Miami-Dade County

Race for Miami-Dade Mayor Tightening in Last Week

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Hold on to your seats, Miami-Dade: the election for county mayor is up for grabs.

In the last two weeks, a series of private and campaign polls have shown an ever-tightening race. The top two vote-getters will move on to the runoff in November, because it is unlikely anyone will have a majority. The race is non-partisan.

There are four major candidates: former county Mayor Alex Penelas and current Commissioners Steve Bovo, Daniella Levine Cava and Xavier Suarez. 

There have been three polls released publicly as the race winds down August 18th. The Penelas campaign released a poll showing him with a lead. The Levine Cava campaign released their own showing her winning. Then, Friday an organization not directly tied to a campaign but has polled nationally for Republican candidates released their own with Bovo with a lead. However, all three of those polls are within the margin of error or just a point or two outside.

The election will hinge on whose supporters show up to vote on Tuesday, August 18. The largest lead by the three internal polls released this week had Penelas leading by 5% but the candidates were mostly within the margin of errors for all the polls.

On Friday, Miami-based political media and polling firm National Victory Strategies released research produced with P3 Management.

Researchers polled 200 likely voters by telephone from August 12-13. Their results show 21% of county voters choosing Commissioner Bovo, who is campaigning as the “lone conservative” in the race.

Commissioner Levine Cava and former Mayor Penelas come in second. Both have 18% of voters picking them.

Allies of Bovo’s opponents say the National Victory Strategies poll did not poll nearly enough people to have an accurate look at the race, did not release the margin of error, while having too many Republicans respond at 42.5%.

According to National Victory Strategies poll release, results will be released from another 200 people over the weekend.

Pollsters usually recommend getting at least 400 people for a countywide poll to get thorough results.

The Friday poll also has former City of Miami Mayor and county Commissioner Xavier Suarez coming in with 8.5% of the vote. 25.5% of the likely voters polled said they were undecided. 

Orlando Cicilia, President of National Victory Strategies, told NBC 6 he thinks voters “are still making up their minds for Mayor.” “We are interested to see how the undecided voters break going forward,” he said.

That poll is the latest piece of evidence showing an incredibly close race heading into the election.

Earlier this week, the Alex Penelas campaign released a poll to Florida Politics showing him in the lead with 27%, followed by Levine Cava at 22%, Bovo at 20%, and Suarez at 11%. The margin of error the poll was five percent, just the distance between first and second.

That poll was conducted by Frederick Polls from August 7-9 with a sample group of 350 people. Penelas opponents also say that sample size is too small and relies on 66% of Miami-Dade voters still to vote when the poll was commissioned, an unlikely scenario with vote-by-mail and early voting so popular in South Florida.

Commissioner Levine Cava also released a poll this week showing her campaign up in the race with 25%, followed by Bovo at 21%, Penelas at 20%, and Suarez at 9%.

An important metric Levine Cava points to in her poll is a lead with people who have already voted.

Her campaign was asking questions to 472 likely voters from August 3-6. Her opponents say the way they asked voters - online, and not over the telephone - plays a roll in skewing the results.

Penelas is looked at by many as the favorite in the race going in, amassing a huge campaign war chest. The race changed as the coronavirus pandemic set in and Levine Cava and Bovo received major donations and support from conservative and progressive groups in the last months of the race to make it close.

Carlos Antonio De Armas, Monque Barley, and Ludmilla Domond are also running for Mayor, but have raised thousands of dollars while the others have raised millions. 

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