GOP Poll: David Jolly, Alex Sink Neck-and-Neck in Florida’s Special Election

A week-old survey shows the two candidates in a virtual tie with early, absentee voting well underway.

MIAMI - OCTOBER 21: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink speaks during a campaign event at Miami-Dade College October 21, 2010 in Miami, Florida. Sink is facing off against Republican challenger Rick Scott for the Florida governor's seat.
National Journal
Scott Bland
Feb. 25, 2014, 6:24 a.m.

Flor­ida’s battle­ground spe­cial con­gres­sion­al elec­tion is too close to call, ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey con­duc­ted last week for a group back­ing Re­pub­lic­an nom­in­ee Dav­id Jolly.

A new poll com­mis­sioned by the U.S. Cham­ber of Com­merce, which has spent $800,000 on in­de­pend­ent ex­pendit­ures back­ing Jolly, shows the Re­pub­lic­an slightly in front of Demo­crat Alex Sink — 44 per­cent to 42 per­cent — but the res­ults are well with­in the poll’s mar­gin of er­ror of plus or minus 4.9 per­cent­age points.

The only in­de­pend­ent polling in the race, con­duc­ted by three loc­al news out­lets at the be­gin­ning of Feb­ru­ary, also showed Sink at 42 per­cent but had Jolly trail­ing by 7 points. Every sur­vey in the race has con­firmed that turnout is the key factor for both Sink and Jolly in the race to re­place GOP Rep. Bill Young, whose death left open a seat he had held eas­ily for dec­ades but which Pres­id­ent Obama car­ried twice thanks to steady demo­graph­ic change.

Ab­sent­ee vot­ing in the St. Peters­burg-area dis­trict has been un­der­way for weeks now, and Re­pub­lic­ans ac­count for 42 per­cent of the bal­lots already re­turned. Demo­crats have re­turned 39 per­cent of the mail bal­lots so far. That 3-point gap, which mir­rors the dis­trict’s over­all voter re­gis­tra­tion rates, may ac­tu­ally fa­vor Sink, giv­en that Flor­ida Re­pub­lic­ans typ­ic­ally build an ad­vant­age dur­ing ab­sent­ee vot­ing, as they did dur­ing the 2012 pres­id­en­tial elec­tion.

The cham­ber is just one of eight groups that have already spent six fig­ures try­ing to sway the race be­fore the March 11 spe­cial elec­tion. Total out­side spend­ing has climbed above $5.5 mil­lion, with mil­lions more ex­pec­ted in the next few weeks. 

Fort Laud­er­dale-based Fab­riz­io, Lee, and As­so­ci­ates con­duc­ted the new poll for the cham­ber, sur­vey­ing 400 likely voters from Feb. 17-18.

What We're Following See More »
Trump Not on Ballot in Minnesota
2 days ago
Trump on Immigration: ‘I Don’t Know, You Tell Me’
3 days ago

Perhaps Donald Trump can take a plebiscite to solve this whole messy immigration thing. At a Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity last night, Trump essentially admitted he's "stumped," turning to the audience and asking: “Can we go through a process or do you think they have to get out? Tell me, I mean, I don’t know, you tell me.”

Trump Enriching His Businesses with Donor Money
4 days ago

Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.

Trump Cancels Rallies
5 days ago

Donald Trump probably isn't taking seriously John Oliver's suggestion that he quit the race. But he has canceled or rescheduled rallies amid questions over his stance on immigration. Trump rescheduled a speech on the topic that he was set to give later this week. Plus, he's also nixed planned rallies in Oregon and Las Vegas this month.

Sean Hannity Is Also Advising Trump
5 days ago

Donald Trump's Fox News brain trust keeps growing. After it was revealed that former Fox chief Roger Ailes is informally advising Trump on debate preparation, host Sean Hannity admitted over the weekend that he's also advising Trump on "strategy and messaging." He told the New York Times: “I’m not hiding the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States. I never claimed to be a journalist.”