In March 2013, PPP showed former Republican Governor and now Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist leading Scott by 52-40% in a poll made up of a reasonably sampled 48% Obama voters and 46% Romney voters. A September poll by PPP used a 47-47% Romney/Obama sample and also showed 12-point lead for Scott. Both polls were pretty close to the effective 50/50 split of 2012 where Obama one by less than 1%.
Since then, a lot has changed. Crist – who thought he would waltz back into the Governor’s mansion – has been thrust back into the spotlight. He has had to completely swallow the Obama agenda in order to prove himself a loyal Democratic foot soldier. This means he has been forced to become a major advocate for Obamacare at the same time most Democrats in tough states are running from the law. At it’s core, Florida is conservative in state elections, and the Obama agenda is not one in which a statewide candidate wants to run on.
This week, PPP released a new Florida poll. The headline was good enough news for Republicans: “Scott Jumps 10 points in Florida.” The poll showed a margin of error tie, with Crist leading Scott by just 43-41 now, rather than the double digits he trailed for all of 2013. But hidden in the poll was a different change: PPP’s sample jumped to a quite high mix of 51% Obama voters to 44% Romney voters. This was quite a jump in the sample vs the previous 2 polls as well as the actual results of the 2012 election.
If PPP had kept the sample consistent to their 2013 sample – which are also consistent with the actual 2012 election results – the poll would actually show Scott with a 46-43% lead over Charlie Crist. This would also be the first poll to show Scott with a lead since potential polling of the match-ups began back in early 2011. Maybe that was too much to stomach for the Democratic firm? (Even the left-wing New Republic criticized PPP’s polling methods, noting their sampling seems to be at the will of the outcome they wish to see.)
Either way, the race is close . But their is other good news for Scott. Republicans tend to make up a bigger percentage of mid-term electorates than they do during presidential election years. So while Democrats had a 2-point turnout advantage in 2012, it was an even 36-36 in 2010. And like in 2010, when the tea party was motivated in an Obamacare backlash, who will be more motivated in 2014? Right now, Republicans seem more enthusiastic about stopping Crist than Democrats seem about voting for him. And according to the PPP survey, Crist is struggling with Democrats. Crist was thinking this race was in the bag and that Scott was an easy target for his political resurrection. But maybe he has moved a little too far to the left for the tastes of many voters. ***Scott does have one trick up his sleeve. A marijuana initiative is working it’s way onto the ballot in an attempt to turn out younger voters who Democrats believe will favor Scott.