FORT MYERS, Fla. WINK News has the results of an exclusive poll conducted by the News-Press and WINK News about a the high-profile congressional race in Southwest Florida.
The poll finds political newcomer Curt Clawson has a 2.1 lead over his rivals to fill the seat formerly held by Trey Radel.
The poll surveyed 669 republicans in Lee and Collier Counties. Almost all respondents say: they are very likely to vote.
The company did the phone survey on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. Results show Curt Clawson, the former business executive, leads the contest with 38% support. State Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto is second with 19%, Michael Dreikorn, 18%, and Paige Kreegel, 17%. And those who are not sure whom to support, polled at 7%.
Clawson backers are not surprised. "I have always felt good and positive about him," said Portia Wright. "I believe what he is saying."
The poll shows Clawson has broad and equal support among men and women, and especially strong support among those who call themselves "very conservative." He has double the support of Benacquisto and Kreegel in that category.
Allen Bratton said he "appreciated the straight-forward commercials that he presented. I like his ideas." Clawson is winning 50% of the survey respondents in Collier County. That could be a result of the support of Byron Donalds and others in the Naples Tea Party.
In Lee County, Clawson garners 33% of those surveyed. Benacquisto is polling poorly among women and young people, according to the results. She has support of 20% of women respondents and only 6% of those, aged 18 to 45. Clawson has 35% support of those, aged 18 to 45.
Though the candidates pressed their conservative credentials, and there are only a few differences in their stands on most policies -- the poll respondents seem to find a clear contrast among the four. Of those surveyed, 58% find quote a "big difference between the candidates."
Early voting for the congressional primary ends Saturday, April 19th. Click here for a list of voting locations.