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.

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