While Gov. Rick Scott faces term limits next year, a new poll shows Florida voters from both parties are undecided on who they want to replace him in Tallahassee.
St. Leo University released a poll of Floridians on Tuesday showing both Republicans and Democrats are not sure on who they want to be their gubernatorial candidates come 2018.
A third of Florida Republicans--34 percent--are undecided on who they want to replace Scott while 30 percent are for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee who moved to the Panhandle following his 2008 presidential bid. Huckabee has been active on the national stage since then, including hosting a national radio show and a TV show on Fox News. In 2016, Huckabee made a second presidential bid but fared far worse than he did in 2008, bowing out after a ninth place finish in the Iowa caucus which he won eight years before.
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam gets 13 percent of Florida Republicans while 6 percent back former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker. Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran pulls 5 percent followed by state Sen. Jack Latvala with 3 percent. Physician Usha Jain, who ran for an Orange County Commission seat last year, gets 2 percent while 8 percent back other candidates. Jain is the only one of the Republicans included in the poll who has officially kicked off a gubernatorial bid.
On the other side of the aisle, 40 percent of Florida Democrats are unsure on who they are supporting for governor next year while 20 percent back former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy who was the party’s unsuccessful candidate against U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., last year. Attorney John Morgan takes 9 percent followed by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer with 6 percent. U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor and Miami Beach Mayor Phil Levine takes 5 percent apiece while two candidates based out of Tallahassee--former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham and Mayor Andrew Gillum--claim 4 percent each. St. Petersburg Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who has said he will not run, gets 3 percent. Former state Sen. Jeremy Ring and Ft. Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler take 2 percent apiece while 4 percent prefer other candidates. So far Gillum and Orlando businessman Chris King, who was not included in the poll, have launched gubernatorial bids on the Democratic side.
Frank Orlando, the director of the Saint Leo University Polling Institute, said name ID was in play in the early stages of the contest.
“The biggest word in the gubernatorial race is still uncertainty’,” said Orlando. “Most candidates are still doing their homework to decide if making a run is worth it. Until the field crystallizes, we’ll continue to see results dominated by name ID.”
Undecided voters also came into play in the only hypothetical general election matchup conducted by St. Leo. While 26 percent of all voters were for Morgan and 20 percent for Putnam, 42 percent where undecided and 12 percent opted for other candidates.
The poll of 507 Floridians was conducted with an online survey instrument from March 3-11 and had a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percent.