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‘Excitement and enthusiasm’: Andrew Gillum’s impact on 2018 politics, polling

Jacksonville’s Michael Binder, the director of the University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research Lab, sees a difference between the 2014 and 2018 Florida gubernatorial races.

That difference: the appeal of Democrat Andrew Gillum, which Binder says has created “excitement and enthusiasm” compared to the 2014 ballot.

Whereas Crist, a former Republican, may have been perceived as a “carpetbagger,” there are no such concerns with Gillum.

Gillum, says Binder, has helped to make Democratic turnout in Duval especially “light years ahead” of the 2014 cycle.

Duval’s African-American voters “propelled Gillum in the primary,” and they are likewise a key to victory Tuesday should it happen.

A big story coming out of the August primary: Surveys missing the #GillumSurge.

Logistics drove that, Binder said.

“There aren’t a lot of public polls in the last week. A poll released the day before the election is not going to get media attention,” Binder said.

“Polls are only as good as the voters are,” Binder said.

In other words, if voters say they are undecided, then decide after the poll, the survey can’t catch it.

Polls also have trouble with soft support, which can factor into primaries.

“There’s very little difference between most primary candidates in policy,” Binder explains.

Binder’s latest polling showed a decided move toward Gillum over DeSantis (56-31) among NPA voters.

He said that “midterms reflect the President” and that DeSantis, like Trump, has “done well among the base” but has seen drag with NPAs and moderates.

Another issue for DeSantis: a “charisma” deficit.

Looking forward to 2020, if “Gillum wins, expect extraordinary support of the Democratic nominee,” Binder said.

And where Gillum’s popularity stands will matter. If he’s popular in two years, it bodes well for Democrats.

“If he’s wildly unpopular, it could help Trump,” Binder said.

Meanwhile, the Senate race between Gov. Rick Scott and incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson, actually mirrors Scott’s 2014 re-election.

“Not a lot of excitement,” Binder said, but the race is “neck and neck.”

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades, with bylines in national and local publications alike on subjects ranging from pop music to national and global politics. Gancarski has been a correspondent for since 2014, and has held a column in Jacksonville, Florida's Folio Weekly for two decades. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." Gancarski is a frequent presence on Jacksonville television and radio, including fill-in slots on WJCT-FM's award-winning talk show "First Coast Connect." He can be reached at

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