A new private poll shows former Republican Gov. and newly minted Democrat Charlie Crist has a commanding early lead in the race to be the Democratic nominee in the 2014 governor’s race.
In head-to-head matchups, Crist leads former Chief Financial Officer and 2010 gubernatorial nominee Alex Sink by 20 points, 55 percent to 35 percent. And Crist leads Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer by an even bigger margin: 77 percent to 11 percent.
When the three candidates and former state Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston, are all included, Crist leads with 53 percent of the vote. Sink gets 28 percent while Dyer gets just 4 percent and Rich, the only candidate who has actually declared her candidacy, gets 1 percent.
The survey of 1,000 registered Democrats was conducted by Clearview Research, a firm affiliated with Democratic strategist and lobbyist Screven Watson. The client was not identified.
The poll tested the strength of seven potential candidates altogether: Crist, Sink, Dyer, Rich, Fort Lauderdale MayorJack Seiler, former Attorney General Bob Butterworth, outgoing Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith and former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio.
Crist outperforms them all. The Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat was viewed favorably by 79 percent of respondents and unfavorably by just 15 percent. Sink was at 50 percent-10 percent.
Butterworth and Smith, who lost in the 2006 Democratic gubernatorial primary, were the only two others even recognized by a majority of voters. Dyer was viewed very favorably by those who recognized him (18 percent to 4 percent), but 77 percent didn’t know who he was, underscoring just how steep a climb he decides to mount a campaign.