ATLANTA, Oct. 4, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Gray Television, Inc. (NYSE: GTN and GTN.A) today released results from the company's first ever national poll of congressional candidates ahead of the November U.S. midterm elections, assessing both presidential and candidate support and favorability in Florida, North Dakota and West Virginia.
"This is a first for us, but we have always been interested in how the country is changing politically," said President and CEO of Gray Television, Hilton Howell. "Our station footprint spans the entire U.S. and nearly all of the most politically contested areas in this cycle. We are therefore uniquely positioned to offer valuable, unbiased insights into how the makeup of Congress might shift this election."
The survey results of likely voters showed Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Bill Nelson with leads above their Republican opponents, while Senator Heidi Heitkamp trails her Republican opponent by double-digits. In their race for Congress, voters preferred the generic Republican candidate over the generic Democratic candidate in North Dakota and West Virginia, while they narrowly favored the generic Democratic candidate in Florida.
President Donald Trump received strong favorability ratings across each of the three states among likely voters. In addition, the poll tracked support for ballot measures and key voting concerns specific to voters in each state, which will help Gray's local news operations better focus on issues of concerns important to their respective communities.
This three-state poll was the first of two to be conducted ahead of the midterm elections this November by Gray Television in partnership with Strategic Research Associates, LLC, of Austin, Texas.
"Florida, North Dakota, and West Virginia are critical battlegrounds in the struggle for control of Congress," said James Henson of Strategic Research Associates, LLC. "The varied results across the three states illustrate the diversity of the electoral environment below the national level as we get closer to Election Day. We're pleased to be collaborating with Gray Television in gauging public opinion in these crucial states."
According to a survey of 800 likely voters in Florida conducted between September 17 - 30, 2018, 45% expressed support for incumbent Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, with 44% expressing support for Republican challenger and current Governor Rick Scott, well within the poll's 3.46% margin of error. Eleven percent have yet to make up their mind in the race.
Likely voters view Nelson favorably by 36% and unfavorably by 38%, with 14% expressing a neutral opinion and 12% unfamiliar. Likely voters view Scott favorably by 42% and unfavorably by 38%, with 11% expressing a neutral opinion and 10% unfamiliar.
In the race for governor, Democrat Andrew Gillum leads Republican Ron DeSantis 44% to 43%, with 12% undecided. Thirty-seven percent of likely voters view Gillum favorably, and 25% view him unfavorably, with 15% holding a neutral opinion and 23% unfamiliar. Likely voters view DeSantis favorably by 38% and unfavorably by 35%, with 12% holding a neutral opinion and 15% unfamiliar.
When asked about their vote for Congress, Florida voters narrowly prefer the generic Democratic candidate over the generic Republican candidate by a 43% to 42% margin.
Overall, 47% of Florida voters approve of the job Donald Trump is doing as president, while 46% disapprove. Asked about the national issues currently most important to Florida voters, they selected health care most frequently.
According to the survey of 650 likely voters in North Dakota conducted between September 17 - 27, 2018, Republican challenger, At-Large U.S. Representative Kevin Cramer, leads incumbent Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp by 10 percentage points, 51% to 41%. Eight percent have yet to make up their minds.
Heitkamp is viewed favorably by 43% of North Dakota voters and unfavorably by 41%, with 12% holding a neutral opinion and 4% unfamiliar. Likely voters view her challenger favorably by 46% and unfavorably by 37%, with 12% holding a neutral opinion and 5% unfamiliar with him.
In the race for the state's At-Large Congressional District seat, Republican Kelly Armstrong leads Democrat Mac Schneider 55% to 31%, with 14% undecided. Forty-five percent hold a favorable view of Armstrong, while only 14% hold an unfavorable view, with 22% holding a neutral opinion. Likely voters view Schneider favorably by 30%, unfavorably by 21%, with the remainder either neutral (24%) or unfamiliar (25%) with the Democratic candidate.
The race for Attorney General sees Republican Wayne Stenehjem leading Democrat David Clark Thompson 60% to 26%.
According to the survey of 650 likely voters in West Virginia conducted between September 17 - 26, 46% expressed support for incumbent Democratic Senator Joseph Manchin, with 38% expressing support for Republican challenger, state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. Three percent expressed support for Rusty Hollen, while 13% have yet to make up their mind.
Likely voters viewed Manchin favorably by 46% and unfavorably by 33%, with 15% expressing a neutral opinion and 5% unfamiliar. Likely voters viewed Morrisey favorably by 34% and unfavorably by 44%, with 15% expressing a neutral opinion and 7% unfamiliar.
When asked about their vote for Congress, West Virginia voters prefer the generic Republican candidate over the generic Democratic candidate by a 46% to 37% margin.
About Gray TV:
Currently, Gray owns and/or operates over 100 television stations across 57 television markets that collectively broadcast nearly 250 program streams including over 100 channels affiliated with the CBS Network, the NBC Network, the ABC Network and the FOX Network. Our portfolio includes the number-one and/or number-two ranked television station operations in all of our markets, which collectively cover approximately 10.4% of total United States television households. Gray has entered into an agreement to combine with Raycom Media, Inc. in a transformational transaction. The combined company will own leading television stations and digital platforms serving 92 markets and 24% of U.S. television households. It also will include video program production, marketing, and digital businesses including Raycom Sports, Tupelo-Raycom, and RTM Studios, the producer of PowerNation programs and content. For further information, please visit www.gray.tv.
About Strategic Research Associates, LLC:
Strategic Research Associates, LLC, based in Austin, Texas, specializes in political polling and research. The principals, James Henson, PhD and Joshua Blank, PhD, have played major roles in political polling and research projects at the state and national level for more than a decade. They can be contacted at [email protected].