A new poll released today that surveyed 700 likely voters, equal numbers Democrat and Republican, puts Democrat Alex Sink 6 points ahead of Republican Rick Scott in the race for Florida governor, and shows Scott’s number slipping among crucial independent voters.
The poll (not available online), conducted by Democratic firm SEA Polling for the Florida Education Association, found 47 percent for Sink, 41 percent for Scott. Scott now trails among independents by 14 points, 47-33, a reversal of several weeks ago when Scott led among independents. “Losing the independents by anything close to that margin is unsustainable, if he expects to win in 19 days,” pollster Thomas Eldon wrote in a memo on the results. Those surveyed were almost equally split between the major parties — 42.1 percent Democrats and 42.4 percent Republicans, with 15.6 percent independent.
The numbers mirror a Public Policy Polling survey taken of 448 likely voters, released yesterday, which showed Sink with 46 percent of the vote to Scott’s 41. That poll also showed that Scott’s numbers among independents were slipping, with Sink winning that group 53 percent to Scott’s 26. The respondents in that poll were 41 percent Democrats, 40 percent Republicans and 19 percent independents. PPP had no client, but generally works for Democratic campaigns and progressive organizations.
Eldon, who conducted his poll with live operators, including Spanish speakers between Oct. 9 and 12, says he believes the shift is due to the new ad campaign Sink has waged.
Until about two weeks ago, Sink’s ads were aimed at boosting her name recognition, and introducing herself as a candidate. Then her campaign shifted to defining Scott by his history at Columbia/HCA, the hospital chain he ran until he was forced to resign amid a Medicare fraud investigation. Sink released ads quoting members of law enforcement questioning Scott’s suitability to be the state’s governor, then she produced a much-touted two-minute ad that ran like a mini-documentary linking Scott’s past at Columbia/HCA to problems at another of his business ventures Solantic, a chain of walk-in clinics.
PolitiFact recently criticized Sink’s use of visuals in that ad, which shows authorities carrying boxes during a voiceover about Solantic, saying that the issues involving Solantic are allegations, and that none of that company’s clinics were ever raided.