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Poll: Candidates for Rubio's Senate seat unknown

Candidates to replace Sen. Rubio have identity problem

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SAINT LEO, Fla. – Most voters in the Sunshine State still have yet to learn much about the candidates running for Senator Marco Rubio's vacated U.S. Senate seat in the 2016 election, the newest Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey shows.

Democratic and Republican party organizations will want voters to pay attention, as the seat party affiliation of the eventual winner stands to help sway the outcome of important votes on hotly contested issues coming up in the next year, according to Frank Orlando, Saint Leo University political scientist.

In an online poll of 540 Floridians, conducted between March 13 and 17, 65.1 percent of likely Republican voters said they did not know whom they would choose. The candidate with the highest percent of responses was Ron DeSantis, with 11.1 percent, followed by David Jolly with 10.1 percent. Carlos Lopez-Cantera was third with 7.4 percent of the vote.

Ron DeSantis and David Jolly are both members of Congress—DeSantis is from Jacksonville and Jolly represents most of Pinellas County, including Clearwater and the many precincts in St. Petersburg. Lopez-Cantera has been lieutenant governor but only for two years; his home is in Miami and he was born in Spain.

"They represent three different areas of the state," noted Orlando, "but statewide, no one knows about these candidates." To date, both political donors and the general public have been more interested in the presidential primaries, so the candidates have not yet had much of a chance to ask for voter attention.

On the Democratic side, 54.6 percent of the likely Democratic voters said they did not know whom they would support.  Patrick Murphy held the lead with 19.9 percent and Alan Grayson followed at 16.7 percent. Murphy, an accountant, has been in Congress since 2013 representing Miami. Grayson is a three-term congressman from Orlando and an attorney.

"On the Republican side," Orlando continued, "it will be interesting to see who will get the most support from establishment donors and politicians.  Will Marco Rubio endorse a possible successor?"

The Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey results about Florida and national politics, public policy issues, Pope Francis' popularity, and other topics, can be found here: http://polls.saintleo.edu


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