Yes, the 2016 election is more than 15 months away and you're all already sick of the presidential race (thanks, Donal Trump). But thanks to Marco Rubio aiming for the White House, Floridians will also have a wide-open Senate race to decide on that ballot. A lot of the candidates are relatively unknown at the moment, but if Rubio's trajectory is any example, who knows, the winner could end up running for president in 2020. At some point, you'll have to take notice, but a new Mason-Dixon poll shows that not many people have. Especially on the Republican side.
Perhaps the most interesting finding of the new poll, however, is that since Alan Grayson entered the race on the Democratic side, he's basically erased the front-runner status of the more moderate Patrick Murphy in that primary.
The new poll finds Grayson and Murphy basically tied neck-and-neck with Grayson at 33 percent among Democrats, and Murphy at 32 percent. When Mason-Dixon ran the same question back in April, Murphy was ahead 23-14. Both have increased in name recognition and voter hype since then, but Grayson has come a lot further.
That race is shaping up to a be something of a competition for the heart and soul of the Florida Democratic Party. Murphy is a safe moderate who was a registered Republican just a few years ago. He's the kind of safe bet the state establishment loves to get behind. Grayson, meanwhile, has a reputation as a liberal firebrand who is a favorite of those who are glued to the Daily Kos and MSNBC. At this point, the race could go either way.
Interestingly, however, the poll finds that if Rep. Gwen Graham (the daughter of former Governor and Senator Bob Graham) were to enter the race, it would actually work out in Murphy's favor.
At least the Democrats have some sort of neat narrative to explain their primary race. The Republicans' side is kind of a formless mess at the moment.
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Among GOP contenders, Mason-Dixon matched up Rep. David Jolly, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Rep. Ron DeSantis, Rep. Jeff Miller, and businessman Todd Wilcox.
It's Jolly, a Congressmen representing much of Pinellas County, who comes out on top with 16 percent. Lopez-Cantera, the former Miami-Dade property appraiser, comes in second at 10 percent. DeSantis and Miller are at 9 and 8 percent respectively, with Wilcox at just two percent.
If former Attorney General Bill McCollum were to enter the race, he'd become the clear frontrunner at 22 percent. McCollum is well known, but unfortunately he's most well known for losing statewide races. He lost the 2000 Senate race to Bill Nelson. He lost the Senate primary in 2004 and the gubernatorial primary in 2010 to Rick Scott.
The fact that perennial loser McCollum is polling so well only emphasizes that most Republicans in the state aren't too hot about the existing candidates.