When he qualified to run for the Democratic nomination for governor last Friday, Orlando-area businessman Chris King insisted he has a path to win the Democratic nomination for governor, but he admits it is a difficult path.
“What I need is, over the next 10 weeks, I need 25 to 30 percent of the Democrats in this state to say ‘we like what he’s doing, he’s different, he’s authentic, he’s passionate, there’s no other agenda than to transform the state of Florida.’”
An NBC News/Marist poll released Tuesday shows King finishing fifth in a crowded five-person contest receiving support from just 3 percent of voters surveyed. But, the poll also shows 47 percent of the Democrats surveyed are still undecided.
An internal poll conducted for the King campaign by David Binder Research and released Wednesday morning shows support for King has grown over the past three months in “key designated market areas.” Those markets are Jacksonville, Gainesville, Panama City, Orlando and West Palm Beach.
The poll, which surveyed 519 voters between June 12 and June 14, showed King’s level of support in those “key designated markets” increasing by 9 percent since March. Of Democratic voters in those five cities, 21 percent of those surveyed chose Gwen Graham, while Philip Levine received 20 percent. King came in third with 11 percent, followed by Andrew Gillum with 9 percent and Jeff Greene with 2 percent. The poll shows 37 percent of Democratic voters in those five cities remain undecided. The margin of error is 4.3 percent.
“The survey clearly shows that if voters hear about King’s story and his plans to work on behalf of Floridians, his support level could grow to 33%, which in this crowded field of Democratic candidates would be more than enough to ensure the Democratic nomination for Governor of Florida,” the poll concluded.
Voters who say they are “certain” to vote for King increased over the past few months by 8 percent in Jacksonville, 6 percent in Gainesville/Panama City and West Palm Beach and 5 percent in Orlando.
His support among white and African American voters in those cities grew by 8 percent over the same time period, while support among hispanic voters grew by 10 percent.
King has billed himself as the more “progressive candidate” among the five Democrats in the field seeking the nomination. He has proposed ending the state’s death penalty, legalizing recreational marijuana and imposing a tax on bullets to help pay for gun safety programs, issues that could play well to the core base of Democratic voters who tend to vote in primary elections.
“We’ve said all along in this campaign that when voters meet Chris King, they tend to support him,” said King senior advisor, Omar Kahn. “As we continue to introduce Chris and his bold, progressive vision to voters across Florida, we’ll continue to see support for his candidacy grow. Democrats are looking for a fresh, bold vision for Florida’s future in 2018 and this survey proves Chris is uniquely positioned to win among a crowded field of conventional politicians from the political establishment.”
Make no mistake, King remains a long shot in the race for Democratic nomination for governor.
The Capitolist’s own “Horserace Index,” a weighted poll average that uses pollster accuracy rankings from fivethirtyeight.com, the age and obsolescence of each poll, along with news and election cycle adjustments to determine the true state of the 2018 Governor’s Race, shows Levine holding a 3-point lead over Graham. Levine is averaging 25 percent of those surveyed, compared to Graham’s 22 percent. The Horserace Index shows Gillum in third place with an average of 19 percent, while King is averaging 9 percent. Greene who entered the race in early June had not yet been surveyed at the time of the latest index.
But, King remains hopeful the results of the internal poll are an indication that a path to the nomination remains a possibility for his campaign, even though it may be very difficult path.