Poll: Vern Buchanan is set up for a smack down of Primary opponent Eddie Spier
Vern Buchanan.

Older voters are particularly enamored with Buchanan.

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan is trouncing his Primary opponent, Eddie Speir, by more than 50 percentage points, according to a St. Pete Polls survey obtained by Florida Politics.

The poll, taken among likely Republican Primary voters, puts Buchanan at 64% support, with Speir capturing just 13% support and 23% of voters undecided. Among voters older than 70, Buchanan leads 79% to just 8%.

The poll also showed Buchanan with high favorability among Republicans in the Manatee and Hillsborough County region Florida’s 16th Congressional District encompasses, at 4-to-1 in favor of his job performance. Again, that number goes up among seniors who dominate voter turnout, at 72% favorability to just 11% unfavorable.

Speir does not enjoy the same likability, with underwater favorability numbers at 19% unfavorable to just 16% favorable, indicating the controversial Republican is largely unknown.

Among seniors and men, Speir’s unfavorable numbers go up, to 23%.

FiveThirtyEight’s pollster ratings place St. Pete Polls as one of the top pollsters in the state based on its poll accuracy and methodological transparency.

While voters appear largely unfamiliar with Speir, he has been in the news in recent weeks and months, but not for good reasons. The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported last month that Speir may be violating federal tax law by running his campaign from his nonprofit private Christian school, Inspiration Academy in Bradenton.

The IRS prohibits nonprofits from directly or indirectly participating in a political campaign. Violators could lose their nonprofit status and be on the hook for paying retroactive taxes. Speir responded to the Herald-Tribune that he had done nothing wrong and instead attacked the IRS as “woke” and “weaponized” and accused the paper of carrying “the water of a corrupt politician and his call to action to activate a woke and weaponized IRS.”

Speir also reportedly directed nearly $25,000 raised for his campaign to family members. Both in direct payments and to family-owned businesses, Speir’s campaign in Florida’s 16th Congressional District has pumped more money to loved ones than he has raised in outside contributions, Florida Politics reported last month. The payments included more than $2,900 in travel reimbursements to his wife, Claire, and $9,700 in campaign salary payments to his son, Tal, between Aug. 29 and Dec. 29 last year.

Speir is a conservative activist. Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed him to the New College Board of Trustees as part of his efforts to reimagine the small liberal arts school into a more conservative image, but the Senate did not confirm the appointment.

The poll numbers echo Buchanan’s past performance when facing a Primary challenger. When he faced Republican Martin Hyde two years ago, Buchanan secured more than 86% of the vote. It was the highest vote percentage of any Republican in Florida on the GOP Primary ballot in 2022.

The Primary Election is Aug. 20.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].


  • Gary Ales

    April 8, 2024 at 5:19 pm

    Voted mail in for Vern and will definitely vote for him in November

    • Rick Whitaker

      April 9, 2024 at 4:01 pm

      GARY, eddie speir is a dangerous person.

    • Phil

      April 12, 2024 at 9:38 am

      I have posted two comments to this article that have been deleted. What I am finding is that every comment against Vern is deleted. So I will begin responding to pro-Vern comments instead. I think this article is ridiculous. I am seeing now that whoever moderates it is trying to silence any opposition. That just makes me angry and want to be more obnoxious.

      • rick whitaker

        April 15, 2024 at 4:36 pm

        PHIL, i’m against vern in a big way, and say so, i don’t think they cut it out. vern needs cut out.

  • Rick Whitaker

    April 9, 2024 at 4:08 pm

    andrew, i’d say from the air of your post, that you deserve some guy like eddie speir . the LAST thing florida needs is a ” true conservative “. a ” true conservative ” is a very dangerous person. prepare for a civil dem gov.. our country needs every dem we can get at this important time in history. too bad you don’t seem to have a clue about what’s right or wrong. trump = wrong

  • Rick Whitaker

    April 9, 2024 at 4:12 pm

    werther, no we can’t all agree that the dems have failed us, just the trumpers. you are so wrong in your post. i’m glad you just have one vote.

    • Christopher Carman

      April 10, 2024 at 2:38 pm

      Rick Whitaker have you. Nothing better to do than spam this site?

  • Rick Whitaker

    April 9, 2024 at 5:02 pm

    EDDIE SPEIR, if you are a friend of ron desantis, you are no friend of mine. i will do all i can to disparage you and your campaign.

    • Eddie Speir

      April 9, 2024 at 5:51 pm

      IMO, we should try to avoid viewing people simply in terms of political factions. As a representative, I would need to represent everybody in my district, including people I disagree with. Assuming you live in my district, feel free to call me at 941-779-8991. Perhaps we could find some common ground. You may still disparage me, but at least you wouldn’t be doing it ignorantly.

      • Rick Whitaker

        April 9, 2024 at 7:14 pm

        eddie, you are a gop, there is nothing to discuss.

  • Jennfier Mayforth

    April 11, 2024 at 5:31 pm

    Hi Vern Buchanan! We need you!

    • rick whitaker

      April 15, 2024 at 4:37 pm

      JENNIFER, no we don’t need vern

  • Deborah Brooks

    April 11, 2024 at 11:00 pm

    Vern Buchanan betrayed us on critical issues
    I will not be voting for him this election

  • Sue Gerhard

    April 12, 2024 at 11:45 am

    Unsubscribe texting and email, please.

    • rick whitaker

      April 15, 2024 at 4:38 pm

      sue, why are you un subscribing?

  • Stephanie

    April 13, 2024 at 7:59 am

    Quite biased and inaccurate reporting. You have deleted many comments supporting Eddie. I’ll restate: Vern is out of touch with his constituents. Time for change!

    • rick whitaker

      April 15, 2024 at 6:37 am

      STEPHANIE, your right, vern is out of touch, but eddie speir is just as bad or worse. we need a dem to straighten out what vern and his crowd have done. so, you are wrong pushing that eddie jerk.

Comments are closed.


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