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Another Poll Shows Governor's Race Deadlocked


The Florida governor’s election between former Gov. Charlie Crist and incumbent Gov. Rick Scott is essentially 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.

When Libertarian Wyllie is taken off the ballot, both major candidates deadlocked at 45 percent apiece. 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.

But he says 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," he says. "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.”

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," says Orlando. "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.”

In other races:

  • Attorney General Pam Bondi has a commanding lead over Democratic challenger George Sheldon, 47 to 39 percent. Libertarian Bill Wohlsifer  has 6 percent, with 8 percent of those polled still undecided.
  • In the race for Agriculture Secretary, incumbent Republican Adam Putnam holds a 51-35 percent lead over Democrat Thad Hamilton, with 14 percent undecided.
  • In the election for the state’s Chief Financial Officer, incumbent Republican Jeff Atwater leads Democrat Will Rankin, 50-35 percent, with 15 percent undecided.

The poll of 500 likely Florida voters in Florida was taken in early October. 

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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