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Miami-Dade Poll Shows Mayor's Race Wide Open, Clinton Far Ahead

Patrick Farrell
Miami Herald
A poll of Miami-Dade County voters finds a wide-open mayoral race, support for medical marijuana and 'scary sign' for Donald Trump.

 A new poll of Miami-Dade County voters finds the mayor's race is still "wide open," support for medical marijuana hovers right around the threshold for approval — and Donald Trump has his work cut out for him.

The poll of 600 voters was conducted last week by Bendixen & Amandi for WLRN, The Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald and Univision.

In the mayor's race, the poll found incumbent Carlos Gimenez has a lead of more than 10 percentage points over his closest challenger, but a third of the respondents are still undecided.


  Fernand Amandi, a principal in the polling firm, said that while Gimenez has a solid lead, he is still at 35 percent, well below a majority. For Gimenez, that "should be troublesome and suggests that his reelection, while not in critical condition, could be in jeopardy," Amandi said.

The closest challenger, Raquel Regalado, is polling at 23 percent. That means she has both opportunity and challenge in the race, where "nearly half the electorate has no idea who she is," Amandi said. "On the one hand, that means she's got a lot of ground to cover. But by the same token, it also means she can define herself and she still has the opportunity to define herself before a major chunk of the electorate."

Amandi said the most striking result is the high number of undecided voters — 33 percent.

"You never know. Maybe it's an opening for someone else to jump in," he said, "because the mayor does not have this locked up by any stretch of the imagination."


Florida voters will once again vote in 2016 on an amendment to the state Constitution that would allow marijuana for medicinal purposes. Two years ago, a similar measure was approved by almost 58 percent — which meant it failed to reach the 60 percent threshold needed before the Constitution is amended.


In 2014, the results in Miami-Dade were slightly below the state average. The new poll found stronger support, with 61 percent saying they would support the amendment, 36 percent opposed and 3 percent undecided.

"We see a lot of the same potential challenges and vulnerabilities that we saw when we measured this last time," Amandi said. Support for the measure is "very soft" among older voters and Hispanic voters who speak mostly Spanish, he said.

"Anything that is polling right at or around the 60 percent mark suggests that there is still some vulnerabilities for statewide passage," he said.


In the presidential race, Democrat Hillary Clinton holds a commanding lead — 52 percent to 25 percent — in Miami-Dade County over Republican Donald Trump. Another 23 percent said they were undecided.

"That's got to be a very scary sign for the Trump campaign," Amandi said. "Because if Hillary Clinton can pile up a 200,000 or even 300,000 vote advantage coming out of voter-rich Miami-Dade, Donald Trump's going to have problems carrying Florida. And if the Republican doesn't carry Florida, he's not likely to get the White House."

Miami-Dade is home to two of the Republican contenders Trump vanquished, Sen. Marco Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush. Clinton now is polling 20 percent of the Republican vote — highly unusual for a Democratic candidate.

But Trump still leads among Cuban voters, 41 percent compared to Clinton's 29 percent — although 30 percent of Cuban respondents were undecided.

"Cuban voters are maybe the only Hispanic group in the country that he's winning right now," Amandi said, "but with much softer support than the Republican candidates have enjoyed in years past."

He said the Clinton campaign can also take heart from results from millennial voters, who have stoked the Bernie Sanders challenge.

"She has an extraordinary 72 percent of the 18-to-34-year-old vote, vs. only 5 percent for Donald Trump," Amandi said. "So I think that will put to rest any concerns that there may be about her having a problem with young voters."

More results from the poll, gauging public opinion on the state attorney and superintendent of schools as well as issues including traffic congestion, gun violence and sea-level rise, will be released throughout this week.

Nancy Klingener covers the Florida Keys for WLRN. Since moving to South Florida in 1989, she has worked for the Miami Herald, Solares Hill newspaper and the Monroe County Public Library.