Two new polls out of Florida today. First, this one:
A new poll shows Sen. Marco Rubio is under the critical 50% mark with Florida voters.
The survey results, conducted for AARP Florida by two top pollsters, reveal the Republican Senator with a slim lead, winning 49% support among likely voters to Democrat Val Demings’ 47%. That puts the race well within the poll’s 4.4% margin of error.
Incumbents, as a rule, want to poll ahead of 50% as they seek re-election, but the results of the AARP poll signal the state remains as divided as ever. And when it comes to federal elections, issues like Medicare and Medicaid support and interest in cheaper pharmaceutical drug costs loom especially large.
Republican firm Fabrizio Ward and Democratic outfit Impact Research worked together on the comprehensive survey.
Rubio holds a lead of 51% to Demings’ 46% when looking solely at voters over the age of 50, a more reliable demographic regarding turnout.
The polling also shows 92% of Democrats supporting Demings while 90% of Republicans defend Rubio. The incumbent comes out ahead thanks to 48% of independents breaking his way, compared to 45% voting for the Democrat.
Rubio’s place seems particularly precarious considering a large segment of voters remains unfamiliar with Demings. She holds a solid net favorability rating, with 42% of respondents liking her and just 28% disliking her. But that leaves a full 30% with no opinion, a sign that the Central Florida Congresswoman has room to grow in recognition.
“Val Demings is still not known or defined to a sizable chunk of these voters,” said Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio of Fabrizio Ward.
John Anzalone, the founder of Impact Research, noted that the poll found that 19% of voters remain persuadable. By comparison, only 11% of voters fall in that camp in the Governor’s race, which was surveyed simultaneously.
And this one:
Yet another poll shows a tight race between GOP U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and Democratic challenger Val Demings.
Survey results from Susquehanna Polling and Research shows Rubio with 47% support compared to Demings’ 44%. The 3-point difference between candidates puts the race within the poll’s 4.3 percentage point margin of error.
The results show the Republican incumbent under 50%, consistent with similar polling released in recent weeks including a major poll for AARP Florida released the same day.
The Susquehanna poll, first released to Real Clear Politics, shows there could be trouble for Rubio with independents leaning toward the Democrat.
A memo from pollster Tom Lee notes this poll also shows a shift from a poll from August last year, when Rubio enjoyed a 50% to 39% edge and sat above the critical majority threshold for an incumbent.
“The biggest shift comes from Independents and NPA’s, where Demings leads Rubio 41:32, a reversal from a 42:41 Rubio lead last year,” Lee wrote, before comparing Rubio’s numbers to his last contest against former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy.
“Exit polling shows Rubio won Independents/NPA’s by a 52:42 margin over his last opponent in 2016 (Murphy), so Rubio’s loss of support with this critical swing group could cost him the election if he doesn’t shore up this vote.”
The poll indicates Rubio way underwater with independent voters, with 47% holding an unfavorable view of the Senator and just 27% viewing him favorably. Meanwhile, 31% of voters like Demings and 28% dislike her. That suggests she is in positive territory but also remains an unknown quantity to many Florida voters.
Among all voters, Rubio remains underwater but has a lift from Republicans, so he ends up with a 45% unfavorable and 41% favorable showing. Demings is viewed well by 37% of all likely voters and unfavorably by 31%.
Pollsters surveyed 500 likely voters between Aug. 29 and Sept. 3, making this the most recently taken poll now publicly available on the race.
Here’s a look at the Governor’s race:
Gov. Ron DeSantis holds the support of a slight majority of voters, according to a new poll commissioned by AARP.
Two of the nation’s top pollsters conducted the survey, which found the incumbent with 50% support from likely voters, while Democrat Charlie Crist holds 47%. That puts the race firmly within the poll’s 4.4% margin of error.
Notably, the Republican Governor holds a stronger position with voters over 50, who prefer DeSantis by a 52% to 47% margin.
“Florida voters 50 and older are a critical voting demographic that all candidates are competing for in this midterm election,” said Jeff Johnson, state director for AARP Florida.
AARP surveyed voters in swing states on the candidates they prefer and the most critical issues. Republican firm Fabrizio Ward and Democratic outfit Impact Research worked together on the comprehensive survey.
The gold-standard pollster found Republicans in decent shape in Florida, at least based on a sample that forecasts 3% more Republicans come out to vote in November than Democrats.
So long as older voters turn out with greater reliability than those under age 50 — consistent with historic trends — the Governor appears to be on track for a second term. But the contest remains close partly because DeSantis underperforms with non-senior voters. For respondents ages 18 to 49, Crist wins 51% to 46%.
Of note, the poll found Democrats, if anything, more eager to vote in November than Republicans, with 93% of Democrats saying they felt motivated to vote in the general election compared to 90% of Republicans and 82% of independents. That’s partly thanks to the intense emotions inspired across the board by DeSantis.
“There’s no one who polarizes the electorate as much as Gov. Ron DeSantis, even more so than Donald Trump,” said Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio.
By the way, Demings just launched this new ad:
Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., is launching the first TV ad of her Senate campaign focused on abortion, as Democrats across battleground states focus on the issue ahead of November.
Demings criticized GOP Sen. Marco Rubio's position on abortion in the 30-second spot, shared first with NBC News. The ad is part of an ongoing statewide TV buy, per Demings' campaign.
She continued to lean into her background in law enforcement, which has been a central theme of her early TV ads.
"As a police officer, some of the worst cases I worked were sexual assaults. It's outrageous to mandate when a woman can and can't do with their body," Demings says in the ad.
"Marco Rubio wants to criminalize abortions with no exceptions for victims of rape or incest," she adds. "Well I know something about fighting crime, Sen. Rubio. Rape is a crime. Incest is a crime. Abortion is not."
The ad points to a Politifact article from 2016, which noted that Rubio supports bans on abortion that do not include exceptions for rape or incest. The article also notes that Rubio has supported legislation with such exceptions, including a 20-week abortion ban proposal in 2013.
And I have to give Crist a huge applause for this move:
Crist, a former governor and current Democratic representative, is not just embracing teachers as essential contributors to public schools and communities. He has chosen to make one of Florida’s most outspoken and activist teachers his running mate for lieutenant governor.
After winning the August 23 Democratic gubernatorial primary by a landslide, Crist’s first task was to name someone to run with him on the party’s fall ticket. He turned to Karla Hernández-Mats, a former special education teacher and Hialeah Community Middle School “Teacher of the Year,” who currently serves as president of United Teachers of Dade. Hernández-Mats’s union is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association and is the largest teachers union in the Southeastern United States. It’s also one of the most influential local labor organizations in the country.
“She wasn’t just a teacher. She was a teacher of special needs children. That’s a heart. That’s a heart: caring, loving, empathetic, compassionate—that’s what we don’t have in the governor’s office right now,” said Crist at an announcement rally at the Miami-area middle school where his running mate taught. “You know her, you love her, I love her. Meet the next lieutenant governor of Florida, Karla Hernández-Mats.”
Hernández-Mats, an energetic leader who won her second term as leader of United Teachers of Dade with 73 percent of the vote, hit the statewide campaign trail running.
“Are you fired up and ready to take back Florida? Are you tired of the culture wars and the extremists dictating what we can’t say and do?” Hernández-Mats asked the crowd at the announcement event. “Are you sick of politicians who act like authoritarians trying to tear apart our democracy? That’s why we are here today: to defeat Ron DeSantis and bring decency and respect back to the state of Florida.”
The crowd of educators holding “Teachers for Crist” signs, school board members, and parents chanted, “¡Si se puede!”—echoing the historic United Farm Workers union call to action that was translated into to the “Yes, we can!” message of Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign.
Crist is staking his political future on a bet that Floridians are, indeed, tired of DeSantis’s constant haranguing of teachers and local school districts for providing honest instruction about the history of the United States, respecting transgender youth, embracing science, and following public-health mandates during the coronavirus pandemic. The incumbent, who is hoping that his culture-warrior stance will make him the choice of Republicans as their 2024 presidential nominee, has proposed to solve the teacher shortage by rewriting the rules so that people without education degrees can teach in public schools. He has also championed legislation to ban the teaching of “critical race theory” and recently signed a law that prohibits public schools from providing instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity.
Crist is prepared to push back, as is Hernández-Mats, a 42-year-old parent of two public-school students and the daughter of immigrants from Honduras. Like other leaders of teachers unions in the state and nationally, Hernández-Mats has been an ardent critic of DeSantis, declaring, “I’m appalled when I see our current governor bully students, attack teachers, and use schools as a battleground for his own personal political agenda.” She is also a seasoned campaigner. Though she has never held public office, she has for the better part of a decade been a top-elected leader of her union, which serves more than 30,000 employees in the Miami-Dade County School System. And she has emerged as a respected figure in local, state, and national political circles because of the leadership she brought to fights like a successful 2018 referendum campaign to raise pay for teachers and improve school safety.
Crist is also emphasizing abortion rights in this race:
At a Democrats’ rally in Orlando aimed at appealing to younger “Gen-Z” voters, gubernatorial candidate U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and a host of other candidates made it clear that abortion access rights will be front-and-center in this autumn’s campaign.
“In this election, the choice is choice,” Crist said. “That’s what’s on the ballot: freedom to choose. The opportunity for women to be able to express their own point of view about their body, about your health. Who else should have that decision? Nobody. You. It’s your decision. That’s what’s on the ballot. That’s what this election is all about.”
Crist followed numerous Central Florida Democratic candidates, including Maxwell Alejandro Frost, who will likely be the first Gen-Z member to be elected to Congress. The 25-year-old is the Democrats’ Primary Election winner in the strongly Democratic Florida’s 10th Congressional District in northern Orange County.
Also speaking was Crist’s running mate, Lieutenant Governor candidate Karla Hernández.
All of the Democratic speakers — Rep. Joy Goff-Marcil who is running for the Senate, Reps. Anna V. Eskamani and Carlos G. Smith, House candidates Tiffany Hughes, Allie Braswell, Frost, Hernández and Crist, made abortion access rights powerful parts of their message to an invitation-only crowd at the Renaissance Theater Co. stage in Orlando.
The Democrats appear convinced that abortion access rights are a winning theme for the general electorate, especially for women, and, in Tuesday’s rally in Orlando, particularly for young voters. While there, Crist and Hernández picked up the endorsement of the Voters of Tomorrow organization, which is not a major surprise as that group has been endorsing Democrats including Frost, in several states.
While also attacking DeSantis on this:
Charlie Crist, the Democratic nominee for Florida governor, held a news conference Wednesday in Jacksonville, saying he has tackled property insurance in Florida before and he would do it again as governor.
He said he plans to take on the property insurance crisis impacting thousands of Floridians by reversing rate hikes and expanding coverage. He wants to go back some of the things he did when he was governor of Florida — like bringing back the My Safe Florida Home Program.
Florida’s property insurance market has been in upheaval as insurers have dropped customers and sought huge rate increases because of financial losses. Five property insurers have been declared insolvent since February, and policies have poured into Citizens Property Insurance, which was created by the state as an insurer of last resort.
While campaigning in Jacksonville, Crist criticized Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and how he has handled the crisis, saying the governor is more interested in getting to the White House than protecting Floridians’ homes.
“Gov. DeSantis created a property insurance crisis in Florida,” Crist said.
DeSantis called a special legislative session in May to address problems in the broader insurance system. Lawmakers made a series of changes, including trying to address roof-damage claims that insurers blame for increasing costs, trying to curb litigation costs about claims and creating a $2 billion program to provide additional reinsurance to private insurers.
News4JAX asked Crist what he plans to do differently.
“I called a special session just like Gov. DeSantis did. The difference was Gov. DeSantis had a special session that was really special for the insurance industry. He didn’t lower rates for you and me and all other Floridians one iota. When I held a special session, we lowered rates. We use the law, we use the insurance commissioner’s office and lowered rates across the board 10%,” Crist said. “This guy doesn’t care. He doesn’t have you in his heart. I do, and that’s the difference.”
Crist said that while businesses need to make a profit, they can’t gouge citizens in the process and double the rates in a four-year period.
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