Poll Finds Biden Widening Lead in FL, Where Trump Has Fallen Behind

2020 Election

By james hellegaard | 1/15/2020

Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has widened his lead to 26 points among Florida voters in the race for the Democratic party’s nomination for president in 2020, according to a statewide survey by the Florida Atlantic University Business and Economics Polling Initiative (FAU BEPI).  

Among the Democratic candidates, Biden has increased his support to 42 percent, up from 34 percent in BEPI’s September 2019 poll. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders jumped into second place at 14 percent, while U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren fell to third at 10 percent, down significantly from 24 percent support in September. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg came in fourth at 7 percent, followed by U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar at 6 percent, entrepreneur Andrew Yang at 5 percent and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 3 percent. 

A majority of Democratic primary voters (54 percent) said they will definitely vote for their top choice, with 46 percent saying there is a chance they could change their minds and vote for someone else. The Florida Democratic primary is March 17.

“Joe Biden continues to be in a very strong position in Florida,” said Monica Escaleras, Ph.D., director of the FAU BEPI. “However, it will be interesting to see what impact the early contests in New Hampshire and Iowa will have on voters in Florida regarding their support for Biden.”

Sanders fared best among Florida voters in head-to-head matchups against U.S President Donald Trump, with a 53-to-47 percent advantage on the president. Biden and Warren have narrow two-point leads on Trump, 51 to 49 percent, while Buttigieg finished in a 50-50 dead heat with the president. In September, Trump held small leads in each of these head-to-head matchups. 

With an impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate looming, Florida voters are split on whether Trump should be removed from office, with 49 percent saying he should be removed while 51 percent are against removal. Voters are also split about how their Congress person’s decision whether or not to impeach Trump will affect their support for them as a candidate, with 40 percent saying it will make them less likely to support the candidate, 38 percent saying they would be more likely to support them and 21 percent saying it would have no effect.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has just completed his first year in office, is popular among voters with 48 percent approval and 28 percent disapproval, while 25 percent of voters were neutral or had no opinion.

With tensions rising with Iran, 61 percent of voters do not think the U.S. is going to get into a war with Iran, while 39 percent think recent military action will lead to war.

Trump’s approval rating is slightly above water among Florida voters, with 45 percent approval and 43 percent disapproval. He continues to be hugely popular among GOP voters, with a 66-point lead on his Republican rivals, former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld. 

“Floridians are deeply divided on the president and on impeachment,” said Kevin Wagner, Ph.D., professor of political science at FAU and a research fellow of the Initiative. “Nonetheless, Mr. Trump continues to perform better in Florida than in national polls.” 

The survey was conducted Jan. 9-12 and polled 1,285 Florida registered voters. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 2.6 percentage points. The margin of error for both the Republican primary and the Democratic primary is +/- 4.4 percentage points. 

The data was weighted by ethnicity, age, education, party affiliation, region and gender based on a 2016 voter model. It is important to remember that subsets carry with them higher margins of error, as the sample size is reduced. Data was collected using both an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system of landlines and an online panel provided by Dynata. The polling results and full cross-tabulations are available at www.business.fau.edu/bepi