Last Call for 8.13.20 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

A digest of the day's politics and policy while the bartender refreshes your drink.

Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.

First Shot

Most Floridians believe the COVID-19 pandemic will get worse before it gets better, according to a new poll conducted by the University of South Florida School of Public Affairs.

The USF survey found 55% of Floridians believe that the worst is not yet behind us while a quarter believes that it is. About 22% said they were unsure. Republicans were the most optimistic with a 34-38 split, followed by independents at 59-19 and Democrats at 67-16.

Alongside the negative outlook came 73% support for keeping schools closed, with 54% saying they “strongly support” delaying kids’ return to campuses this fall.


Likewise, common behaviors and strategies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 scored highly among the 600 Floridians who participated in the survey.

Nearly nine in 10 Floridians back a statewide mask mandate, 73% of them “strongly”; 82% believe masks and social distancing are effective at slowing the spread of COVID-19; and majorities are OK with stricter limits on public gatherings (85%) as well as temporarily re-closing bars and restaurants (66%), houses of worship (63%), and beaches and public parks (60%).

Support mostly transcended party lines, with majorities of Republicans, Democrats and NPAs in favor of a mask mandate and crowd size limits. All subsets also believe schools should remain closed — the feeling was a near-universal 86-4 among Democrats. Independents agreed by a 71-11 margin while Republicans came in at 54-33.

Respondents softened when it came to politics, however.

Asked whether political candidates should be able to hold political rallies, 46% said no way while just one in eight said rallies should be held as they would in the pre-COVID-19 era. The balance, 42%, say rallies are in bounds so long as they adhere to social distancing guidelines.

The survey was conducted on July 30-Aug. 10 and has a margin of error plus or minus 4% at a 95% confidence level.

Coronavirus Numbers

Positive cases:

— 551,232 FL residents (+6,192 since Wednesday)

— 5,905 Non-FL residents (+44 since Wednesday)


— 4,160 Travel related

— 167,479 Contact with a confirmed case

— 4,288 Both

— 375,305 Under investigation


— 32,537 in FL


— 9,047 in FL

Evening Reads

Donald Trump says he’s blocking Postal Service funding because Democrats want to expand mail-in voting during pandemic” via Felicia Sonmez and Jacob Bogage of The Washington Post

Kamala Harris’ nomination reopens the wounds of 2016” via Emma Green of The Atlantic

New poll shows incumbent Ross Spano in danger of being upset” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

Spaceman Bill Nelson makes rough reentry in Naples Congressional primary” via Brian Burgess of The Capitolist

Mystery GOP-connected group in Senate race shuts down after Democrats file election complaint” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel

COVID-19 death toll rivals fatality rate during 1918 flu epidemic, researchers say” via Lenny Bernstein of The Washington Post

The true coronavirus toll in the U.S. has already surpassed 200,000” via Denise Lu of The New York Times

Florida adds 149 coronavirus deaths, more than 6,000 cases Thursday” via Romy Ellenbogen of the Tampa Bay Times

Ron DeSantis encourages plasma donations in COVID-19 fight” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics

Gov. DeSantis clarifies namecheck of Osama bin Laden in school reopening pitch” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Gov. DeSantis says prisons are second to nursing homes in receiving COVID-19 resources” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics

State prisons: FL lawmakers intensify calls for low-security inmate releases as death toll hits 75” via Laura Cassels of the Florida Phoenix

Judge moving quickly on school reopening fight” via Dara Kam of News Service of Florida

Resign or be arrested: Clay County Sheriff given choice following sex scandal investigation, sources say” via Anne Schindler of First Coast News

Survey: Majority of Floridians support closing schools, statewide mask mandate” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics

Martin County classroom to quarantine after student shows COVID-19 symptoms on Day 2” via Sommer Brugal of the TCPalm

Hillsborough starting school with 1 week of online learning after state rejects 4-week plan” via Ryan Hughes of WFLA Channel 8

Inmate COVID-19 cases at Baker Correctional jump from 20 to 561 in a week” via Maggie Lorenz of

Florida Democrats decry COVID-19 prison outbreak as sign of a failed system” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

College football is disappearing. MAGA world is blaming the left.” via Tina Nguyen of POLITICO

Quote of the Day

“It’s absurd that in the third largest state in the nation, the Governor has chosen to follow the marching orders laid out by a President who clearly has no idea what he’s doing, continuing to endanger the lives of even more Floridians, and stalling any chances for a robust economic recovery.” — Sen. Audrey Gibson, on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Thursday roundtable on the pandemic.

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Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jason Delgado, Renzo Downey, Daniel Figueroa, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Kelly Hayes, Joe Henderson, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Andrew Wilson, Mike Wright, and Tristan Wood.

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