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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.

A note about the surveys from 0ptimus (and that's not "Optimus," it's "0ptimus" with a zero), which was first noted in the paper last week and used in a prior polling analysis: The firm uses robo-polling technology that, like all others, misses cellphone-only households (who tend to be more liberal leaning). To get around that limitation, 0ptimus uses large 3,000-6,000 samples in the hopes of catching voters demographically similar to cellphone only voters. Other firms, such as SurveyUSA, identify cellphone-onlies and poll them with a smartphone questionnaire.

Then there's YouGov, which CBS and the New York Times are using. It's using an online-only format where it largely resurveys the same "panel" of likely voters over and over. So its new polls are essentially like its old polls of likely voters. The polling technique is experimental, developing and somewhat controversial in the world of public-opinion research. There's a good chance that its panel of respondents, who are more self-selecting than those surveyed randomly by phone, are more likely to be whiter and wealthier than many Florida voters (minorities tend to vote Democrat). To compensate for that, YouGov models and weights its respondents, but the results of the survey's past three releases all show Scott doing consistently better against Crist than in many other polls. Except for Quinnipiac's last survey, YouGov was the only poll reporting Scott at 46 percent or higher. Its last poll shows Scott leads Crist 47-44 percent (note: I can't find the survey at YouGov but the Fort Myers News-Press reported it). All that said, its worth watching YouGov just like watching other polls.

0ptimus also weights its polls by using a model that blends the 2010 and 2006 voter performances by party (which gives Republican voters a 3.2 percentage point advantage). If you're going to model polls in Florida, this is probably the best way to do it for this election because it averages the turnout rates by party of the prior midterms that were, respectively, high watermarks for Democrats and for Republicans.

Here are 0ptimus' partisan crosstabs:

  Scott Crist Wyllie Unsure
REP 64.9% 15.4% 13.3% 6.4%
DEM 14.9% 66.3% 11.1% 7.6%
NPA 29.5% 42.0% 17.8% 10.8%