Don’t get your hopes up too much. Out of 19 polls taken since September 1, this from WCTV is the only one showing DeSantis ahead. Other polls taken as recently as a few days ago show Gillum up six, seven, even 12(!) points.
But every outlier is potentially the start of a trend. Just adding this one to your radar screen, in case.
The state’s high-proﬁle race for governor is within the margin of error, showing Republican Ron DeSantis leading Democrat Andrew Gillum 48% to 45%.
79% of DeSantis’ supporters say that their vote is decided, or that they probably won’t change their mind, compared with 87% of Gillum supporters.
Gillum is viewed favorably by 40% of likely voters and unfavorably by 35%, with 13% holding a neutral opinion and 11% still unfamiliar. DeSantis is viewed favorably by 43% and unfavorably by 39%, with 9% holding a neutral opinion and 10% unfamiliar.
Any reason to take WCTV’s numbers seriously? Sure. The same outfit also polled the Florida Senate race and came up with a one-point lead for Bill Nelson over Rick Scott, 46/45. Two other recent polls have had Scott leading by a point whereas others have put Nelson ahead by a range of four to eight points. It’s certainly possible that the race has tightened and Nelson is leading very narrowly. In fact, that’s what the bulk of the polling during the general election has showed.
There’s also the matter of timing. It’d be odd if a poll showed DeSantis suddenly ahead after weeks of Gillum leading absent any intervening events that might explain why the electorate had shifted. But there is an intervening event in this case: The latest chapter in Gillum’s dealings with lobbyists was opened just a few days ago with heavy coverage of how he came by his free ticket to “Hamilton” and why he lied about it repeatedly when asked. Maybe some “soft” Gillum voters have become convinced with respect to his ethics that where there’s smoke there’s fire.
But there are reasons for doubt too. The WCTV poll showing DeSantis ahead was conducted from October 16-23. A different poll, from Gravis, was conducted from October 22-23 and found Gillum up by five. No fewer than five other polls were conducted after October 16 (although all ended before the 23rd); all five showed Gillum on top and four of those five had him ahead by four points or better. This isn’t, in other words, a case of a very recent poll picking up a shift that older polls might have missed. The WCTV survey was in the field at the same time as a bunch of others and got very different results from the rest of the crowd. If this is the start of a DeSantis trend rather than just an outlier, why didn’t anyone else detect it?
There’s also this, from the same poll showing DeSantis ahead by three: “Overall, 53% of Florida voters approve of the job Donald Trump is doing as president, while 44% disapprove.” A 53/44 approval rating in a swing state, even a swing state that Trump won narrowly in 2016, would be surprising. True, his national approval rating has been climbing lately, but the highest he scores in any national poll is 47 percent. His disapproval rating is higher in every last poll. Somehow he’s +9 in Florida at a moment when most polls show the Democrats Gillum and Nelson winning their races? That seems … unlikely.
If you don’t believe me, look at other recent polls of Florida. A month ago a survey from Florida Atlantic University pegged Trump at 39/47 approval in their home state. Quinnipiac released a poll of Florida a few days ago that was taken between October 17-21, during the same period that the WCTV survey showing DeSantis ahead. The numbers they found on Trump’s job approval:
That’s not disastrous but -5 is verrrry different from +9, needless to say. My best guess at why WCTV’s numbers look so different from everyone else’s is that, for whatever reason, they think the electorate that shows up two weeks from now will be quite a bit redder than virtually any other pollster does. Hope for the best! But expect the worst.