Is a gender gap developing in the Democratic Primary for US Senate?

It has not been much discussed but as the summer has worn on the public polling in the US Senate race has indicated clearly that Patrick Murphy does better among females not only head-to-head with Alan Grayson in a hypothetical Democratic Primary but also when matched up against Republicans in a General Election. 

I will admit this is a subject that is  not pleasant to talk about and I have avoided all summer as public poll after public poll has shown similar numbers. Congressman Alan Grayson has been a strong liberal voice on so many critical issues, including those that impact women’s health and working families. But for some reason polling beginning with the St Pete Polls survey two months ago have shown Grayson’s weakness among women within the Democratic field. The PPP poll shows Grayson polls worse with women than Murphy when matched up against any likely GOP nominee. In some cases Grayson actually does better among males than females against a hypothetical GOP opponent. Obviously that can be viewed both positively and negatively depending on your perspective.

It is now becoming more likely that Murphy will run stronger with women in the primary than Grayson. That does not really matter to Democrats unless you are partial to one of the candidates. The question though that must be contemplated if these numbers continue to be a problem is whether or not the gender gap we are accustomed to seeing in competitive races between Republicans and Democrats is not as wide if Grayson is the party’s nominee. I am hopeful we don’t get to the point where it’s an issue, but it is something that should be discussed now in the event that it is.

Last week we did a completely unscientific survey on this site of our readers and asked who they preferred in the US Senate race. Alan Grayson still came out ahead with 48%, Pam Keith (whose campaign I  work with) had close to 27% and Murphy with 21%. So activists who make up the bulk of our readers at TFS remain committed to Grayson at least based on the unscientific survey we placed on the site. Many like Keith who has branched out across the state to activist gatherings and has been well received. Fewer like Murphy, but he remains the party establishment’s pick and from where I sit he’s still the most likely Democratic nominee at this moment in time though we are still over eleven months from the primary.

Grayson remains an attractive option for most activists. But the question now is whether or not his style had hurt his standing with female voters who are critical to success for the Democrats next year? If enough activists determine that it is, Murphy could benefit long before the primary.


  1. Most likely has to do with him calling his wife a gold digger. Not really something that sits well with most women.
    Expect an ad to be shown about it if Grayson is the nominee.


  2. Concerned Democrat · ·

    Kartik, I’m astonished and amazed that you have completely blown over the FACT that Grayson has experienced a much publicized and very ugly divorce with his wife and mother of their FIVE children and gone out his way to get the entire marriage annulled!!!


    Where did the kids come from???

    The Tooth Fairy???

    And the primary result of the legal annulment is to stick it to the EX and screw her out of getting a penny of his 100 million dollar estate!!!

    No alimony!!’

    Women don’t take kindly to that!!!

    I don’t care how much of a goddam liberal he is!

    If Patrick Murphy doesn’t finish him off with that then you know damn well the Republicans are not going to give up Marco Rubio’s Senate Seat and their hard fought majority when old Alan is a sitting target…with all that baggage…just waiting to be crucified!!!


    1. Of course I know about those alleged claims but we don’t take personal shots here in our political writing. Some people may think we do but it is a fine line between pointing the voting record of public people, the sources of the money they take and seedy rumors about people’s personal lives. We reject those here and want to keep the discussion topical to issues, voting records and other electability factors. Thanks.


      1. Concerned Democrat · ·

        I’m disappointed in your “blinders” assessment that Grayson’s very ugly marriage mess doesn’t count.

        The political world does not operate in a vacuum! Weather you like it or not his marriage crap affects every single woman voter out there who feels that she has ever been screwed by a man or empathizes with a female friend who has been screwed!

        And that shows character!

        And all you ultra liberals are in La La land if you don’t think that this ugly marriage crap don’t count…it does!

        There has been many a politician who has crashed and burned over marriage issues…see John Edwards…

        Let’s face it Grayson is nuttier than a fruitcake and this marriage mess is a big part of it…and even if through some miracle he won the primary…the Republicans would DESTROY him and hurt the entire Democratic brand up and down the ballot!

        Sorry Charlie! That’s the truth!!!


      2. I don’t have blinders on. I am just saying WE DO NOT TALK ABOUT THE PERSONAL LIFE OF PEOPLE IN OUR ARTICLES ON THIS SITE. We focus more on issues, ideology, money, etc. If that is the reason for Grayson’s struggles with women, so be it. The comments section is here for you to bring up such issues as you have, but I am not going to place it in an article, even though Scott Maxwell did already a few months ago.


      3. Personal issues often affect a campaign, thus they are fair game for the most part. Would you not have discussed Mark Foley’s downfall in ’06?


      4. Big difference. Foley used his public office to cover up potential crimes. Same with Bill Clinton actually who unlike most Democrats I didn’t really defend at the time and still won’t. Those are legitimate issues to discuss in print. Grayson’s matter is personal. Now if we find he used his Congressional office to cover things up or bully his ex-wife, well that’s a whole different matter.


      5. Concerned Democrat · ·

        Kartik, in your insane blindness to protect your ultra liberal standard bearer, your “hear no evil”, “see no evil” and “speak no evil” philosophy might work for monkeys but it’s not based on any sense of reality in the real world.

        This very, very ugly and unamicable divorce that Mr Grayson shares in the blame of goes as much to his character as John Edwards horrible debacle of fooling around on his wife as she was dying of cancer.

        Like I said before, your living in “La La Land” if you don’t think Grayson’s opponents….especially the scumbag Republicans who will stop at nothing to destroy whatever foolish Democrat falls into the briar patch.

        And finally women voters outnumber men by over ten percent…and every last one of them will sympathize with Mrs Grayson in this situation…and don’t think they don’t know what’s going on…especially since Grayson chose annulment over amicable divorce…to totally screw the ex out of getting a penny in alimony.


        Not good.

        You can say, “we don’t discuss personal stuff” in this blog…but this is far too unavoidable.

        It’s really sad because Alan is a great fighter and Murphy is as exciting as watching paint dry.

        If Grayson wasn’t so “PIG HEADED” with his $100 million bank account, he could have done us all a favor and negotiated a fat settlement for the ex…with some alimony…and we wouldn’t be wasting out time pondering another Democratic defeat at the polls!!


      6. FYI I was also told today I am obviously a right-winger because of my stand on multiculturalism as articulated in the Bush piece. So it’s subjective whether I am an ultra-liberal. (I also supported the flying of Confederate Flag for years as I have written before on this site).


      7. Patti Lynn · ·

        This is just not some “seedy rumour.” As a woman, why would I vote for a man who has treated another woman the way that Grayson has? Not only that, one can be a flaming liberal, (I am), without being rude and condescending. The Senate is the Collegial part of Congress. We’re looking for thoughtful, contemplative people, no???


  3. Joanne Sterner · ·

    It’s time folks take a look at Pam Keith who is running against these two. Pam Keith is a bright, articulate candidate who is well versed and could out debate both of these guys. Pam is a lifelong Democratic who had filled for this seat before the both of them. Vote for Pam Keith for US Se


  4. Hank Porter · ·

    A frequent complaint among Democratic and progressive activists is that Florida Democrats lack a “bench.” The refrain is that there is no cultivation of candidates at the legislative or municipal level and that we lose races as a result. This is often seen as a failure of the FDP. The decision to run for too high and office too early in a candidate’s career is (almost always) the decision of the individual candidate and their own team.

    Pam Keith is a great example of this. By all accounts, she would make a strong candidate for the state house or county commission. She could lever a win there into a bid for state senate or congress. At that point, she would have a political and funding operation suited to running statewide. Instead, she has opted for a US Senate run and has had difficulty gaining traction outside a handful of progressive activists. I sincerely hope she can find a more appropriate office to seek.

    Leaving aside the relative merits of Murphy, Grayson (or Buckhorn or Graham) for that matter, they have cleared the threshold requirements of a statewide run.


    1. This is the problem with Democratic Party logic. A qualified candidate for federal office with a resume of national involvement and foreign policy expertise should run for municipal or legislature first. Did Patrick Murphy the chosen candidate of the Dem establishment do that or run for federal office first with daddy’s money and no work history? Hypocritical.


    2. Amen, Hank!!! You took the words right out of my mouth. You don’t start at the top. My old friend, the late Fred Rader, tried that in 1988 & finished dead last in the U.S. Senate primary that year. Patrick Murphy ran for a Congressional seat first, won it & then got re-elected. Now he is running for higher office. If Pam Keith really wanted a shot at winning something, I’d suggest moving to Jacksonville or maybe Orlando & running for Congress.


  5. The fundamental problem with this article is that Kartik identifies a clear problem that isn’t getting better yet fails to even mention what causes it. You may be naïve enough to think that avoiding personal references puts you above it. But reality is the voters female voters know about Grayson’s misogyny.

    Unless you show some contrition this issue will not go away.


  6. He shows contrition not you lol.


  7. Grayson still will win the primary.


  8. This article raises a key issues yet totally avoids the WHY?

    Gold digger?

    Annulment ?

    Unwilling to pay Alimony?


    1. Go back to supporting the spoiled rich kid who never did an honest day’s work.


  9. Hopefully women will look at the policies and the voting history and not at the personal lives of candidates.


    1. History says no.


  10. For me, Grayson is the most experienced legislator of the bunch. Murphy is a R in all respects, and his voting record proves it. After hearing both Grayson and Keith this past weekend at the DWCF Convention, I would love to see Ms. Keith in a state seat, while learning more about law-making, and then consider a Federal run in a few years. Building our bench is critical, and not everyone can start out at the top. She has some nice life-experience, and is a true Democrat, but Grayson is a proven factor who can get bills passed.


  11. FLVetVoter · ·

    As a woman, I must point out that few people ever question to this extent when a man chooses to run for higher office. They are not figuratively “pat on the head” and told to get to the back of the line. It is a sick symptom of a societal misogynistic mindset and women should be the last to utter such words, yet they clearly do as seen above.


    1. This isn’t about Pam Keith’s gender and you know it.


      1. Who one chooses to support isn’t necessarily about gender, however the commentary regarding starting with a local seat, working her way up”, getting in line, trying next cycle instead is gender based even if not acknowledged internally. Men are rarely told that they can’t or should not try-even when said males aren’t the well rounded candidate we find in Ms. Keith. The perfect example is Murphy himself. His first run was for a Federal seat in Congress not having worked his way up from a local or state seat without the litany of such types


      2. Many of us have said the same thing to male Congressional candidates in past election cycles.


  12. I loved the forum featuring Pam Keith and Alan Grayson at the DWCF convention this past weekend. Pam Keith did more than hold her own on every level-she’s the breath of fresh air voters have been clamoring for.
    Patrick Murphy’s refusal to engage is speaks to a level of arrogance and over-confidence in his campaign combined with cowardice at the prospect of directly engaging and being compared to his competitors.

    YES, I said it.

    My opinions are my own.


  13. Divorce is never pretty. There are 3 sides to every story. His side, her side, and the truth.


    1. Joe,
      I think the fact that Grayson got an annullment rather than a divorce that makes him look bad.


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