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Republicans and Democrats Undecided on Florida's Next Governor

June 12, 2018 - 12:00pm
Philip Levine, Gwen Graham, Adam Putnam and Ron DeSantis
Philip Levine, Gwen Graham, Adam Putnam and Ron DeSantis

With two and a half months until the primaries at the end of August, Florida Republicans and Democrats remain undecided on who they want to see replace term-limited Gov. Rick Scott. 

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute released a poll of Florida voters on Tuesday showing majorities of both Republicans and Democrats are still not behind any of the major candidates. 

On the Republican side, 44 percent of GOP voters are undecided while 35 percent support state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and 13 percent back U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla. Other candidates, including Bob White who leads the Republican Liberty Caucus of Florida, were not listed in the poll but it shows 9 percent of Florida Republicans back other candidates for the GOP nomination. 

The poll was taken before recent revelations that an employee at the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which Putnam leads, failed to do all required background checks on applicants for concealed carry permits. 

Frank Orlando, the director of the Saint Leo University Polling Institute and a political scientist at that university, said, despite that news, Putnam is in good shape to win the primary. 

"While a lot of voters remain undecided, Adam Putnam seems to be gaining momentum,” Orlando said on Wednesday. “He has been in the news a lot lately, but the race is his to lose. DeSantis hasn't been able to turn this race into the 2016 primary in the state where he plays the role of Donald Trump and Putnam is in the Marco Rubio role.

“DeSantis has ground to make up in the next few months,” Orlando added. 

Over on the other side of the aisle, 47 percent of Florida Democrats remain undecided with former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, D-Fla., and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine both claiming 14 percent each. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum places third with 10 percent followed by Orlando businessman Chris King with 6 percent while 9 percent of Florida Democrats back other candidates. Billionaire Jeff Greene, who entered the race right after this poll was conducted, was not included in the Democratic primary field. 

“The Democratic race is still very open,” Orlando said. “Gwen Graham continues to rack up establishment support, such as the endorsement of the Florida Education Association (teachers’ union) last week. She is still being outspent by the Levine campaign. It remains to be seen whether his money will allow him to gain a foothold outside of his native South Florida.”

A large segment of Florida voters remain undecided when the top Republican and Democrats are matched up against each other. The poll finds Putnam takes 25 percent while Graham pulls 20 percent with the rest of those surveyed undecided or backing other candidates. Putnam does slightly worse when matched with Levine with 24 percent supporting the Republican and 20 percent backing the Democrat. Graham and Levine do better in the poll against DeSantis than they do against Putnam. Graham takes 22 percent while DeSantis gets 16 percent. Levine also takes 22 percent against DeSantis who gets 17 percent in that scenario. But, in all those scenarios, 43 to 49 percent of those surveyed are not sure and 11 to 13 percent say they back other candidates. 

"It looks like Putnam has a small advantage over the top two Democrats  whereas DeSantis is behind,” Orlando said. “This probably shows both that Putnam is better known and that Putnam is seen as the more moderate Republican in the race. He is less likely to ‘scare’ away moderate voters that may not like DeSantis receiving the Trump endorsement."

The poll of 506 Florida voters was taken from May 25-May 31 and had a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percent. 



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"St. Leo" AGAIN ?!?!?... (Don't those "college kids" have ANY pertinent "classroom work" to do (Is there even a 'class' called "Political Pollster 101.1") ?!?.. [Have we re-entered the "Hillary/Obama redux era" AGAIN?..WHEN will we ever learn?] {"St. Leo" has about as much credibility as " St. Patrick}

As a Republican, U.S.Navy veteran, I cannot vote for Putnam. Putnam has done little to solve the citrus greening in Florida throwing good money after bad. Putnam has ignored our water issues in the state, and the discharges into the rivers and bays from Lake Okeechobee. When it comes to hemp and medical marijuana Putnam has been absent from all of the Office of Medical Marijuana workshops, and the Florida Counties Medical Marijuana conference. Here we have a brand new agricultural crop, and Putnam cannot be bothered to show up and discuss the program. In addition, Putnam puts patients at risk because he has failed to develop and publish a safe pesticides use document. Putnam is rooted in old ways, old stigmas, old political ideologies. Putnam has no business being the governor of Florida.

Amen, bro! "Putnam has no business being the governor of Florida" for all the reasons you enumerated (and then some).

As a Republican, I am almost in the "anybody but Putnam" camp. What did he accomplish as Ag Secretary? He and the citrus industry think Federal bailouts and bio-engineered, glyphosate tolerant citrus are the answer (i.e., "fake" foods that can grow in toxic soil)? I cannot vote for someone so totally oblivious to the immediate NOW-PROVEN citrus solution presented by non-GMO, biofriendly NutriSmart combined with chemical fertilizer and glyphosate REDUCTION. And while I'm at it, as much as I am a Republican and would like Sen. Nelson to retire, I simply will not vote for Gov. Scott, since he turned a blind eye on the residents of the Northern segment of the proposed All Aboard Florida route. If he disregards the interests of an entire region as Governor, how responsive can I expect him to be as a US Senator? Please Republicans, find me another Senatorial candidate to replace Mr. Nelson.

I am so appreciative of your post, HCopeland. I have been so engrossed in the national news, I have not been paying attention. FOR SURE, we don't want Putnam. Florida is such a fragile state, and things like citrus, sugar, and like the industry up here in North Central Florida that ruined Lake Apopka--are criminal, in my book. Orange and Seminole Counties allow all kinds of building over and around the Wekiva River until it is polluted. We must be so careful who we elect. I, for one, was never so disappointed in anyone as I was in Governor Rick Scott when he did the gun laws he did. I would never vote for him again--for anything. I felt very betrayed. There are many ways to have handled that, and he chose THE ONE WAY that he believed would get him more votes sending him to DC. Well, he won't get my voite. The other thing is that Ron DeSantis is INVALUABLE in the Congress right now; however, thinking of HOME FIRST, I will be voting for him--and praying that he wins--and working for him when he wins the primary.

Excellent points! And, I'm all in on ANYBODY BUT Putnam and Scott! Send Putnam to run grounds maintenance at Trump National in Jupiter and Scott to run the dining room at Mar-a-lago!

If Scott is to run the dining room, somebody better count the silver first.

I SECOND BOTH OF THOSE MOTIONS...Except I do wonder what you have against Jupiter to send Putnam there. HaHa

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