Has momentum in the top-of-the-ticket races shifted toward Republicans? Or did CNN simply change the way it polls?
That’s the question to consider.
New polling from CNN Thursday shows that Florida’s races for Governor and Senate are effectively dead heats among likely voters.
But Republicans, per the survey, are closing strong.
Sen. Bill Nelson clings to a two-point lead (49-47) in his re-election bid over Gov. Rick Scott. And Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum has a one-point lead (49-48) over Republican Ron DeSantis.
The Democrats still lead. But compared to the previous CNN poll, Nelson and Gillum have lost ground.
Gillum led 54-42 in a poll taken earlier this month, a survey that left the DeSantis camp incredulous over the polling methodology. And Nelson was up 50-45.
Independents, per the latest CNN poll, aren’t breaking as Democratic as other polls have shown. Scott and Nelson are tied at 46 each with voters outside the two-party system. And DeSantis leads Gillum with independents, 47-46.
What this suggests: the repeated attacks on Gillum’s probity and integrity may be eroding soft support among independents, a cohort buoyed by a tsunami of favorable media coverage that since has crashed into the rocks of political scandal.
Though Gillum can point to robust crowds wherever he goes throughout the state, including GOP rural areas, the survey suggests that less vocal voters may be silently supporting DeSantis.
The study was conducted for CNN via telephone by SSRS, an independent research company, from October 24, 2018, to October 29, 2018. 781 likely voters were surveyed, with a +/-4.3 percent margin of error.
Of the total contacts, 406 were by landline and 604 by cellphone.
Caveats include a potential oversampling of self-identified independents: “Among the entire sample, 28% described themselves as Democrats, 27% described themselves as Republicans, and 45% described themselves as independents or members of another party.”
This voter composition does not look like the Florida electorate, as Steve Schale noted this morning.
Out of 3,724,251 votes cast through Wednesday, Republicans cast 1,555,374, Democrats 1,491.837, and Independents/Third-Party registrants just 677,040.