Freshman U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, is “vulnerable” and voters in his Palm Beach-Treasure Coast congressional District 18 disapprove of President Donald Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan and the Republican package of tax cuts Mast voted for this week, according to the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling.
In polling last week for the liberal Patriot Majority USA, PPP focused on Mast and seven other Republican incumbents and the attitudes of voters in their districts toward the tax plan.
District 18 has a reputation as a swing district, with Democrat Patrick Murphy winning two terms there despite a slight registration edge for the GOP. In 2016, Trump carried the district with 53 percent and Mast won with 53.6 percent to 43.1 percent for Democrat Randy Perkins.
Mast has an approval rating of 40 percent and a disapproval rating of 45 percent, according to PPP’s automated telephone poll of 567 District 18 voters on Dec. 12-13. The survey has a 4.1 percent margin of error. Trump’s approval/disapproval score is 45/53 in the district. Ryan’s job approval rating is 34 percent and his disapproval score is 59 percent in the poll. The poll found only 31 percent of District 18 voters support the tax plan and 56 percent oppose it.
PPP found a virtual tie in a hypothetical race between Mast and a generic Democratic opponent, with Mast getting 45 percent and the Democrat 44 percent.
After voters were read statements about the tax bill — including a false claim about deducting state and local taxes — Mast’s support remained at 45 percent and generic Democrat rose to 47 percent. One of the statements read to respondents describes the tax bill as “eliminating the ability to deduct for state and local taxes paid from federal income tax.” The legislation does not eliminate the state and local tax deduction, but does cap it at $10,000.
Democrats Lauren Baer and Pam Keith have opened campaigns in District 18.