Poll offers hope to Smith, not much to Gallagher

Published August 31, 2006

TALLAHASSEE - The Democratic race for governor is tightening, as state Sen. Rod Smith has cut significantly into the lead of U.S. Rep. Jim Davis, according to a poll released Wednesday.

Attorney General Charlie Crist still has a wide lead over Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher on the Republican side, according to the poll conducted by the Quinnipiac (Conn.) University Polling Institute.

Davis, of Tampa, was favored by 43 percent of respondents; Smith, of Alachua, by 32 percent. The poll of 312 likely Democratic voters was conducted over six days ending Monday.

A similar poll last month had Davis with 47 percent to Smith's 19 percent.

In a simultaneous poll of 317 likely Republican voters, Crist, of St. Petersburg, was favored by 57 percent of respondents; Gallagher, of Miami, by 32 percent.

The margin of error in both polls is plus or minus 5.6 percentage points.

Geography is among the biggest obstacles for underdogs Smith and Gallagher. They are running against candidates who are strongest in Tampa Bay, which will produce more than one in five votes cast in each primary. But a new poll for Bay News 9 shows Crist enjoys a significantly bigger Tampa Bay advantage in the Republican primary than Davis does.

The Aug. 28 and 29 telephone poll of 400 likely voters in Tampa Bay by PMR Inc. of Washington found Crist leading Gallagher 62 percent to 28 percent and Davis leading Smith 53 percent to 26 percent. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent.