Pam Bondi Leads Democrats in Sunshine State News Poll
Around the State
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi starts off with a solid lead over her two Democratic rivals, in part due to her opposition of President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law which remains unpopular in the Sunshine State.
A Voter Survey Service poll, commissioned by Sunshine State News, shows Bondi leading both former state Department of Children and Families Secretary George Sheldon and Florida House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, by the same margin. Bondi takes 44 percent when matched up against both Sheldon and Thurston while the Democratic candidate takes 35 percent. While 1 percent of those surveyed back other candidates in the race, 19 percent say they are undecided.
Sunshine State News talked with James Lee, the president of Voter Survey Service, about the poll and the state of the race on Monday.
“Bondi’s numbers aren’t great but you need a wedge issue in this race,” Lee said. “There’s not much in this poll that suggests that there is a wedge issue.” Lee noted that the Democrats would attack Bondi’s defense of traditional marriage and her opposition to the legalization of medical marijuana but said, as of now, those were not enough to topple Bondi.”
When matched up against Sheldon, Bondi holds a strong lead with voters who say there is an “excellent” chance for them to vote in November. Bondi takes 48 percent of these voters while Sheldon garners the support of 34 percent of them. While two-thirds of Democrats -- 67 percent -- back Sheldon, Bondi has the support of 80 percent of Republicans. Independents break Bondi’s way with 40 percent of them backing her while 27 percent support Sheldon.
Bondi leads Sheldon with Hispanics taking 48 percent of them while 26 percent back the Democrat. Almost half of men surveyed -- 48 percent -- support Bondi while 33 percent say they plan to vote for Sheldon. Women go Bondi’s way by a smaller margin, with 42 percent backing the Republican and 37 percent supporting Sheldon.
The poll finds Bondi out front across most parts of Florida, beating Sheldon by double-digit margins in North Florida and the Panhandle, her home base in Tampa Bay, Central Florida and the southwestern part of the state. Sheldon leads Bondi in his home region of Southeast Florida.
Thurston does slightly better than Sheldon with Floridians with an “excellent” chance of voting in November but still trails Bondi by 12 percent with this group. Bondi gets 82 percent of Republicans when matched up against Thurston while 67 percent of Democrats support their party’s candidate in that scenario. Thurston does better with independents than Sheldon but Bondi still leads with these voters, as 34 percent of them back her and 29 percent support the Republican.
Bondi takes 46 percent of Hispanics when matched up against Thurston while the Democrat gets 24 percent of them. Once again, Bondi takes 48 percent of men while 32 percent of them back Thurston. Women break Bondi’s way by a smaller margin, with 41 percent of them backing her and 37 percent of them supporting Thurston.
When matched against Thurston, Bondi has a solid lead across most of the Sunshine State, including beating him by 22 percent in Central Florida. But Thurston, who like Sheldon hails from Broward County, has the edge in Southeast Florida where he leads Bondi by 7 percent.
“The poll shows Bondi’s in pretty good position here,” Lee said.
Bondi has garnered national attention for opposing Obama’s health-care law, including continuing the state’s constitutional challenge to it. Sheldon, a former member of the Obama administration, and Thurston support the health-care law.
The poll shows a majority of those surveyed -- 51 percent -- say they are less likely to vote for candidates who support Obama’s health-care law while only 39 percent say they are more likely to vote for candidates who support it. Among those who have an “excellent” chance of voting in November, 53 percent say they are less likely to vote for candidates who back Obama’s health-care law while 37 percent say they are more likely to vote for its supporters. While Democrats say they are more likely to vote for candidates who back the health-care law and Republicans support candidates who oppose it, a majority of independents -- 53 percent -- say they are less likely to vote for supporters of the law. Only 33 percent of independents say they are more likely to vote for candidates who support the health-care law.
Sunshine State News asked Lee if Bondi’s opposition to the health-care law has helped her build the lead. “It probably hasn’t hurt her,” Lee answered. “She certainly can feel emboldened by her opposition to it.
“It doesn’t look like Obamacare is popular in the state,” Lee added.
Sunshine State News asked Lee if the poll shows if either of the Democrats would present Bondi a stronger challenge. “Nothing in this poll suggests either has a stronger base than the other,” Lee said. “If you’re Bondi, maybe you prefer Sheldon due to a wedge issue in the race like Obamacare.”
Asked about 40 percent of the voters surveyed being 65 and older, Lee pointed to the 2010 election as a roadmap for the new poll. Even with Florida voting on a proposed state constitutional amendment on medical marijuana, Lee said he did not expect younger voters to come out in droves, noting that the proposal in the Sunshine State was not as broad based as the one in Colorado. “In nonpresidential years, seniors do make up a disproportionately higher portion of voters who turn out,” Lee said.
The poll of 800 Florida voters was taken from March 31-April 3 and had a margin of error of +/- 3.46 percent.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.