With less than six weeks to go before the Aug. 30 primary, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez's reelection camp is privately touting an internal poll showing a widening lead against challenger Raquel Regalado.
Naked Politics saw a partial report on the poll by longtime Gimenez pollster Dario Moreno, and confirmed the results with another source involved in the campaign. But we didn't see the full report, including the questions asked. The poll of 800 likely voters, conducted in English and Spanish between July 13 and July 18, shows Gimenez with 43 percent of the vote and Regalado, a two-term school board member, with 18 percent.
That's a big switch from the last Moreno poll in February, which showed a 10-point race with the five-year incumbent at 38 percent and the challenger at 28 percent. Both polls showed undecideds at the same level: 34 percent in February and 33 percent in July. The internal February results, previously unreported, were included in a summary of other polling included in the July report.
The February results mostly matched a public poll conducted in May by Bendixen & Amandi for the Miami Herald and other news organizations, which showed Gimenez ahead by 10 points among likely voters, 36 percent to 26 percent.
Fernand Amandi, a partner in the Coconut Grove firm, said the Moreno poll suggests strong momentum for Gimenez, despite his vulnerabilities. "Running under 50 percent is always a sign of vulnerability for an incumbent," he said. "But he has to be seen as the odds-on favorite. It's difficult to see what dynamics are going to change."
Regalado spokeswoman Elaine de Valle said the campaign did not think the race was as reflected in the Moreno poll, but noted even those results showed some weakness. "He's finishing under 50 [percent] consistently, and that shows he doesn't have the support of the majority of the voters," she said.
Gimenez's reelection leaders see the growing support in the Moreno poll stemming from a string of mailers, television ads and radio spots funded by his campaign and political committee -- particularly those targeting black voters, a chronic weak spot for Gimenez since his first mayoral campaign in 2011.
Gimenez has raised over $4 million for his reelection effort, dwarfing efforts by his main challenger in the seven-person race. The mayor's reelection effort said it had about $2.7 million left to spend in the mid-July finance report. Regalado's reports showed roughly $200,000 to spend.