A new poll from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee shows a tight race between Democrat Alex Sink and Republican David Jolly in the special election for Florida’s 13th District.
The automated survey, which The Hill obtained from a DCCC aide, shows the race within the 4.3-percentage-point margin of error.
Sink, the former gubernatorial nominee, takes 49 percent of the vote, while lobbyist Jolly takes 45 percent among likely special election voters. Six percent of respondents are undecided.
The Democrat also takes nearly a quarter, or 21 percent, of Republican voters in the survey, while Jolly draws 11 percent of Democrats.
The survey was conducted on just one day, Jan. 24, among 527 likely special election voters via automated phone interviews, so it offers merely a snapshot of the race — but it's one that's keeping Democrats cautious about their chances.
Christina Coloroso, the DCCC’s director of targeting and analytics, says in the polling memo that while the survey has some good news for Sink, the March race to replace Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.) is not a sure thing for the Democrat.
“Though Sink shows strong crossover support and advantages among key voting blocs, with six weeks to go before Election Day, the campaign cannot take anything for granted in what is likely to be a close contest,” she says.
“Her track record certainly gives her advantage, but special elections are often more conservative in nature than typical general elections,” Coloroso adds.
Indeed, the DCCC’s poll puts Sink’s support slightly below what she saw in the district during her two previous statewide campaigns. In 2006, during her campaign for chief financial officer, Sink took 54 percent in the district; during her 2010 gubernatorial campaign, she took 51 percent of the vote.
Coloroso points to some good news for Sink: she leads Jolly among independents by 24 points, with 55 percent of the vote, and has a 6-point lead with voters 75 and older, an asset in a district with an older voting population like Florida’s 13th.
Still, it gives the Sink campaign little room for error. She entered the race with a considerable cash advantage and has been using it to build a stronger on-air presence than Jolly, and both the DCCC and House Majority PAC, a major Democratic super-PAC, are also spending in the race. Democrats are pummeling Jolly for his lobbying background.
But the National Republican Congressional Committee recently went on-air with advertising hitting Sink as a reckless "tax-and-spender," and believes that opposition to ObamaCare and the political atmosphere favors them.
There’s been little reliable polling on the race, but a recent survey from Republican-leaning St. Pete Polls showed Jolly up 4 percentage points. Another poll, conducted for Jolly’s campaign, showed him up by 5 points.
NRCC spokeswoman Katie Prill called the DCCC poll "desperate and false."
“This poll by Nancy Pelosi’s campaign arm is desperate and false like the attack ads they are running against David Jolly. The idea that Alex Sink and her support of Obamacare, the President and Nancy Pelosi has her leading with folks in this district, especially seniors, is highly unlikely and shows that this poll is far from grounded in reality," said Prill.
See the full polling memo below: