Democrat Charlie Crist’s gubernatorial campaign’s internal polling shows a 10-percentage-point lead over Democratic Primary rival Nikki Fried.
The Change Research survey results show 47% of likely Democratic voters favor Crist heading into the Aug. 23 Primary. By comparison, 37% prefer Fried. Another 10% say they remain undecided and another 6% declined to answer.
Crist’s lead appears starker when surveying those who have already voted early by mail or early voting. Among those voters whose decision has already been made, 57% of respondents bubbled in for Crist and just 35% went for Fried.
Either way, the poll shows Crist with a lead outside the poll’s 4.2% margin of error.
Pollsters called voters from Aug. 12-14, reaching out using Dynamic Online Sampling and text messaging. Results were weighted based on age, gender, ethnicity, education and media market to reflect the state’s voter distribution.
“Between public polls and our own internal polls, Nikki Fried at this stage of the race has no path to victory barring a black swan event. And her team also knows that” said Sam Ramirez, Crist’s communications director.
The Crist camp released its figures after a University of North Florida poll showed Fried outperforming Crist for the first time in the election cycle. Ramirez dismissed the findings as an outlier. Indeed, a look at polling aggregates like FiveThirtyEight shows no other polls where Fried outperforms Crist.
More important, Ramirez said, polling consistently shows Crist performing better in head-to-head comparisons with incumbent Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“The most important fact for voters continues to drive the race — Charlie Crist polls better against DeSantis in every poll of the general election,” Ramirez said. “He is undisputedly the best candidate to defeat Ron DeSantis.”
The internal poll from Crist found him leading Fried within several critical demographics in the Democratic Party. Among voters older than 65, the former Republican Governor turned Democratic Congressman leads from 60% to 26%. Among Black voters, he leads 51% to 27%.
Self-identified moderates prefer Crist by a 52% to 28% margin.
He also leads in Tampa Bay by a 55% to 32% margin and in Orlando by a 50% to 38% margin. Among those who rate their motivation to vote at a 10 out of 10, Crist leads 48% to Fried’s 36%.
Crist officials acknowledge the race looks closer than it did a few months ago — the same polling firm found Crist leading Fried 54% to 28% in February — but said that’s to be expected.
“We always knew this race would be closer than the initial polls indicated, as Fried has spent millions on paid communications, including well over a million on negative communications,” Ramirez said.
But Crist feels confident enough to focus primarily on his likely General Election opponent.
“The Crist campaign has built the strongest, broadest coalition to carry forward into the general. He’s kept the focus on DeSantis since Day 1 and only pivoted messaging when Fried falsely attacked his record,” Ramirez said. “We are highly confident in victory but will be giving it our all as we run through the tape next Tuesday.”