Poll: Nelson and Scott in virtual dead heat; Gillum tight lead as debates loom - Naples Herald



02 October 2018 19:34

Bill Nelson is in a virtual dead heat over Gov. Rick Scott in the battle for the U.S. Senate, while Andrew Gillum holds a narrow lead over Ron DeSantis for the governor’s mansion, according to a new poll.

Released by St. Pete Polling and commissioned by Florida Politics, Nelson and Scott are separated by just 0.7 percent in the new data, well inside the poll’s 2.0 percent margin of error. The poll was conducted over the weekend and sampled just over 2,300 registered voters.

As it often the case in a mid-term election, the opposition party is trying to take advantage of unhappiness with the one in control. With Republicans holding both houses on Congress and the White House, the talk for the last year has been about a so-called “Blue Wave” driving voter turnout among Democrats.

In a series of tweets Tuesday, St. Pete Polling said that it appears Democrats are more engaged this time around.

“In the general election polling for both 2014 & 2016, in most demographic groups we almost always stopped dialing the Republican voters first, because they almost always filled up their quotas first,” one tweet read.

“So far in the 2018 general election polling we’ve done, that has flipped to be the Democratic voters we stop dialing first.

“This would seem to indicate that there is much more enthusiasm/engagement on the part of Democratic party voters this year, although we do not reflect that in the weighting we use on our final polling numbers because we don’t have a good basis to do that weighting on.”

For Democrats trying to gain control of the Senate in 2018, the incumbent Nelson keeping his seat is critical, as it could be one of the tipping-point seats for control of the upper house. Scott led Nelson for much of the summer but has been damaged in recent months by the blue-green algae and red tide crises that have affected the southern half of the state, as political operatives jumped at the opportunity to paint the governor as responsible.

The two have their first debate Tuesday, recorded in the morning, and will be aired locally on Telemundo at 7 p.m.

Already the war of words has begun.

“At today’s debate Floridians will see exactly why they can’t trust Rick Scott in the Senate — he doesn’t tell the truth, he’s a bad governor and he only cares about helping one person: himself,” said David Bergstein, Spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Scott’s camp was no lighter on the rhetoric.

Tonight, you will see Bill Nelson losing his mind,” said Scott campaign manager Jackie Schutz Zeckman in a statement sent out Tuesday. “A rambling, incoherent, confused, disjointed performance from a desperate career politician who is trying to hold onto his job. Bill Nelson laid out no vision for Florida and is barely hanging on.”

Meanwhile, in the race to replace the term-limited Scott, Gillum holds a narrow 46.7-44.7 lead over DeSantis. Gillum outperforms DeSantis among independent and third-party voters, while DeSantis leads among whites and Gillum in African-American and Asian voters. The two split the Hispanic vote relatively evenly.

Interestingly, the poll showed a lead for DeSantis among young voters, 46-43 in voters age 18 to 29, while Gillum leads 51-41 among those aged 30 to 49. The two were virtually even in other age groups.

Gillum, the Mayor of Tallahassee, has consistently held a small lead since becoming the upset winner of August’s crowded Democratic primary. RealClearPolitics, which aggregates polling data, has Gillum ahead by an average of 4.5 points.

The two will have their first debate on Oct. 16, it was announced Monday by Telemundo, who is hosting the debate. Another one is scheduled for Oct. 24.

(previously recorded)
Tuesday, 7 p.m.
Antenna: Ch. 43
Comcast: Ch. 15
Live Streaming: nbcmiami.com

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