One thing is certain about this year’s battle for governor, voters don’t know who is running.
There are at least seven of them–three Republicans and four Democrats–who have declared or expected to declare themselves as candidates for Florida governor. The problem they all face is no one, or at least not many, of the voters who will elect them knows who they are.
The Public Opinion Research Lab at the University of North Florida released a new poll Monday morning of the top three candidates from both parties that shows an “overwhelming lack of name recognition” among Democratic candidates and Republican candidates running for governor.
“It’s a little surprising that so few people have heard of the candidates, particularly Adam Putnam who has won two statewide races, and Gwen Graham, who is a former member of Congress and the daughter of former Gov. and Sen. Bob Graham,” said Dr. Michael Binder, faculty director of the Public Opinion Research Lab at UNF.
On the Republican side of the ticket, 67 percent of the voters surveyed had never heard of Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who is considered the frontrunner for the nomination. Seventy-two percent of the voters had never heard of U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, who received the endorsement of President Donald Trump in December. While 78 percent had never heard of House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who is expected to announce his candidacy after the current legislative session.
For the Democrats it’s not any better.
Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine had the best name recognition in the poll. But, still, 73 percent of the respondents say they’ve never heard of him before. Seventy-eight percent of the voters said they never heard of former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham who has been considered the Democratic frontrunner. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum was the least known of the candidates with 81 percent saying they have never heard of him.
While a lot of voters don’t know who Graham is, 11 percent of those that do tend to favor her, compared to eight percent for Levine and seven percent for Gillum.
For the Republicans, 14 percent favor Putnam, 10 percent DeSantis and 5 percent Corcoran.
A lot of voters might not recognize the candidates, yet, but it’s still early.
“These results highlight both the opportunities for the candidates to shape the voters’ perception of them and the challenges they face in getting out their message,” Binder added.