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Joe Henderson: Florida Democrats should be wary of positive poll results

Winning polls means as much as NFL teams finishing the preseason undefeated.

Several polls released Monday about Florida legislative races looked spectacular for Democrats.

Instead of being even a little giddy, though, the polls should terrify them. They should wake up every day between now and Nov. 3 believing calamity could be around the corner. Fear (and a long memory) may be the best thing they have going at this moment.

For several years, Dems have been pretty good at winning polls, but what did that get them? Winning polls means as much as NFL teams finishing the preseason undefeated.

Republicans have won when it counts.

So, is Republican state Rep. Jackie Toledo really down nearly 10 points behind challenger Julie Jenkins in the House District 60 race?

That’s what Monday’s survey from St. Pete Polls said. If this holds – a big IF –Republicans should start stocking up canned goods because nuclear winter awaits them after Nov. 3.

Republicans make up the majority of registered voters in HD 60 and data there shows they are considered more active voters than Democrats. But Jenkins, the poll shows, is cashing in big time with the 30% of voters there that are independent.

Toledo won in 2018 by 5 points over Debra Bellanti and seems to have been a productive representative. She worked with Democrat Rep. Emily Slosberg to pass a ban on texting while driving.

In most years, she wouldn’t have to sweat re-election.

Obviously, this isn’t most years.

Dissatisfaction with President Donald Trump is no doubt driving a lot of those poll numbers. Gov. Ron DeSantis gets his share of blame too, especially for his handling of the pandemic. As a wise person once said, though, there are two sides to every story.

Voting against Trump (and, by extension, any Republican) drives many blue voters who have waited four years for this chance.

What shouldn’t be overlooked though is that Republicans will vote for Trump (and anyone else with an “R” beside their name). They love their guy and they show up. They really love proving pundits wrong.

That enthusiasm showed in the final weeks of the 2016 election and some scenes we now see are reminiscent of that. Trump’s rally last week in Sanford drew thousands of cheering supporters, most of whom “forgot” to bring their masks.

That’s the area where Democrat Patricia Sigman has a 9-point lead over Republican former Rep. Jason Brodeur in Senate District 9.

Can that number hold for two more weeks?

Maybe.

COVID-19 cases are spiking throughout the state. Unemployment is at dangerously high levels. People are worn out and incumbents usually pay the price when that happens.

Logic tells you that Florida Democrats should win races all over the state.

There’s nothing logical about 2020, though, and polls are just a snapshot of the moment. If Democrats don’t know that by now and act accordingly, they never will.

Written By

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.

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Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson, and Kelly Hayes.
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