Jan. 22, 2016 — Florida Atlantic University yesterday released a Sunshine State poll that finds Rep. David Jolly (R-FL-13) opening up a large lead in the open Republican Senate primary, but the results breed skepticism.
The survey, taken during the Jan. 15-18 period of 1,108 Florida voters appears methodologically sound. The sample size is reasonable, though 345 Republican primary voters used for the Senate sample is a bit small for a state the size of Florida. The geographical division is cast evenly among the northern, central, and southern regions, which is constant. Yet, the ballot test results are way out line with anything previously published.
In several earlier polls, with no candidate having strong statewide name identification, Rep. Jolly, his congressional colleague Ron DeSantis (R-FL-6), and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera all fell below 20 percent, and were within just a few points of each other.
Yesterday’s FAU poll blasts these numbers out of the water, finding the Tampa Bay congressman up 28-8-8 percent over his major opponents. Without anything extraordinary happening during the past several weeks, it is difficult to believe that Jolly should hold such a major advantage.
But his lead, should it prove accurate in the near term, could be short-lived. Jolly stated that he no longer plans on personally devoting time to campaign fundraising, leaving that task to his staff and Super PACs. It’s hard to see how such a move will provide him with enough campaign resources to compete effectively over the long term.
Taking all of these political factors into account, the outcome of the Republican contest is still very much in doubt.
On the Democratic side, FAU surveyed 371 likely primary voters and finds Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL-9) holding a 27-20 percent margin over Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL-18). These results are consistent with others taken of the Democratic race. Rep. Gwen Graham (D-FL-2) is still a possible entry, which would drastically change the ballot test if she were to become a candidate.
The same poll also sampled Republican and Democratic voters about their presidential choices. The GOP sample surveyed 386 likely primary voters and found Donald Trump, like Rep. Jolly in the Senate race, commanding a whopping lead. But, this too is inconsistent with other Florida polls. Though Trump has been projected as the race leader in virtually every contemporary survey, none finds him with such an overwhelming lead like Florida Atlantic.
According to the data, Trump is actually close to 50 percent for the Winner-Take-All primary, the largest (99 delegates) in this delegate apportionment category. He scores 48 percent preference among the poll respondents, with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) way back in second place at just 16 percent. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio drops to 11 percent in this survey despite a favorability rating of 63:27 percent among Republican voters. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush scores only 9.5 percent while falling to fourth place.
As in the Senate race, the disparity between first place and the rest of the field is not consistent with other available data. Thus, it is probable that this FAU survey is an anomaly.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton outpaces Sen. Bernie Sanders 62-26 percent among the 383 primary voters queried. The polling analysis makes the point that the former Secretary of State’s lead over the Vermont lawmaker has tightened from the previous poll. Then, Clinton held a 65-22 percent advantage. Though Sanders is slightly gaining, the difference is not statistically significant and the former First Lady remains in solid position here despite her weakening status in Iowa and New Hampshire.