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Sunburn for 5.11.16 – How should we interpret the latest Quinnipiac poll?

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Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Mitch Perry, Ryan Ray and Jim Rosica.

BEFORE WE DIVE INTO THE Q-POLL … Happy birthday to one of my best friends, Alan Suskey. Readers know I must really like Suskey by all the nice things I write about him. That, or he’s paying me a lot of money.


For those who do not know me or what I look like, allow me to offer you a brief description. I am about 6” tall, have killer abs, a full head of hair and possessed with disarmingly good looks … Actually, that’s what I would LIKE to look like. But I don’t.

That’s the fundamental problem with the latest Quinnipiac poll. Respondents were not selected – or balanced – by what they ARE but by how they would like to be. Here’s the problem with that, particularly if you want to use this poll for predictive purposes. We know only about 75 percent of eligible adults even register to vote. So, in theory, 1 in 4 adults – those randomly dialed in this poll – aren’t able to vote. But if they claim to be a voter, they are included. And that’s a real problem.

Very few respondents not registered to vote will admit to that fact. It’s called “socially desirable response patterning” – people will often answer the way they think they should answer. Further, while there is value in knowing what people “consider” their party affiliation … asking them to self-identify causes a host of other problems.

Let’s pick just one. According to this poll, 37 percent of respondents belong to neither major party. THAT WILL NOT HAPPEN in the 2016 presidential election. “Independent” and “other” party voters will hover between 23 to 24 percent of the electorate. Based on this variable, one can easily see that the response set in this poll is highly skewed by as much as 40 percent.

So, how do you fix this?

Simple. You draw respondents from the active voter file and know what their registration is before asking. (It’s a little more complex than that, but you get the idea.) This way you can model your sample to look pretty close to what the electorate is most likely going to look like and you are not dependent on people telling you what they think you want to hear.

The folks at Quinnipiac did go through some pains to ensure bilingual respondents, chose a relatively robust cellphone sampling and did a great job calling and re-calling households … so kudos there.

However, based on the fact that respondents were asked to self-identify both the fact that they are registered to vote and then their party preference – and there is no indication that either of these vital factors was verified – we have to recommend taking this poll with a half-shaker of salt.


March wasn’t a usual primary election in Florida, and it’s possible that November could be the same. We caution that this survey shouldn’t be completely ignored because it is a data point that seems to show if Trump is successful in mobilizing the voters whose rage is so tangible, then it will improve his ballot standing here in Florida, and elsewhere around the country (Q also reports in Ohio it’s Trump +4, and Pennsylvania it’s Clinton +1).

We maintain Trump will likely have a more difficult time in states where the share of the non-white vote is relatively high (like in Florida where it’s 33%) and that Miami-Dade could be far worse for Trump than it was for Romney in 2012 as it presents a unique demographic makeup which is only worsening for Republicans.

We have a long way to go so please keep these simple points in mind during the barrage of survey data we will see this year and don’t forget that the Democrats have nominated flawed candidate themselves, which makes predicting a voter’s ultimate behavior this far out a fool’s errand.

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U.S. Senate race: In a crowded field, there are no clear winners or losers, while U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy seems to be the strongest of all candidates. Murphy leads Republican businessman Carlos Beruff 38 – 32 percent; edges Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera 38 – 34 percent and leads businessman Todd Wilcox 38 – 33 percent. Other races involving Murphy and GOP contenders, or Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson and Republicans, are too close to call.

Marijuana initiative: Voters say 80 – 16 percent they will vote for a constitutional amendment this November allowing for medical marijuana. Support is over 70 percent among every party, gender, education, age and ethnic group measured.

Approval ratings: Voters disapprove 49 – 40 percent of the job Gov. Rick Scott is doing, continuing his five-year trend of mostly negative scores. Lame-duck Sen. Marco Rubio has a negative 42 – 49 percent approval rating, while Sen. Bill Nelson gets a positive 47 – 26 percent score.

CARLOS LOPEZ CANTERA BRAGS ABOUT SUSPENDING WORKERS FOR NOT VOTING via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – At a recent campaign stop in New Port Richey, Lopez-Cantera tried to win over a crowd of 450 Republicans by telling them about his time as Miami-Dade’s property appraiser when he stood up to a labor union and ended up suspending dozens in 2013. Lopez-Cantera said he was saddled with a labor contract that forced him to allow employees paid time off to go vote. … After Election Day, Lopez-Cantera took the step — unprecedented, as far as anyone could tell — of requesting elections records to show which workers cast ballots. “I went and I checked if they had voted,” Lopez-Cantera said in New Port Richey. “I suspended 40 employees because they did not vote.” (Records show it was 41.)

DAVID JOLLY CAMP REJECTS ALLEGATION THAT HE’S CONSIDERING BACKING HILLARY CLINTON FOR PRESIDENT via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – At issue is a Facebook posting by the Republican Liberty Caucus of Tampa Bay, which posted a story May 3 from the Conservative Review website headlined, “GOP Rep doesn’t know if he’ll support Trump or Clinton.” The story was written after the Pinellas County congressman and U.S. Senate candidate said he “doesn’t know” who he would vote for president in an interview conducted on a New York City radio station. “I have strong reservations about some of Donald Trump’s solutions to some of the security issues we face as a country,” Jolly said in the interview … “Those are real reservations. Now, I will tell you I also have strong disagreements with Secretary Clinton over her view of foreign policy. So, I think like a lot of Americans, we are gonna have to begin to spend the summer studying the candidates and decide who’s best for the future of the country.” Max Goodman, Jolly’s Senate campaign manager, is adamant that Jolly has never said he would consider supporting Clinton in the general election. “That assertion is undeniably and unequivocally false,” Goodman [said]. “Jolly has been on the record on multiple occasions saying he will never vote for Hillary.”

JOLLY TO DISCUSS HIS STOP ACT AT NATIONAL PRESS CLUB NEXT WEEK via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics – Jolly will get another national platform to discuss his legislation that would ban federally elected officials from asking for campaign contributions when he speaks at the National Press Club next Monday. Joining Jolly at the event will be Minnesota Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan, one of the bill’s eight co-sponsors. Nolan served three terms in the House in the 1970s and was elected again to Congress in 2013. Nolan says when he returned to D.C. he hardly recognized the institution because of the amount of time members spend dialing for dollars.

U.S. SENATE TRACKER: Beruff will be in Sarasota, Orlando and Melbourne. Republican Wilcox will be in Punta Gorda.

ADAM PUTNAM COMMITS TO VOTING FOR TRUMP via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – “I have said from the beginning I would support the nominee,” Putnam said. “He wasn’t my first or second choice. I started with Jeb. Then I was with Senator (MarcoRubioand all indications are he is going to be our nominee. As a proud Republican I don’t intend to support Hillary Clinton.” Asked about Trump‘s poor numbers with women voters and Hispanic voters, Putnam acknowledged that could be a problem for the real estate mogul. “I am concerned about how he has positioned himself with some key voting blocs,” Putnam said.

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TIM CANOVA SET TO ANNOUNCE $1 MIL HAUL via Marc Caputo of POLITICO – Fueled by small-dollar donors who give to Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, Canova said that, by the weekend, he’ll be on pace to have raised $1 million since he officially entered the race Jan. 7.

CENTRAL FLORIDA LAWMAKERS BACK PETER VIVALDI IN SD 15 RACE via Florida Politics – The Windermere businessman picked up endorsements from Republican Reps. Jason BrodeurBob CortesMike LaRosa,Mike MillerScott PlakonRene PlasenciaDavid Santiago and Jennifer Sullivan, most of whom represent the same slices of Orange and Osceola counties that make up the newly redrawn SD 15. “Peter Vivaldi will be a strong conservative ally in the Florida Senate,” said Cortes, who holds the District 30 seat in the House. “He is a man of principle and conviction who understands the proper role of government and will fight for policies that will strengthen our economy and increase freedom and opportunity in Florida.”

FORMER POLK COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER TO CHALLENGE KELLI STARGEL IN SD 15 – Debra Wright, a Democrat, is running for the state Senate seat now held by Stargel, a Lakeland Republican. Although her name did not appear on the state Division of Elections candidate list as of Tuesday morning, Wright’s candidacy was announced by Polk Democratic leaders.

MY TAKE: IS DWIGHT BULLARD THE LATEST CASUALTY OF THE REDISTRICTING WARS? via Florida Politics – And is Sen. Oscar Braynon turning his back on him? There were rumors that Senate Democrats were ultimately (deliberately or unknowingly — we do not know yet) sacrificing minorities during their battle for redistricting. But did anyone know or predict he would pick one minority over another? Namely, would he sacrifice an arguably weaker African-American, who is a legacy Democrat and a loyal soldier for a female Hispanic who is a recycled Republican — enter Ana Rivas Logan. The next six weeks will tell us if what we are watching is the incoming Democratic leader of the Senate sacrificing a sitting African-American teacher and Democratic family legend for a recycled Republican. Has OB gone out of bounds? We shall see. Your move, Mr. Senate Democratic Leader.

REGGIE FULLWOOD’S FEDERAL TRIAL WILL BE PUSHED BACK TO AUGUST via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics – The court has deemed the time from the June to August trial calendar as “excludable time,” a move justified by “the ends of justice served by the granting of such continuance [outweighing] the best interests of the public and the defendant in a speedy trial.” Fullwood’s motion for a bill of particulars from the prosecution hints at the Jacksonville Democrat’s defense. Fullwood believes that the infractions, if true, constitute “misdemeanor violations of Florida’s Election Laws,” and not “wire fraud.” The document asserts the charges have been trumped up to a federal level because the electronic transfers from Fullwood’s campaign account to his personal account in the same bank involved a server for the bank that was based in New Jersey. Fullwood also takes issue with the allegation that his money transfers were part of a “scheme to defraud,” as the indictment alleges.

INTERNAL POLL SHOWS KATHERINE VAN ZANT LEADING IN HD 19 GOP RACE via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics – Van Zant, wife of the term-limited incumbent, well ahead of her two opponents …  Palatka’s Bobby Payne and Leslie Dougher, the former chair of the Republican Party of Florida. Van Zant carries 33 percent of the survey district-wide, with Payne trailing at 14 percent and Dougher farther back, at 10 percent …  polls especially well in Bradford County, where she leads her opponents by 40 percent each. Strong name ID also works in Van Zant’s favor.

— “Matt Hudson raises more than $10K in April toward SD 28 race” via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics

— “Shawn Harrison raises more than $21,000 in HD 63 race in April” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

— “HD 68 Dem candidate Ben Diamond raises over $28,000 in one week on the campaign trail” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

— “Democratic HD 69 candidate Jennifer Webb reports raising more than $20,000 since entering campaign last month” via Mitch Perry of Florida Politics

— “Byron Donalds, Joe Davidow boost their campaign coffers in April” via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics

— “Lavigne Kirkpatrick raises more than $4K in HD 106 race” via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics

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RICK SCOTT, CABINET APPROVE LAND CONSERVATION DEAL via Ryan Ray of Florida Politics – … $6.6 million in deals … The land, in Osceola County south of St. Cloud, will be set aside to forestall any development and preserve biodiversity. Under the proposal the state would buy land within Adams Ranch, a fourth-generation cattle operation, and Camp Lonesome, another massive ranching area. They will become “perpetual conservation easements” and the land will come under state management. The land will be overseen by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Florida Forest Service Rural and Family Lands Protection Program. The state will spend $5.4 million for a 3,245-acre plot and nearly $1.2 million for another 528 acres. Under the terms of the deal, active ranches can continue to operate on their land.

WHAT THE GOV’S OFFICE IS READING — NUMBER 2 AGAIN, FLORIDA STILL PRESSING NUMBER 1 TEXAS IN CEO SURVEY OF BEST BUSINESS STATE via the Tampa Bay Times – “Chief Executive” magazine, Rick Scott‘s preferred publication when citing Florida’s economic status, once again declares Florida trails only Texas in an annual ranking of best states for business. The good news is Florida outranked 48 other states in the magazine’s annual assessment. The bad news is Texas, Scott’s chosen state to pit Florida’s business allure against, is still No. 1. Texas and Florida have held the top two spots in the magazine survey, this year of 513 CEOs nationwide, for the past 12 years. If little else, the consistency is a testament to resilience of the two Sunbelt states’ to stay on top in the eyes of top management. Since Chief Executive only surveys CEOs, states that rank highest tend to offer businesses low taxes and little regulation. “Despite having been hit hard by the shale energy bust, Texas is still held in high esteem by CEOs for its favorable economic reforms,” the magazine states. “But each year, Florida steadily edges up in the qualitative measures.”

CRAIG VARN, FORMER TOP STATE ENVIRONMENTAL LAWYER, TAPPED FOR REGULATORY BOARD THAT DOESN’T MEET via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – Varn used to be general counsel at the Department of Environmental Protection. He’s now in private practice, but his new responsibilities as an Environmental Regulation Commission member may not be too taxing. The all-volunteer commission has cancelled every one of its monthly meetings so far this year. All of its monthly meetings from January to June have been cancelled, its website shows. There’s no meeting scheduled for July. The August meeting is set as “TBD,” or “to be decided.” The body is supposed to “set standards and rules that protect Floridians and the environment,” the website says. “Most issues … relate to air pollution, water quality and waste management.”

LEGAL POT INDUSTRY DESCENDS ON FLORIDA AS VOTERS CONSIDER MEDICAL MARIJUANA via Michael Auslen of the Tampa Bay Times – Three thousand members of the nation’s budding legal pot industry are visiting Florida this week — and not for the beaches. “It has nothing to do with the climate or the attractions,” said Chris Walsh, editorial director of “Marijuana Business Daily,” a trade publication that sponsors the twice-annual Marijuana Business Conference. “There’s a lot of excitement about the Florida market.” Florida also could be lucrative for ancillary companies, who came for the three-day event at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center hoping to sell everything from growing supplies to child-proof packaging, even insurance policies to the niche market. The first medical marijuana is supposed to be available in Florida later this year. In just a few years, Florida could be the second-largest marijuana market in the country. But to get to that point, state law would have to change. Marijuana Business Daily estimates there will be as much as $4.3 billion in retail sales of the drug this year. And that could double by 2019 if states like Florida and Ohio legalize medical marijuana. “This is an industry like any other,” Walsh said. “There’s a perception in states that haven’t legalized that it’s a bunch of hippies walking around and that product is being sold on the show floor. That’s not what this is.”

FLORIDA UTILITIES MOVE TOWARD SOLAR ENERGY AS PRICE DROPS via Bruce Richie of POLITICO Florida – Florida utilities are taking advantage of the lower costs. Florida Power & Light Co. is building a 74.5-megawatt solar facility at the Babcock Ranch housing development in Lee County, one of three solar projects FPL announced in February. Together, the projects will generate 225 megawatts, which is enough energy to power 45,000 homes. “This is the first time we have been able to build cost-effective (solar) in Florida,” said Alys Daly, FPL’s manager of public affairs. According to FPL’s J.L. “Buck” Martinez, the senior director of FPL’s Office of Clean Energy, the cost of producing solar was about $6 a watt in 2006. It’s now a little less than $2 … while the price of solar facilities continues to fall, it still isn’t as cheap as alternate forms of power production like natural gas in many cases, especially if the utilities don’t have nearby transmission lines available. It’s also harder to bring down costs using rooftop solar instead of buying panels in bulk … utilities are generally opposed to rooftop solar because it is difficult for them to profit from individually used electricity.

LAKE O MAYORS, EVERGLADES FOUNDATION, ARGUE FLOW EFFECTS ON FLORIDA BAY via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida – The South Florida Water Management District has said drought conditions in 2015 caused salinity levels to increase and killed off nearly 22,000 acres of seagrass … some environmentalists were calling on state officials to purchase land south of Lake Okeechobee for water storage and restoring fresh water flow to Florida Bay in response to the die-off. In response to those statements, the mayors of Clewiston, South Bay, Belle Glade and Pahokee placed the full-page advertisement in the Key West Citizen …  “Recent news reports and comments from engaged citizens are suggesting that pollution from communities south of Lake Okeechobee may be contributing to current water issues in Florida Bay,” the ad said. “The historical and current flows of the Everglades ecosystem refute those claims.” Thomas Van Lent, a hydrologist who is vice president of programs at the Everglades Foundation, said water and pollution from Lake Okeechobee does make it to the keys and he provided his own flow chart showing water from Shark River Slough through Everglades National Park making it into Florida Bay. “Lake Okeechobee is essential to the Everglades hydrology — and Florida Bay is at the bottom,” Van Lent [said] …” to say they are not connected is just wrong.”

FPC PROJECTS MORE GROWTH, SPENDING AT FLORIDA PORTS IN FIVE-YEAR PLAN via Legislative IQ powered by Lobby Tools – The Florida Ports Council is projecting an increase of nearly $3.7 billion in state, local and private spending at seaports across Florida over the next five years … That money is programmed into the Florida Seaport Transportation and Economic Development Council’s recently released five-year plan. The current plan includes $140 million more in capital investments than a five-year capital improvement plan released last year. Over half of the money included in the new plan is earmarked for improvements at Port Everglades, Port Canaveral and JaxPort for things like channel dredging projects and terminal upgrades. The report also shows cargo volume and values increased overall in 2015 despite a slowdown in the Chinese economy that crimped global commodities markets. Florida’s ports moved 3.5 million 20-foot equivalent units of goods, a 5.9 percent increase over 2014 whose cargo was valued at $49.8 billion — a 6.3 percent increase from 2014. The state also recorded a small trade deficit, with imports making up 51.1 percent of international trade and exports making up 48.9 percent, likely due to the continuing strength of the dollar.

CENSUS FINDS BIG DROP IN CENTRAL FLORIDA HOMELESS via Kate Santich of the Orlando Sentinel – Homelessness in Central Florida has dropped an unprecedented 23 percent over the past year … according to the results of an annual census, and it has plunged more than 60 percent since 2013. They credit recent efforts to provide permanent housing to veterans and chronically homeless individuals for the results, which showed 1,613 homeless men, women and children in the tri-county region, the vast majority of them in Orange County.

DUBIOUS CREDENTIALS NO PROBLEM FOR BROWARD’S NEW TOURISM CZAR via Fred Grimm of the Miami Herald – If nothing else, Broward’s controversial new hospitality CEO has the resumé to open a whole new international tourism market … Under Stacy Ritter’s leadership, Broward’s tourism industry could reach out to the targets of corruption investigations in capitals like Brasilia. Or closer to home. Think of beachfront staycations for the gang down at Opa-locka City Hall. Ritter, a sitting member of the Broward County Commission for the past 10 years, and the survivor of several investigations herself, was picked last week to take over the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. She’ll be making a swell starting salary of $168,000 a year. A nice bump from her $95,000 commission salary. Local business leaders had hoped the county would hire, instead, someone with experience and expertise in the tourism industry. The Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association had begged the county to look outside the county … the Tourist Development Council just last week tried to head off the Ritter hiring. Broward County Manager Bertha Henry instead picked Ritter, one of her nine county commission bosses. She will bring a different kind of expertise to the job.


Vance Akins, VTAC: 5J Transport

Gregory BlackAllison Liby-Schoonover, Metz Husband & Daughton: Carr Riggs & Ingram; Genentech, Inc.

Douglas Mannheimer, Broad and Cassel: Naveos Healthcare Data Analytics

James McFaddin, Southern Strategy Group: Peace River Center

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.

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