A new survey commissioned by the Alex Penelas campaign gives him good odds at advancing to a November runoff in the Miami-Dade County mayoral contest.
The poll puts Penelas at 27% support. Daniella Levine Cava received 22% support in the survey, followed by Esteban “Steve” Bovo at 20% and Xavier Suarez at 11%.
All three of those latter candidates currently serve on the Miami-Dade County Commission, while Penelas formerly served as county Mayor from 1996-2004.
If no candidate receives a majority of the vote in the Aug. 18 election — a high likelihood in the seven-person field — the top two candidates will advance to a runoff on Nov. 3. Penelas’ lead is within the survey’s margin of error at 5 percentage points.
The other three candidates in the contest — Carlos Antonio De Armas, entrepreneur Monique Nicole Barley and real estate agent Ludmilla Domond — received just 2% support. Another 16% of voters said they were undecided.
Frederick Polls conducted the survey from Aug. 7-9. It sampled 350 likely primary voters, with 61% of interviews conducted in English and 39% in Spanish.
The differing results show why it’s important to take internal polls with a healthy dose of skepticism. While those results can be accurate, campaigns always have an incentive to withhold internal polls with poor results and publicly release those favorable to their bid.
It’s unclear which campaign’s results have the better read on the Miami-Dade electorate, if either do. A third-party poll viewed by Political Cortadito showed Penelas in third place, though again with jam-packed results that could change ahead of the Aug. 18 primary.
What’s common in all three polls is a top-three hierarchy including Penelas, Levine Cava and Bovo in some order, with Suarez remaining in striking distance should things break his way on Election Day. It doesn’t appear any candidate will come close to the majority needed to clinch the election on Aug. 18.
Penelas’ newly-released survey shows 34% of respondents have already voted, while 66% had not yet cast their ballots.
Of those candidates yet to vote, Penelas had a +20 approval rating. Suarez placed second at +19 approval, followed by Levine Cava at +15 and Bovo at +13.
That approval advantage could bode well for Penelas as he tries to secure a lane out of the primary.
The survey also divided voters into subgroups based on ethnicity/race, language, party and region within Miami-Dade. According to the polling memo, Penelas placed either first or second in each of those subgroups.
That memo also showed Penelas leading among non-Cuban Hispanics, Black voters and independents. Bovo, who has positioned himself as one of the more conservative candidates in the non-partisan contest, led among Cuban Republican voters.
Penelas has also been the best fundraiser in the contest so far, giving him plenty of money to work with in the primary campaign’s final days.