Democrats and Republicans have poured millions of advertising dollars into the race between U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and the Congresswoman who hopes to supplant him, former Orlando Police Chief Val Demings. New polling data suggests that money may have been needlessly spent.
Voter opinion of the two candidates has barely budged in six months, according to a survey Jacksonville-based Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy conducted last week.
Mason-Dixon pollsters interviewed 800 registered and likely voters by phone from Sept. 26-28. The firm randomly selected subjects from a phone-matched Florida voter registration list and used quotes to reflect voter turnout by county.
Pollsters found Rubio holds a 47-42% lead over Demings just over a month from Election Day, placing a likely Rubio victory well outside the poll’s 3.5 percentage point margin of error.
In February, Mason-Dixon determined Rubio’s lead to be 49-42%.
Two percent of respondents last week said they plan to vote for either Libertarian Dennis Misigoy or no-party candidates Steven Grant or Tuan Nguyen. Ten percent are undecided.
“Both candidates are holding their base voters,” Mason-Dixon staff wrote, adding that the “continued unpopularity” of President Joe Biden is “creating headwinds” for Demings as voters largely maintain a negative opinion of Biden’s job performance.
Forty-eight percent of respondents said they viewed Rubio favorability, compared to 39% who said they didn’t like him. Twelve percent held a neutral opinion of him.
Demings had a 33% favorability rating, while 29% of respondents viewed her unfavorably and 22% had neither a good nor bad opinion of her.
Sixteen percent said they didn’t know who Demings is — a high percentage considering the nearly $22 million her campaign has spent on TV and radio advertising this cycle, according to AdImpact.
Rubio and Republican groups supporting his re-election bid have spent a comparatively modest $16.3 million on broadcast advertising across the state.
By region, Rubio enjoys the strongest level of support in North and Southwest Florida, where 57.5% of likely voters back him. Demings’ strongest support lies in Southeast Florida, a Democratically leaning area where Rubio was born and raised.
Demographically, Rubio is most supported by men, voters 50 and older and White voters. Demings, conversely, holds a 44-41% edge in support from women and 79% support from Black voters.
Of note, Rubio holds an important lead among unaffiliated voters (44-39%) and has split the Hispanic vote (45-45%) that traditionally leans Democratic.
The new Mason-Dixon poll’s findings echo those of other recent surveys, including one by Siena College Research Institute, which released its results Monday.
Last month, Rubio was one of 12 GOP candidates — including Gov. Ron DeSantis — who declined to answer when the Washington Post asked if they would accept the outcome of the General Election.
Early voting for the Nov. 8 election is set to begin at least 10 days prior to Election Day.