TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — With the Florida primary elections a week away, a new University of North Florida poll released shows the Democratic gubernatorial race is heating up. In multiple recent polls, Current Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist (St. Petersburg) has led Florida Ag. Commissioner Nikki Fried.
The new UNF poll shows that, at least for their poll, that dynamic has flipped, with Fried now leading Crist by 4 percentage points.
Both candidates are looking to unseat incumbent Republican, Gov. Ron DeSantis. Late in the primary season, both Crist and Fried are pitching themselves at voters as the best option to take down the current governor and work to better the lives of Floridians. However, multiple polls show the Democratic leader has yet to be decided.
“Fried seems to have reversed the eight-point lead that Crist had when we asked registered Democrats about vote choice in February,” Dr. Michael Binder, PORL faculty director and UNF professor of political science, said in a release accompanying the poll data. “It’s possible that the overturning of Roe v. Wade changed the make-up of this race, and has particularly energized women that are almost 20 points more likely to vote for her.”
In the UNF poll, Fried leads by four points, mainly due to a 55% portion of female Floridian voters, compared to Crist’s 35%. Overall, the tally itself among Democratic voters is close. Crist brings in more of the vote of African American voters, with 52% to Fried’s 34%. When it comes to voter age, Crist leads Fried in voters aged 35 to 65 or older. Fried leads for voters 18 to 34.
“The poll validates everything we are seeing on the ground — Floridians want a pro-choice governor who they can actually trust,” Matthew Van Name, Fried Senior Advisor, said. “Nikki Fried is the only proven, qualified winner and the only candidate who can actually beat Ron DeSantis. The Nikki Wave is organic and growing, but we are also organizing like crazy because we know this race is tight. Every vote matters.”
The agriculture commissioner’s campaign statement on the UNF poll said that it shows her continued momentum heading into the actual primary date. Fried is expected to give a speech in Tallahassee at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday to earn voter support.
Separately, the Crist campaign released results from a separate poll showing the gap between his election and Fried’s is larger than four points, and in his favor. Compared to the UNF poll, Crist referred to one conducted by Change Research, which says he had a 10 point lead among Democrats.
His spokeswoman, Samantha Ramirez, said it shows he’s the “leader this moment calls for.”
“Our campaign has built the strongest, broadest coalition to carry our party through this primary and into the general election because Charlie has kept his focus on the fight against Ron DeSantis since day one,” Ramirez said in a statement. “Floridians are ready to get behind the candidate who can and will stop DeSantis come November – Charlie Crist.”
In the Crist poll, the results report Crist’s 10-point lead, as well as having a higher percentage of early voters. Additionally, Crist’s campaign pointed out in the poll that he leads Fried when it comes to Black voters, voters over the age of 65, political moderates, as well as voters in the Tampa and Orlando metro areas.