Florida Governor’s Race Too Close to Call

October 22, 2014

The Florida governor’s election between former Gov. Charlie Crist and incumbent Gov. Rick Scott is statistically tied, according to a new poll from the Saint Leo University Polling Institute.

With less than two weeks before the election, Crist leads, 43-40 percent, with Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie pulling 8 percent, and 9 percent of likely voters saying they are undecided. Crist’s lead is within the poll’s margin of error, and the race can be described as a statistical tie.

With speculation about what effect Libertarian Wyllie may have on the final outcome, Saint Leo University also asked voters to imagine Wyllie were not on the ballot. Given a choice of voting for only Scott or Crist, the two candidates deadlocked at 45 percent each, with 10 percent undecided. A majority of voters say they have either never heard of Wyllie (46 percent) or don’t know enough about him to offer an opinion (11 percent).

“It appears as though Charlie Crist's attacks against Rick Scott are working, as the race has swung away from the incumbent in the last few months,” said Frank Orlando, instructor of political science at Saint Leo University. According to Orlando, Crist’s lead is still tenuous. “Pre-election polls tend to overstate support for third party candidates. When it comes time to cast their ballots, voters seem to settle on one of the two main parties for fear of ‘wasting’ their vote. It appears that Wyllie is drawing more support from Scott than Crist, and, if Wyllie is removed from the race, Scott gains 5 percent of the vote, while Crist only gains 2 percent and the poll is a dead heat,” stated Orlando.

Orlando also thinks voter turnout is critical to the election’s outcome. “Despite the negative nature of the campaign, voters’ valuations of candidates haven’t really changed. This suggests that voters have had their minds made up for a while and that there is a very small group of undecided voters. The election seems certain to hinge on mobilization and the amount that Wyllie can pull voters from Scott,” concluded Orlando.

Saint Leo also asked voters how concerned they are “that you or someone you know will contract the Ebola virus.” While a narrow majority (52 percent) said they were either not very (30 percent) or not at all concerned (22 percent) about the virus, a large minority of 46 percent said they are very (21 percent) or somewhat concerned (25 percent) about contracting the virus.

To view the Saint Leo University Polling Institute’s survey results about Florida’s gubernatorial race and politics, including methodology, visit the polling institute’s website, http://polls.saintleo.edu. You can also follow the institute on Twitter @saintleopolls.