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Ron DeSantis, Gwen Graham Ahead in Florida Gubernatorial Primary Poll

July 25, 2018 - 5:30pm
Ron DeSantis and Gwen Graham
Ron DeSantis and Gwen Graham

With less than six weeks to go until the Florida gubernatorial primaries, a new poll shows U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., with the lead on the Republican side and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, D-Fla., ahead with Democrats. 

DeSantis takes 36 percent of Florida Republicans with 27 percent backing state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. Bob White, the chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Florida, takes 3 percent. So does veteran Bruce Nathan who ran for the U.S. Senate in 2016. Other candidates lag behind with less support as Ellen Wilds gets 2 percent, Tim Devine takes 1 percent and Armando Rivas pulls 1 percent. Almost a quarter--23 percent--of Florida Republicans remain undecided. 

Kevin Wagner, a political science at FAU and a research fellow of the Initiative, said that President Donald Trump’s support has helped propel DeSantis into the lead. Trump will be heading to Tampa next week as he continues to back DeSantis. 

“President Trump’s backing of Congressman DeSantis appears to have pushed the congressman past the early favorite Adam Putnam in the Republican primary,” said Wagner. 

Over on the Democratic side, Graham pulls 20 percent while former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine takes 16 percent. Since entering the race at the start of June, billionaire Jeff Greene, who has been reaching into his fortune to run TV ads and mail pieces, has made a mark, taking 14 percent in the poll. Central Florida businessman Chris King gets 9 percent and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum takes 7 percent. Just under a third of Florida Democrats--31 percent--remain undecided. 

“It appears that the Greene candidacy is a game-changer in the race for the Democratic nomination,” said Monica Escaleras, the director of the BEPI. “In May, without Greene running, Levine and Graham were the front runners, now Greene is in the top tier of candidates.”

The survey, which polled 800 Florida registered voters July 20-21, was conducted using an online sample supplied by Survey Sampling International using online questionnaires and via an automated telephone platform (IVR) using registered voter lists supplied by Aristotle, Inc. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percentage points. The margin of error for the Democratic Primary is +/- 5.9 percentage points and for the Republican Primary is +/- 6.0 percentage points. Responses for the entire sample were weighted to reflect the statewide distribution of the Florida population. 

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