Instant analysis: Key takeaways from Mason-Dixon’s poll of Florida’s U.S. Senate race

in 2017/Top Headlines by

A new Mason-Dixon poll finds Alan Grayson narrowly leading Patrick Murphy for the Democratic nomination in Florida’s U.S. Senate race. Meanwhile, the GOP race is a four-way scrum.

Here are some instant takeaways.

First of all, take this Mason-Dixon poll with a few grains of salt. As Steve Vancore notes in the latest post for our Salt Shaker series, there is a “real issue with the fact that this poll interviewed “500 registered Republican voters and 500 registered Democratic voters. … We don’t know exactly what turnout WILL be; we are certain that the electorate will not be comprised of ‘registered’ voters. It will be a much smaller subset of those voters.”

Despite the issues with the methodology, the M-D poll arrived at essentially the same conclusion as the recent survey from St. Pete Polls.

M-D has it Grayson 33 percent, Murphy 32 percent. SPP has it Grayson 30 percent, Murphy 23 percent. As Marc Caputo of POLITICO concludes, “Murphy has lost his frontrunner status.”

Meanwhile, there is no frontrunner on the GOP side of this poll. Or is there?

M-D has it David Jolly 16 percent, Carlos Lopez-Cantera 10 percent, Ron DeSantis 9 percent, Jeff Miller 8 percent, and Todd Wilcox 2 percent. SPP has it Jolly 22 percent, Miller 12 percent, CLC 11 percent, and DeSantis at 9 percent. Jolly’s leads are narrow, but its outside the margin of error in both cases. While some, like the Tampa Bay Times’ Adam Smith, dismiss such early polling, Jolly’s camp has to be excited by its showing in these two polls. This is still invisible primary season and Jolly can take these numbers to potential donors and volunteers to make the case that he’s the best candidate.

A couple of other thoughts:

— Isn’t it interesting that with Gwen Graham in the race, Murphy pulls ahead of her and Grayson. Conventional wisdom held that the moderate Graham would ruin the moderate Murphy’s chances of winning. Instead, it appears Graham cuts into Grayson’s liberal base.

— BTW, this poll is a disaster for Graham. She’s polling at only 11 percent in the three-way vs. Murphy and Grayson. Not that she isn’t absolutely capable of catching fire, but with her struggling to get out of single digits, there may be less enthusiasm for her to jump into the Senate race than previously thought.

— I don’t understand why M-D polled Todd Wilcox on the Republican side, but not Pam Keith on the Democratic side.

— Don’t do it, Bill McCollum. You’ve been on three statewide ballots and you’re only at 22 percent against a set of candidates who have never run statewide. You’re all ceiling, while they are all upside.

What did I miss?

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.