Democratic House candidate Donna Shalala is in a dead heat with Republican challenger, Maria Elvira Salazar, in the race for Florida’s 27th Congressional District, according to a new poll.
Shalala trails Salazar by two percentage points, according to a Mason Dixon-Telemundo 51 poll published by the Miami Herald on Thursday.
Forty-four percent of likely voters in the district said they would support Salazar, while 42 percent said they would support Shalala, a difference that falls within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent. Thirteen percent of likely voters said they were undecided.
Salazar, a popular Cuban-American former broadcast journalist, and Shalala, who served as Health and Human Services secretary in the Clinton administration, are facing off to replace retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) in the Miami-based district, which Hillary Clinton won by nearly 20 percentage points in 2016.
The poll found that voters held a favorable view of Salazar of 22 percentage points. Voters, according to the poll, gave Shalala a net favorability rating of 4 points.
Salazar’s decades working for Spanish-language Telemundo has made her a well-known figure among the district’s Hispanic population. Shalala, however, also has name recognition in the district after serving as the University of Miami’s president for 14 years.
Roughly 73 percent of the population is Hispanic, including many of the Cuban-Americans that have molded South Florida’s political landscape for decades.
“It’s a very Hispanic district, and while most of those Hispanics are Democrats, they like to elect people that are from that community,” Nelson Diaz, the chairman of the Miami-Dade County GOP, told The Hill last month.
Ros-Lehtinen, who is Cuban and who won reelection in 2016 by 10 points despite then-candidate Donald Trump’s loss in her district, has endorsed Salazar as her successor.
The race is one of the most competitive in the country. The Cook Political Report last month shifted its rating of the race from “Lean Democrat” to “toss up.”
The poll surveyed 625 likely voters from Oct. 1-6 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.