Jacob Ogles, Author at Florida Politics

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at jacobogles@hotmail.com.

Trey Radel-linked ad contains loaded lines about Andrew Gillum

A new advertisement cut by Republican former U.S. Rep. Trey Radel heaps Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum with uncomfortable levels of praise.

Whether through sarcasm or misdirection, the radio spot (see bottom of post) from his Freedom Council USA runs through hard-left progressive stances that won Gillum his party nomination and the support of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The script, while narrated in a pleasant female voice, uses blunt terms aimed more at mobilizing conservatives or inciting nervousness in the middle.

“Andrew Gillum is a champion of the people,” the ad begins. “He believes in democratic socialism. This form of socialism is going to do a lot of things to Florida.”

The ad then runs through a list of positions, from “government-run health care” to abolishing ICE.

“Floridians will pay more in taxes,” the ad says with gusto.

Perhaps most curious considering Radel’s role in the ad, the starkest line comes near the middle.

“Andrew Gillum will work to ban guns, and he will legalize drugs,” the narrator says.

Radel resigned from Congress before the completion of his first term a few months after pleading guilty to cocaine possession. He was the first member of the U.S. House ever arrested on a cocaine-related charge.

As for the positions outlined, Gillum has supported eliminating ICE in its current form, increasing Florida’s corporate tax rate, limiting access to high-capacity firearms, accepting federal money for a Medicaid expansion, and legalizing marijuana for adult use.

But he’s pushed back on descriptions of his positions in the words used in the Freedom Council advertisement.

For example, when Republican Ron DeSantis in Sunday’s CNN Debate accused Gillum of supporting “Medicare for All” in a way that threatened Medicare for seniors and health care for veterans, Gillum disagreed.

“Define ‘Medicare for All,’ ” he said. “Define it … What I support is expanding Medicaid for over 800,000 Floridians who deserve to have access to their own doctor.”

And while Gillum has tweeted “Legalize it,” he’s said nothing about cocaine.

Actually, yes, Andrew Gillum signed a Dream Defenders pledge

It shocked no one when Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis at Sunday night’s CNN debate raised the issue of a Dream Defenders pledge signed by Democratic opponent Andrew Gillum in June.

“The fact is, Andrew signed a pledge with the Dream Defenders pledging his support, this radical manifesto.” DeSantis said.

Gillum’s response, though, surprised plenty.

“I have no idea what pledge he is talking about,” Gillum said.

The pledge this week spurred a number of law enforcement leaders to blast Gillum on Fox News, with robocalls and any way possible.

And for months, the Dream Defenders group itself touted the pledge by Gillum as a way to motivate the base, helping the Democrat secure his party nomination along the way.

So where’s the disconnect between the document Gillum signed, alongside now-running mate Chris King, and the statement made on the debate stage that he recalls no such thing?

The Dream Defenders say it’s a matter of differentiation between the two-page candidate pledge, which boasts signatures from 30 candidates running for office in Florida this year, and the “Freedom Papers,” a much lengthier booklet put out by the group.

Yet the pledge the Dream Defenders themselves boast he signed says by signing the pledge you support the Freedom Papers. So, by signing one, by their own pledge, it means he agreed to both.

Rachel Gilmer, co-founder of the Dream Defenders, describes the Papers as a vision for “what it would look like to live in a state that prioritized the needs of people over corporations.”

“What we’ve seen over the last 40 years is politicians putting more into prisons and police rather than dealing with the root causes of why conflict happened in our communities in the first place,” she said.

But the document includes passages that draw the ire of police representatives.

Jeff Bell, president of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association, went on Fox News this weekend and discussed a controversial excerpt.

It read: “Police were never meant to serve me and you … Police and prisons since their founding have always been about safety for the haves while wreaking havoc for the have-nots.”

“From a law enforcement perspective, when you have a potential candidate for the next governor who’s willing to sign a pledge with an anti-law enforcement, anti-government radical group such as the Dream Defenders,” Bell said, “he’s clearly sending a message to the voters before Election Day that he’s willing to support, defend and recognize radical groups like the Dream Defenders and he supports radicalization over the rule of law.”

Notably, it’s information about the Freedom Papers that greets web visitors when they first go to the Dream Defenders website. Guests at the page are encouraged to sign onto the Papers, and there’s little mention of the Pledge.

The Dream Defenders promoted the Papers Sunday in a tweet before the debate, as DeSantis noted on his own feed.

But Dream Defenders make a distinction between that document and the pledge.

Gillum on June 11, the day of a Freedom Forum hosted by the Dream Defenders, signed the Freedom Pledge, as did the other major Democratic candidates running for governor at the time: King, Gwen Graham, and Philip Levine.

On stage, every candidate vocally pledged not to accept financial contributions from private prison companies like The GEO Group.

Gillum at the CNN debate acknowledged that much of the commitment.

“The only thing that I said is that as Governor, I will not see private prisons operating here in the state of Florida,” he said.

“If you want to know about my record with police, because I have public defenders and sheriffs all over this state who endorse me in this race for Governor, we hired more law enforcement officers so they could do their job.”

Dream Defenders spokeswoman Nailah Summers said the candidate pledge basically demands two things. One is that a candidate won’t accept money from the National Rifle Association, and will return any donations to date. The other is that a candidate will take no donations from private prison corporations.

“We’ve always been very clear, we are not in lock step with Andrew Gillum, and he’s not in lockstep with us,” Summers said.

The group notably holds different views with Gillum about Israel. The group describes Palestinian uprisings there as inspiring acts of “resilience and resistance.” Gillum calls such actions counteractive to a two-state solution.

Gillum, though, stressed his area of agreement with Dream Defenders on prison reform. When Politico reported on law enforcement anger at the Dream Defenders pledge, Gillum’s campaign released a statement: “He will not take money from the private prison industry and instead will invest in community policing, smart justice and strategies that work with communities to reduce crime and create better opportunities for all Floridians.”

Dream Defenders leaders say the whole reason they seek out signatures is to hold candidates they support accountable to the people instead of special interests. But Summers doesn’t especially mind if Gillum distances himself from the group right now.

“It’s about holding Andrew Gillum accountable once he is in office,” Summers said.

The DeSantis camp, though, won’t let the issue go ignored.

DeSantis himself noted the odd stance of the Dream Defenders rushing to Gillum’s defense with the Pledge-versus-Papers defense by posting a chin-scratching emoji.

And he’s continued to stress his own support from the law enforcement community in contrast with the apparent antagonism facing Gillum, as he did on the debate stage.

“They say the police and prisons have no place in justice and that law enforcement should be defunded and the money diverted for welfare programs,” DeSantis said. “The people who put on that uniform and risk their lives for us should be applauded. They should not be denigrated by a radical pledge.”

With just two weeks until Election Day, it’s likely the pledge will keeping coming up.

Think tank: Bill Nelson campaign a financial drain

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s re-election efforts this year may yet prove successful but could siphon dollars to the Sunshine State that Democrats should spend elsewhere, according to an analysis by the Brookings Institution.

The Washington, D.C.-based institute today launched a series on its FixGov blog analyzing the most competitive Senate races in the nation. It started with Nelson’s battle against Republican challenger and two-term Gov. Rick Scott.

“This race is surprisingly close: Nelson’s status as an incumbent in the out-party during a midterm election in a presidential swing state would normally add up to a relatively secure re-election,” writes Gregory Koger.

But the race takes place in a swing state that President Donald Trump frequently visits and where he appears to be as popular as he was when he won Florida’s electoral votes in 2016.

The institute cites a Marist poll that shows health care and guns as leading issues for Democratic voters while immigration, health care, and foreign policy remain front-burner for GOP voters.

The analysis notes Florida as home of both the Pulse and Parkland shootings, along with the subsequent #MarchForOurLives movement, but it said that will only prove relevant if young people turn out in November.

Alternatively, the analysis notes the curveball thrown by Hurricane Michael. Polling shows most Floridians approve of Scott’s response as governor to the storm. Then again, the hurricane may suppress voting in the Panhandle, a reliably Republican part of the state.

And the natural disaster may spur on environmental voters, already agitated about red tide and blue-green algae. That likely helps Democrats.

So why would Nelson still be in trouble? Koger blames Nelson’s low profile in the Senate, combined with a variable and volatile population that erases some of the advantages for a three-term incumbent.

Additionally, as thousands of Puerto Rican voters fleeing the island after Hurricane Maria settled in Florida, Scott reached out to them directly.

But even more than the outcome of this particular contest, Brookings said the biggest impact the race could have nationally is as a resource drain. With Nelson spending upward of $20 million and Scott over $30 million, never mind outside spending, the race has been rich.

“This is already an expensive race, therefore, and Senate Democrats may regret having to spend so much of its national budget to shore up an incumbent who ought to be winning safely with funds he raised himself,” the analysis reads.

Handicapper downgrades Donna Shalala, Mario Diaz-Balart chances

As the Tampa Bay Times downgraded Donna Shalala’s chances at winning a seat in Congress, the Democrat may have tensed up. But other Democrats had reason to celebrate the new Times rankings.

Polling has undercut Shalala, once seen as a lock to succeed Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinenen. The former Bill Clinton-era Cabinet member faces former Univision journalist Maria Elvira Salazer in Florida’s 27th Congressional District.

“Salazar narrowly led Shalala in a recent Mason-Dixon poll, but Shalala was up by a mid-single-digit margin in polls by the New York Times/Siena College and by a Democratic polling firm. Shalala can still win, but it won’t be as easy as previously expected,” according to the Times.

The paper moved the seat from “Highly Vulnerable” for a flip, a category with no Florida races at the moment, to merely “Vulnerable.”

Other shifts?

Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart now sits on the list as “Vulnerable,” not “Potentially Vulnerable,” to an upset from Democrat Mary Barzee Flores, a former judge, in Florida’s 25th Congressional District.

“Diaz-Balart began this election cycle unlikely to face a serious challenge, thanks to his eight terms and prominent family name in this heavily Cuban district, which stretches from Miami to Republican-leaning precincts around Naples and Fort Myers,” The Times wrote. But Flores made it a race.

An open race to succeed U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross in the 15th Congressional District, now ranks as “Vulnerable,” not “Potentially Vulnerable. That still gives Republican Ross Spano an edge over Democrat Kristen Carlson.

And the paper similar put the open contest to succeed Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis in Florida’s 6th Congressional District in its “Vulnerable” column now, but still giving the benefit to Republican Mike Waltz over Democrat Nancy Soderberg.

The Times today also moved Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan from “Vulnerable” to “Potentially Vulnerable,” pretty much the exact opposite of what happened to Diaz-Balart.

Vern Buchanan sees brighter outlook in Tampa Bay Times, kind words in Tempo News

https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2018-midterm-election-forecast/house/florida/16/Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan breathed a sigh of relief as the Tampa Bay Times moved him out of the “vulnerable” category. That happened just as a black community newspaper in the area hit stands praising Buchanan and calling Democratic challenger David Shapiro problematic.

The Times today issued new rankings on important Congressional contests in the 2018 election cycle. As of now, the newspaper lists six seats—all held by Republicans—as vulnerable to a flip.

Not among them, Buchanan’s 16th Congressional District.

“A string of recent polls has showed Buchanan ahead by a comfortable margin, including an 11-point margin in a University of North Florida poll,Louis Jacobsen writes.

Though Shapiro has shown considerable slippage in the polls, his chances on winning election according to political forecasting website FiveThirtyEight have remained relatively unchanged in the “Likely Republican” district. As of Monday, Shapiro had a 1 in 6 chance of flipping the seat with the projected vote working out to 53-37 percent, advantage Buchanan.

Shapiro racked up national endorsements and forward momentum as Buchanan came under scrutiny for buying a yacht as the tax cut bill passed. New national staff also flew to the Sarasota area district to aid Shapiro.

But last week, the Democratic Congressional Campaign pulled significant ad buys in the region, and while officials there say they remain committed to Shapiro, the move undermined the challenger. The ads were pulled alongside Shapiros announcement that he had raised $1 million in the Q3, doubling up on Buchanan’s effort.

Notably, the Times endorsed Shapiro over Buchanan earlier this month.

Meanwhile, the Republican was surprised with a front-page story in Tempo News, a black newspaper published in Sarasota and owned by Republican Johnny Hunter.

“The Vern Buchanan that is being demonized in television ads is not the Vern Buchanan I know,” reads an unsigned piece on Tempo above the fold. “The Vern Buchanan I know is a philanthropist.”

The paper praised Buchanan for elevating black managers at his car dealerships.

But the paper also dogged Shapiro over a controversy involving his son posting messages with the “n-word.”

“It’s true one can’t really blame all the actions of a son or daughter on the parent, but in reality, the fruit doesn’t fall too far from the tree,” the piece reads. “Is there positive history on the side of David Shapiro with the African American community? I can’t honestly say I know of any.”

Reform Party candidate pledges to serve full term if elected governor

Darcy Richardson, the Reform Party gubernatorial nominee, pledged today to serve a four-year term if elected — and questioned if Republican Ron DeSantis or Democrat Andrew Gillum can do the same.

“Sometimes it’s difficult to tell if Andrew is running for governor or vice president,” Richardson said. “Florida voters deserve a leader who will remain completely focused on the job at hand, not someone who seems to be keeping one eye on Washington at all times.”

Richardson’s pledge to stick out a full-term must be viewed through the lens that his candidacy remains a longshot. A recent St. Pete Polls survey included the Reform Party candidate as an option for voters, but he carried just 2 percent of support. 

Richardson sent out a press release titled “Governor Chris King,” a reference to Gillum’s running mate. The campaign notes Gillum’s high national profile.

Today, the Democrat campaigns with former Vice President Joe Biden. This weekend, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker visited the state to stump for Gillum, who won the Democratic nomination after a rally with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Gillum also plans a fundraiser with former presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

“Murmurs of Gillum joining Biden or another candidate on the Democratic presidential ticket in 2020 may excite partisan activists in California and New York, but voters in Florida have already made it very clear they have little interest in putting Chris King into the top executive office,” the Reform Party press release says.

Of course, the party doesn’t give DeSantis a pass (even if they failed to send out a “Governor Jeanette Núñez” release.)

“We know that Ron DeSantis was elected to Congress in 2012 and immediately began plotting a run for statewide office. After an aborted bid for the U.S. Senate in 2015-16, he settled on a run for governor,” the release reads.

Florida PBA leader records robocall attacking Andrew Gillum on crime

Florida Police Benevolent Association President John Kazanjian is telling voters Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis “has our back” in a new robocall going out statewide.

The bulk of the call, though, slams Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum for a sometimes contentious relationship with police leaders.

“Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum has failed us,” Kazanjian says in the robocall.

The PBA leader hits Gillum on crime rates in Tallahassee, a frequent contrast made by Republican leaders during the gubernatorial campaign.

“Tallahassee’s had the highest crime rate in Florida four years in a row,” Kazanjian says.

The call marks the latest move for Florida law enforcement to tout the Republican candidate and critique the Democrat on law enforcement issues.

On Saturday, Broward County Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association President Jeff Bell appeared on Fox News to blast Gillum for signing a Dream Defenders pledge.

That earned mention in the new Kazanjian as well.

“He [Gillum] even signed a pledge to cut police funding and support a group that says, ‘police and prisons have no place in justice,’ that ‘police were never meant to serve us.’  It’s dangerous,” Kazanjian says.

Perhaps controversially, Kazanjian also asserts Gillum wants cops kept off campuses.

“Gillum supports ridiculous radical ideas like removing law enforcement from schools,” the robocall says.

That seems to reference friction between Tallahassee and the Leon County School District. School leaders earlier this year requested Tallahassee Police Department officers be provided to meet new school security requirements put in place after the Parkland shooting.

Gillum and other leaders said no, but the disagreement came over resource allotment, not whether schools should have student resource officers.

“I am in favor of the city helping to fund Leon County SROs inside our elementary schools, rather than bringing TPD officers off their beat while they are fighting to reduce crime in our city,” Gillum said in a statement to the Tallahassee Democrat.

Overall, the call makes clear what outcome PBA leaders want in November’s governor race.

“Vote today for Ron DeSantis for Governor, your personal safety – and your families’ safety – depends on it.”

Rick Scott en español: New Spanish-language ads rolling out

A pro-Rick Scott group today rolls out a new series of Spanish language ads promoting the Republican senatorial candidate.

LIBRE Action, a Tallahassee-based conservative Hispanic outreach organization, released two new video spots.

“Latino families across Florida are eager to support a candidate who is focused on real solutions that address the challenges we face as a community and as a nation,” said Daniel Garza, senior advisor for LIBRE Action.

“Gov. Scott has been a champion for Latinos and a partner on the issues that matter most. He has shown his commitment to effectively serving a broad and diverse constituency, which includes engaging and listening to the concerns of our Latino community. This is why LIBRE Action is encouraging Latinos to vote for Rick Scott this November.”

One of the spots promotes Scott, and encourages voters to elect the two-term governor to the U.S. Senate.

The other attacks Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson, with the message the three-term senator “failed Hispanics in Florida.”

The group in the past has stressed Scott’s work for Puerto Rican communities with economic opportunities.

“When you ask Puerto Ricans across Florida who has been present in the community, and who works for their priorities, you don’t hear the name Bill Nelson,” said LIBRE Action spokesman Wadi Gaitan earlier this month.

Rick Scott has constantly been active in the community fighting for solutions to the everyday challenges Hispanics face. Latinos deserves better than a politician like Bill Nelson who has continually been absent.”

It’s been clear for the months that Scott’s chances of unseating Nelson depend largely on winning a higher share of the Latino vote in Florida, and Democrats have voiced concerns that might happen.

A poll last month showed Scott winning Hispanic and Latino voters by double digits. While more recent polls showed Nelson winning that demographic, the voting bloc this year proves to be among the most coveted in the federal contest.

The ads are below.

Ron DeSantis, Andrew Gillum play to bases during terse gubernatorial debate

Florida’s gubernatorial candidates took the debate stage—and met one another—for the first time in a debate hosted by CNN in Tampa.

Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum traded barbs on President Donald Trump and the crime rate in Tallahassee, often delivering low blows amid high-minded policy points.

DeSantis stressed his record as an Iraq War veteran and a prosecutor, while Gillum spoke of his blue-collar upbringing. Old charges of racially-loaded language and inquiries about an ongoing FBI investigation made for an at-times-hostile conversation between the two men.

Personal Headaches

Moderator Jake Tapper raised specific issues that have plagued each candidate.

For DeSantis, that meant revisiting his infamous “monkey this up” comment and defending the fact he kept money from an individual who used a racial slur to describe former President Barack Obama.

DeSantis said he kept the money because the donor said he’d make a mistake. As for accusations he had demonstrated racism, he turned to his time in the armed forces.

“In the military, it didn’t matter your race, we all wore the same uniform,” he said. Similarly, he said as a prosecutor he helped victims of families regardless of race.

Gillum said DeSantis showed a willingness to use racially charged language early in the campaign.

“The truth is, I’ve been black all of my life,” Gillum said. “So far as I know, I will die black.”

Tapper pressed Gillum on an ongoing FBI investigation, one which the Democrat asserted has never been about him personally. Tapper specifically asked about his former friendship with Adam Corey.

“We all have friends that sometimes let us down,” Gillum said. “I am not under FBI investigation and neither is my city government.”

DeSantis, though, pushed on details, like tickets to “Hamilton,” allegedly purchased as part of a sting and about a trip Gillum took to Costa Rica.

“He’s dealing with an undercover agent posing as a contractor who he was on a junket with in New York City,” DeSantis said of his opponent. “We went to a Broadway show with an undercover agent.”

Policy Disputes

The debate touched on plenty of policy as well. DeSantis strongly touted his endorsement from The Everglades Trust, though Gillum noted one of its three board members since announced his dissent and his support for the Democrat.

DeSantis touted a recent vote in Congress to fund construction of a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee, a possible solution to blue-green algal blooms that follow discharges into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers.

“I ran in the Republican primary stressing the need for clean water,” DeSantis said. “I stood up to the most entrenched interests in the state of Florida.”

But Gillum said he held the strongest environmental credentials of the race, with support from national environmental groups. He said DeSantis voted 33 times against clean water in Congress.

“I appreciate the fact he is an election year environmentalist,” Gillum said of DeSantis.

The two sparred heavily on health care. Gillum stressed the need for Florida to accept funding for the Medicaid expansion, which would help 800,000 additional Floridians get health care.

“I will hold down $6 billion from the federal government, that right now is being given away to other states because we philosophically disagree with getting folks access to health care,” Gillum said.

But DeSantis kept pushing on Gillum’s position as a move to single-payer health care, something he said would kill Medicare for seniors and take away insurance programs used by veterans.

DeSantis said such a plan “will make the V.A. waiting list look like the FastPass line at Disney World.”

Gillum said DeSantis had opposed protection for individuals with pre-existing conditions when he voted more than a dozen times to repeal the Affordable Care Act. DeSantis said he’s sign a bill as governor to make sure those with such conditions have access to insurance.

On guns, DeSantis said he did not support the Parkland bill because changes to age restrictions on guns would lose in court. Gillum said the position stemmed from DeSantis’ unwillingness to challenge the NRA.

Federal Relationships

The subject of DeSantis’ kinship with President Trump and Gillum’s antagonistic relationship drove a large chunk of discussion.

“Donald Trump is weak and he performs as all weal people do; they become bullies,” Gillum said. “Mr. DeSantis is his acolyte. He’s trying out to be the trump apprentice.”

But DeSantis said his relationship with Trump and his administration will be valuable as governor. He cited the president’s support for a reservoir and willingness to exclude Florida shores from offshore drilling expansion as examples.

DeSantis said Gillum won’t have Trump’s ear because the Democrat has called for his impeachment.

“I don’t want to be involved in the Washington food fight any more. I’ve been there, done that and got the T-shirt,” DeSantis said. “I’m in position to a advance Florida’s priorities.”

Gillum, though, said personal friction between himself won’t prevent him from working as governor in tandem with the White House when appropriate.

“You can look at how [Republican Gov.] Rick Scott and I worked with each other in there aftermath of this hurricane,” Gillum said. “Now he and I don’t agree on much on public policy, but when it comes to dealing with natural disasters we put the mess to the side and we get the job done.”

That’s not so easy in D.C., DeSantis said.

“That’s not the way it works. The president has got too many irons in the fire,” DeSantis said.

“Not with this president,” said Gillum.

Outlier? Andrew Gillum up by 10 in new CNN poll; Ron DeSantis camp challenges timing, methodology

Hours before a Florida gubernatorial debate on the network, CNN released a poll showing Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum with a 12-point edge over Republican Ron DeSantis.

DeSantis officials pushed back against the CNN survey, which Republicans say “polled an electorate never seen in Florida.”

The same poll asked voters their stance in Florida’s U.S. Senate race and found Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson holds a four-point lead over Republican challenger and two-term Gov. Rick Scott.

With Gillum and DeSantis set to share a debate stage for the first time in Tampa tonight, with CNN’s Jake Tapper moderating, the race for Florida’s chief executive prompts the most immediate attention.

Gubernatorial dominance

The survey of registered voters, taken between Oct. 16 and 20, shows Gillum winning 52 percent of the vote over DeSantis’ 42 percent. Another 5 percent reported no opinion and 1 percent said they would not vote for either candidate.

When pollsters narrowed the vote to likely voters, Gillum’s lead grew to 12 points, up 54 percent to DeSantis’ 42 percent.

Perhaps most importantly, the poll using either voter model puts the Democratic candidate above the critical 50 percent milestone.

DeSantis officials questioned the release of the poll immediately before a debate and the methodology used.

“This poll is as amusing as it is suspicious in that it was released hours before a debate between the two candidates–clearly meant to give the advantage to Andrew Gillum,” said DeSantis surrogate Stephen Lawson.

The campaign criticized a polling sample that gave Democrats a 3-percent edge for a non-presidential election. Pollsters SSRS said the sample included 32 percent Democrats, 29 percent Republicans and 39 percent independent of third-party voters.

That NPA turnout, DeSantis officials say, also seems unrealistically high, as independents have never outnumbers Democrats and Republicans at the poll in a Florida statewide election. And in the past four general elections, Republicans outnumbered Democrats at polls.

This CNN survey is not worth the paper it is written on because the sample and weights do not reflect a Florida election,” Lawson said. “It also makes no sense to use this sampling when you can buy Florida’s voter file and voting history files for $10 and weight to those voter-level characteristics.

“That CNN takes this poll seriously enough to blast it out to their viewers right before a debate on their network is why so many Americans believe that CNN peddles fake news.”

The poll showed that of those surveyed, 83 percent say they already have their minds made up and 16 percent may still change their mind. Among likely voters, 88 percent say they have already decided and 11 percent may still shift allegiance.

But notably, Gillum’s voters seem the softest, according to the poll. Among registered voters, 82 percent of Gillum backers report they are solid and 17 percent could still change. For DeSantis’s supporters, 85 percent say they made up their mind, and 14 percent have not.

That difference looks more stark among likely voters, where 90 percent of DeSantis voters feel certain and only 86 percent of Gillum voters feel the same.

The results notably stray far from an internal poll released by DeSantis today that showed the Republican with a 2-point lead. The numbers also look very different from a St. Pete Polls survey released earlier this week that showed the race virtually tied.

Senate edge

Nelson’s campaign also found much to celebrate from the poll, though likely with more measured enthusiasm.

The poll found the incumbent with 49 percent of support among registered voters, compared to 45 percent support for Scott, with 4 percent offering no opinion and 1 percent expressing displeasure with both options.

Among likely voters, Nelson hits that critical 50-percent mark, while Scott stays at 45 percent.

Pollsters importantly report a 3.9 percent margin of error for registered voters and a 4.2 margin of error on the likely voter model.

But voters show much less certainty in the Senate contest than the governor’s race. Among registered voters, 81 percent have their mind made up but 15 percent could still change their mind. Among likely voters, 86 percent feel certain on their choice but 11 percent still could change.

Again, the Democrat claims softer support. Among registered voters, 79 percent of Nelson supporters have made their final decision, while 82 percent of Scott voters report the same. On a likely voter model, 85 percent of Nelson voters feel certain compared to 88 percent of Scott supporters.

To the degree hurricane response played any role, Scott held strong positives, with 58 percent of all respondents approving of this post-storm response and 20 percent disapproving. For Nelson 36 percent approved and 23 percent disapproved

Other Findings

The poll, conducted for CNN by SSRS, found a plurality of registered and likely voters, 26 percent, listing health care as the leading issue guiding their vote, followed by the economy (253 percent among registered, 25 percent among likely) and immigration (15 percent for both groups).

Pollsters surveyed 1,012 Florida residents reached by cell phone and landline. The sample included 32 percent Democrats, 29 percent Republicans and 39 percent independent of third-party voters. SSRS weighted final results based on census figures for race, gender, age, education and region.

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