There’s still more than a month to go before Election Day, but in Florida it looks like the governor’s race is Gov. Ron DeSantis’ to lose, according to the most recent polling in the state.
NBC News reported that voters were beginning to receive vote-by-mail ballots throughout the state, even as many Floridians continue recovery efforts following Hurricane Ian’s landfall last week.
The Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy survey, released yesterday, showed the incumbent DeSantis with a comfortable lead over his Democratic rival, former Rep. Charlie Crist.
Of course, Crist is a former many other things, as well. He’s a former Republican, a former independent, a former state senator, a former Florida education commission, a former state attorney general and a former governor — as well a former failed senatorial candidate (twice). Although I suppose he’s a current failed senatorial candidate, now that I think of it.
The man has a longer political resume than Hillary Clinton. But I digress.
Crist is currently behind DeSantis by 11 points, according to the poll, which puts him well outside the margin of error of 3.5 percent. That’s not a lock — nothing is, really — but it’s about as close to one as we’re likely to see this year.
The poll was completed on the same day that Ian made landfall, Sept. 28, and reflects DeSantis’ preparations for the natural disaster, but not necessarily his actual response.
“DeSantis is going to be Governor Hurricane for the next couple weeks,” Coker told NBC. “The disadvantage Crist has is two-fold: he’s completely out of the news and he never managed a hurricane so he can’t stand up and point to what he did. So Crist is totally, totally defanged.”
Two totallys. That’s a lot of defanging.
DeSantis was already looking pretty good before this most recent poll. The RealClearPolitics listing of 13 Florida gubernatorial polls taken this year showed the incumbent with more support than the challenger in all of them but one. (Crist had 45 to DeSantis’ 44 in that poll, taken in early August.) Still, no poll of likely voters had shown DeSantis winning by numbers outside the margin of error — until this one.
DeSantis was also outspending Crist 10-to-1 on ads, a feat made possible in part by the fact that he reportedly had 27 times more cash on hand to play with than Crist.
The same poll showed Sen. Marco Rubio with a slight lead over Democratic Rep. Val Demings, 47 to 41 percent. However, fully one voter out of 10 said they were still undecided in that race.
“Despite millions of dollars spent on advertising by both campaigns, little seems to have changed since February when Rubio led 49%-42%,” Coker told the Killeen Daily Herald.
Politico noted that all three Republicans running for Cabinet posts in Florida were also leading their opponents by double digits: “Attorney General Ashley Moody up over Aramis Ayala, 50 percent to 37 percent; Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis leads Adam Hattersley, 47 percent to 37 percent; and Senate President Wilton Simpson with a clear advantage over Naomi Esther Blemur in the agriculture commissioner race, 47 percent to 34 percent.”
Politico even titled Wednesday’s Florida Playbook, “Red wave alert.” I’m sure they were referring only to Florida, but still.
They also pointed out that no one has won a gubernatorial election in Florida by double digits in 20 years, when Jeb Bush beat Democratic challenger and Marine war hero Bill McBride to become the first Republican governor to serve two terms in Florida.
Rick Scott, now a U.S. senator, became the second. Looks like DeSantis might be about to become the third.
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