Poll: Crist, Davis holding big leads inside their parties

The poll also states that those two gubernatorial candidates are about even in a general election matchup, with Republican Crist leading slightly.

Published June 30, 2006

TALLAHASSEE - Republican Attorney General Charlie Crist and Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Davis have maintained double-digit leads in bids to win their respective parties' gubernatorial nominations, a poll released Thursday shows.

However, more than one in four Republicans and nearly half of Democrats remain undecided.

Polled Republican voters favored Crist by 49 percent while Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher had the support of 21 percent, according to the Quinnipiac (Conn.) University poll.

Another 28 percent said they were undecided, with 2 percent not interested.

Crist's lead grew slightly from the same poll last month, when he was ahead 43 percent to 26 percent.

"He's clearly the front-runner," Quinnipiac pollster Peter Brown said Thursday.

"His margin has grown, time is getting shorter and Gallagher did not have a good month."

The newest survey began a day after the 62-year-old Gallagher revealed that an extramarital affair led to the breakup of his first marriage in 1979. He also said he had used marijuana before then.

Also, Crist, 49, began airing the first television ads in the governor's race last month.

For the Democrats, Davis led state Sen. Rod Smith, of Alachua, 32 percent to 16 percent, but 49 percent were still undecided with the Sept. 5 primary now just more than nine weeks away. Davis slipped slightly from last month, when he led Smith 38 percent to 17 percent with 41 percent undecided.

The poll conducted June 20-26 surveyed 1,311 registered voters, including 528 Democrats and 520 Republicans. The margin of error for the broader survey was plus or minus 2.7 percentage points; for the smaller ones for each party, it was 4.3 percentage points.

In a general election matchup, Crist and Davis were about even. Crist had 41 percent to Davis' 39 percent, within the margin of error. Crist fared better in a matchup with Smith, 42 to 35. Gallagher trailed both Democrats in a head-to-head matchup.

Last month's Quinnipiac survey had Davis marginally ahead of either Crist or Gallagher, 40 to 37 percent, with about 20 percent undecided.

Nearly seven of 10 Democrats said they don't know enough about Davis to form an opinion. Almost three-fourths said the same about Smith.

Nearly one in five respondents, 19 percent, said education is the most important problem facing the state, and they remained split on whether students should have to pass the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test before they can graduate.

Gov. Jeb Bush continues to enjoy a high approval rating as he embarks on his final six months in office. His job performance was supported by 57 percent, compared with 34 percent who said they disapproved.

His brother, President Bush, didn't fare as well, with an approval rating of 38 percent, while about 60 percent didn't the like the job he is doing.

More than half said going to war in Iraq was a mistake, and almost three of five disagreed with the way the war effort is being handled.