Poll of 2014 Democratic primary: Charlie Crist 61%, Alex Sink 25%

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The first Florida-based poll conducted since the close of the Democratic National Convention shows former governor Charlie Crist lapping the prospective field of Democratic candidates eyeing the 2014 gubernatorial race.

Crist is the top choice of 61% of likely Democratic voters, followed by former Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink with 25% support. Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer comes in at 7%, state Senator Nan Rich at 3.5% and Florida Democratic Party chair Rod Smith at 3.4%.

Sen. Rich is the only candidate officially running for governor. Dyer and Sink have said they will make a decision about whether to run after the presidential election. Crist has drawn extensive speculation that he intends to run for governor as a Democrat in 2014.

These new poll numbers will certainly intensify the speculation.

Crist received a tepid response from many of Florida’s most prominent Democrats after he delivered a prime-time address at the DNC. Most analysts have opined that Crist faces a difficult road were he to seek the Democratic nomination.

But Crist’s approval ratings among Democrats and Independents demonstrate his electability, were he to run.

Seventy-three percent of those polled here have a favorable opinion of Crist. Alex Sink also enjoys high marks from Democratic voters with 55 to 21 percent favorable-to-unfavorable rating. But Dyer, Rich and Smith each received unfavorable or unknown ratings from Democratic voters.

“I was surprised by the results, especially with how high Crist’s favorable rating was,” said Matt Florell, president of St. Pete Polls. “It looks like Democratic voters are welcoming Crist to their party with open arms.”

As for the veracity of St. Pete Polls data, I wrote this analysis last month about its numbers vs. actual results and determined, “Its results in the most important races outweigh its askew numbers in down-ballot campaigns.”

The poll was conducted by an automated phone call polling system. The results were then weighted to account for proportional differences between the respondents’ demographics and the demographics of the active voter population. The demographics used were: race, gender and age.

The voters polled were chosen at random within each of Florida’s 120 State House districts. The number of voters chosen from each district were proportional to the the number of democratic voters within that district.

In order to qualify respondents as active voters, only those voters that had voted in a recent election were called, and those voters were asked what political party they were registered with. Only if they responded that they were a registered Democrat were they then asked the other questions in this poll.

The polling memo is below:

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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, 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.