Why I believe Andrew Gillum is about to bring it home - Florida Politics

Why I believe Andrew Gillum is about to bring it home


The most over-analyzed set of statistics in Florida politics is returned ballot math.

Some very smart people pore over the data each day and do, frankly, an incredible job informing the public about how Floridians are voting. Matt Isbell, Steve Schale, Dr. Dan Smith, etc. These are all brilliant individuals, and they deserve our collective gratitude for their insights and hard work.

However, with less than a week before we know who will be the next Governor of Florida, I’ve concluded that the returned ballot math is as indicative of who will win the election as total passing yards are of an NFL football team’s success. (I write this as a Tampa Bay Buccaneers season ticket holder. The Bucs have the No. 1 offense in the NFL, averaging 449.5 yards per game. As Rick Stroud notes, the Bucs are on pace to produce an astonishing 7,192 total yards of offense. That would put them within striking distance of the Greatest Show on Turf, the St. Louis Rams in 2000, when they compiled an NFL record 7,335 yards. The Bucs are also 3-4 and in fourth place in the NFC South.)

By believing this — that the returned ballot math is not a reliable predictor of who will win on Tuesday — I am rejecting some very compelling numbers staring me right in the face.

Through Halloween, there have been 3.1 million in-person and vote-by-mail ballots cast; of these ballots, Republicans are ahead of Democrats in returns, 42 percent to 40 percent. A GOP+2 model is probably as good as Team Ron DeSantis could hope for this election.

The polls show the race tiggghhhttt. The most recent poll, released Tuesday afternoon from Suffolk University, shows DeSantis down just one point to Gillum, although other polls show Gillum with a bigger lead than that.

Meanwhile, DeSantis’s internal polling has had him up anywhere between two to four points over the last week. You’d be foolish to dismiss this polling simply because it’s coming from DeSantis’s camp. It was DeSantis’s internal polling that during the GOP primary first showed he was leading Adam Putnam by more than two touchdowns.

In the face of all that — the GOP winning the returned ballot effort, the polls being super-tight, and DeSantis’s internal surveys showing him leading — I’m ready to go the other way.

Andrew Gillum is going to win the race for Florida Governor, probably by as many as seven points.

Here’s how I get there.

The private polling I trust the most is mirroring the polls that show DeSantis only down a point or two. However, in private poll after private poll that asks how those who say they have already voted cast their ballot, DeSantis — as well as Republicans up and down the ticket (except for Ashley Moody) — are getting creamed with these voters.

I can’t link to these private polls because they’re not mine to share, but I’m confident enough in them that I am basing my prediction about Gillum winning on the numbers I’ve seen.

For Gillum to be up — way outside the margin of error — with those who say they’ve already voted (a more reliable cohort than those who say they will vote) while the Republicans have a two-point advantage in returned ballots can only mean one thing: the Independent vote is breaking 3-to-2 or even 2-to-1 for Gillum. (Plus, I believe, DeSantis is doing slightly worse with GOP voters, especially college-educated suburban white women, than Gillum is with his base.)

We’re seeing the Independents break for Gillum in some of the recent public polling, such as the most recent one from the University of North Florida, which shows Gillum winning them 56 to 31 percent.

One well-regarded pollster who also believes the Independents are breaking hard for Gillum tells me that the propensity scores of the NPAs who have already voted (among those with such scores affixed to their records) are showing a distinct left lean.

These kinds of trends are difficult to discern in a general election poll because these polls are, by definition, modeled to look like what pollsters are estimating a likely electorate looks like. 

But when you take off your team’s jersey, whether it be red or blue, Gillum winning decisively on the strength of the Independent vote despite a strong GOP effort in returned ballots, it all makes perfect sense because this is what has been happening in all of the competitive elections held in Florida since Donald Trump was elected.

It happened in Senate District 40.

It happened in House District 72.

It happened in St. Petersburg.

Going into Election Day in those races, Republicans were fairly confident they could pull out a victory. But after the ballots were counted, they were dumbfounded as to how they lost so decisively.

I’m not going to qualify this post by writing something trite like, “DeSantis could still win if X or Y happens.” That’s just not what I believe will happen. Flame at me all you want, but also keep in mind, I was the only political writer in Florida who predicted Gillum versus DeSantis in the first place.

When you go to Vegas to make your bet, there’s no place on the ticket where you get to qualify your bet. You simply hand the cashier your money and pick a team to — win no matter how many passing yards the quarterback has thrown.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Orlando Rising and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


      1. Trump did not win independents decisively. That’s incorrect.

        This author is a dunce. He predicted Hillary would win Florida. Dunce!

        These independent NPA splits defy logic. I’m very skeptical of unnamed private polls.

        What we’re seeing here is an attempt by a liberal partisan to depress Republican voter turnout on Nov 6.

        The aim of his fabrications based in unnamed sources is to lend the impression that the election is “over” and there is no point in participating.

        Really, this is a scurrilous article pushed out in bad faith. If this website wants to be a serious website instead of a propaganda arm of the Demo Party then you stick with public polls and transparency instead of peddling rumors.

  1. No one is polling the panhandle because the power and phone lines are still down. That is strong GOP country. That being said, Trump is polling 53% in Florida now and the independents who elected Trump did so when his approval rating was well below that line. There is a huge red wave coming and paying homage to Gillum with this fluff piece cedes your credibility.

      1. you know Trump hates you because you’re a woman right? Just checking. Don’t know how someone can vote for and be in favor of someone who hates them.

  2. Oh please God not Gollum. The only reason he’s making any kind of mark is because he wants to make everything free for those who won’t work hard enough to earn it. Florida is booming but will go down fast. Raise taxes and give away the farm.

    1. Or maybe every person living in the USA deserves to have a certain guarantee on quality of life. Maybe ‘working hard enough to earn it’ is not the right way to look at it. Maybe we have the ability to end suffering and give people the ability to not have to worry about where their or their kids’ next meal is coming from, and telling them that they didn’t work hard enough doesn’t stop their innocent children from going to bed hungry again. I think we need to find some compassion and stop pain and fear where we can BECAUSE we can, not just when someone arbitrarily ‘deserves’ it.

      1. David,

        How about people who can’t afford a next meal for their kids behaving responsibly and not having children until the can afford to pay their freight?

        Acting responsibly: what a concept!

      2. Maybe people that are broke shouldn’t be pumping out kids they can’t afford to take care of. I made sure I could take care of mine and I didn’t eat at the government trough to do it. Quit making excuses for your wannabe communism.

  3. I don’t think ANYONE ANYWHERE expected a Desantis/Gillum race BUT Peter. I remember reading that article and trying to imagine that as a possibility. It didn’t seem likely at all.

    Fast forward to now, and I think Peter makes perfect sense. Republicans are hoping to run up the tab in early voting because they know, without a doubt, Dems are gonna win in-person voting on Nov. 6th.

    And I think most voters feel the momentum is going Gillum’s way.

    By the way, I’m a former Republican, now Independent, and I voted Gillum/Nelson.

  4. I’m with Peter, but I think the final tally will be closer to 1% but a Win for Gillum.

    I think the 2018 midterms brought out the ugliest racial politics in Florida I’ve seen in 37 years on this planet and in this state. And I think Desantis is to blame for it and he lost my vote because of it.

    Desantis definitely has an Independent problem: I’m an NPA voter, and I was a Gwen supporter but to be honest, I wasn’t completely sure whether I’d vote for Putnam over Gwen in the general or not. Now I’m a Gillum voter. I don’t like the racism, the noise, and the hypocrisy coming from Desantis: one can’t help but feel that Desantis has spent an inordinate amount of time talking about a Broadway play, and no time at all discussing his own ethics issues along with that $145K that gets no mentions.

    We need a breath of fresh air, and I think Andrew Gillum provides that.

    I’ll be glad to cast my ballot for him on Tuesday.

    1. God bless you for voting what is right.. it’s time we get the so called good ole boys into retirement.. your post was enjoyable to read..

  5. I hate liars and dishonest people and that is exactly what gillum is. I was reading the comments and sure enough someone got offended and played the race card. SMH

  6. DeSantis is a phony and a Trump poser/minion. Gillum handed him his @#$ in the debates. We are bringin’ it home, Florida!!!! Go Go Go Gillum!!!

  7. I’m a former Democrat, turned Republican because of Trump. I, my wife, and 4 of our Democrat friends are meeting at our polling place today at 10:00 to vote straight R down the ticket. Trump’s MAGA rally yesterday motivated us to Get Out and Vote today!
    I love Trump, and will vote Ron Desantis and Rick because of him!
    I #WalkedAway from the Democrat party and will never look back!

  8. I was hoping for a Putnam/Graham race. Both would have been terrific candidates and governors. As a lifelong Republican, I held my nose and voted for DeSantis. Gillum is way too far left and I don’t want to see him appointing Florida Supreme Court justices or presiding over redistricting in 2020.

    I would have happily voted for DeSantis for the U.S. Senate. But governor? Ugh! I was in a meeting with him a couple of weeks ago and figured out why running mate Jeanette Nunez always travels with him. The guy knows nothing about Florida! He was able to mouth a few general platitudes on national issues, but on every question of substance pertaining to Florida, he deferred to Nunez to answer. It was embarrassing to watch. He knows nothing about the state he wants to govern.

    Will I ever again have a candidate I’m proud to vote for? I’m really tired of having to vote for idiots!

  9. If … IF … Gillum beats DeSantis by 7 points … in this state, at this time, and given a progressive African-American candidate … I believe that will qualify as a “Blue Tsunami” rather than just a “Blue Wave”!

  10. Very interesting analysis. I kind of thought DeSantis might win the Republican primary but I was 100% certain Graham or Levine would win on the Democratic side. Obviously I was dead wrong. After reading your prediction and thinking back during the primary when I had an older Latin woman hand me a Gillum for Governor flyer while I was having a morning coffee at a Starbucks in North Miami Beach, I totally understand how and why Mayor Gillum won the primary and why he’ll win the general. The enthusiasm for Mayor Gillum is through the roof all throughout Florida in a way I’ve never seen before. As a professional 30-something AfroLatino male living in Miami Beach, I never thought I’d see so many Caucasian and Latino men and women, young and older, show such excitement for an African-American candidate for governor. I hate to admit it, but I’m genuinely pleasantly surprised. I am a Mayor Gillum supporter, I think he’ll do a great job, I don’t agree with all of his proposed policies, the Republican legislature will definitely check him on much of his agenda, but I admire his leadership qualities and I welcome the change in tone that his presence will deliver.

    1. Excited by what? Racist voting since he’s black and you’re black? That sounds like the only reason your’e voting for him. Everything I’ve read about the guy is he’s a radical kook. He wants to abolish ICE, he favors sanctuary cities, he wants a state income tax, he is in favor of totally open borders. He wants to expand Medicaid. He’ll make Florida a welfare magnet State if he can. I guess you want all that stupidity,….but he’s the black guy so you voted for him. He won’t have the Federal Reserve to bail him out the way the bailed out Obama either.

  11. If you have been around in politics as long as I have then you know that the pendulum always swings back and forth and after 20 straight years of Republican rule the pendulum will (finally) swing back to the Dems in the Governor’s mansion in Tallahassee. It’s not hard to believe since another African American was able to win this state…twice…just a few years ago named Barack Obama and the Dems have the majority of registered voters statewide. Trump has burned all the bridges he could in since he got elected just two short years ago. And despite the roaring economy the Independents and NPA’s (that includes a few “non redneck” Republicans and lazy Democrats who are still in shock from the last election) are FINALLY going to have their chance to express their “buyers remorse” with the Donald where DeSantis has hitched his wagon and who will be in for a rude awakening on Election Day. Yes despite the economy, I’m a perfect example of someone who Obamacare saves my life because I was able to get healthcare and hospitalization when I needed it and people from all walks of life are finally realizing that your healthcare for you and family is more important than anything else in the world. And the current “Decade of Hyprocacy” of Republicans telling everyone how they were going to get rid of Obamacare with a bigger better plan came to a halt with the courage of the late John McCain who realized that pre existing conditions protections were as important as our Social Security and Medicare programs to every American. And thankfully when the Dems take over the US House on Tuesday too then Americans can rest a little better that there will be a check and balance to the one demensional “One Party Communist” rule where the only policy is that a tax break can solve all your problems….it doesn’t!

  12. Your “free” health care ruined mine. I no longer have any. If I were to add up the premiums and out of pocket my cost is over $30,000. So, enjoy your “freebie” at my expense.

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