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Polls Appear Grim for Florida Democrats Ahead of Election Day


As election day nears and Florida’s gubernatorial race draws to a close, the prospects are looking grim for Charlie Crist.

Aside from the traditionally Democratic-leaning Miami-Dade County already turning out more red than blue during early voting this week, an election model by FiveThirtyEight predicts Crist has a snowball’s chance in hell of winning against Republican Governor Ron DeSantis.

The FiveThirtyEight model simulates the gubernatorial election 40,000 times over. It forecasts that as of 8 a.m. November 4, DeSantis would prevail 98 percent of the time, based on an analysis of aggregated polls.

FiveThirty Eight, a political forecasting company founded by statistician Nate Silver, estimates that DeSantis will secure 54.8 percent of the popular vote. The company’s model relies on analysis of pollsters such as Civiqs, Victory Insights, and University of North Florida, whose surveys are weighted by FiveThirtyEight for recency, sample size, and quality.

So how did the DeSantis-Crist matchup turn into one of the least competitive gubernatorial races in Florida’s recent memory?

While a number of people were turned off by Gov. DeSantis’s handling of COVID-19, analysts say his business-before-public-health approach has resoundingly helped his re-election efforts, according to a CBS report. FIU political science professor Dario Moreno suggested that DeSantis’ vocal stance on quickly reopening the tourism-reliant state framed him as a defender of personal freedom, an image which resonated with struggling business owners and residents who felt mask mandates and shutdowns went too far.

Further boosting the incumbent’s campaign, Florida’s Hispanic voters are supporting DeSantis over Crist by a wide margin, according to a Telemundo/LX News poll. The poll of 625 registered Hispanic voters across Florida showed that 51 percent said they would vote for DeSantis, versus 44 percent for Crist. (The remaining voters surveyed were undecided or planned to vote for another candidate.)

Consistent with long-established ideological splits among two of Florida’s largest Hispanic demographics, Puerto Rican voters leaned Democratic, favoring Crist by a 22 percent margin, while Cuban voters leaned Republican, favoring DeSantis by a 50 percent margin, the poll showed.

It doesn’t appear that support for DeSantis was catastrophically eroded, as some had expected it would be, by his publicity stunt hauling off Venezuelan migrants to Martha’s Vineyard.

Despite being only a few generations removed from the Golden Exile — when hundreds of thousands of people fled Cuba after Fidel Castro seized private land and industry — Cuban voters appear to show little solidarity with Venezuelan migrants who fled destitution and far-left authoritarianism in their home country. The Telemundo/LX News poll showed that 71 percent of Cuban American voters supported DeSantis’ decision to fly migrants to the Massachusetts island.

The 2022 FIU Cuba Poll confirmed Cuban Americans’ unwavering support for Florida Republicans.

DeSantis and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio are on track to receive between 60 to 70 percent of the Cuban American vote, according to the Florida International University poll. The FIU poll found that 21 percent of Cuban American voters would like to see DeSantis run for president in 2024, compared to 37 percent who would prefer former President Donald Trump on the ballot.

“We’re in a period here in South Florida when voices of dissent to the Republican narrative are not heard often,” says Guillermo Grenier, FIU sociology professor and lead investigator on the Cuba poll. “While there may be people who do not like what DeSantis did [on immigration policy], it does not even make a dent in their support for the Republican party.”

“It’s not just Latinos. It’s a national phenomenon in the polarization of the parties,” Grenier tells New Times. “There is no space for opposition to the Trump Republican narrative.”

Grenier says that without a long-term grassroots plan, Democrats will have no chance of making headway in Miami’s Cuban community. Fleeting speeches on U.S.-Cuba foreign policy will not suffice, he says.

“Democrats have seemed to think that voters will just float to them because they have the right idea. I just don’t see the footprint from boots on the ground,” Grenier says.

On the campaign financing side, the massive influx of dollars for DeSantis has been ringing a death knell for Crist’s bid to retake the governor’s office, which Crist occupied as a Republican from 2006 through 2010 before he left the party.

According to Open Secrets, a nonprofit that tracks campaign contributions and spending nationwide, DeSantis raised $183.2 million as of October 14 — more than any gubernatorial candidate in American history.

Crist, meanwhile, raked in $28.4 million.

The advertising intelligence firm AdImpact estimated that while $62 million has been spent by Republicans on the state governor’s race, Democrats have only spent $8 million — the largest gap of any governor’s race in the country, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

FiveThirtyEight also forecasts Republican Sen. Marco Rubio as the clear favorite over Val Demings in Florida’s U.S. Senate race, and Republican Maria Salazar as the winner in the race for Miami’s FL-27 seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Politico reported last year that the number of Republican voters registered in Florida overtook that of Democratic voters, a milestone in the recent history of the battleground state (if you can still call it that).

Regardless of what the numbers may be showing, voters are encouraged to cast their ballots before or on election day next Tuesday.

Polls are not always accurate and don’t paint a full picture — and Democrats could still hold out hopes of an upset.

Crazier things have happened. Remember November 8, 2016?





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