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2018 Midterms

Big League-Gravis Florida poll: Putnam leads DeSantis 23% to 12% for GOP governor nomination

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Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam leads the field of gubernatorial hopefuls in the race for the GOP nomination for governor, but ties Democrat Andrew D. Gillum head-to-head, according to the poll of 5,778 registered voters conducted Dec. 19 through Dec. 24.

“This is going to be the most competitive Florida primary in many years,” said Doug Kaplan, the managing partner of Gravis Marketing, the Florida-based company that executed the poll. The poll carries a 1.3 percent margin of error.

Kaplan said the number one question is can the Florida Democratic Party can finally get organized.

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[These results were first published in the Orlando Political Observer.]

Both the Democratic and Republican primaries are scheduled for Aug. 28 and the general election is scheduled for Nov. 6.

“The Democratic field is large, but the race is quickly developing into a two-person race between former congresswoman Gwen Graham at 18 percent and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew D. Gillum at 12 percent,” he said. “The field fills out with businessman Chris King, 3 percent; real estate developer Jeff Greene, 2 percent; and former Miami Beach mayor Philip Levine, 6 percent.

“Gillum is the wild card,” says Kaplan. “If he can raise money in a five-person and race get overwhelming African American support, he has a path to winning the nomination.”

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew D. Gillum spoke at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. (Photo courtesy of Gillum’s Facebook page)

Standing in Gillum’s path for the African-American community is Graham’s legacy of support from her previous campaigns and her endorsement by civil rights legend Rep. John R.  Lewis (D.-Ga.). Graham is also the daughter of former Florida governor and senator D. Robert Graham.

Kaplan said the Republican side is equally as competitive, he said.

“Putnam has jumped out to an early 23 percent to 12 percent edge over House Freedom Caucus member Rep. Ronald D. DeSantis,” he said.

Head-to-head, Graham and Putnam were tied at 32 percent with 37 percent undecided.

In a head-to-head matchup, Gillum tied Putnam at 31 percent each with 39 percent undecided.

DeSantis has not formally announced whether he is running, but President Donald J. Trump endorsed him Dec. 22.

“If DeSantis declares, he will give Putnam a run for his money,” said Kaplan. “DeSantis has the ability to raise money, which will be important in an expensive state such as Florida. Democrats would likely prefer a DeSantis candidacy since Putnam is considered more of a centrist.”

Following Putnam and DeSantis are former state senator Jack Latvala and Florida Speaker of the House Richard Corcoran, both men had the support of 2 percent of the respondents and Bob White, the leader of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Florida, who has the support of 1 percent.

While the poll was still in the field, Latvala resigned from his state Senate seat, after a 33-page report by a retired judge with sworn statements by Latvala and his accuser detailed incidents of sexual misconduct by the Latvala. Among the accusations were groping and the then-senator’s offer to trade support for legislation in exchange for sexual contact. There are at least six women, who have come forward.

Gillum said it was time for Latvala to resign in a Dec. 5 statement: “It’s time for Senator Latvala to resign from the Senate. His intimidation of a sexual harassment victim is repulsive and disgusting, as is his alleged behavior. I believe these women, and we need Florida’s Capitol to be a welcoming place for all people — not a place where sexual harassment victims need police protection.”

Latvala served in the state Senate for 23 years and in his letter of resignation, he said he quit under pressure from state GOP leaders.

“I have maintained that the charges in the original complaint were fabrications and say that still today,” he wrote. He also maintained that he was guilty of not keeping up with political correctness in his language.

Another wildcard in this political cycle in Florida is attorney John B. Morgan, who has championed the political career of Rep. Charles J. Crist Jr. (D.-Fla.) after he left the Republican Party after his term as governor expired in 2011. Morgan has also been a major booster of the state’s Democratic Party, along with causes, such as the legalization of medical marijuana.

During the Thanksgiving weekend, Morgan Tweeted that he was leaving the Democratic Party and that if he did run for governor, he would run as an Independent.

The survey was conducted using interactive voice responses and an online panel of cell phone users. The results were weighted to match a proprietary turnout model.

Read the entire poll here:
Big League-Gravis Dec. 19-Dec. 24 Florida poll

Read the crosstabs here:
Crosstabs for Big League-Gravis Dec. 19-Dec. 24 Florida poll

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