Jack Latvala was not exaggerating.
Earlier this week, the Republican state Senator said he had paid for the polling that shows David Jolly leading Charlie Crist in Florida’s 13th Congressional District.
Latvala said he conducted “multiple polls, actually, because we didn’t believe it the first time.”
Latvala’s right, the numbers are hard to believe.
According to a new survey conducted by St. Pete Polls, Jolly leads Crist by less than a tenth of a point, 44 to 44 percent among likely CD 13 voters. These numbers are startling considering that the way the district is drawn; it should favor a Democrat. Also, previous polling by St. Pete Polls of this district showed Crist to be enormously popular with the Democratic base.
But like Rick Baker before him, who a previous poll showed would have run competitively against Crist, the Republican Jolly fares very well in CD 13.
Of course, Jolly is technically the incumbent in the Pinellas-based congressional district, but, as of this moment, he is still running for the U.S. Senate. However, both Jolly and Marco Rubio are under intense pressure from national, state, and local Republicans to reconsider their plans for 2016. GOP leaders want Rubio to run for re-election to his Senate seat and Jolly to fight for a full second term in the House.
Jolly has shown numerous signs that, instead of going all-out on that campaign, he is positioning himself to appeal to the moderate voters who would decide the race for his House seat, Tampa Bay Times political editor Adam Smith wrote in a column Wednesday.
“Does this look like a man consumed with winning a statewide Republican primary?” Smith wrote. “No. What it looks like is a candidate hugging the center and consciously reaching out to Democrats, independents and moderates alike.”
Jolly’s favorable ratings with CD 13 voters appear to be what’s driving much of his strong poll numbers. Asked if they have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Jolly, 48 percent of voters said favorable, compared to just 26 for unfavorable. These numbers stand in stark contrast to Crist’s favorable ratings, which are upside-down at 43 percent to 46 percent.
The poll also asked CD 13 voters who they would vote for in the presidential election. Democrat Hillary Clinton received 47 percent support in this bellwether district, while Republican Donald Trump received 37 percent and Libertarian Gary Johnson took 9 percent.
This result clearly shows that this poll is in no way skewed to favor the Republican. In fact, when asked who they voted for in the 2012 presidential election, 53 percent of respondents said Barack Obama.
Only those voters that voted in a general election in 2012 or 2014, or the 2016 Presidential Preference Primary were included in the results. The poll has a sample size of 746 and a 3.6 percent margin of error.