Two new polls show very different results as Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., make their cases in the final two weeks to be Florida’s next governor. Florida Politics released a survey of likely voters from St. Pete’s Polls on Monday showing Gillum with the narrowest of leads. Gillum takes 47 percent while DeSantis is right behind him at 46 percent. The poll shows Gillum ahead with voters who have already cast their ballots, 51 percent to 45 percent.
Both candidates have nailed down their party bases and there is a racial divide. Gillum takes 81 percent of blacks while 13 percent of them prefer DeSantis. The Republican leads with whites 54 percent to 40 percent. Gillum has a 6 percent lead on DeSantis with Hispanics.
The poll of 1,575 likely Florida voters was taken from Oct. 20 through Oct. 21 and had a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percent.
This stands in sharp contrast with a CNN/SSRS poll released on Sunday afternoon before that network televised a debate between the two candidates. The CNN poll has Gillum up 52 percent to 42 percent with registered voters and ahead 54 percent to 42 percent with likely voters.
The CNN poll of likely also shows a racial divide with DeSantis up 52 percent to 44 percent with white voters and Gillum taking 74 percent of non-whites. There is also a gender gap among likely voters, according to the CNN poll with Gillum ahead with women 60 percent to 34 percent while DeSantis leads among men 52 percent to 46 percent.
Noting that most other polls show a far closer race, CNN offered some insight on the poll.
“The poll shows a wider lead for Gillum than some other recent telephone polling, nearly all of which was conducted before Hurricane Michael struck the state on October 10. Before the storm, public polling in mid- to late-September on these contests was mixed, with some (including surveys from Mason-Dixon and the University of North Florida) finding near-even races while others (including the Quinnipiac University and NBC News/Marist polls) gave the Democratic candidates the edge,” CNN noted. “The CNN findings could be an outlier — a statistical anomaly which occurs in polling by random chance. It also could be an indicator of renewed Democratic enthusiasm.
“In the poll’s sample of registered voters, the mix of Democrats and Republicans surveyed almost exactly matches the numbers reported by Florida’s Secretary of State: 38 percent report being registered as Democrats, 35 percent as Republicans and 27 percent are registered with no party affiliation or as members of another party. Those identified as likely voters are similarly divided between Democrats and Republicans (40 percent to 37 percent) with fewer who are registered without a party affiliation or as members of a third party (23 percent),” CNN added. “And the Democratic advantages in the poll were similar across multiple versions of a likely voter model, including those driven more by interest in the campaign and those which placed stronger emphasis on past voting behavior.”
The CNN poll, conducted by SSRS, of 872 registered voters was taken October 16 through 20 and had a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percent. The CNN poll of 759 likely voters was taken over the same dates and had a margin of error of +/- 4.2 percent.
For its part, the DeSantis camp ripped into the CNN poll, noting internal polls showed their candidate up by 2 percent.
“This poll is as amusing as it is suspicious in that it was released hours before a debate between the two candidates – clearly meant to give the advantage to Andrew Gillum,” said Stephen Lawson, a spokesman for the DeSantis campaign. “But while CNN is clearly working hard to craft far left polling data with results that are pure fiction, Ron DeSantis is ready to face Mr. Gillum on behalf of all Floridians who stand against his billion-dollar tax increase, anti-law enforcement agenda and record of suspicion and corruption.
“Simply put, this CNN survey is not worth the paper it is written on because the sample and weights do not reflect a Florida election. It also makes no sense to use this sampling when you can buy Florida’s voter file and voting history files for $10 and weight to those voter-level characteristics,” added Lawson. “That CNN takes this poll seriously enough to blast it out to their viewers right before a debate on their network is why so many Americans believe that CNN peddles fake news.”
“The campaign pointed to a myriad of examples of the failed methodology in the poll, including polling a sample of Florida residents that leans +3 percent Democrat for a non-presidential General Election without weighting the sample by recent General Election turnout,” the DeSantis team noted. “Further, polling a sample of voters that is 39 percent Independent for a statewide poll in Florida produces results that are meaningless for a Gubernatorial Election. Weighting individual respondents to Census estimates without also weighting to past turnout profiles is nonsensical, further proving the methodology of the poll renders the findings useless.
“This survey does not reflect any electorate Florida has ever seen and that should be expected when surveying non-likely voters and not weighting it to past election results. This poll has more Independent voters than Democrats or Republicans and more Democrats than Republicans. However, in the 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016 general elections more Republicans voted than Democrats or Independents,” the DeSantis campaign insisted.