New poll finds Marco Rubio with 11-point lead over Val Demings among likely voters

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A new poll bucks the trend of several recent surveys and shows Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has increased his lead over Val Demings to a substantial 11-point margin among likely voters since the two launched TV advertising.

Center Street Political Action Committee, a Tallahassee-based super PAC formed earlier this year largely by former Republican operatives to promote nonpartisan, middle-of-the-road politics, said its new survey finds Rubio has 52% support among likely voters, while Demings has 41%.

The spread narrows when Center Street broadened the pool to all registered voters, giving Rubio an advantage of 46% to 39%.

The likely voters’ gap has widened in Rubio’s favor since Center Street last polled Florida’s U.S. Senate race in July. Since then, Rubio has pounded the airwaves with commercials challenging Demings’ support for law enforcement even though she’s a former Orlando Police Chief who put 27 years into the force before entering politics.

She has attempted to defend against those attacks and punch back over Rubio’s U.S. Senate attendance record.

Center Street said in a statement that Demings appears to have lost momentum.

“When you combine Republicans’ advantage in voter enthusiasm with their slight advantage in Florida voter registration, it’s going to be tough for Demings to win,” Center Street’s statement read. “Demings has a lot of ground to make up at this point, losing favorability points and lagging in awareness, despite strong fundraising and big ad spends.”

The Center Street poll diverges from recent surveys released by the University of North Florida, which showed Demings ahead 48% to 44%; by Change Research; and by Progress Florida and Florida Watch, which both showed the race in a dead heat. The latter two polls were done by groups with ties to the Democratic Party.

Center street conducted its poll online, through, of 1,200 total adults. That pool included 996 registered voters, which in turn included 610 who identified as likely voters. The polling was done from last Friday through Sunday. The pollsters said it has a margin of error of 3 points for the likely voters’ results.

Since the last poll, concluded July 9, Demings made little gain in name recognition, Center Street noted. Rubio leads in name recognition across the board. Among likely voters, 98% know Rubio, and 87% know Demings.

Demings also saw her favorability ratings sag somewhat between the July and August surveys, according to Center Street. In the new poll, Rubio had more voters who rate “very favorable” and “somewhat favorable,” while Demings largest collection of voters were among those who said they had neutral views of her

“Based on the data, Demings has more work to do to improve her awareness and image with voters. Right now, her campaign has to focus on the basics: getting Demings established in voters’ minds,” said Center Street Co-Founder Matt O’Brien. There will be time down the line to get to issues and comparison ads against Rubio.”

Demings is considered the front-runner to secure the Democratic nomination in next week’s Primary contest.

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