Florida Governor Race Neck And Neck Hours After Polls Are Closed

A full two hours after the Florida polls stopped taking votes, the election remains nearly 50-50 in the race to see who will be the state's governor.

NAPLES, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 06: People look on at a television screen broadcasting election results during the election night party for Florida Governor Rick Scott at the LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort on November 06, 2018 in Naples, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Joe Raedle / Getty Images

A full two hours after the Florida polls stopped taking votes, the election remains nearly 50-50 in the race to see who will be the state's governor.

The official count as of 9 p.m. EST was 49.9 percent for Ron DeSantis and 48.8 percent for Andrew Gillum, according to the Associated Press. The Florida governor race has been closely watched leading up to the midterms, and the nation is waiting to see how this nail-biter will play out.

But since the race looks as though it will come down to the wire, every vote will need to be counted before the election results can be official.

Leading up to Election Day, the early polling results were so tight that Politico rated the race as a toss-up. Flip a coin, because both contenders have an equal chance of being the leader of the state.

Gillum (D) is the current mayor of Tallahassee, Florida, and he’s standing on the brink of making history. He’s the first African-American gubernatorial nominee in state history and poised to become Florida’s first African-American governor.

The son of a city bus driver and construction worker, Gillum was primarily raised in Miami. He’s been in Tallahassee politics for a long time. At age 23, Gillum was elected to the Tallahassee City Commission. He won the race despite a shoestring budget thanks to a strong, well-organized campaign, according to Vox.

Gillum has electrified Democratic voters and politicians. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is among the high-profile Democrats who have endorsed Gillum for the job of governor.

That excitement could lead to a shake-up in Florida politics, and a shift in red to blue.

“He is quite possibly going to increase turnout among Democratic constituencies that traditionally do not turn out…At the end of the day, it’s the way it’s always going to be, it’s going to come down to turnout,” said Florida Republican strategist and lobbyist Mac Stipanovich.

Ron DeSantis is a former Representative for Florida’s 6th District. On Tuesday, his former seat was won by another Republican (Michael Waltz), the Hill reports.

Rather than seek reelection, DeSantis decided to bid on winning the gubernatorial race. Florida’s current governor, Rick Scott, is a solid Republican and considered a close Trump ally, ABC11 reports.

Donald Trump has endorsed DeSantis as governor.

Prior to Tuesday, more than 5 million Florida residents had already cast their votes through early voting. The Democratic votes slightly outweighed the Republican votes before polls opened on Tuesday morning.

However, this has become a pattern for Florida. More Democrats voted early in 2016 as well, but Republican Donald Trump carried the day by a wide margin.

Some voters in Florida experienced problems at the polls early Tuesday. In Sarasota County, some voters were told to come back later because ballots weren’t available.

“They scanned my license, and then they said, ‘We don’t have a ballot for you,'” said one voter.

Democrats have not won a race for governor in Florida since 1994, and Republicans have been firmly in control of the state legislature since 1998.

That’s why all eyes are on this too-close-to-call race, which could redefine Florida’s politics going into the 2020 presidential election.