22 August 2005

Davis, Smith go flat; Maddox flatlines

With most Democratic politicos believing Congressman Jim Davis (D-Tampa) poised to handily win their party's nomination next fall, polls tend to show their confidence may be premature. This weekend, the Tampa Tribune reported of anxiety among Davis supporters over his inability to run away from the Democratic field, and polls and contributing factors tend to support their distress. To no one's surprise, the race for the Democratic nomination for governor is still wide open.

Polls by Strategic Vision, a Republican-leaning polling firm, over the past few months show Davis failing to increase his support among Democratic voters. Likewise, one of his opponents, Senator Rod Smith (D-Gainesville), has also remained flat in recent surveys. With the two leading candidates reaching a plateau in support, the real news is former Tallahassee Mayor Scott Maddox who has seen his campaign take a free-fall. All three candidates however are staying competitive, and the most recent poll shows a gubernatorial race that is anyone's to win.

A July Strategic Vision poll showed Davis with 26 percent of the Democratic vote. Smith was a distant second at 15 percent, while Maddox fell to dead last with 11 percent. While Davis and Smith's numbers were virtually unchanged from Stategic Vision's June poll, Maddox witnessed a drop of 9 points, numbers that should have raised concerns within his campaign.

In June, Davis and Smith received the support of 23 and 14 percent of the Democratic voters polled, respectively, while Maddox was the choice of one out of every five Democrats. Previously in April, Davis was supported by 21 percent of Democratic voters, Maddox earned 15 percent, and Smith garnered 13 percent in the poll.

Both the April and June polls were conducted prior to reports that the Florida Democratic Party, under the stewardship of Maddox, had failed to pay federal income and payroll taxes and faced a $200,000 lien from the Internal Revenue Service. The April poll by Strategic Vision was the first to limit the questioning to the three current candidates.

These polls are good news for Davis and Smith with both candidates realizing modest gains over the past four months. Davis has jumped five points while Smith has increased two points. Maddox saw a brief jump in June, followed by a steep fall in July.

Typically, these polling trends would indicate that Davis is strong, but unfortunately he may have failed to meet high expectations. Since the first poll was conducted, Davis received the endorsement of former Senator Bob Graham. Graham's support was expected to provide the Davis campaign with a boost, but it didn't. This means that either the Graham endorsement is not as valuable as some Democrats would like to believe or that Davis' plain and somewhat boring personality cut into any possible momentum the endorsement should have delivered. Davis' failure to gain steam is likely the result of a combination of both factors.

The Smith campaign should be pleased. Since the Legislature has not been in session since May, Senator Smith has been largely absent from recent news reports. Still, he managed to pick up a couple of points, showing slow but steady growth in his support.

Maddox's run for governor may be over. The former chairman has received negative press coverage over the state party's fiscal problems, and he has been engaged in a public feud with one of the largest labor unions in the state. On top of that, it recently surfaced that the City of Tallahassee may have engaged in illegal activities against workers' labor rights while Maddox served as the mayor. Maddox has denied any involvement with these activities.

Polls show that Maddox has lost nearly half of his support among voters, and he is also losing some of his biggest political supporters. The young candidate shouldn't be written off completely, but his speech writers still may want to start working on a eulogy just in case.

At the end of the day, the most important number in all of these polls is the percentage of undecided voters. In April, undecideds accounted for 51 percent of Democrats polled. In June, they were 43 percent, and in July, the number increased again to 48 percent.

With just over a year before Democrats choose their nominee for governor, this race is anyone's ballgame. Right now, Davis is playing the role of the hare, while Smith is the tortoise. And Maddox ... well he may just be a dead duck, but only time will tell.

18 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

bullshit. maddox is still in this race and he's going to be the next governor of florida. he's the only real democrat in the race and its just a matter of time until the voters figure that out. he is the only one that can save the democratic party in florida.

11:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course, "real" in democrat these days means liberal, looney, left. Maddox can not and will not win the primary because of that and the growing drumbeat of ethical concerns that surround him.

1:57:00 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

No, that's not what "'real' in Democrat" means these days.

There are a few people in our party like the first commenter who want it to be that way, however, which is sad.

But the large majority of Democrats disagree with the first anonymous commenter and understand that moderate Democrats are important to the Democratic Party.

3:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree we need moderates- but what kind of moderates- social conservatives who run far tyo the left economically (Smith) or social moderates who are more moderate on economics. (Davis). I think the second model works better ins wing suburban areas of Florida, although the smith model may work better nationwide and in states with heavy Catholic populations like Ohio and Michigan.

9:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

9:17 - Interesting question, although I don't think I'd agree with your measurement of both candidates' "social/economic" levels of moderation. Some may disagree with me. With all the issues swirling around this election cycle, the bases are going to show up. Any signs of moderation is an opportunity for a "pick-up." Further, I think that both candidates are fine men and they know the middle is crucial. The question is which one has the electricity to truly make believers out of those folks so that they turn out for them?

11:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maddox is toast and should get out of the race. More ethical "lapses" to come.

6:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that Maddox is toast, but I would disagree that this poll means anything. Other than those of us who read the blogs, no one is paying attention to the Gov's race right now.

The fact that Smith and Davis have not moved has more to do with the fact that neither has spent any money communicating with voters (so neither is well known), than any lack of momentum. How can any one candidate pull away from the other if no one knows who he is.

Now, if these numbers look like this in April or May of next year, then it becomes panic time.

10:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here are the latest poll numbers on the governor's race. I'm taking out the data on the president's popularity, Jeb's popularity, the U.S. Senate race and the 2008 presidential race. If you want to see those, hit the link:

Below are the poll results based on telephone interviews with 1200 registered voters in Florida, aged 18+, and conducted August 17-21, 2005. The margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

http://www.strategicvision.biz/political/florida_poll_0823.htm

22. If the election for the Republican nomination for Governor in 2006 were held today between Attorney General Charlie Crist and Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, whom would you vote for? (Republicans only)
Charlie Crist 47%
Tom Gallagher 35%
Undecided 18%

23. Are you satisfied with the two Republican candidates running for Governor or would you prefer to see someone else run? (Republicans only)
Satisfied 63%
Prefer another candidate 14%
Undecided 23%

24. If the election for the Democratic nomination for Governor in 2006 were held today between Congressman Jim Davis, State Senator Rod Smith, and former Florida Democratic Chairman Scott Maddox, whom would you vote for? (Democrats only)
Jim Davis 27%
Rod Smith 13%
Scott Maddox 10%
Undecided 50%

25. Are you satisfied with the three Democratic candidates running for Governor or would you prefer to see someone else run? (Democrats only)
Satisfied 39%
Prefer another candidate 55%
Undecided 6%

26. If the election for Governor were between Charlie Crist, the Republican and Jim Davis, the Democrat, whom would you support?
Charlie Crist 48%
Jim Davis 35%
Undecided 17%

27. If the election for Governor were between Tom Gallagher, the Republican and Jim Davis, the Democrat, whom would you support?
Tom Gallagher 47%
Jim Davis 33%
Undecided 20%

28. If the election for Governor were between Charlie Crist, the Republican and Rod Smith, the Democrat, whom would you support?
Charlie Crist 49%
Rod Smith 29%
Undecided 22%

29. If the election for Governor were between Tom Gallagher, the Republican and Rod Smith, the Democrat, whom would you support?
Tom Gallagher 48%
Rod Smith 26%
Undecided 26%

30. If the election for Governor were between Charlie Crist, the Republican and Scott Maddox, the Democrat, whom would you support?
Charlie Crist 49%
Scott Maddox 26%
Undecided 25%

31. If the election for Governor were between Tom Gallagher, the Republican and Scott Maddox, the Democrat, whom would you support?
Tom Gallagher 48%
Scott Maddox 25%
Undecided 27%

7:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This poll has many questions, and I mean about the methodology. Strategic Vision is polling 1200 people, yet has no clients to do them for. He is just doing them for the hell of it - no clients. Polls are expensive to conduct, it is difficult to do correctly and with proper methodology....but any charlatan can print paper and declare themself a pollster. The guy that does these (David E. Johnson, not the guy who used to run the RPOF)was Larry Freaking Klayman's consultant, and I dont think he has had a client since that stunningly bad race. Then Strategic Vision suddenly becomes a pollster?
My GOP contacts tell me they laugh at these polls, think they are BS, and we should pay no attention to them. They doubt they are even being done. And we must be more vigilant in citing crap research - and perhaps even made-up-out-of-thin-air research.

9:25:00 PM  
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