Ron DeSantis has fought his way to the top of the field of Republican gubernatorial candidates, while Gwen Graham has dropped to third among the Democratic field, according to Gravis Marketing's third Florida poll released Tuesday.
Gravis Marketing Managing Partner Doug Kaplan notes the GOP side remains tight, but “Ron DeSantis has gained in each poll.” DeSantis trailed Putnam 23 percent-12 percent in December, 18 percent-16 percent in February and now leads 19 percent-17 percent in March, says Kaplan.
Speaker Richard Corcoran’s campaign, meanwhile, continues to struggle to show much support, Gravis shows. Corcoran has stayed between 2 percent and 3 percent in each of the three Gravis Marketing polls. Undecided voters remain at 60 percent.
The Democratic race, meanwhile, continues to solidify into a three-person race. But the former mayor of Miami Beach, Philip Levine, now has his first lead in the Democratic primary. Levine’s support has jumped from 6 percent in December to 13 percent in March. Gillum rebounded a bit in March to 11 percent after falling from 12 percent-9 percent from December to February. Graham continues to fall to 9 percent from her high of 18 percent in December.
Gravis does conclude that since 64 percent of voters remain undecided, Democratic and Republican voters have yet to become engaged with their respective gubernatorial primaries at this point.
Donald Trump’s favorability rating still isn't helping Republicans in Florida, according to Gravis, and remains underwater at 41 percent-48 percent, essentially unchanged from the 41 percent-49 percent spread in February.
Despite being the GOP’s top recruit for the U.S. Senate race, Gov. Rick Scott still trails incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson by the same 44 percent-40 percent he did in February. Scott now holds 43 percent-38 percent job approval, a slight drop from the 43 percent-35 percent margin he held in February. While 23 percent of voters remain uncertain about Scott, he is seen in a more positive light than Donald Trump. Unsurprisingly, Republicans are still hoping Scott will run for Senate.
The race on the General Election side remains close. Putnam’s numbers remain stronger than DeSantis against Graham and Gillum. Putnam leads Gillum 34 percent-28 percent while he only leads Graham 34 percent-32 percent. DeSantis trails both Gillum (33 percent-29 percent) and Graham (33 percent-30 percent). Democrats are glad personal injury attorney John Morgan publicly ruled out a run for governor as either a Democrat or an Independent in January. Morgan takes 16 percent-17 percent in a three-way race while giving the GOP an advantage in those hypothetical ballot tests, the poll shows.
While the generic ballot remains tight in Florida (40 percent-37 percent in favor of Democrats), Kaplan notes that “Florida appears to be moving left on a host of social and cultural issues.” One caveat is that support for gay marriage has decreased from 59 percent-30 percent in December, to 51 percent-38 percent in March. Still, voters support a needle exchange program 56 percent-21 percent, and poker and gambling in Florida 45 percent-33 percent. Voters oppose a ban on transgender bathroom use 38 percent-42 percent, but approve of a ban on transgender locker room use 43 percent-37 percent.
After the Stoneman Douglas High school shooting in February, Gravis asked two new questions on gun control measures. Earlier this month, Scott signed into law a bill that raises the minimum age for purchasing firearms to 21 in the state of Florida. This provision has broad 76 percent-20 percent support among Florida voters. The measure is approved of by 90 percent of Democrats, 78 percent of Independents and 61 percent of Republicans. Voters also support a ban on semi-automatic weapons such as the AR-15 by a 64 percent-31 percent margin. The semi-automatic weapon ban is supported by 87 percent of Democrats, 68 percent of Independents and 37 percent of Republicans.
In November, Florida voters will get a chance to pass a ballot measure to restore voting rights to felons who have completed their court ordered sentence. Sixty percent is needed to pass a constitutional amendment in Florida, and Gravis finds the amendment supported by 63 percent of voters with only 25 percent in opposition. “This amendment seems like a done deal, already over 60 percent with 12 percent still unsure,” said Kaplan. The amendment is supported by the three leading Democratic candidates for governor and opposed by Adam Putnam on the Republican side. Ron DeSantis has yet to take an official stand on the amendment.
Nonpartisan research firm Gravis Marketing conducted this random survey of 2,212 likely voters across Florida from Feb. 26 through March 19. It has a margin of error of ±2.1%. The totals may not round to 100 percent because of rounding. The survey was conducted using an online panel of cell phone users. The results are weighted by voting demographics. For more on how the poll was conducted, click here.
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