Exclusive Florida Decides Statewide Poll: Carson would lead GOP Senate primary

By Julie Gargotta / Caitlin Constantine, Team Coverage
Last Updated: Wednesday, March 09, 2016, 12:21 PM EST
Presidential race
  • 56 percent of likely Republican primary voters would vote for Ben Carson for U.S. Senate if he were to run
  • If Carson does not run, 34 percent say they would vote for David Jolly
  • Patrick Murphy leads the Democratic Senate primary with 27 percent; 31 percent of likely voters are undecided

As voters cast their ballots at primaries and caucuses across the country, some Republican presidential candidates are rising to the top — and others are ending their bids, including Dr. Ben Carson.

Now, an exclusive statewide News 13/Bay News 9 poll finds a majority of likely voters — 56 percent — would vote for Carson in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, should he decide to run. Another 15 percent said they’d vote for someone else, while 29 percent said it’s too soon to say.

This question follows CNN reports that GOP operatives encouraged Carson to drop out of the presidential race and run for the U.S. Senate seat from Florida. It’s the same seat that Marco Rubio will be vacating, and Republicans are eager to keep the seat from Democratic control.

"I am so humbled by the 56 percent support in the News 13/Bay News 9 survey of Florida voters who still believe in me," Carson responded in a tweet Wednesday.

Yet, if the speculation pans out and Carson runs for the Senate seat, there will be competition. Several others, including Carlos Lopez-Cantera and David Jolly, have already thrown their hats into the ring.

Our same poll, without Carson listed, placed David Jolly in the lead, though 34 percent claimed they are still undecided.

We reached out to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, or NRSC, to see if the speculation on Carson’s run - and push from the bigger race - had any legs. They said they hadn’t heard anything other than "rumors floating around in various news reports."

FLORIDA PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY COVERAGE

  • March 15 starting at 5 p.m.
  • All presidential results plus your local races
  • Tampa Bay local election results on Bay News 9
  • Central Florida local election results on News 13

We also reached out to Carson’s camp for comment, but did not hear back.

Carson had been a fixture on the campaign trail and debate stage for months. But last Friday, the retired neurosurgeon said he had enough as he dropped out of the GOP presidential race. Carson told crowds at the Conservative Political Action Conference that he planned to head up a faith-based organization which encourages people to get out and vote.

“I will still continue to be heavily involved, you know, and try to save our nation,” he said.

Join us for more exclusive poll results Tuesday morning, starting at 5 a.m., and find out who Florida voters would choose for president if the election were held today.


Detailed Poll Results

Q: If the Aug. 30 Republican primary for U.S. were held today and these were the candidates, who would you vote for?

  All
Gender Age Race
Male Female 18-34 35-49 50-64 65+ White Black Asian/
Other
Ron DeSantis 11% 12% 10% 6% 8% 9% 17% 11% ** **
David Jolly 18% 20% 14% 21% 21% 15% 17% 17% ** **
Carlos Lopez-Cantera 9% 11% 6% 7% 15% 8% 6% 9% ** **
Todd Wilcox 7% 8% 7% 13% 6% 8% 5% 7% ** **
Carlos Beruff 1% 2% 1% 2% 3% 1% 1% 1% ** **
Ilya Katz 4% 3% 4% 4% 3% 4% 4% 4% ** **
Other 16% 14% 19% 5% 4% 23% 20% 16% ** **
Undecided 34% 30% 38% 42% 39% 33% 29% 35% ** **
Composition of likely
GOP primary voters
100% 53% 47% 10% 19% 36% 34% 94% 3% 3%
  Hispanic
Region
Cuban
Non-Cuban
Northwest Northeast Central Southwest Southeast
Ron DeSantis
7%
9%
3% 25% 13% 7% 10%
David Jolly
8%
13%
10% 12% 14% 38% 8%
Carlos Lopez-Canteras
50%
22%
9% 5% 3% 4% 25%
Todd Wilcox
6%
10%
10% 6% 9% 9% 3%
Carlos Beruff
4%
3%
1% 2% 2% 1% 1%
Ilya Katz
0%
0%
3% 4% 3% 2% 6%
Other
15%
12%
18% 7% 19% 10% 22%
Undecided
11%
31%
47% 40% 36% 30% 26%
Composition of likely
GOP primary voters
8% 6% 10% 10% 36% 22% 22%

Surveyed: 724 likely August GOP primary voters
Margin of sampling error: ± 3.7%

** Too few respondents of this type were interviewed for this data to be meaningful.


Q: There has been speculation that Ben Carson may enter the race for U.S. Senate. If Carson runs in the Republican primary, will you vote for him?

  All Gender Age Race
Male Female 18-34 35-49 50-64 65+ White Black Asian/
Other
Definitely vote for Carson 56% 52% 60% 61% 47% 54% 61% 56% ** **
Definitely vote for someone else 15% 18% 12% 17% 14% 17% 13% 15% ** **
Too soon to say 29% 31% 27% 22% 39% 29% 26% 29% ** **
Composition of likely
GOP primary voters
100% 53% 47% 10% 19% 36% 34% 94% 3% 3%
  Hispanic Region
Cuban Non-Cuban Northwest Northeast Central Southwest Southeast
Definitely vote for Carson 57% 51% 42% 56% 55% 62% 56%
Definitely vote for someone else 23% 19% 10% 13% 17% 12% 19%
Too soon to say 20% 31% 48% 31% 28% 26% 25%
Composition of likely
GOP primary voters
8% 6% 10% 10% 36% 22% 22%

Surveyed: 724 likely August GOP primary voters
Margin of sampling error: ± 3.7%

** Too few respondents of this type were interviewed for this data to be meaningful.


Q: If the Aug. 30 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate were today and these were the candidates, who would you vote for?

  All Gender Age Race
Male Female 18-34 35-49 50-64 65+ White Black Asian/
Other
Alan Grayson 16% 18% 14% 20% 10% 18% 18% 17% 12% 18%
Patrick Murphy 27% 29% 25% 28% 25% 25% 30% 27% 27% 27%
Pam Keith 11% 12% 11% 14% 13% 11% 9% 12% 10% 11%
Other 15% 16% 14% 5% 15% 18% 16% 14% 18% 17%
Undecided 31% 25% 35% 32% 38% 28% 26% 30% 33% 28%
Composition of likely
Dem. primary voters
100% 45% 55% 13% 29% 30% 27% 68% 24% 8%
  Hispanic Region
Cuban Non-Cuban Northwest Northeast Central Southwest Southeast
Alan Grayson ** 16% 7% 20% 28% 12% 11%
Patrick Murphy ** 39% 17% 14% 22% 27% 36%
Pam Keith ** 10% 12% 18% 11% 13% 9%
Other ** 10% 20% 12% 13% 9% 19%
Undecided ** 25% 44% 36% 26% 39% 26%
Composition of likely
Dem. primary voters
5% 13% 7% 11% 26% 20% 37%

Surveyed: 592 likely August Democratic primary voters
Margin of sampling error: ± 4.1%

** Too few respondents of this type were interviewed for this data to be meaningful.


This Florida Decides Exclusive Statewide Poll was conducted by SurveyUSA from March 4-6. Pollsters surveyed 2,450 likely voters via home phones and smart devices. Respondents reachable on a home phone were interviewed on their home telephone in the recorded voice of a professional announcer. Respondents who were not reachable by home phone were shown a questionnaire on their smartphone, tablet or other device.