With less than a month to go before election day, the race to replace retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in South Florida's District 27 seat has the two main candidates nearly even, according to a new poll released on Thursday.
According to the Mason-Dixon poll conducted for Telemundo 51, Republican candidate Maria Elvira Salazar is leading 44 to 42 percent over Democrat Donna Shalala among people who were asked who they would vote for. The independent Mayra Joli had 1 percent and 13 percent were undecided.
The study was conducted by telephone from October 1 to 6 among 625 registered voters in District 27 and has a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.
The moderate Ros-Lehtinen announced her intention to retire after almost 30 years in Congress. The seat is viewed as one of the best chances nationwide for a Democratic pickup in the party's quest to win House control from the GOP.
Hillary Clinton topped President Donald Trump by about 20 percentage points in the district in 2016, even as voters re-elected Ros-Lehtinen.
Salazar, a 56-year-old Cuban-American journalist who is well known in South Florida, has proved a formidable contender for the 77-year-old Shalala, the former Secretary of Health in the Clinton Administration, former president of the University of Miami and former president of the Clinton Foundation.
The survey shows clear divisions in the electorate in terms of gender, age and ethnic origin.
While Salazar has an advantage among men (51-36 percent), those over 50 (50-30 percent) and Hispanics (58-25 percent), Shalala is preferred by women (47-38 percent), those under 50 (52-35 percent), whites (60-30 percent) and African-Americans (90-2 percent).
Among Cuban-Americans, the demographic group that could end up being decisive, Salazar enjoys a wide advantage of 69-15 percent.
Among independent voters, however, Shalala has a 44-39 percent advantage over the Republican candidate.
On other subjects in the survey, 64 percent of respondents said they favored free government-run health insurance, known as "Medicare for all," while 24 percent said that they were opposed.
Forty-four percent of respondents considered the country to be on the right track, with 42 percent saying it is headed in the wrong direction.
Forty-two percent said they felt safer with the economy than a year ago, 22 percent felt less confident and 33 percent said they were the same.