UNF poll finds Gillum 4 points ahead of DeSantis

Same voters' survey finds Nelson, Scott tied with 45% each

By Steve Patrick - News4Jax digital managing editor, Kent Justice - Anchor/reporter
Associated Press

Ron DeSantis and Andrew Gillum speak at their victory parties Tuesday night.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Public Opinion Research Lab at the University of North Florida poll of likely voters released Monday finds Andrew Gillum in the lead for the upcoming gubernatorial election in Florida, with Ron DeSantis close behind.

The poll shows that 47 percent of respondents plan to vote for Gillum, the Democratic candidate in the upcoming election for Florida governor, while 43 percent plan to vote for the Republican candidate, DeSantis.

Of those likely voters, 10 percent are still undecided. Among Democrats, 85 percent indicate they plan to vote for Gillum, 6 percent for DeSantis and 9 percent don’t know how they’ll cast their vote. Eleven percent of Republican likely voters say they will vote for Gillum, while 81 percent indicate they’ll vote for DeSantis; 8 percent don’t know.

Dr. Michael Binder, faculty director of the Public Opinion Research Lab at UNF, said it shouldn't surprise anyone that the poll shows Gillum has a slim lead. 

"He's up by 4 points in our poll, and there have been some other polls that had him, you know, in that margin," Binder said. "I haven't seen anything that has had DeSantis ahead. And while this is still a close race, believe it or not, the election is six weeks away. It's still early in the race, so a lot can happen in the next few weeks."

Binder said, when the numbers close, campaigns cannot afford to relax.

"Any candidate who looks at a 4-point lead in a poll and thinks they're safe is crazy and, probably, is not going to get elected," he said. "You saw this with Gillum when he ran his primary race. He was nose-to-the-grindstone the whole way out. I think it paid off and ultimately got him to victory."

The same poll found Sen. Bill Nelson locked in a dead heat with Gov. Rick Scott in the upcoming Senate election for the state of Florida.

Asked who they would vote for in the Senate race if the election were held today, 45 percent of likely voters indicated they would vote for Nelson, the Democratic candidate, 45 percent would vote for Scott, the Republican, and 8 percent didn’t know. Of Democratic likely voters, 78 percent claim they will vote for Nelson, while 9 percent for Scott; 13 percent don’t know. Among Republican respondents, 12 percent say they will vote for Nelson, 83 percent for Scott and 4 percent don’t know. 

"If you look back at polling six months or a year ago, people had Nelson ahead, typically. I think Nelson hasn't done a lot of campaigning. Rick Scott has been on the airwaves all the time," Binder said. 

Additionally, the poll reveals that respondents show high support for restoring felon voting rights. When asked whether they would vote “yes” or “no” on a proposition to restore the voting rights of Floridians with felony convictions, 71 percent of likely voters claimed they would vote “yes” on the proposition, with 21 percent voting “no.” Only 8 percent didn’t know how they would vote. Regarding race, 82 percent of African-American respondents indicated they would vote “yes” on the amendment, while 69 percent of white respondents and 65 percent of Hispanic respondents claimed they would vote “yes” on the proposition. 

For details about the methodology of the survey and additional cross tabulations by partisanship, sex, education, race and age, visit www.UNF.edu/coas/porl.

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