Politics & Government

Wealthy outsiders lead in Florida races for Senate, governor

This is the primary election of millionaire outsiders, a new poll shows.

Republican Rick Scott holds an 11 percentage-point lead over Attorney General Bill McCollum in the GOP race for governor, a Quinnipiac University poll finds.

In the main statewide race for Democrats — the U.S. Senate contest — Jeff Greene is beating U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek by 10 percentage points, the poll shows.

Neither Greene nor Scott have held elected office before. McCollum has held or run for office for the past 30 years. Meek has been in Congress and the Legislature for more than a decade.

Both political newcomers have relied on a simple formula to best their rivals: Spend millions on television ads and watch your poll numbers rise. Greene has outspent Meek by an estimated $6 million. Scott has poured an estimated $30 million into his race, doubling what McCollum has spent.

"Money matters. You can go from nobody knowing you to becoming a front-runner if you spend enough," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

"That's not to say it's only money," Brown added. "The messages that Scott and Greene have been able to send to voters through record television ad spending have been effective."

But Brown cautions that "anything can happen" leading up to the Aug. 24 primary. Voters haven't completely made up their minds. And many don't know for whom they'll vote.

In the Democratic Senate race, more than a third of likely voters are undecided. And a majority — 54 percent — say they might change their minds.

In the Republican governor's race, 23 percent of likely voters are undecided; 43 percent say they might change their minds; 55 percent say their minds are made up.

Read more of this story at lMiamiHerald.com