Annette Taddeo's campaign released an internal poll Thursday showing the Florida state senator up double digits on Republican opponent Marili Cancio in a central Dade district that flipped from red to blue last year in a special election.
Taddeo's poll, conducted two weeks ago and released only now as absentee ballots go out in the mail, shows her up by a 54 to 36 margin, with 11 percent undecided. The left-leaning SEA Polling & Strategic design queried 400 likely voters in mid-September, nearly half of them on cell phones.
Taddeo's campaign provided the questions posed by live callers and the breakdown of voters polled, but we still offer the usual caveats about internal polling, which should always be taken with some skepticism. The poll's margin of error is also plus or minus 5 points, which could place the margin as close as 49 to 41.
But even that would be a significant lead in a district that Taddeo won by 4 points in 2017. In the year prior, Republican Frank Artiles won the district by 10.
"The atmospherics of the race are still setting up great for Democrats," pollster Tom Eldon wrote in a campaign memo, noting Trump's unfavorable ratings in the district and higher attention to the news among Democratic voters.
Cancio's campaign, however, called the numbers "extremely suspect." Campaign strategist JL Castillo said Taddeo's campaign has hit Cancio with a barrage of negative advertising, which doesn't jibe with a campaign with a double-digit lead.
"They’ve been dropping attack mail pieces on Cancio for weeks now. They just dropped another one yesterday," he said. "It makes no sense. It flies in the face of what they’re trying to assert. Those numbers are highly suspect."
The contest has been hard-fought, with both candidates attacking the other over guns and school safety. Republicans would love to have the seat back in the fold as they hope to hold their advantage in the upper chamber, while Democrats desperately need to keep the seat if they intend to gain seats in the Senate.