Beruff leads in internal poll
It took $3.5 million in ad spending but Manatee County homebuilder Carlos Beruff is now firmly in the mix as a viable contender to replace U.S. Senator Marco Rubio.
A poll conducted by Beruff's campaign has him statistically tied with U.S. Rep. David Jolly for the lead in a crowded GOP field. Beruff had 17 percent support in the poll, compared with 16 percent for Jolly.
The telephone survey of 800 likely Republican primary voters was conducted by Wes Anderson, who works for Beruff's consulting firm, from May 23 to 25. It has a margin of error of 3.46 percentage points.
"This is a scientific poll and I think the results are positive," said Beruff spokesman Chris Hartline.
U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis had 9 percent support in the poll, Orlando businessman Todd Wilcox had five percent and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera had three percent. Half of those surveyed were undecided.
Beruff has spent big on television advertising to boost his name recognition. The candidate also has attracted attention for provocative statements. He recently called President Barack Obama "an animal" and has suggested a temporary ban on immigration from Middle Eastern countries other than Israel.
Anderson asked GOP voters whether the proposed immigration ban makes them more or less likely to support Beruff and 78 percent said more likely. The pollster also asked voters if they agree that "the professional politicians in government have been ineffective and made a terrible mess of our country. It's time for us to send new leaders to Washington who are not part of the political establishment." More than nine in 10 agreed.
"If you're talking about what voters are looking for, it's the candidate who's the outsider focusing on bringing change to Washington rather than the career politician," Hartline said. "It's our message essentially."
Although some of the questions in the poll were designed to gauge voters' opinions of Beruff and his policies, Hartline said the "top line" question about which candidate they support was asked first to ensure an unbiased response. He declined to release the full poll.