In 2014 and 2016, the Chamber's polling lined up with the outcome of most races.
How accurate are the Flagler County Chamber’s straw polls? They’ve been right much more often than not, accurately predicting the outcome of almost all local races in 2014 and 2016.
In local races, the 2018 results from the July 23 Flagler Votes poll predicted wins for incumbent District 2 County Commissioner Greg Hansen, incumbent District 4 County Commissioner Nate McLaughlin, School Board District 2 candidate Carl Jones, School Board District 4 incumbent Trevor Tucker, Palm Coast District 2 City Council candidate Jack Howell, and Palm Coast District 4 City Council candidate John Tipton. Here’s a look at how polling has lined up against actual votes in the past.
2014 General Election
The 2014 Chamber polling accurately predicted the outcome of all but one of the local elected board races: The Chamber’s polling had School Board District 2 incumbent John Fischer beating challenger Janet McDonald 54% to 46%. But in the actual election, those numbers were essentially reversed: McDonald ultimately beat Fischer 53.97% to 46.03%.
The polling had accurately predicted the elections of Flagler County Commissioners Frank Meeker and Nate McLaughlin, Palm Coast City Councilwoman Heidi Shipley and Palm Coast City Councilman Steven Nobile. It also predicted the election of Circuit 7 Judge Kathy Weston.
It was less reliable on the constitutional amendments that year: The polling indicated a 50-50 split on Constitutional Amendment 1, on water and land conservation; local voters voted in favor 70.70% to 29.30%. On Amendment 2 — the legalization of medical marijuana — the Chamber polling showed 49% voting to legalize and 51% voting not to. Ultimately, 54.39% of Flagler voters voted to legalize, and 45.61% voted not to. On Amendment 3, governor appointments to judicial vacancies, the Chamber polling showed only 27% voting yes and 73% voting no, the actual voting had 48.25% voting yes and 51.75% voting no.
The poll also accurately predicted the Flagler County electoral outcome of the races for governor, U.S. Congress, Florida attorney general, Florida chief financial officer, commissioner of agriculture and state senate, but Republicans won those races in Flagler in margins narrower than shown on the straw poll. For instance: The Flagler Chambers polling had Republican Ron DeSantis leading Democratic opponent David Cox 62% to 38% in the District 6 congressional race. DeSantis won with a narrower margin among Flagler County voters: 59.18% to 40.82%. Similarly, in the 2014 race for governor, the Chamber's polling had Republican Rick Scott getting 62% of votes to Democrat Charlie Crist's 33%. Scott won in Flagler with 52.68% of the vote to Crist's 42.13%.
2016 General Election
Again in 2016, the polling on local board elections matched largely matched up with electoral results.
The Flagler Votes 2016 polling predicted the elections of Clerk of Court Tom Bexley, Sheriff Rick Staly, Supervisor of Elections Kaiti Lenhart, Flagler County Commissioners Charles Ericksen, David Sullivan and Donald O’Brien, Flagler County School Board member Colleen Conklin, Palm Coast Mayor Milissa Holland, Palm Coast Councilmen Robert Cuff and Nick Klufas and circuit judges Stasia Warren, Scott DuPont and Howard McGillin.
The Chamber’s poll, conduced before the August primary, had Sharon Demers winning with 32.97% in a four-way race against Myra Middleton Valentine, Maria Barbosa and Paul Anderson for a School Board seat. But Demers and Anderson were eliminated in the primary, and Barbosa got 59.76% to Valentine’s 40.24% in the general. It also didn’t line up with the results of a Circuit 7 judge race, showing a win for David Hood against Kathleen McNeilly; the election went the other way.
The 2016 Flagler Votes Hob Nob results also showed Donald Trump beating Hillary Clinton 72.38% to 19.67%; he won in Flagler County 58.38% to 37.98%. Likewise, the polling had Republican State Senate District 7 candidate Travis Hutson winning with 83.02% to Democrat Curtis Ceballos’ 16.98%. Hutson won in Flagler County with 61.59% of the vote to Ceballos’ 38.41%. And the polling had Republican Paul Renner winning the District 24 state House seat with 81.9% of the vote to Democrat Adam Morley’s 18.1%; Renner actually beat Morley in Flagler County 60.71% to 39.29%.