While many political forecasters try not to get too far out on a limb, lest the limb snap off and they suffer a blow to their credibility, that will not be the case today. In this column, we will toss aside conventional wisdom, reject the gossip of the Tallahassee chattering class, and bring you earth-shattering predictions and prognostications* that will cause many to wonder how we could see the future so clearly.
But we know few would be impressed if we just predicted the obvious outcomes, like, for example, the fact that incumbent Congressman Matt Gaetz is going to win the GOP primary in Florida’s 1st Congressional District by a margin of at least 15 points – maybe more now that Donald Trump has endorsed Gaetz. Everyone already knows that. What we will predict, however, is that skads of articles will be written about how he had to expend vast sums of cash just to sneak by his Republican challenger, Mark Lombardo, the former Marine and FedEx executive. And those articles will be written because, even though the race was a blowout, it’s a great chance for fair-minded reporters everywhere to drag Gaetz’s FBI troubles back into the spotlight. Sorta like we just did, except on purpose.
So let’s get to our three complete shocker predictions, shall we?
Nikki Fried stuns Charlie Crist, by less than a point
That’s right. You heard it here first. Okay, well, technically, you heard it from the University of North Florida first, after they showed Fried pulling a 4-point lead over Crist in a poll that relied on a somewhat unusual methodology. But never mind all that “science.” We have political instinct and experience, and we’re here to tell you that Fried will defeat Crist on Tuesday. Or more accurately, early Wednesday, when Broward County’s new elections supervisor, Joe Scott, becomes the county’s first Democrat SOE in a decade to actually post 100 percent of Broward’s precinct results before everyone watching at home goes to bed.
We know Fried will win because the mainstream media has already told us that abortion is the reason Democrats are motivated to vote this cycle. So it stands to reason that “Nikki” (as she’s calling herself in her closing campaign ads) will reap the rewards of single-issue focus on Tuesday.
Let’s face it. There just aren’t that many Democrats in the entire state who are actually motivated to go out and vote for Charlie Crist. He has his fans, sure. And the establishment seems to be behind him because he’s not a walking dumpster fire, a fact that by itself makes him the Democrats’ “best chance to win” come November. He’s got more money than Fried, too. But those extra dollars won’t really do him any good, because people already know everything there is to know about Crist. He’s boring. Uninspiring. And wishy-washy.
Nikki Fried is a train wreck. It’s true. But doggone it, she keeps us on our toes, which is exciting! And exciting wins elections. Plus, there are plenty of purple-haired progressives who will walk through fire to vote for the right to abort their babies. And since Nikki Fried is all about abortion, it’s easy to understand why she will edge out Crist on Tuesday.
Kelli Stargel comes out on top of the GOP’s FL-15 scrum
This is another one of those reject-the-conventional wisdom predictions. Sure, Laurel Lee has the money lead, and has received her share of the attention and outside support, but open seat primaries with a large field of viable candidates are notorious for bucking the convention wisdom. Lee’s problem is that she IS perceived as the frontrunner in a competitive primary, which is probably a lot like being a running back trying to sprint for the end zone with the opposing team’s defenders hanging onto your jersey, your pants, and your socks, and then one of them starts trying to rip the ball out of your hands.
That’s exactly Laurel Lee right now, with Jackie Toledo, Demetrius Grimes, and others all trying to drag her down before she gets into the end zone. Any while any one of them could end up with the ball, it’s Kelli Stargel’s track record of conservative accomplishment as a state legislator that we think will position her as the strong-side safety who strips the ball and takes it the other way for a touchdown.
Just don’t ask us to predict the final score in this one. It’s going to be a barn-burner.
Laura Loomer dooms the boomer in FL-11 GOP primary
Incumbent Congressman Dan Webster just has too many challenges to overcome if he wants to retain his seat for yet another term. Webster’s been an elected official for all but a few years since 1980, so he knows how to run winning campaigns. He’s also plenty conservative for most folks. The problem, this time around, is that he’s running in a newly drawn district, and he’s outgunned by the upstart Loomer, who has outraised and outflanked him on the Republican right.
Loomer has plenty of digital campaign savvy, adequate resources, a solid campaign team, and more than enough name ID to make another re-election extraordinarily tough for the incumbent.
We predict Loomer wins 52-46, with Gavriel Soriano picking up the scraps.
No “Book” burning by Barbara Sharief in Florida’s Senate District 35
We’re not exactly bucking the conventional wisdom on this one, because most political observers think incumbent Democrat and State Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book has the race all sewn up. But we’ll go a step further and predict this one won’t even be close, with Book blowing Sharief out of the water. Early this year, some Tallahassee insiders were quietly wringing their hands over Sharief’s chances, given her previous stint as mayor and high name ID in the district.
Sharief, for her part, has run a strong race, especially given the resource disparity she’s had to contend with. She tried to shelve Book for her “lavish” lifestyle, which included dredging up video from a 2009 reality television program that featured Book’s rumored million-dollar wedding.
But Book has shown the ability to rally supporters to her cause more than once, and this election cycle, she really put on a lavish show, pulling in cash and endorsements that gave Book all the resources needed to counter Sharief’s attacks and effectively throw the book at Sharief herself, including pointing out to voters that Sharief was once fined $700,000 for Medicare fraud.
When the dust settles on this one, we think Book’s well-funded ground game will carry her by a margin of 57-43.
*No ballot drop boxes or electronic vote-counting algorithms were tampered with in order to bring these election outcomes to our readers two days early. These predicted primary results were produced using the SWAG methodology based on best-available information at the time of publication, then cross referenced with the author’s political experience and a dash of the desire to be entertaining. Predictions in this column are only guaranteed to be 95 percent accurate with a margin of error +/- 5 percent at a confidence interval of infinity minus one.