Florida U.S. Senate Race Is a Toss Up in New Saint Leo Poll

June 10, 2015

If the election for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida were held today, “undecided” would be the winner.

A new survey by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute confirms the race is a pure toss-up with no candidate having a distinct advantage.

In a generic election, an unnamed Democrat leads a generic Republican by a statistically insignificant three points, 42 to 39 percent:

In the 2016 election for United States Senate in Florida, will you probably vote for the Republican candidate or for the Democratic candidate?

39 % Probably vote for the Republican candidate
42 % Probably vote for the Democratic candidate
5 % Probably vote for some other candidate
14 % Don’t know / not sure

Among likely Democratic voters, U.S. Congressman Patrick Murphy has a similar statistically meaningless lead over fellow U.S. Congressman Alan Grayson, 27 to 24 percent, but both candidates trail respondents who don’t know or are not sure at 39 percent:

Which of the following potential candidates would you support for the Democratic nomination if they ran for United States Senate in 2016?

27 % Congressman Patrick Murphy
24 % Congressman Alan Grayson
10 % Some other candidate
39 % Don’t know / not sure

The Republican primary is not much clearer, with former state Attorney General Bill McCollum leading a crowded field of potential candidates with just 16 percent of the vote; 43 percent say they are undecided.

Which of the following potential candidates would you support for the Republican nomination for United States Senate in 2016?

16 % Former Attorney General Bill McCollum
8 % U.S. Congressman Jeff Miller
7 % Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera
6 % U.S. Congressman Ron DeSantis
6 % U.S. Congressman David Jolly
4 % State Senator Don Gaetz
3 % Former U.S. Senator George LeMieux
43 % Don’t know / not sure

In general election trial heats, Murphy leads all his potential Republican opponents by a two-to-one margin or better, but Murphy receives only about a third of the overall vote regardless of his opponent:

The following are some possible match-ups in the election for U.S. Senate in 2016. Please indicate which candidate you would vote for if the election were held today and the choice were between the following:

30 % Patrick Murphy Carlos Lopez-Cantera 15 %
33 % Patrick Murphy Ron DeSantis 14 %
36 % Patrick Murphy Don Gaetz 9 %
35 % Patrick Murphy David Jolly 14 %
34 % Patrick Murphy Jeff Miller 15 %

All the candidates seem to be struggling with name recognition. “None of the candidates has great name recognition statewide just yet,” said Frank Orlando, instructor of political science at Saint Leo University. “It appears that Patrick Murphy has the early advantage, but this may be attributable to him being in the race the longest. As Floridians turn their attention to this important election, more voters will have a clear opinion and the Republicans will tighten up their base support.”

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey results about Florida and national politics, public policy issues, Pope Francis’ favorability, and other topics can be found here: http://polls.saintleo.edu. You can also follow the institute on Twitter @saintleopolls.