The final polls in the Florida governor race show good signs for Democrat Andrew Gillum, who is seeking to become the state’s first black governor.
Now all that remains is whether the pollsters have been able to accurately capture the mood of the state’s many independent voters, a proposition that the Miami Herald notes has been a historic challenge.
The final polling for the Florida governor’s race showed that Gillum, a Democrat who was a long shot to make it out of the party’s primary before pulling off one of the state’s biggest upsets, has maintained a slim but steady lead over Republican Ron DeSantis. Polls aggregated by FiveThirtyEight show that Gillum is leading in 11 of the last 12 polls, with leads ranging from a single point to 12 points.
As the Miami Herald noted, the race could still be very much up in the air depending on how independents turn out — and how they vote.
“Statewide polls conducted in the past month show a massive variance among voters who are not affiliated with the Democratic or Republican Party. One poll conducted by the University of North Florida this week shows Gillum with a 25 percentage point lead over DeSantis … Another poll conducted by CBS/YouGov this week shows DeSantis and [Republican Senate candidate Rick Scott] both winning independents by 13 percentage points.”
Michael Binder, director of the University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research Library, said it has been difficult to pin down exactly how independents will be voting given the polling only has small sample sizes. “The margin of error for that is relatively high,” he told the Miami Herald. “That’s just a problem you have.”
The Washington Post noted that Gillum has an advantage in his grassroots following as he seeks to become the first black governor in state history. In doing so, he has been building what the report noted was a “diverse, young coalition of supporters” that could push him to victory in the same way Barack Obama won his presidential races. These groups have traditionally been underrepresented in polling.
NYT/Siena Poll of #FLGov race:
Among those who have already voted:
— Anthony Close (@AnthonyClose) October 28, 2018
Another factor could be Donald Trump’s sinking popularity in the state. The Washington Post noted that 51 percent of Florida voters disapprove of Trump as president, and Ron DeSantis has tied himself closely with Trump, echoing the president’s rhetoric and policy proposals in his campaign ads. DeSantis himself pulled off an upset in the Republican primary largely because of the support he received from Trump, but in the end the affiliation could hurt him at the voting booth.