Politics
11:00 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

New Poll: Alex Sink Leads David Jolly For District 13

A new poll shows Democrat Alex Sink has a good-sized lead over Republican David Jolly in the race to replace Bill Young in Congress.

The poll shows Sink with a seven-percentage-point lead over Jolly. The poll was commissioned by WUSF Public Media, Bay News 9 and the Tampa Bay Times and surveyed 603 registered voters in Congressional District 13 - all who say they're likely to vote in the March 11 election.

Forty-two percent of those surveyed are planning or leaning toward voting for Sink, with Jolly picking up 35 percent. Libertarian Lucas Overby is way back of the pack, with 4 percent. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Ramon Carrion is a registered Democrat and plans to vote for Sink. He likes her views on keeping most of Obamacare and liberalizing the nation's immigration policies, and 's familiar with her policies from her days as the state's Chief Financial Officer.

"She's someone who appears to be ethical, and intelligent and responsible, and certainly, I feel more comfortable voting for her than Mr. Jolly, who seems to respond to the questions on a rote basis, following the party line," he says. "And I'm not so pleased with the Republican Party line these days."

"She's someone who appears to be ethical, and intelligent and responsible, and certainly, I feel more comfortable voting for her than Mr. Jolly, who seems to respond to the questions on a rote basis, following the party line." - Ramon Carrion

And Carrion thinks the former CFO  has a better grasp of the issues affecting people like him.

"Well, I think she's the more reflective candidate," says Carrion. "And I think that many of the issues we face here in Florida are unfortunately not subject to a quick yes or no response. I think a lot of these will require study, and the response may be having to have some sort of a compromise, and I think she will be the best candidate to handle all of that."

William Brady, on the other hand, is a Democrat who plans to vote for Jolly. The retiree from St. Petersburg says Bill Young's former right-hand man would be more effective on Capitol Hill.

"Jolly's ready to hit the ground running, OK," says Brady. "He's got friends from Washington on both sides, and she's going to just show up there - it's going to be a Republican Congress, I'm sure it's going to be Republican - and she's years away from having any influence at all in Congress."

"Jolly's ready to hit the ground running." - William Brady

Then, there's people like Diana Johnson. She's a registered Republican, and contemplated voting for  Sink. But, instead, she's focusing on Libertarian Lucas Overby - even though she doesn't really think he has a prayer of winning.

Lucas Overby

" I'm not really sure he can, but I'm hoping he's more intent on doing something for real than just getting elected," she says. "I just feel that Jolly thinks he's got a right to the seat, because he worked with Bill Young. Alex Sink has been convinced by the other side that she should have the seat - and she's not even from Pinellas County. So for me, he's the best of the three evils."

Even though Overby only captures 4 percent in this poll, he is the choice of nearly one of out every 10 of that key category: undecided voters.

Don Simons is a registered Republican, but also plans to vote for for the Libertarian.

"Both candidates have a lot of baggage - I'm talking Jolly and Sink," he says, "and sometimes a clean slate helps."

Then, there's people like Hector Latorre. He's a registered Democrat, and plans to cast a ballot for Sink. Still, he's only doing that half-heartedly.

"At the end of the day, all three of them represent the same thing, and serve the same interest," he says, "which are corporate, really."

"At the end of the day, all three of them represent the same thing, and serve the same interest, which are corporate, really." - Hector Latorre

Thomas Hahn of Pinellas Park is currently unemployed. The self-described "straight-line Democrat" plans to vote for Sink.

"Alex Sink has the values and ethical makeup for a good candidate, a good Congressperson," says Hahn. "I was very happy with her former work as treasurer, and I believe she's the best candidate for the job."

Audrey Kay of St. Petersburg is leaning toward voting for Jolly - mainly, because she's against Obamacare. The poll shows a majority of District 13 residents oppose the president's signature healthcare policy, 47 percent to 43 percent.

"I have two daughters who have been having problems with jobs for a very, very long time, as far as their hours being cut, not being able to find full-time work," Kay says. "And it's going to get even worse."

And people like Carrion - who's backing Sink - believe that both candidates are missing the mark on issues near and dear to Pinellas County residents, such as delaying increases in federal flood insurance rates.

"I think in the long term, we're going to have to raise the price of flood insurance," says Carrion, "and take some measures so people won't insist upon building - especially large and expensive homes - that are going to be subject to floods and other natural calamities are going to have to bear more of the risk, rather than passing that on to the national flood insurance program."

They'll all get a chance to have their voices heard at the ballot box on March 11.

The telephone survey of 603 registered voters in Congressional District 13 - all likely to vote in the March 11 election - was conducted Feb. 4-9 for WUSF Public Media, Bay News 9 and the Tampa Bay Times. The poll, which included respondents using land lines and cellphones, was conducted by Braun Research, a national polling firm based in Princeton, N.J. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

WUSF reporters Yoselis Ramos and Jasmine Thomas contributed to this report.