New poll shows CD 15 challenger Alan Cohn in virtual tie with Rep. Dennis Ross

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With an aggressive Democratic campaign, voters in Florida’s 15th Congressional District could put investigative journalist Alan Cohn in an excellent position to unseat two-term incumbent Republican Rep. Dennis Ross.

Although the district has a history of supporting Republican candidates, the survey, conducted by the polling firm Anzalone Liszt Grove Research, found the CD 15 seat is vulnerable, something Cohn’s campaign attributes to the incumbent’s “low profile in the district” and Cohn’s reputation as an investigative reporter.

In the survey of 400 likely voters, taken June 5-8, shows that Ross largely unknown, with 60% of respondents unable to rate him. Less than one-quarter of voters expressed a favorable opinion of Ross, by a margin of 22% favorable to 19% unfavorable.

According to the survey, Ross’ job rating is modest, with 38% positive, 25% negative and 37% unsure/do not know, suggesting uncertainty and low intensity. Only six percent of voters gave Ross an “excellent” rating.

Only 44% of registered Republicans say they can identify Ross, and 60% plan to vote for him.

Overall, Alan Cohn trails Dennis Ross by -7 points — 35% to 42% for Ross, with 23% undecided.

When respondents were given balanced positive paragraphs to read on each candidate, support for both increased — 45% Cohn, 47% Ross  and 8% undecided — but the gap closed to only -2 points, a statistical tie, well within the survey’s +/- 4.9% margin of error.

The balanced statements were as follows:

Alan Cohn is a Democrat from Tampa. He is an Emmy award-winning investigative reporter who covered Hillsborough and Polk Counties with WFTS Channel 28. As a reporter, Cohn uncovered the biggest case of political corruption in the last decade. He has always stood up for consumers and veterans. Cohn says he’s running for Congress because he wants to fight for middle class families, so they have a level playing field to succeed. In Congress, he will work to create jobs, balance the budget, raise the minimum wage, invest in education, and protect Medicare and Social Security benefits.

Dennis Ross, a Republican from Lakeland, is the current member of Congress. Ross has spent his entire career fighting for greater transparency and accountability in government, and is leading the fight to reduce wasteful spending. Ross believes in growing the economy by cutting taxes, through fiscal responsibility, and repealing Obamacare. Ross says he is running for Congress to stand up for taxpayers and job creators, to oppose the big government Obama-Pelosi policies, and to represent Florida values in Washington.

Once voters received more information, Alan Cohn gains a 10-point lead in Hillsborough County and 17-point lead among both registered No Party Affiliation and minor party voters, a coalition that Cohn believes can overcome the slight Republican advantage the region has shown in recent years.

In a statement, Cohn said the race provides an opportunity for an aggressive Democratic challenge to an “untested incumbent” who has not faced an organized general election challenge in his career.

“This poll reflects what I have seen and heard throughout the last several years,” Cohn said. “Congress is broken, paralyzed and incapable of tackling our most serious challenges and continuing to send Dennis Ross back to Washington is a guarantee of more of the same.

“Having spent decades uncovering corruption and standing up to the powerful,” he added, “I can no longer stand back and watch Dennis Ross misuse his position.  Too many career politicians go to Congress, get rich, and look out for special interests.  It’s everything that’s wrong with politics today.”

Alan Cohn is a longtime broadcast journalist and Peabody Award winner best known locally for his work at WFTS-Ch. 28, is running as a Democrat to represent the northern parts of Hillsborough and Polk County, suburban Tampa, Brandon, Plant City, Lakeland and Bartow.

Ross has been called “one of the most Conservative Members of Congress” by the National Journal.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.