Florida Democrats are confident they’ll head into the 2021 Legislative Session with 19 Senators, according to a polling update issued by the party’s Senate campaign arm.
Republicans currently hold 23 seats in the 40-member Florida Senate. Two of those Republican-held seats are being hotly contested in the 2020 cycle and internal polling teased by Florida Senate Victory indicates both are heads-up contests.
“At the beginning of the decade, Senate Victory/FDLCC charted a Path to Parity in the Florida Senate. In that time, the caucus has grown from 12 to 17 members, and with recent polling we expect to return next Session with 19 Senate Democrats,” the polling update reads.
The first target is Senate District 9, a Central Florida-based seat where Republican former Rep. Jason Brodeur faces Democratic labor attorney Patricia Sigman
The seat is currently held by Republican Sen. David Simmons, who is term-limited. The lack of an incumbent combined with the purpling of Seminole County has made the seat a viable pickup for Democrats.
Both candidates have dumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into ads and outreach efforts, and each has plenty more left in the tank.
Florida Senate Victory says its polling, conducted by GQR Polling, shows the race is tied, 42%-42%. If anything, the Democrats’ internal numbers could be underselling Sigman — a recent St. Pete Polls survey commissioned by Florida Politics showed her leading 52%-43%, which is well outside the poll’s 4.4% margin of error.
The second fliportunity is in South Florida-based Senate District 39, where GOP Rep. Ana Maria Rodriguez and Democratic Rep. Javier Fernández are duking it out for the seat currently held by term-limited Republican Sen. Anitere Flores.
Months ago, SD 39 seemed like the more natural pickup. Hillary Clinton dominated here four years ago, winning the district by double digits. Flores fared equally well, though she did so against an underfunded challenger whose name recognition doesn’t compare to Fernández, who has held office two years and change.
As the election drew closer, however, the funding gap has between the two candidates has widened — as of Oct. 16, Rodriguez held a nearly $643,000 cash advantage.
Despite the gulf, a Senate Victory measure conducted by SEA Polling shows each candidate with 43% support.
The polling memo also asserts the battles for Democrat-held Districts 3 and 37 are going their way.
SD 3 polling conducted by ALG Research shows Rep. Loranne Ausley up eight points over Republican Marva Preston. Meanwhile, an SD 37 check-in conducted by SEA Polling shows Democratic Sen. José Javier Rodríguez up five over Republican Ileana Garcia.
Neither seat was considered ripe for a flip as much as they were seen as expensive distractions for Senate Democrats, who have thus far been unable to match incoming Senate President Wilton Simpson’s fundraising machine.
Though Democrats lead in both contests, the Ausley-Preston matchup in particular shows a much tighter margin than past elections. The district, anchored in Tallahassee, reelected Montford with more than two-thirds of the vote four years ago.
Senate Victory only gave the toplines for their internal polls, leaving out margins of error and the partisan makeup of their samples.
The polling update is below.