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With under two weeks before polls close in the closely-watched special congressional election in Pinellas County, Florida's thirteenth congressional district, a Red Racing Horses (RRH) survey by PMI inc. shows Republican David Jolly, a former aide to the late Rep. Bill Young, holding a narrow 2-point lead over Democrat Alex Sink, a former Florida state CFO, 46-44. The lead is within the poll's 6 percent margin of error. 5 percent of voters favor "another candidate on the ballot", which can be understood as an approximation of the vote share of Libertarian Lucas Overby, and 5 percent remain undecided. Encouragingly for Sink, the survey shows that those that have already cast their ballots (approximately half the electorate) have done so for Sink by a margin of 48-46.
Separately, the survey finds that voters still have an overwhelmingly good opinion of the late Congressman Bill Young in spite of negative stories about his personal life that came out after his death. RRH also finds that voters in this bellwether district favor native son Democrat Charlie Crist over Republican Rick Scott in this year’s upcoming gubernatorial race by a margin of 44-36.
The IVR poll of 391 likely and actual voters was conducted on February 25, 26, and 27 by PMI inc. of Marianna, Fla., and has a margin of error of 6%. Red Racing Horses is solely responsible for survey design and data analysis, while PMI conducted the IVR calling. The poll was funded through the generous contributions of RRH readers and a presenting sponsorship from a partner blog, amerikanskpolitikk.no. If you have questions or comments about this survey, please do not hesitate to e-mail us at email@example.com.
Flip over for Crosstabs and much more...
Befitting Florida’s strong push for mail-in voting, 53% of the voters in this survey have already voted, while 47% have not voted yet, but are likely to do so.
46% of voters favor Republican David Jolly, 44% favor Democrat Alex Sink, 5% declare their support for “another candidate on the ballot”, and 5% are totally undecided.
The late former Republican Congressman Bill Young still has a strong image in this area, with 66% continuing to hold a favorable view of him, compared to just 15% with an unfavorable view.
Looking ahead to November, incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott has 36% of survey participants in this bellwether district supporting his re-election, while Democratic former Gov. Charlie Crist, a native of the area, takes 44%. As the election is relatively far away, 20% of the district remains undecided.
Our survey reveals an electorate moderately more conservative than the one that showed up in November 2012, as the voters in our survey broke 47-45 for Mitt Romney in 2012. Obama won the actual 2012 electorate in the district, 50-49, reflecting a slightly higher drop-off in Democratic turnout. These findings are consistent with recent special elections, where electorates are more Republican-leaning than presidential electorates.
53% of survey participants were Female, while 47% were Male.
89% of survey participants were white, marginally higher than the 84% of the district’s voting age population that identified as white in the most recent census. RRH feels that this electorate, marginally whiter than the population at large, is consistent with turnout patterns in recent special elections.
The survey was weighted for age, as follows:
|% of survey||15%||35%||50%|
We felt that the relatively old electorate was appropriate in a district with a large and high-turnout retiree population.
Geographically, 29% of the survey population resides in St. Petersburg (29% of the district), 23% resides in Clearwater (20% of the district), 13% resides in Largo (16% of the district), and 35% resides in the remainder of the district (35% of the district’s population).
Sink holds a lead with those that have already voted, while Jolly leads with those who have yet to vote but have said they are likely to do so.
|Already Voted (53%)||Likely To Vote (47%)|
|Undecided||2% (human error)||8%|
Jolly and Sink are doing an equally good job with their partisans, each winning nearly 90% of those who supported their party’s candidate in 2012.
|2012 President||Romney (47%)||Obama(45%)||Other (8%)|
Scott does not do nearly as good a job of locking down Romney voters as Jolly does.
|2012 President||Romney (47%)||Obama(45%)||Other (8%)|
Bill Young remains popular, and those voters who think highly of him break for Jolly by 2:1. Those voters who have a negative or no opinion of Young break strongly for Sink.
|Bill Young Opinion||Positive (66%)||Negative (15%)||No Opinion (24%)|
There is a moderate gender gap, as Jolly leads by 9 with men and Sink leads by 5 with women.
|Gender||Female (53%)||Male (47%)|
There is no real age gap present.
|Age||18-44 (15%)||45-64 (35%)||65+ (50%)|
In an overwhelmingly white district and electorate, the racial crosstabs are not informative.
Red Racing Horses is solely responsible for the design of the survey and the numerical analysis, while PMI inc. conducted the IVR calls. 5000 calls were placed by PMI inc. to a list of registered voters in Florida’s 13th district. Calls were placed to a randomly selected list of voters who have participated in the three most recent general elections. The survey participants were read the exact script that follows in the appendix. Participants who indicated a disinclination to vote or did not answer the topline congressional race question (Question 2) were not included in the survey. For the congressional question, RRH decided to test “another candidate on the ballot” as an option instead of naming Libertarian Lucas Overby. This decision was an attempt to reduce the tendency of poll participants to declare their support for a third-party candidate for whom they will not actually vote. We reason that voters who commit to “another candidate on the ballot” without hearing the candidate’s name or partisan affiliation are more likely to have researched third-party options and actually vote for that candidate.
If a participant completed Question 2 but skipped one or more of the following questions (3-5), their answers to any skipped questions were marked as undecided or no opinion. If a voter did not answer any of the demographic weighting questions (6-8), RRH used the data available in the voter file to make an educated guess as to their demographics. The total number of survey participants affected by any of these manipulations is 26 of the 391 calls placed, a very small proportion. Keeping with a site philosophy of favoring concrete data over our own assumptions wherever possible, RRH weighted the results of this survey for age only, up-weighting survey participants younger than 65, who were under-sampled in the raw data. Random deletion was not used as a method of weighting.
The funding for this poll was obtained through small donations from RRH readers and our partner blog, ammerikanskpolitikk.no. RRH did not receive donations from any candidate, campaign, party, or independent organization attempting to affect the outcome of this race.
This RRH survey shows that the national attention paid to this race has been well-placed, as the race between Jolly and Sink is going down to the wire. Democrat Alex Sink appears to have built up a small lead with the half of the population that has already voted, while Jolly looks to have an advantage among those who have yet to vote but are likely to do so. In an encouraging sign for Jolly, the election has been nationalized, with both candidates taking equally massive shares of those that supported their party’s nominee in 2012. Though Obama won this district in 2012 by just over one percent, the electorate in this special election is marginally more conservative, slightly favoring Romney – and it is this mild conservative tilt to the electorate that gives Jolly his edge. In the final days, Jolly should focus almost entirely on making sure those supporters that are already in his camp turn in their ballots. Sink has a broader range of options: she can attack Jolly in hopes of keeping his voters at home, attempt to turnout some of the low-turnout Democrats that came in 2012 but look unlikely to do so this time, or focus on winning over the 8% of likely voters who remain undecided. One thing is for sure: this is still anyone’s race.
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Red Racing Horses (redracinghorses.com) is a collaborative, Republican-oriented blog focusing on horserace politics. We offer daily news updates on the American political landscape and stimulating discussion of upcoming elections. RRH is run by a team of eight volunteer hobbyists, and our website and polling are funded by generous donations from our readers. We have previously conducted polls of congressional elections in Louisiana and South Carolina.RRH is not affiliated with any campaign or partisan organization. To contact Red Racing Horses about this poll, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Appendix: The exact script used for the survey:
CD-13 FL Survey: Feb. 25 - 27, 2014
Q1: There is a special election coming up on March 11th to elect a new representative in Congress from the 13th district. Did you already vote, or are you likely to vote, in it?
Press 1 if you have already voted
Press 2 if you did not vote yet, but are likely to do so
Press 3 if you are not likely to vote
Q2: In this upcoming congressional election, are you most likely to vote for Republican David Jolly, Democrat Alex Sink, or another candidate on the ballot - or are you totally undecided?
Press 1 if you are most likely to vote for Republican David Jolly
Press 2 if you are most likely to vote for Democrat Alex Sink
Press 3 if you are most likely to vote for another candidate on the ballot
Press 4 if you are totally undecided
Q3: Thinking back to the last presidential election, as best you can remember, did you vote for Republican Mitt Romney, Democrat Barack Obama, someone else, or did you not vote?
Press 1 if you voted for Republican Mitt Romney
Press 2 if you voted for Democrat Barack Obama
Press 3 if you voted for someone else
Press 4 if you did not vote or don't remember
Q4: Did you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Bill Young, who represented this district in Congress until last year?
Press 1 if you had a favorable opinion of Bill Young.
Press 2 if you had an unfavorable opinion of Bill Young
Press 3 if you did not know enough about Bill Young to form an opinion
Q5: Thinking ahead to this year's election for Governor, are you more likely to vote for Republican Rick Scott or Democrat Charlie Crist, or are you totally undecided?
Press 1 if you are more likely to vote for Republican Rick Scott
Press 2 if you are more likely to vote for Democrat Charlie Crist
Press 3 if you are totally undecided
Q6: Are you Male or Female?
Press 1 for Male
Press 2 for Female
Q7: What race do you most closely identify with?
Press 1 if you most identify as White
Press 2 if you most identify as Black
Press 3 if you most identify as Hispanic
Press 4 if you most identify as another race
Q8: What is your age?
Press 1 if you are 18 to 44
Press 2 if you are 45 to 64
Press 3 if you are 65 or older