February, June and August 2014.
  • Amendment 1 continues to show strong support: 75 percent support while 14 percent oppose.
  • Amendment 2 has fallen below the 60 percent threshold again; this amendment is losing support. Fifty-nine percent support and 35 percent oppose.
  • Amendment 3 has 27 percent support and 21 percent opposition. 53 percent of voters are undecided.

On the national level, President Obama’s job approval rating remains upside down as 41 percent approved and 54 percent disapprove. 

The poll, conducted on September 18-21, 2014 during live telephone interviews of likely voters, has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percent.

Please note:  The samples for the polls conducted by the Florida Chamber Political Institute are consistently drawn from likely voters, meaning those voters who have the propensity and past performance of voting in elections, rather than simply including registered voters.  Voters are again screened for likelihood of voting this November.


Established in 1916 as Florida’s first statewide business advocacy organization, the Florida Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business and the state’s largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and associations aggressively representing small and large businesses from every industry and every region. The Florida Chamber works within all branches of government to affect those changes set forth in the annual Florida Business Agenda, and which are seen as crucial to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Florida Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FLChamber.com for more information.
136 South Bronough Street, Tallahassee, FL 32301

September 24, 2014

Q-poll trend shows how Rick Scott's negative ads have dragged Charlie Crist down


Today's Quinnipiac Poll showing Gov. Rick Scott leading Democrat Charlie Crist for the first time in the survey's history is a testament to the Republican's ads and their go-for-the-throat negative messaging.

But don't just look at Scott's inside-the-error margin lead of 2 percentage points (44-42 percent). Check out the favorability of both men since the summer of 2010 in Quinnipiac's surveys.

Q poll favorabilities

Under a sustained assault from Scott, Crist's favorability index from last summer until now has plummeted 25 points to -8 today (that is, in today's poll 49 percent have a negative impression of Crist while 41 percent have a positive impression). But Scott's favorability index has only notched down 4 points to -6 (42 percent see him favorably, 48 percent unfavorably).

The damage Scott has done to Crist is starkly illustrated when you examine their positions in 2010.

Four years ago, Crist was an embattled incumbent who switched parties from Republican to independent in a failed bid to top Republican Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate race in which the then-governor wound up dividing the liberal vote because Democratic Congressman Kendrick Meek of Miami stayed in the race.

Still, even with the party-switching and the bad economy at the time, Florida voters still liked Crist in the Quinnipiac Poll, with 49 percent favoring him and 35 percent disfavoring him in June 2010. That means his favorability index was +14. It inched up to +20 for Crist, even though he lost the election.

Scott, however, was in the midst of a bruising GOP primary where Attorney General Bill McCollum played up the newcomer's history with Columbia/HCA, which was socked with a record $1.7 billion Medicare fraud fine.

Only 29 percent favored Scott and 30 percent disfavored him in June 2010, giving him an index of -1. It grew to -12 before the election, where he barely squeaked by. In his first two months in office, Scott earned his only positive index, +4. Then, after proposing mammoth cuts to schools, scuttling high-speed rail and clashing with fellow Republicans in the Legislature, Scott's ratings fell and his index has been negative ever since.

By June of 2013, Scott was in horrible shape. His favorability index was -2 and Crist's was +17. Crist led him by 10 percentage points: 47-37 percent.

There was really only one sure route for Scott to take: Going negative.

Once Crist announced officially in November, Scott greeted him with a $1 million negative ad buy. In total, Scott has spent at least $36 million on TV ads, and the overwhelming number of them has been negative. 

And it has worked.

After holding his fire in spring and then starting to shoot back in July, Crist is now starting to heavily fire on air as well. In one respect, because the race is close to tied, Crist is in relatively good shape after having been savaged for so long on TV. We're $50 million into the spending, and much more is to come.

But it's clear Crist has lost, at least temporarily, his greatest asset: His likability. And by fighting fire with fire, Crist runs the risk of keeping it that way because mudslinging costs the mudslinger as well. It also depresses the electorate. And the smaller the electorate, the more Republican-leaning it generally becomes -- especially in a midterm.

Crist has campaigned recently with the man from Hope, Bill Clinton, and his campaign is loaded with loyalists of the self-styled Hope-and-Change president, Barack Obama. But right now, there's not much hope coming from Crist. 

September 22, 2014

NextGen Climate: FL poll shows ads are hurting Rick Scott, helping Charlie Crist


NextGen Climate's five TV ads bashing Florida Gov. Rick Scott's environmental record have hurt the Republican and, as a result, given an otherwise-outgunned Charlie Crist more of a fighting chance this election season, according to a polling memo from the environmental group.

In a head-to-head matchup, Crist leads Scott 46-43 percent. With Libertarian Adrian Wyllie in the race, Scott is up 42-41 percent. Both leads are inside the error margins of the poll of 600 likely Florida voters conducted by Garin-Hart-Yang, a firm that typically surveys for Democrats and liberals.

Pollster Geoff Garin says, compared to a survey taken in July, "Scott’s standing has eroded significantly" in the three media markets where voters have seen at least $1.8 million worth of ads that focus on Scott’s ties to Duke Energy, the sugar lobby and an Everglades oil-drilling outfit.

"Scott’s personal negatives increased 11 points in Ft. Myers (from 30% to 41%), and four points in Tampa (from 42% to 46%) and West Palm Beach (from 49% to 53%). His net job approval rating dropped 11 points in West Palm Beach (-6 to -17), six points in Tampa (from +1 to -5), and five points in Ft. Myers (from +27 to +22)," the polling memo says.

"As a result, the gubernatorial trial heat has also shifted toward Crist in all three markets. Since early July, Crist has taken over the lead in Tampa, going from a three-point deficit to a two-point lead; he has expanded his lead form three points to 12 points in West Palm Beach; and he has reduced Scott’s lead in the Republican stronghold of Ft. Myers from 28 points to just 19 points."

NextGen, run by billionaire Tom Steyer, isn't just running commercials. It's organizing on the ground as well and says it has opened 17 offices across Florida, knocked on 158,000 doors and made about 35,000 calls to donors.

It's not as if Crist's campaign is doing nothing, either. It began advertising heavily in July, when Garin's baseline survey was taken, and has since placed or run about $14 million in ads. Scott has run $35 million since March.

Democrats were abuzz about Steyer pumping as much as $10 million in the race, with $5 million on ads. But the rate of ad spending appears to have slowed and its unclear if that's a sign of things to come, a pause or a blip in the data.

A note about the poll, which oversampled in the three media markets: the toplines look similar to other surveys when it comes to Democratic and Republican support for the candidates, but Crist's 59-26 percent lead among independents is an outlier. Crist loses 10 points with Wyllie in the race, who makes the contest essentially dead even. It's another sign that Wyllie might ultimately help Scott and hurt Crist, who ran as an independent in 2010.

Here's the whole memo:  Download NGC FL Poll Findings - Sept 2014[1] (1)

Anzalone/United For Care poll: 69% of FL voters back medical marijuana


From a press release:

A recently commissioned poll by United for Care shows strong and stable support for Florida Amendment 2, a measure that would allow for the medical use of marijuana in the state. According to the survey conducted on behalf of United for Care, the main organization advocating for passage of the amendment, 69% of likely voters in Florida support this measure with only 28% opposed. 60% voter approval is needed to pass a Constitutional Amendment in the State of Florida. The findings are significant because they show voter backing of the amendment has remained virtually unchanged since the beginning of 2013.

United for Care has conducted four internal polls since January 2013, employing 3 different pollsters. The first survey by Hamilton Campaigns showed 70% support in January 2013. The second, carried out in March of 2013 by the Kitchens Group, revealed 71% intended to vote “Yes.” A June 2014 poll by Anzalone Liszt Research and Public Opinion Strategies reported 70% voter support for the amendment.

“If you look at the poll numbers since the beginning of last year they are virtually unchanged, and they reassert what we’ve consistently said: Floridians overwhelmingly support medical marijuana,” said Ben Pollara, Campaign Manager at United for Care. “Keeping medical decisions in the hands of doctors - not politicians - is simply not a controversial position for the vast majority of Floridians, and that has not changed over the last twenty-one months.”

“The latest poll speaks very highly of the basic compassion of Florida voters,” said Pollara. “Opponents of Amendment 2 have been relentlessly pushing disingenuous talking points, and insulting the intelligence of the voters - but Floridians have seen through their deception and they are ready to vote for this amendment because it is the right thing to do for the ill and the suffering.”

The Anzalone Liszt Grove Research poll of 1,004 likely Florida voters was conducted from September 12-18, 2014 and has a margin of error of +/-3.1%.

SurveyUSA/WFLA: Scott 44%, Crist 39%, Wyllie %7 percent


From SurveyUSA's Sept. 16* poll for WFLA TV:

In an election for Governor of Florida today, 09/16/14, a month until ballots are mailed to voters, incumbent Republican Rick Scott is now 5 points atop Democratic challenger Charlie Crist, according to the latest WFLA-TV tracking poll conducted by SurveyUSA. Today's results --- Scott 44%, Crist 39% --- are the first time that Crist has polled below 40% in the 6 months since WFLA-TV began tracking the contest...

Compared to a WFLA-TV tracking poll one week ago, Crist is down 5 points, Scott is down 1 point. Libertarian Adrian Wyllie --- today at 7% -- is up 4 percentage points. Crist has lost ground among men, where he is today polling at 35%, 12 points behind Scott. Immediately before the 08/26/14 Democratic primary, Crist led among Independent voters, but today Crist is down among this critically important constituency by 13 points. In Southeast Florida, a Democratic stronghold which includes Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Crist is down 9 points week-on-week, and today leads in that part of the state by just 3. Without Southeast Florida solidly in one's back pocket, no Democrat can carry the state....

State constitutional Amendment 2, which would give Floridians the right to use medicinal marijuana if prescribed by a physician, is backed by 25 points today, 56% voting Yes, 31% voting No. The measure is supported by 40 points among the youngest voters, and by 3 points among the oldest voters. Republicans and conservatives oppose. Moderates, liberals, Democrats and Independents support. The measure passes in every region of the state.

A few thoughts: The medical-marijuana polling number is low compared to other major surveys (such as the AIF poll referenced in last week's column). Also, while it's not out of the realm of possibility, the sudden 6-point overall shift in Scott's favor is notable, though SurveyUSA has had some strange fluctuations at times (more here). Driving that is independents, who shifted a net 13 in Scott's favor (3 toward Scott and 10 from Crist) in two weeks. There's a likely tendence for robo-polls to lean a little conservative because they rely on landlines (more likely to be owned by voters who fit a more-conservative profile). Poll averages indicate it's a 2-point race (inside-the-MOE) in Scott's favor. 


*pardon the late posting

September 21, 2014

Hitting $50m mark, Rick Scott-Charlie Crist ad war is a major marketing campaign


Another week. Another $10.4 million thrown in the fire we call television advertising.

Florida’s governor’s race is now a $50 million-plus commercial spectacle, with more than 71 percent of that spending from Gov. Rick Scott.

During the week that ended Friday, Scott dropped an additional $8 million for current and future ads. That’s about a 23 percent increase for the Republican, dwarfing Democrat Charlie Crist’s ad-buy increase of 17 percent, or almost $2.5 million.

If TV ads decided the governor’s race, Scott would win in a landslide.

There’s more to an election than running commercials, however, just as there’s more to winning a war than just using air power. Like a military campaign, a political campaign needs infantry — the “ground game” or “field operations” of paid staff and volunteers who phone voters and reach out them face to face.:

But the latter depends on the former. And so, therefore, does the election.

Think of the old military adage: Fire without maneuver is inconclusive, maneuver without fire is suicide. A Florida campaign that exists only on air isn’t enough; an off-air campaign goes nowhere.

Column is here.

Last week's post on the ad buys is here with a prior graphic; this graphic charts the increases in ad-buy orders for the week ending Friday.

FL Gov Race major market buys

Below, the trend tells the tale: Scott has spent early and often, especially on TV ad buys, and now his campaign and political committees' once-sizable cash-on-hand advantage is down to less than $1 million against Crist's. Of course, Scott has the GOP and his own millions to rely on.

  Scott's COH vs. Crist


September 14, 2014

Unskewing and averaging the FL gov race polls, Pt. 2: Scott leads Crist 43-41%


Labor Day is over and now the real polling work is underway in Florida’s governor’s race. That means it’s time for another unskewing of the polls, in this case seven surveys released since Sept. 1 for which crosstab data were made available.*

Taken individually, each poll shows a close race, with either Gov. Rick Scott or Democrat Charlie Crist leading by an insider-the-error-margin amount. Taken together and aggregated, however, the polls indicate an even tighter contest.

Scott has the slightest of leads: about 43.3 percent to Crist’s 41.3 percent.

The rough 2 percentage-point margin isn’t a commanding lead. It looks even less-impressive considering the April average of the race’s polls: a Crist lead of about 0.4 percentage points.

Viewed one way, the race has moved a mere net 1.6 percentage points in Scott’s favor while he and his allies have outspent Crist’s campaign by nearly 3:1 on TV since March ($27 million to $10 million). A large number of those ads have been negative, attacking Crist more than boosting Scott. Some political consultants have been describing Scott’s campaign position as the result of some tactical genius – but it’s looking more like brute force right now, the equivalent of dropping an atomic bomb of manure. It’s gonna make Crist stink.

Basically, the campaign looks frozen, which the following poll track of SurveyUSA/WFLA-TV shows. Neither candidate is pulling consistently ahead.

SurveyUSA Sept

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