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Democratic poll: Fresen race is a "statistical draw"

Some South Florida political observers have said they doubt Democrats can flip Florida House District 114. But a new poll conducted by the left-leaning firm SEA Polling & Strategic Design says the race is a dead heat.

The survey has incumbent Republican Rep. Erik Fresen leading Democratic candidate Daisy Baez, 37-35 percent.

"Daisy Baez has moved from just inside the margin of error into a statistical draw with Erik Fresen," pollster Thomas Eldon wrote in an Oct. 24 memo to the Florida Democratic Party. "Furthermore, with 70 percent of remaining undecided voters either Democrats or voters with no party affiliation, Baez has more room to grow than Fresen."

The independent candidate, Ross Hancock, carried 6 percent of respondents. The remaining respondents said they were undecided.

Eldon called the contest "one of the more compelling pickup opportunities of the 2014 cycle."

"With Baez communications increasing every day, she should continue consolidating her support and making further inroads into Fresen's frozen support," he wrote in the memo.

House District 114 is a swing district. It includes conservative communities like West Miami, as well as left-leaning municipalities like Pinecrest and Cutler Bay. It also covers some of Coral Gables, which has a mix of Republican, Democratic and independent voters.

Fresen, a land use consultant from Miami, is a well-known state lawmaker from South Florida. He has raised more than $463,000 in campaign contributions, making him one of the best-financed candidates for the Florida House anywhere in the state.

But Democrats have faith in Baez, a health care administrator who has served in the U.S. Army. They point out that Fresen was re-elected to the seat in 2012 by a narrow margin.

The poll surveyed 300 "registered and likely voters," according to the memo. The interviews were conducted in either English or Spanish, depending on the respondent's preference.

The party registration among the respondents: 36 percent Democrat, 41 percent Republican and 23 percent independent.