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A surprise shift: New UNF poll shows Nikki Fried leading Charlie Crist

Nikki Fried and Charlie Crist
Nikki Fried and Charlie Crist

A new poll from the University of North Florida shows the Democratic race for governor swinging dramatically in favor of Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried over former Gov. Charlie Crist.

Fried holds a 47% to 43% lead over Crist among likely voters in the Democratic primary, according to the poll released Tuesday. The result represents a 12-point shift since UNF polled voters in February.

Fried still would fall short of Gov. Ron DeSantis in the general election — 50% to 43%, the poll found. In a race with Crist, DeSantis would win 50% to 42%. But the gap in both cases has narrowed. DeSantis was up by more than 20 points in the February poll.

The UNF poll is the first to show Fried with a lead. Previous polls have put Crist with a lead ranging from 8 points to 32, but many voters said they were undecided, according to RealClearPolitics.

It’s possible that the overturning of Roe v. Wade influenced the race and energized women, who are almost 20 points more likely to vote for Fried, said Michael Binder, faculty director of the Public Opinion Research Lab at UNF.

Responding to the UNF poll, Crist's campaign released its own internal polling, which showed their candidate leading Fried by 10 points, 47% to 37%.

The UNF poll randomly sampled 1,624 registered voters statewide between Aug. 8 and 12 using an online survey platform. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percentage points.

The poll also found:

  • In the race for U.S. Senate, Democrat Val Demings came out on top in a head-to-head matchup with Sen. Marco Rubio — 48% to 44%, with 7% saying they would vote for someone else.
  • Forty-seven percent said they would vote for DeSantis in a hypothetical presidential primary with former president Donald Trump in 2024. Forty-five percent said they would vote for Trump. Seven percent said they would vote for someone else.
  • Fifty-one percent of respondents said the overturning of Roe v. Wade made them more likely to vote in the November midterm election. Forty-six percent said it would not affect their decision to vote.

  • Fifty-nine percent said they would strongly oppose a law making abortion illegal in all cases in Florida. Twenty-seven percent said they would support such a law.
  • Asked what they consider the most important problem facing Florida, 43% said the cost of living. Tied in a distant second, with 8%, were education and reproductive rights.
Randy comes to Jacksonville from the South Florida Sun Sentinel, where, as metro editor, he led investigative coverage of the Parkland school shooting that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for public service. He has spent more than 40 years in reporting and editing positions in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio and Florida. You can reach Randy at or on Twitter, @rroguski.