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Florida Poll: Tight Races for Senate and Governor Could Yield Another Election Night Surprise

Historically, Democrats hold a narrow advantage among registered voters in Florida. However, Republican turnout is generally higher than Democratic turnout on election day.

It appears 2018 could be another repeat of this phenomenon.

Former Republican Governor Rick Scott holds a narrow 3-point lead (48% to 45%) against incumbent Democrat Senator Bill Nelson. When undecided likely voters are pressed to make a choice (Leaners), Scott leads Nelson by 4 points (49% to 45%).

In the race for Governor, former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum holds a 3-point lead (47% to 44%) over Republican Congressman Ron DeSantis. When undecided likely voters are pressed to make a choice (Leaners), DeSantis leads Gillum by 1 point (48% to 47%).

Among early voters, Nelson holds a 2-point lead over Scott and Gillum holds 5-point lead over DeSantis.

As trite as it sounds, the election for both Senate and Governor will hinge on each campaign's ability to turn out their voters.

For Democrats, it means turning out 18 to 34-year-old voters who make up 22% of registered voters but represent only 15% of the likely voters in this poll. Voters age 65+ make up 29% of registered voters and 34% of likely voters in our polling.

The state of Florida is on pace to set a record for the highest voter turnout in a midterm election. If this turnout mirrors the 2016 election for President, both Scott and DeSantis could win. Among voters who voted in 2016 and have or plan to vote in 2018, Scott leads by 8 points, and DeSantis holds a 3-point lead.

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Based on voter enthusiasm among Democrats and Republicans this cycle, this will likely be a close race for both offices and a long night for pundits waiting for the returns.

Most public polls show Nelson and Gillum with significant leads. Based on the results of this poll and looking at respondents’ past voter behavior from voter files, we could have a couple of surprises in Florida.

Again, this is entirely dependent on Democrats ability to mobilize younger (18 to 34) voters and get them to the polls. In past elections, this has been a challenge, and it will likely determine the political fates of both Nelson and Gillum.


This online poll was conducted with 802 registered voters from October 28-31, 2018 by Targoz Market Research. Respondents were selected from ProdegeMR’s online panel respondents who were matched to voter records from 2016 and 2012. Of the 802 registered voters in the sample, 558 were identified as likely voters including 235 who said they have already voted.

The results reflect a representative sample of registered voters. Results were weighted for age, gender, region, race/ethnicity, income, and political party. Additional behavioral weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

[The poll was conducted by Targoz Market Research of Nashville, TN and was not commissioned or paid for by any candidate or political organization.] RandyEllison@targoz.com; RandyEllison@Twitter

Ballot Results: Florida Senator

QUESTION: If the Florida election for U.S. Senator were held today, would you vote for: (ROTATE)

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Ballot Results: Florida Governor

QUESTION: If the Florida election for Governor were held today, would you vote for: (ROTATE)

Florida Gov Ballot 2018.png