Hillary Clinton Archives - Florida Politics

Amendment seeks to restore voting rights for 1.5M felons

More than 1.5 million adults in Florida are ineligible to vote because they have felony convictions. Voters rights’ groups are hoping that will change on Tuesday.

Known as the voting rights restoration initiative, constitutional Amendment 4 would fundamentally alter the way convicted felons participate in democracy.

If it passes, those with felony convictions will be able have voting rights restored automatically if they’ve completed their sentences, including parole and probation. It doesn’t apply to anyone convicted of murder or sexual assault. Supporters of the amendment say the current process to apply for restoration of those rights is prohibitively difficult and arbitrary.

The ballot measure needs 60 percent of the vote to pass. At the beginning of 2018, Floridians for a Fair Democracy collected more than 799,000 certified petition signatures, or about 33,000 more than the group needed to get the measure on the ballot.

Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project, a Washington nonprofit that advocates sentencing reform, says Florida is “ground zero” for disenfranchised felons.

Of the 6.1 million disenfranchised felons in the U.S., about 1.7 million live in Florida — the most of any state, Mauer said. Only 12 states disenfranchise people for a felony conviction after they’ve served their sentence, he said.

“The numbers in Florida really dwarf any other state,” Mauer said.

The Florida ballot proposal has been championed by celebrities — singer John Legend held a community event in Orlando in October to highlight the issue. And it’s been the subject of several national news pieces.

Currently, felons in Florida can only regain voting ability if they apply to the state Office of Executive Clemency. The felon’s case is heard by the governor and his Cabinet, and sometimes, the person seeking restoration will go before the board and explain their situation, and how they have repented or been rehabilitated. Florida’s governor has a unilateral veto on the applications.

Shortly after taking office in 2007, then-Republican Gov. Charlie Crist persuaded two of the state’s three Cabinet members to approve rules that would allow the parole commission to restore voting rights for nonviolent felons without a hearing. Within a year, more than 100,000 ex-felons were granted voting rights.

But Republican Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet ended automatic restoration of voting rights as one of Scott’s first acts upon taking office in 2011.

Siottis Jackson, 30, of Jacksonville, is director of the North Florida chapter of Second Chances, a nonprofit group supporting Amendment 4. He’s been a political activist for years. In 2015, he was convicted of a felony fraud charge, meaning that he asks people to vote, but can’t vote himself.

“I work for candidates and I can’t vote for them,” he said. “I live in a community where a lot of people are affected by this.”

Jackson said that when people lose their right to vote, “they begin to lose their hope and their engagement in our democracy.”

“If there’s a streetlight out, they don’t complain. They feel their voice isn’t going to be heard. It reduces their interest in community pride. They say, ‘I don’t get involved, because I don’t have the right to vote.’”

Adding more than a million people to the state’s voter rolls could have broad implications in a state where elections are often won by a razor-thin margin. In 2016, President Donald Trump won Florida with less than 50 percent of the vote, defeating Hillary Clinton 49 percent to 47.8 percent, or 112,911 votes.

Separately, Florida’s process of restoring voting rights to felons is winding its way through an appeals court case. U.S. District Judge Mark Walker ruled the state’s system is unconstitutional because it is arbitrary and open to having applications approved or rejected for political reasons. He ordered the state to revamp its system, but Scott’s administration appealed. The appellate court put Walker’s order on hold while it considers the case.

A spokesman for Scott has said that judges should interpret the law, not create it, and that the governor will “never stop fighting for victims of crime and their families.”

Dems whiffed in 2016, so what if they fail again?

For Democrats, the midterm elections have been a beacon in the dark, a chance to re-emerge from the political wilderness and repudiate a President they view as a dangerous force.

But on the cusp of Tuesday’s vote, many Democrats are as anxious as they are hopeful.

Their memories from 2016, when they watched in disbelief as Donald Trump defied polls, expectations and political norms, are still fresh. And as Trump travels the country armed with a divisive and racially charged closing campaign message, the test for Democrats now feels at once similar and more urgent than it did two years ago: They failed to stop Trump then, what if they fall short again?

“Part of what’s at stake here is our ability to send a message that this is not who we are,” said Karen Finney, a Democratic consultant who worked on Hillary Clinton’s losing 2016 campaign.

This year, history is on Democrats’ side. The sitting President’s party often losing ground in the first midterm after winning office, and for much of 2018, voter enthusiasm and polling has favored Democrats as well.

Primary contests filled the Democratic roster with a new generation of candidates, including several minority candidates who could make history in their races. While the fight to regain control of the Senate, largely playing out in conservative states, may prove out of reach for Democrats, the party has been buoyed by its ability to run competitively in Republican-leaning states such as Texas and Tennessee.

Democrats’ focus is largely on snatching back the House and picking up Governors’ seats in Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio and elsewhere. The party is also seeking redemption in the Midwest where Trump won over white, working-class voters who had backed Democrats for years. In Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, Democrats appear poised to regain ground.

Such victories would build momentum behind the party’s shift toward a new generation of candidates who are younger, more diverse, with greater numbers of women and more liberal than Democratic leadership. They would also signal that Trump’s hard-line positions on immigration and his penchant for personal attacks turn off more voters than they energize.

A good night for Democrats on Tuesday would provide a blueprint for how the party can successfully run against Trump in the 2020 presidential race. At least two dozen Democrats are waiting in the wings, eager to take on Trump.

But the President has proved once again to be a powerful political force late in a campaign.

Even with his daily airing of grievances on Twitter and an approval rate below the average for his recent predecessors at this point, he has almost single-handedly put Republicans in a stronger position this fall. He’s aggressively appealed to his loyal, core supporters with a sharply anti-immigrant, nationalist message and by casting Democrats as outside the mainstream.

“A vote for any Democrat this November is a vote to really put extreme far left politicians in charge of Congress and to destroy your jobs, slash your incomes, undermine your safety and put illegal aliens before American citizens,” Trump said during a rally Saturday in Pensacola, Florida.

If Republicans hang on to control of Congress, Trump will almost certainly be emboldened. Democrats would be left with difficult questions about a path forward.

For example, how can Democrats assemble a winning coalition in 2020 if they fail to appeal to the moderate suburban voters who hold sway in the congressional districts that decide which party holds a House majority? And how will Democrats, if they fall short, sustain the energy from young people and women who have marched in protest of Trump, registered to vote and volunteered for the first time this election season.

“I’m concerned that if the election is not what we hoped for that people will say, ‘it’s too hard’ and become disengaged,” said Jennifer Palmieri, who served as Clinton’s communications director during the 2016 campaign.

As Americans participated in early voting this weekend, that same anxiety was palpable among some voters.

In Southern California, lifelong Democrat Theresa Hunter said she didn’t take Trump seriously in 2016. But she sees a chance for Democrats to render their judgment on the President by pushing his party out of power in a different branch of government.

“To see his party jump on board and march in lockstep is what’s terrifying,” said Hunter, a 65-year-old retired salesperson from Lake Forest, California.

A few hours north, California voter Lawrence Reh was casting his ballot. Afterward, his voice quivered and he wiped back tears as he voiced frustrations about Trump and his worries about the direction of the country.

“If we don’t make any progress in this election, I don’t know where we’ll go from here,” Reh said.

Material republished with permission from The Associated Press.

Twitter deletes over 10,000 accounts that sought to discourage U.S. voting

Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) deleted more than 10,000 automated accounts posting messages that discouraged people from voting in Tuesday’s U.S. election and wrongly appeared to be from Democrats, after the party flagged the misleading tweets to the social media company.

“We took action on relevant accounts and activity on Twitter,” a Twitter spokesman said in an email. The removals took place in late September and early October.

Twitter removed more than 10,000 accounts, according to three sources familiar with the Democrats’ effort. The number is modest, considering that Twitter has previously deleted millions of accounts it determined were responsible for spreading misinformation in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Yet the removals represent an early win for a fledgling effort by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, or DCCC, a party group that supports Democrats running for the U.S. House of Representatives.

The DCCC launched the effort this year in response to the party’s inability to respond to millions of accounts on Twitter and other social media platforms that spread negative and false information about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and other party candidates in 2016, three people familiar with the operation told Reuters.

While the prevalence of misinformation campaigns have so far been modest in the run-up to the Congressional elections on Nov. 6, Democrats are hoping the flagging operation will help them react quickly if there is a flurry of such messages in the coming days.

The Tweets included ones that discouraged Democratic men from voting, saying that would drown out the voice of women, according to two of the sources familiar with the flagging operation.

The DCCC developed its own system for identifying and reporting malicious automated accounts on social media, according to the three party sources.

The system was built in part from publicly available tools known as “Hoaxley” and “Botometer” developed by University of Indiana computer researchers. They allow a user to identify automated accounts, also known as bots, and analyze how they spread information on specific topics.

“We made Hoaxley and Botometer free for anyone to use because people deserve to know what’s a bot and what’s not,” said Filippo Menczer, professor of informatics and computer science at the University of Indiana.

The Democratic National Committee works with a group of contractors and partners to rapidly identify misinformation campaigns.

They include RoBhat Labs, a firm whose website says it has developed technology capable of detecting bots and identifying political-bias in messages.

The collaboration with RoBhat has already led to the discovery of malicious accounts and posts, which were referred to social media companies and other campaign officials, DNC Chief Technology Officer Raffi Krikorian said in email.

Krikorian did not say whether the flagged posts were ultimately removed by Twitter.

“We provide the DNC with reports about what we’re seeing in terms of bot activity and where it’s being amplified,” said Ash Bhat, co-founder of RoBhat Labs.

“We can’t tell you who’s behind these different operations, Twitter hides that from us, but with the technology you known when and how it’s happening,” Bhat said.

Direct mail round-up: ‘Liberal’ Tracye Polson has ‘liberal’ friends and ‘liberal’ donors

The increasingly expensive race in Westside Jacksonville’s swingy House District 15 is all but over, but Republican Wyman Duggan has a final message for voters.

That message, per his latest mailpiece: That “liberal” Tracye Polson has donated to “liberal politicians” like Barack ObamaHillary Clinton, and Bill Nelson.

And, what’s more, that she “hosted campaign fundraisers IN HER OWN HOME for liberals like Nelson and Kamala Harris.”

For the rubes in the deepest heart of the Westside, the mailer helpfully explains that Harris is a “liberal U.S. Senator from California.”

“She’s patting the backs of big-time liberal donors … and will represent THEIR DANGEROUS LIBERAL VALUES,” the mailpiece remonstrates.

The flipside of the mailer presents Duggan as a “commonsense leader,” pointing out endorsements garnered early in the three-way Republican primary from U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, and Sheriff Mike Williams.

Given that the seat, currently held by Jay Fant, hadn’t seen a competitive election outside of the primary in nearly a decade, the spending on this race has been eye-popping.

Money has flowed in this race, as shown by the latest campaign finance reports (through Oct. 19).

Between her campaign account and political committee, Polson raised $19,673 and loaned her campaign an additional $55,000 in the week between Oct. 13 and 19.

Since launching the campaign, Polson has amassed $626,617. Roughly $50,000 of that is still available.

Duggan likewise was active during the same timeframe, raising $27,150 between his campaign account and political committee, with another $7,000 of in-kind from the Republican Party of Florida for polling.

The most interesting donor: incumbent Rep. Jay Fant, who had not gone out of his way to embrace the Duggan candidacy in the primary.

Duggan raised a total of $354,743 from the beginning of his campaign through Oct. 19, He had roughly $59,000 available as of that date.

Between them, Polson and Duggan have raised almost $982,000. When that sum is combined with that of two other Republicans in the primary (who raised $100,000 between them), total receipts top $1 million.

Polson has secured endorsements outside of traditional Democratic constituencies, including Jacksonville’s police and fire unions and the Florida Times-Union.

Duggan’s closing message is clear that his friends are more palatable to the district than hers.

Joe Biden adviser Jake Sullivan endorses Liv Coleman

National security adviser Jake Sullivan weighed in on a Florida House race, endorsing Liv Coleman in District 73.

“I know what Liv is capable of because I know where she comes from,” Sullivan said in a statement.

“We grew up in the same town and went to the same high school. We both learned the values of fairness, common sense, and service in the Minneapolis public schools. Liv’s own experience is why she is devoted to strong public education for every kid in Florida.

“If you vote for her on November 6, she will make you proud.”

Sullivan served as national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden. He also served as an advisor to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton—and not always to the pleasure of progressives.

Vox in 2015 described Sullivan as the man behind “hawkish Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy.”

In that article, Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser to President Barack Obama, said: “On the spectrum of people in our administration, he [Sullivan] tended to favor more assertive US engagement on issues.”

Coleman said family connections made Sullivan aware of her candidacy for state House, then asked to be put in touch with the campaign. Sullivan and Coleman’s husband, Matt Lepinski, were on debate team together in high school.

While national security issues haven’t dominated the state House race, Coleman, a political science professor at the University of Tampa, hopes the endorsement can further bolster his public policy credibility.

She’s running against Republican Tommy Gregory, a Sarasota attorney and a former JAG officer whose military credentials have been a big part of his campaign.

Coleman and Gregory seek to succeed Republican Rep. Joe Gruters, who is running for state Senate. Gruters in 2016 won the district with 65 percent of the vote over Democrat James Golden, so the district historically swings to the right.

Person detained in mail-bomb investigation

Federal authorities took a man into custody Friday in Florida in connection with the mail-bomb scare that earlier widened to 12 suspicious packages, the FBI and Justice Department said.

The man was identified by law enforcement officials as Cesar Sayoc, 56, of Aventura, Florida. He was arrested at an auto parts store in the nearby city of Plantation.

Court records show Sayoc has a history of arrests.

Law enforcement officers were seen on television examining a white van, its windows covered with an assortment of stickers, in the city of Plantation in the Miami area. Authorities covered the vehicle with a blue tarp and took it away on the back of a flatbed truck.

Bomb Map -- Associated Press

The stickers included images of American flags and what appeared to be logos of the Republican National Committee and CNN, though the writing surrounding those images was unclear.

President Donald Trump said he expected to speak about the investigation at a youth summit on Friday.

The development came amid a coast-to-coast manhunt for the person responsible for a series of explosive devices addressed to Democrats including former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton.

Law enforcement officials said they had intercepted a dozen packages in states across the country. None had exploded, and it wasn’t immediately clear if they were intended to cause physical harm or simply sow fear and anxiety.

Earlier Friday, authorities said suspicious packages addressed to New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and former National Intelligence Director James Clapper — both similar to those containing pipe bombs sent to other prominent critics of President Donald Trump— had been intercepted.

Investigators believe the mailings were staggered. The U.S. Postal Service searched their facilities 48 hours ago and the most recent packages didn’t turn up. Officials don’t think they were sitting in the system without being spotted. They were working to determine for sure. The officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

The FBI said the package to Booker was intercepted in Florida. The one discovered at a Manhattan postal facility was addressed to Clapper at CNN’s address. An earlier package had been sent to former Obama CIA Director John Brennan via CNN in New York.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Friday the Justice Department was dedicating every available resource to the investigation “and I can tell you this: We will find the person or persons responsible. We will bring them to justice.”

Trump, on the other hand, complained that “this ‘bomb’ stuff” was taking attention away from the upcoming election and said critics were wrongly blaming him and his heated rhetoric.

Investigators were analyzing the innards of the crude devices to reveal whether they were intended to detonate or simply sow fear just before Election Day.

Law enforcement officials told The Associated Press that the devices, containing timers and batteries, were not rigged to explode upon opening. But they were uncertain whether the devices were poorly designed or never intended to cause physical harm.

Most of those targeted were past or present U.S. officials, but one was sent to actor Robert De Niro and billionaire George Soros. The bombs have been sent across the country – from New York, Delaware and Washington, D.C., to Florida and California, where Rep. Maxine Waters was targeted. They bore the return address of Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.

The common thread among the bomb targets was obvious: their critical words for Trump and his frequent, harsher criticism in return.

Trump claimed Friday he was being blamed for the mail bombs, complaining in a tweet sent before dawn: “Funny how lowly rated CNN, and others, can criticize me at will, even blaming me for the current spate of Bombs and ridiculously comparing this to September 11th and the Oklahoma City bombing, yet when I criticize them they go wild and scream, ‘it’s just not Presidential!’”

The package to Clapper was addressed to him at CNN’s Midtown Manhattan address. Clapper, a frequent Trump critic, told CNN that he was not surprised he was targeted and that he considered the actions “definitely domestic terrorism.”

Jeff Zucker, the president of CNN Worldwide, said in a note to staff that all mail to CNN domestic offices was being screened at off-site facilities. He said there was no imminent danger to the Time Warner Center, where CNN’s New York office is located.

At a press conference Thursday, officials in New York would not discuss possible motives or details on how the packages found their way into the postal system. Nor would they say why the packages hadn’t detonated, but they stressed they were still treating them as “live devices.”

The devices were packaged in manila envelopes and carried U.S. postage stamps. They were being examined by technicians at the FBI’s forensic lab in Quantico, Virginia.

The packages stoked nationwide tensions ahead of the Nov. 6 election to determine control of Congress — a campaign both major political parties have described in near-apocalyptic terms. Politicians from both parties used the threats to decry a toxic political climate and lay blame.

Trump, in a tweet Thursday, blamed the “Mainstream Media” for the anger in society. Brennan responded, tweeting that Trump should “Stop blaming others. Look in the mirror.”

The bombs are about 6 inches (15 centimeters) long and packed with powder and broken glass, according to a law enforcement official who viewed X-ray images. The official said the devices were made from PVC pipe and covered with black tape.

The first bomb discovered was delivered Monday to the suburban New York compound of Soros, a major contributor to Democratic causes. Soros has called Trump’s presidency “dangerous.”


Associated Press writers Laurie Kellman, Ken Thomas, Jill Colvin and Chad Day in Washington and Jim Mustian, Deepti Hajela, Tom Hays and Michael R. Sisak in New York contributed to this report.

‘Attack on America’: Florida leaders decry mail bomb terror

An apparently coordinated plot to send mail bombs to an array of figures on the cultural left has dominated national news today.

CNN was evacuated. The Obamas, the Clintons, and Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz all were targeted Wednesday, following a similar targeting of George Soros on Monday.

The news went global quickly, with the Congresswoman’s office address being used by the conspirators as a false flag.

Florida leaders are reacting to the news of the day. Party divisions notwithstanding, there is a unity against what all agree is terror.

Sen. Marco Rubio was blunt in asserting that despite domestic political divisions, the American spirit is one of unity against terror.

“That’s an attack on America. That’s terrorism,” Rubio said Wednesday, adding that he expected the federal government to “find the people who did this, arrest them, try them, and punish them.

Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis likewise condemned these “acts of terror.”

Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo offered a statement: “This kind of targeted hate and violence has no place in our country and will not be tolerated. This isn’t about politics, this is about national security and our number one concern is the safety of Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz and first responders called to these scenes.”

“Unfortunately, we have seen some candidates for office use highly divisive and toxic rhetoric during this cycle. Today’s greatly disturbing events are a reminder that everyone needs to tone it down in the last two weeks and focus on the issues. That’s the type of campaign Floridians deserve,” Rizzo added.

Jeff Solomon

Internal poll shows HD 115 race could come down to the wire

The race to succeed term-limited Republican Rep. Michael Bileca in House District 115 is shaping up to be closer than expected, according to a new poll commissioned by allies of Democratic nominee Jeff Solomon.

The Kitchens Group poll found voters in the district the heretofore GOP-leaning district are split down the middle, 45-45 percent, over whether they want a Republican or Democrat to represent them in the state House next year. Another 8 percent of voters said they didn’t see a difference between the two major parties while 2 percent said they were unsure which they preferred.

When Solomon and Republican nominee Vance Aloupis were pitted against each other by name, Solomon came out on top 47-42 percent with 11 percent undecided.

In both instances, independent voters made the key difference. Nine in 10 Republicans said they plan to tow the party line on Election Day, and nearly as many Democrats said the same. Among unaffiliated and third-party voters, however, Solomon leads 46-30 percent.

Further down the poll were measurements of each candidate’s favorability.

Aloupis, an attorney who works as the CEO of The Children’s Movement of Florida, was seen as “very favorable” by 18 percent of voters and “somewhat favorable” by another 8 percent. A combined 10 percent of voters said they found the University of Miami alumnus unfavorable to some degree, giving him a plus-16 favorability rating.

While the results aren’t too bad for the first-time candidate, 47 percent of voters said they didn’t know who Aloupis was, while Solomon was an unknown quantity to 37 percent of those polled.

For his part, the South Florida chiropractor earned a 27-15 percent score on the fave/unfave question, putting him at a 4-point disadvantage compared to his Republican rival. Solomon’s name-ID advantage can likely be attributed to this being his third go around as the Democratic nominee in HD 115. He lost to Bileca 54-46 percent two years ago, and back in 2012, he fell short by about 5 percentage points.

Like other majority-Hispanic districts, Republicans fared well at the bottom of the ballot while voters soundly rejected President Donald Trump. MCI Maps’ data on the 2016 elections shows Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton carried the district by 10 points.

The Kitchens Group poll also indicates HD 115 voters are leaning toward Democrat Andrew Gillum rather than former Republican Ron DeSantis by a 5-point margin in the race for Governor, possibly due to the latter’s well-known embrace of Trump, who endorsed him early on in the Republican gubernatorial primary.

Missing from the poll, however, are breakdowns on how each candidate scored among different demographics of voters and how many of the interviews were conducted via cell phone. The poll also notes that 90 percent of the interviews in conducted in the majority-Hispanic district were in English, which could skew the results toward Solomon.

HD 115 covers an inland strip of Miami-Dade County, including parts of Pinecrest, South Miami and Palmetto Bay. Bileca’s largest margin of victory came was his 18-point thrashing of Democrat Kristopher Decossard in 2014, a wave year for Republicans.

The Kitchens Group poll was conducted Oct. 5 through Oct. 7 via live telephone interviews, including to cell phones. It received responses from 316 likely voters in the district. The margin of error is plus or minus 5.5 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

The poll is below.

FL HD 115 Poll – The Kitchens Group by Andrew Wilson on Scribd

Ted Deutch stands up for LGBTQ diplomat spouses after visa policy reversal

After a reversal on U.S. visa policy for same-sex partners of diplomats, Rep. Ted Deutch led congressional pushback on the discriminatory shift.

“This Administration has an offensive record when it comes to equal rights for the American LGBTQ community, and now it appears they’re set to endanger the lives of LGBTQ foreign diplomats and U.N. employees working in the United States,” said Deutch, a Boca Raton Democrat.

Deutch and five other Democratic congressmen co-led a letter asking Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to reconsider the policy change.

The State Department last week announced spousal visas would only be available to legally married partners of U.S.-based employees of international organizations and foreign missions such as the United Nations, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund.

But The Advocate notes many diplomats come from countries that don’t legally recognize same-sex unions.

The reversal means spouses of diplomats already holding G-4 visas must provide evidence of a marriage by the end of the year or face deportation. No new visas will be handed out except to legally married spouses.

“This policy discriminates against gay and lesbian international civil servants, many of whom are citizens of countries that outlaw same-sex marriage,” reads the congressional letter, which bears the signature of 119 congressmen.

The move by Pompeo reversed a 2009 policy put in place by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

“It’s particularly offensive that they would dare announce this policy in the name of equality,” says Deutch. “Progress has been made in this country despite, not because of, this Administration. Secretary Pompeo should swiftly reverse this decision and lift the burden on partners of foreign diplomats coming from countries where same-sex marriage is illegal.”

Other signatories for the letter including Florida representatives Darren Soto, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Alcee Hastings, Charlie Crist, Kathy Castor, Lois Frankel, and Frederica Wilson.

Only Democrats signed the letter. Three Florida Democratic members of Congress — Al Lawson, Stephanie Murphy, and Val Demings — did not.

New PPP survey shows Janet Cruz with 3-point lead over Dana Young

A new poll shows Democrat Janet Cruz defeating Republican incumbent state Sen. Dana Young in a Tampa Bay district that historically leans right.

A Public Policy Polling survey of voters in state Senate District 18 shows Cruz winning 42 percent of the vote compared to 39 percent who favor Young.

Partisanship in the district plays heavily in Cruz’s favor, according to PPP.

The poll found half of voters would vote Democrat in state senate races without specifying the candidates, while only 39 percent of voters said they would vote for the Republican. The poll found respondents had a 54 percent disapproval rating for President Donald Trump’s job performance with a 43 percent approval rating for the Republican leader.

But the negative tone of the race takes a toll on both candidates, who hold low favorability ratings in the survey. Cruz holds a 29 percent unfavorable from respondents with a 26 percent favorability rating. Young’s favorability is 28 percent with a 32 percent unfavorable rating.

Voters show enthusiasm to weigh in at the polls. According to the poll, 68 percent of respondents indicate being “very excited” to vote in this November’s mid-term election. Only 14 percent said they weren’t that excited while 14 percent said they weren’t sure.

Young in 2016 won this district with 48 percent of the vote to Democrat Bob Buesing’s 41 percent, with independent Joe Redner, a prominent strip club owner in Tampa, pulling in almost 10 percent of the vote.

But district in many ways already showed problems for Republicans then. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton won the district with 51 percent of the vote to Trump’s 45 percent, even as Trump went on to win Florida statewide.

Clinton voters made up 49 percent of those surveyed in the PPP poll, with Trump voters making up 43 percent.

Trump remains underwater in terms of voter approval within the district. Some 54 percent of those surveyed disapprove of the president’s job performance, and just 43 percent approve.

The sample included women as 53 percent of respondents and men 47 percent.

That said, PPP is a Democratic polling outlet, and there’s some reason for skepticism. Democrats make up 41 percent of the poll sample and Republicans make up just 38 percent, but Republicans had a 1-percentage point edge in turnout in 2016 within the district and 6-percent advantage in 2014, a solid Republican year.

poll results – sd18

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