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Shock poll in Congressional District 13: Charlie Crist 54%, David Jolly 36%

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

A shocking new poll in Florida’s 13th Congressional District gives Democrat Charlie Crist an 18-point lead over GOP incumbent David Jolly.

The Public Opinion Research Laboratory at the University of North Florida puts the race at 54 to 36 percent. Nine percent of CD 13 voters are undecided, and one percent support another candidate.

The 18-point gap is by far the largest of any poll conducted in what is considered to be one of the most competitive congressional races in the country, though the redistricting of CD 13 prompted Jolly himself to quip that no Republican could possibly win it.

“This relatively large lead for Crist is due, in part, to name recognition, and I think this will play out in other races as well. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have dominated the media, making it a struggle in this environment for candidates without highly recognized names,” said Dr. Michael Binder, faculty director of the Public Opinion Research Laboratory.

The poll of 611 likely voters in the Pinellas County district was conducted Oct. 9-11.

“Another advantage for Crist is that he is faring well across party lines and, perhaps because he was once a Republican, he’s getting 22 percent of Republican support,” Binder continued. “Even though Crist is doing quite well with African-American (87 percent) and Hispanic (72 percent) voters, this district is predominately white, and he is winning there too with 47 percent, compared with 42 percent for Jolly.”

The poll also shows a strong gender gap in the contest. Crist leads Jolly by nine points among men, but has a stunning 24 percent lead with women, 56 percent to 32 percent.

Jolly acknowledged when he re-entered the race in June it would not be an easy task to win the newly configured seat, saying, “we might have the most challenging race for a Republican in the country, in a very expensive media market, against a very well-qualified candidate in Charlie Crist, who has shown that he can win races. So I am not naive with the challenge we are undertaking.”

Most of the polls in the contest have shown the margin to be relatively close. A St. Pete Polls survey released Tuesday showed Crist leading Jolly by five points, 48 to 43 percent. A DCCC-sanctioned poll released last week that was quickly dismissed by the Jolly campaign had Crist up by 11 points, 50 to 39 percent.

One possible consideration for Jolly losing support could be from Republicans unhappy that he ISN’T endorsing Trump. Although a number of Republicans have backed away from their presidential nominee in the wake of the lewd comments he made in a newly surfaced videotape last week, many others are standing by him, in some cases so they don’t lose the support of the rank-and-file Republican voter. Jolly has never endorsed Trump, and at times has been quite critical of him. His campaign team Wednesday called on local television stations to stop airing a DCCC-produced ad that featured Jolly and Trump together.

The poll has a margin of error of four percentage points. The breakdown of responses was 28 percent on landline phones to 72 percent on cellphones.

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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