Thursday night’s GOP gubernatorial debate important for DeSantis

by | Jun 28, 2018

State Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and U.S. Representative Ron DeSantis are set to square-off Thursday evening in a primary debate hosted by Fox News at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Orlando as they seek the Republican nomination for governor. It will be the first debate between both candidates of the campaign and will be televised nationally by Fox News.

While the debate is important to both candidates, a good performance is critical for DeSantis. Recent polls have given a clear edge to Putnam. An NBC News/Marist poll released Tuesday showed Putnam holding a significant 17-point advantage over DeSantis. Putnam received the support of 38 percent of the voters, while DeSantis received 21 percent. However, a large segment of the voters, 39 percent, remain undecided.

Fox News released a poll last week in which Putnam received the support of 32 percent of the Republicans surveyed, while DeSantis received 17 percent. Like the NBC News/Marist poll, 39 percent were undecided. But, the Fox poll showed that 46 percent of those surveyed who currently support a candidate say they could still change their minds. 

The Capitolist’s own “Horserace Index,”  a weighted poll average that uses pollster accuracy rankings from, the age and obsolescence of each poll, along with news and election cycle adjustments to determine the true state of the 2018 Governor’s Race, shows Putnam holding a 13-point lead over DeSantis. Putnam is averaging 31 percent, while DeSantis’ average is 18 percent.

But while the polls show DeSantis a distant second in the GOP race for governor, his campaign isn’t ready to be written off. He picked up a big endorsement last Friday in a Twitter post by President Donald Trump who gave DeSantis his “full endorsement.”

On Monday, DeSantis unveiled a $12 million media buy that will cover the next nine weeks leading up to the August 28 primary election. The first spot released this week made note of the president’s support.

“And backed by the big man himself,” the announcer says in the ad. “President Trump says Ron DeSantis is a, quote, ‘brilliant leader’ and an ‘absolute warrior,’”

And on Thursday, DeSantis announced he will be back on the campaign trail Monday along with two of his top supporters — fellow Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz and Fox News host Sean Hannity. The trio will hold rallies in Fort Myers, Tampa and Pensacola.


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