After months and months of campaigning, it’s come down to this. We should know within 24 hours who the winners are in this year’s midterm election.
More than 5 million Florida voters have already cast ballots during early voting in Florida, getting an early jump in deciding races ranging from U.S. Senate and governor, to state legislators, local commissions, judges, and 12 constitutional amendments.
The two contests at the top of the ballot in Florida are attracting national attention — the contest for the U.S. Senate between Republican Gov. Rick Scott and incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson, and the race for governor pitting Democrat Andrew Gillum against his GOP opponent Ron DeSantis.
While polls in recent days have given the edge to Nelson and Gillum, the consensus among political observers is that both races are too close to call. Real Clear Politics, which keeps an average of polls taken to date, shows Nelson holding an average lead of 3.3 percent in the Senate contest. In the race for governor, the Real Clear Politics poll shows Gillum a 4-point advantage over DeSantis.
Both races have been expensive with millions of dollars being spent on political spots. The candidates in the race for governor have doled out at least $133 million on ads, while spending in the Senate rate has topped $96 million. Total spending on all of TV ads in Florida has reached $229 million and that doesn’t include spending on ads in U.S. House races. The figures were compiled by the Wesleyan Media Project.
Both contests have turned negative with Scott portraying Nelson as a career politician, who obeys the orders of Senate Democratic leaders and ignores the needs of Floridians and needs to be sent packing by Florida voters.
Nelson has fired back at Scott raising questions about Scott’s involvement in the Medicare fraud case when he was the head of the Columbia/HCA hospital chain, labeled the governor as Red Tide Rick, and accused Scott of working to undermine Obamacare.
The race for governor turned negative the day after the primary. During an interview with Fox News, DeSantis said : “The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda …” referring to the economic turnaround that occurred during the Scott administration.
The statement was disavowed by the station and the DeSantis camp denied he used the phrase in a racial tone, calling the suggestion “absurd.” But the race issue has remained a part of the political battle. Gillum, who if he wins would be the first black candidate elected governor in Florida, stopped short of calling DeSantis a racist.
“I’m not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist. I’m simply saying the racists believe he’s a racist,” Gillum said in one of their debates..
DeSantis has attacked Gillum as a corrupt politician that could be a target of an FBI investigation into public corruption in Tallahassee City Hall. Gillum has repeatedly said the FBI has told him he’s not a target in the probe, but DeSantis has been critical of his opponent for taking expensive tickets to a Broadway show from an FBI undercover agent and trips that may have been paid for by lobbyists who were seeking financial help from the city for projects they were involved in.
All four candidates used Monday to fan out across the state trying to energize their bases to turn out at the polls Tuesday. With both contests expected to come down to the wire, the significance placed on voter turnout this election day is more than a cliche, it will likely make all the difference in who wins and who loses the two races that have dominated political news here in Florida for the past year.