FAU poll casts uncertainty in gov race; Graham leads, GOP dead heat


A new Florida Atlantic University poll casts some more uncertainty on the Republican and Democratic primaries for governor, finding an up-for-grabs GOP race between Adam Putnam and Ron DeSantis and defying some other recent surveys by showing Gwen Graham pulling away from the crowded Democratic field.

FAU’s latest poll also gives Republican Gov. Rick Scott a 6-point edge over Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in their nationally watched Senate race. It shows President Donald Trump getting 43 percent statewide approval — tied for his high-water mark in surveys by the Boca Raton-based university.

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Florida’s primaries are next Tuesday. More than 530,000 Republicans and more than 470,000 Democrats have already cast ballots through the mail or at in-person early voting sites.

U.S. Rep. DeSantis has surged in the Republican race since Trump bestowed his “full endorsement” in June. The president then appeared with DeSantis at a July 31 rally in Tampa. But FAU, which measured a 9-point lead for DeSantis last month, now puts DeSantis and Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Putnam in a virtual tie — 32 percent for DeSantis and 31 percent for Putnam, in a sample with a 6.5 percent margin of error.

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A Survey USA poll last week also found the GOP race too close to call, with Putnam up 40 percent to 38 percent, in a sample with a 4 percent margin of error.

In the Democratic race, FAU’s new poll shows former U.S. Rep. Graham getting 29 percent to 17 percent for former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, 11 percent each for Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and billionaire Palm Beach real estate investor Jeff Greene and 10 percent for Winter Park businessman Chris King. Nineteen percent of Democrats were undecided in the poll, which was conducted Thursday through Monday and has a 6.3 percent margin for error for the Democratic sample.

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Recent Democratic polls have shown an array of results.

A survey released Monday by St. Pete Polls gave Graham a within-the-margin-of-error lead over Levine, 27 percent to 25 percent. Democratic pollster Tom Eldon last week gave Levine a 27-to-24 percent lead over Graham, which was within that poll’s 4 percent margin of error.

In the new FAU poll, Scott leads Nelson in their anticipated November Senate race, 45 percent to 39 percent. The statewide general election sample has a 3.7 percent margin of error. Scott had a 44-to-40 percent lead in FAU’s July poll.

Florida voters give Trump a 43 percent approval rating and 45 percent disapproval rating in the new FAU poll. That equals the 43 percent approval FAU measured for Trump in May.

Trump, who won Florida by 1.2 percent over Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016, has never had a positive approval rating in FAU’s polling. His current rating, a virtual tie considering the poll’s margin of error, is a substantial improvement over a year ago, when only 37 percent of Florida voters approved and 47 percent disapproved.

As about 3 million students return to school across the state, FAU found 56 percent of voters are “very concerned” about the safety of students at schools and 60 percent want stricter gun laws. But gun control has limited potential as an election factor, FAU found, with only 12 percent of voters rating it as their top issue.

Twenty-seven percent of Florida voters say immigration is their top issue, with 25 percent ranking health care most important and 14 percent listing the economy as their prime concern.

FAU surveyed 800 voters statewide, half via automated phone calls and half online.



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