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RRH FL-13 Poll: Jolly Leads Sink 46-44

by: shamlet

Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 11:00:00 AM EST

If you would like to receive this exact post in pdf format, please e-mail us at with the subject "Poll PDF."

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, If you have questions or comments about this survey, please do not hesitate to e-mail us at

Flip over for Crosstabs and much more...

shamlet :: RRH FL-13 Poll: Jolly Leads Sink 46-44


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 survey15%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%)
Another Cand.4%5%
Undecided2% (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 PresidentRomney (47%)Obama(45%)Other (8%)
Another Cand.3%3%18%

Scott does not do nearly as good a job of locking down Romney voters as Jolly does.

2012 PresidentRomney (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 OpinionPositive (66%)Negative (15%)No Opinion (24%)
Another Cand.3%12%5%

There is a moderate gender gap, as Jolly leads by 9 with men and Sink leads by 5 with women.

GenderFemale (53%)Male (47%)
Another Cand.3%7%

There is no real age gap present.

Age18-44 (15%)45-64 (35%)65+ (50%)
Another Cand.8%4%4%

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, 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.

About Red Racing Horses & Contact Info:

Red Racing Horses ( 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

Please consider making a donation at so RRH can bring you more polls like this one.

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

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Great poll!
So RRH has done a poll for FL-13, SC-1, LA-6, and what else?

19 | Moderate Republican


I believe
one of the Wisconsin Senate recall races back in August of 2011.

Walker/Martinez 2016

[ Parent ]
That one bombed though

26, Male, R, NY-10

Scott Walker for President!

[ Parent ]
That wasn't us
we just paid WAA to do it. The other three have been done in-house.

R - MD-7

[ Parent ]
Early Vote
"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."

Is this a big enough lead for Sink? Seems small to me. Election day voters are more Republican typically, so this may not be a winning lead. I hope it isn't anyway.

Scott Walker 2016

Remember MoE
With the polls MoE over 6%, I would imagine the MoE on the early voting is 8%-11%.  So, it is really tough to narrow down how much Sink (or even Jolly) is up in early voting.

33, R, IN-09

[ Parent ]
Taking MoE into consideration
This poll is nearly identical to the St. Pete poll that had the race tied.  

26, Male, R, NY-10

Scott Walker for President!

The Chamber poll also had Jolly +2
And we also had had two public polls that were the opposite.  

26, Male, R, NY-10

Scott Walker for President!

[ Parent ]
I'm not complaining
but I always enjoyed the color coded map that displays the base of support.

Great work anyways!

Walker/Martinez 2016

Thought about doing that
by breaking down Largo/Clearwater/St. Petersburg, but it turns out to be totally uninformative. The support is 100% homogenous throughout the district.

R - MD-7

[ Parent ]
Nice work
I'm keeping my fingers crossed, here. I feel that a loss hurts the Dems worse than it does us, but it would still be really nice to pull this one out. I wonder if Sink will run in the general if she loses the special? I'm thinking no.

47 Male R, FL-13
Kasich 2016!

do you think this special election isn't bringing the amount of attention as others have? It has all the makings of a good news story, open seat in a swing district with two established leaders - in a midterm election year.

I don't get it.

Walker/Martinez 2016

Overshadowed by other events
Olympics, winter storms, the Russia/Ukraine drama, the religious-freedom bill in Arizona... all of these things have captivated the media's attention far more than a contest in Pinellas County.

Plus, there is the possibility that the Republican will win, in which case the MSM doesn't want to have increased the suspense ahead of time. The Democrats' decision to reject the participation of Meet the Press in the debate last week reflects a similar attitude of playing-down the significance of this election.

If the Democrat wins, the media can give Alex Sink plenty of free attention then.

Age 44. Location: GA-04 & GA-05.

[ Parent ]
Compared to what?
Other recent special elections had a tabloid story with it (Weiner, Sanford/Colbert, Wu), or an interest dynamic (Scozzafava endoring Owens).  This one seems similar to PA-12 special in 2010.

33, R, IN-09

[ Parent ]
NY-26, NY-23, NV-2, H-1

Walker/Martinez 2016

[ Parent ]
This election is too conventional
NY-26 was a major upset, conveniently fit an anti-Ryan narrative, filled the seat of a Congressman who resigned after a sex scandal, and was in New York.

NY-23 and HI-01 were both three-ring circuses rife with political theater.

NV-02 was similar to this race. It didn't get much attention in its own right but was covered because it was on the same day as NY-09, which was the perfect storm of a huge upset and an infamous predecessor in the heart of NYC.

[ Parent ]
Special Elections
Like I said, NY-23 had an interesting dynamic with Dede for Owens.  But this race should be equal to this one.  I have always thought the national media gives outsized treatment to their homestate races, thus the extra attention to NY-26, NY-23, and NY-9.  The media doesn't like to stray too far from home.

33, R, IN-09

[ Parent ]
I don't know
if this was a race in Minnesota or Oregon I would agree. But Florida has a pretty big media market and the largest swing state.

Walker/Martinez 2016

[ Parent ]
It's two bland personalities in a sleepy retirement area
And while Florida has big media markets, outside of Miami, it's not a media-intensive state. The closer a special election is to the media nerve centers in NY, DC, and LA, the more likely it is to get attention.

[ Parent ]
I sort of prefer it. I mean, I love elections and I'm certainly following it closely, but I'd rather not wade through a lot of "What does it mean for 2014" pieces, because the answer is pretty close to nothing.

[ Parent ]
Great work
I would love to have seen the D/R breakdown but this poll gives me mostly I what I would be looking for.

As I mentioned the actual voters look like they will be more republican, more conservative, older and whiter then the 2012 electorate. That's all good for the GOP candidate.

I wonder if the late momentum, due to Sink's flubs, might be in Jolly's favor.

I wonder if foreign policy chaos helps R's
Traditionally, it always has.  Be an interesting test case to see if Iraq has worn off.

Anyhow, I'm concerned about the already voted people favoring Sink still.  That strikes me as a very bad sign.  


[ Parent ]
Awesome job, as always.
The only complaint that I have is that the MoE is a bit high, but that may just be due to a low response rate. Otherwise, this is a great poll and I hope that the site receives well-deserved publicity for it.

22, Male, Conservative Republican, TN-08 (home), VA-01 (college)

We did the same 5000 calls that we did last time, but instead of the 600+ responses we got for the Sanford/ECB race we got a little more than 400 this time (and some of those weren't usable.)

We may need to step up our call number to the 6000-7000 range when the race is not as high profile.

R - MD-7

[ Parent ]
MSM mentions so far

Adam Smith also mentions the poll on his Twitter

The first link label is pretty funny.

22, Male, Conservative Republican, TN-08 (home), VA-01 (college)

[ Parent ]
Disclosure question
It might not have mattered on this poll, but did you have your age targets before you polled?  

26, Male, R, NY-10

Scott Walker for President!

They evolved slightly when we saw the raw data. The high number of seniors in the raw data led us to revise that proportion upward by a little bit.

R - MD-7

[ Parent ]
Does that factor in
That seniors are more likely to have a landline and are more likely to respond to a poll?

[ Parent ]
When does early voting end?

26, Male, R, NY-10

Scott Walker for President!

not an easy answer
as you can request an absentee ballot up to this friday but it has to be postmarked. You can also vote absentee, in person, up to this Friday. I believe ballots have to be received by election day, unless they are overseas/military ballots, at the election commission.

I am not sure Florida has return absentee ballots to election site rules.

Complex answer? My answer is one reason I deplore early voting, mail in elections or absentee voting except for out of state or country or truely unable to get to the polls. Many people already returned their ballot before Sink commented on the working habits of immigrants. If you took offense at that and already voted you are out of luck. You missed several debates and several articles detailing Sink and Jolly's views on the issues as well. Our electorate  already struggles with finding detailed information about candidates and their views so why vote 4 weeks before the campaign ends?  

[ Parent ]
The vast majority or close to it of respondents on the poll that have yet to vote might have voted by next Tuesday.  

26, Male, R, NY-10

Scott Walker for President!

[ Parent ]
in case of military ballots
10 days after election day is the deadline to be received. (It was national news in 2000)

43 Male Republican, Maryland Heights, MO Pattonville School District, Maryland Heights Fire District (MO-2). Previously lived in both Memphis and Nashville.

[ Parent ]
Military ballots
have to be postmarked by election day. So if you hand that ballot in to your US military postmaster on election day and get it post marked your ballot should count.

The 10 day rule is that no election is certified for ten days. Military ballots have up to 10 days, after the election, to get the election commission in Pinellas county. After ten days the law assumes all ballots made in through the mail.  

[ Parent ]
In the article you write: "Obama won the actual 2012 electorate in the district, 50-49, reflecting a slightly higher drop-off in Democratic turnout." shows that Obama won Pinellas  52-47.
If you poll was right, does that mean Obama voters dropped by an amazing 7 points!  Talk about disenchanted.

The PPP poll that predicted a 2pt Sink win had  49% had voted for Obama and only 47% for Romney.  (And they also chose to ask a silly question about Climate Change and none about Obamacare.)

I see my mistake: the NBC was the old district allocations of the Obama/Romney split.  Wiki shows the recalculated counts (referenced for DailyKos article) that agree with the 2012 split you used in your article.

[ Parent ]

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