Poll shows Byron Donalds, ‘Dr. Fig’, Dane Eagle locked in tight CD 19 GOP primary

Byron Donalds, William Figlesthaler, Dane Eagle and Casey Askar stand out from crowded field.

The same four candidates top the latest St. Pete Polls survey in GOP primary in Florida’s 19th Congressional District. But it’s a tighter contest than ever with a new frontrunner.

Naples lawmaker Byron Donalds tops the field — barely — with almost 22% support. Naples physician William Figlesthaler sits closely behind at 21%. Cape Coral legislator Dane Eagle sits in third with nearly 20%. Naples businessman Casey Askar, the frontrunner in the poll less than a month ago, shows up in fourth place with 16%.

All four candidates’ level of support falls within the poll’s 4.3% margin of error of one another.

The four frontrunners stand apart in a field on nine Republicans running to succeed Rep. Francis Rooney in a deep red district.

But rounding out the field, Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson has nearly 8% support. Disabilities advocate Darren Aquino comes in with almost 3%. Former Minnesota lawmaker Dan Severson polls at 2%. Both Ave Maria University law grad Christy McLaughlin and Collier County Sheriff’s Deputy Daniel Kowal registered with less than 1% of respondents.

Only 8% of poll respondents remain undecided.

This poll of likely Republican voters was conducted Aug. 3 and shows major shifts in the race since the last time St. Pete Polls gauged the race on June 9. Then Askar led the field with 30%, followed by Donalds at 26%, Figlesthaler at 16% and Eagle at 8%.

The new poll moves Donalds into the top position, though with just a half percentage point separating him and Figlesthaler.

As an added intrigue, the poll also finds good news for Eagle, who was the top choice of almost 25% of voters who have already cast their ballots. Among those voters, 23% bubbled for Figlesthlaler, 17% for Donalds, 15% for Askar and more than 10% for Henderson.

Nearly 39% of respondents said they have already cast their ballots in the race. Another 25% plan to vote by vail with 36% will wait and vote in person.

St. Pete Polls measured favorability of the top four candidates in the field. There, Figlesthaler enjoyed the greatest lift. The Naples urologist enjoys a favorable opinion among 39% of voters while 22% view him unfavorably.

For Eagle, 35% see him in a positive light and 27% see him negatively. For Donalds, 31% view him favorably and 29% unfavorably.

Askar, after weeks of scrutiny on his background, was the only candidate with an underwater rating. Almost 32% seeing him unfavorably and 31% favorably, though a close look at the numbers shows just a 0.1% difference between positive and negative marks.

With the top candidates so tightly clustered, where does each enjoy the greatest strength?

Figlesthaler leads Donalds 23% to 22% among male voters, with Eagle at 20% and Askar at 13%. Among female voters, Donalds hold a less-than-1-percentage-point edge over Figlesthaler, with each winning about 21%, and Askar holds a similarly tiny lead over Eagle with both those candidates claiming around 18% of the female vote.

Askar leads among voters under the age of 50, followed by Eagle. Donalds in fact had no support among survey respondents under the age of 30, but he wins more than 25% of the age 50 to 69 demographic, where he’s followed closely by Eagle.

But among the age-70-and-up demographic, a critical group in Southwest Florida, Figlesthaler enjoys the advantage.

As the Aug. 18 race has drawn near, all four candidates have been the subject of aggressive negative advertising on network, cable and digital platforms, along with a tidal wave of attack mailers.

StPetePolls 2020 CD19REP August3 N7FVW by Jacob Ogles on Scribd

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


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