Bernie Sanders-supported progressive Democrat Andrew Gillum, the thirty-something mayor of Tallahassee, is leading Trump-supported right-wing Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis (Fla.) by 5 points in the race for the Florida governor’s mansion, according to a new poll. Admittedly, the poll may be biased since it was commissioned by Democrats, but it is the first publicly released poll since Florida’s primary elections were held on Tuesday.
“First post-primary poll in Florida shows Gillum leading DeSantis 48%-43%. Gillum also has a 34% lead among independents.“
— Left Side Story (@leftsidestoryUS) August 31, 2018
The public opinion survey was paid for by Florida Democratic consultant Christian Ulvert and conducted by the Democratic polling firm Public Policy Polling (PPP) from Aug. 29-30. This means it was started just one day after Gillum and DeSantis each won the gubernatorial nomination of their respective parties.
Forty-eight percent of the 743 voters surveyed in the poll chose Gillum, who is an unabashed and self-proclaimed progressive. Just 43 percent of respondents said they would cast their ballots for DeSantis, who is the current congressman in Florida’s sixth congressional district.
One of the most important findings in the poll, which many people will discount as biased due to its partisan leanings, is the high amount of support obtained by Gillum among those who are not members of either major political party.
These so-called “independent voters” are a huge voting bloc in the state of Florida, with more voters in this category than either of the two parties. Everyone agrees that the independent voters hold the key to the statewide races in Florida, which include a nationally important U.S. Senate race between incumbent Democratic Senator Bill Nelson and the GOP challenger, current governor Rick Scott.
The PPP poll found that among independent voters Gillum leads DeSantis by fully 34 points, a huge margin.
The charismatic Gillum also beat out conservative DeSantis in favorability among Florida voters. Forty-five percent of respondents said they have a favorable opinion of the Tallahassee mayor, with just 41 percent having a favorable view of DeSantis.
After Gillum’s stunning victory over a crowded field of wealthy establishment Democrats on Tuesday the race has been put in the national spotlight. It is now seen as a test of the popularity of progressive politics as promoted by Bernie Sanders versus the popularity of Donald Trump and his policies.
According to ABC News:
“The primary victories by two populists from different ends of the political spectrum tee up a bitter proxy fight between two diametrically opposed camps — that of Trump and that of Sanders.”
“The PPP survey released Thursday pegs Trump‘s support among Florida voters at 46 percent, while disapproval is slightly higher at 49 percent. DeSantis has cast himself as a reliable defender of Trump and his agenda, leaving open the question of whether he can win over more-moderate voters in the state who may see the president unfavorably.”
The poll also showed a dead heat in the Senate race between Senator Bill Nelson Gov. Rick Scott (R) — 46 percent and 45 percent, respectively.