Poll shows Laurel Lee with healthy lead in CD 15
Laurel Lee. Image via Colin Hackley.

But about a quarter of voters remain unsure who they will support.

Republican Laurel Lee holds a healthy lead over Democrat Alan Cohn in the race to represent Florida’s newest congressional district. But a quarter of voters remain in play.

That’s according to polling released by the Floridians for Economic Advancement political committee.

Survey results published by the committee show 41% of likely voters in Florida’s 15th Congressional District favor Lee, who just won the Republican nomination in a pricey Primary. By comparison, 34% plan to vote for Cohn, who just secured the Democratic nod.

That leaves 24% of voters listed as unsure. That signals Lee remains a clear favorite in the district, but things could still become close.

Cohn’s campaign questioned the integrity of the poll.

“Laurel Lee is desperate to change the subject away from her refusal to answer questions on the Republican national abortion ban and her party’s support for a total government takeover of women’s health care,” said Cohn spokesperson Phil Swibinski.

“That must be why she’s spreading around a poll that even with dubious methodology shows a tight race within the margin of error. The fact is the more voters learn about Lee’s extreme position on abortion, the more they will reject her.”

The survey, taken on Sept. 19 and 20, includes responses from 352 voters. Pollsters report a 5.2 percentage point margin of error, which means Cohn is within range of beating Lee.

That’s no shock considering the history of voters in the newly drawn seat.

A new congressional map finds room for one extra congressional district awarded to Florida based on 2020 Census results. That landed in east Hillsborough, west Polk and south Pasco counties.

Pollsters note Republican Donald Trump would have carried the district in the 2020 Presidential Election with 51% of the vote to Democrat Joe Biden’s 48%. Looking at the last Midterms, Republican Ron DeSantis won the gubernatorial election by a closer margin, earning 50% to Democrat Andrew Gillum’s 49%.

Going back all the way to 2016, Republican Marco Rubio won the Senate race in the district by a healthier 52% over Democrat Patrick Murphy’s 43%. But the district seems to break down similarly to the state as a whole as far as voter preference.

Current voter registration data shows Republicans and Democrats each make up about 35% of voters in the district, making it the most closely divided congressional district in Florida.

But pollsters found a general discontent in the electorate that could be a deciding factor in the Nov. 8 results.

About 70% of voters in CD 15 feel the nation remains on the wrong track, while just 23% believe it’s headed in the right direction. That suggests a consensus against Biden’s performance since he won the presidency. Indeed, 50% of voters disapprove of the job the President is doing.

At the same time, 47% think Florida is on the wrong track, and only 39% say things are going well. That’s not nearly as great a level of frustration as reflected in the national sentiment, but it shows views of DeSantis and Republican leadership in Tallahassee aren’t exactly warm. The committee did not, however, release job approval figures on DeSantis in the district.

It could be some time before this race is won for sure. About 40% of voters intend to wait to vote on Nov. 8, Election Day, compared to 36% who plan to mail votes in and 24% who expect to participate in early voting.

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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