Michael Bloomberg is leading the pack of Democratic presidential hopefuls in Florida, according to a new survey from St. Pete Polls, a sign that the former New York City mayor has picked up traction in a crucial swing state before most of his rivals have even started to campaign there.
The poll shows Bloomberg with 27.3 percent support in the Sunshine State, up 10 points from a similar poll released late last month. Biden, meanwhile, has seen his support in Florida plummet, falling from more than 41 percent in January to 25.9 percent this month.
Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) are jockeying for third place in the state, notching 10.5 percent and 10.4 percent respectively, while Sen. Amy Klobuchar sits in fifth with 8.6 percent support.
Florida’s Democratic presidential primary is still more than a month away. But the St. Pete poll suggests that Bloomberg’s aggressive spending has allowed him to build early name recognition in the nation’s largest and most volatile general election battleground.
Unlike early primary and caucus states like Iowa and New Hampshire, where voters tend to value on-the-ground activism and face-to-face meetings with candidates, paid media holds outsize sway in Florida, a vast state of more than 21 million people.
Bloomberg has spent tens of millions of dollars advertising in Florida since he launched his presidential campaign less than three months ago. Most of his rivals have yet to begin airing ads there, opting instead to spend money in earlier nominating contests.
The St. Pete poll also suggests that Bloomberg is making inroads with critical voting blocs in the Sunshine State. He leads among Hispanic voters there with 35.4 percent support, a nearly 15-point gain over last month.
Biden’s support among those voters slipped to 19.7 percent in February. Last month, he led the pack among Hispanic voters in Florida with 36.4 percent support.
Sanders, whose campaign has touted his strong support among Hispanic voters, places a distant third among those voters in Florida, registering 12.7 percent support.
There are also signs that Bloomberg is beginning to cut into Biden’s support among black voters in the state. The St. Pete poll from January showed the former vice president with the support of 57 percent of black voters in Florida and Bloomberg with 12.6 percent support.
But in the most recent poll, Biden’s support among those voters dropped to 41.5 percent, while Bloomberg’s rose to 22.7 percent.
The St. Pete Polls survey of 3,047 likely Florida Democratic primary voters was conducted from Feb. 12 to 13. It has margin of error of plus or minus 1.8 percentage points.