Growing Popularity of Florida Governor Candidate Andrew Gillum Could Boost Other Democrats On the Ballot

Andrew Gillum (Photographer: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Andrew Gillum (Photographer: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Andrew Gillum’s quest to become Florida’s first black governor continues to gain momentum with his closely watched campaign, potentially helping lift fellow Democrats running in America’s perennial swing state.

A Quinnipiac University poll Tuesday showed Gillum ahead of Republican opponent Ron DeSantis 52 percent to 46 percent among likely voters, with double-digit leads among women, Hispanics and independents. It’s the third such poll in recent days to show Gillum with a clear lead, as his overall edge in public polling widened to its largest level since Oct. 1, according to RealClearPolitics’ aggregation of survey data.

“Gillum has attracted a coalition of voters that don’t normally turn out in midterms, minorities and young voters, for instance,” University of Central Florida political science professor Aubrey Jewett said in an interview. If that edge holds and translates into higher turnout, Democrats in key U.S. House races as well as state-level candidates down the ballot could rise with him.

Florida Democrat Bill Nelson, seeking re-election to the Senate, has also seen his fortunes rise with Gillum’s. Nelson leads Republican Governor Rick Scott by 52 percent to 46 percent among likely voters in a Quinnipiac poll released Monday.

In addition, race ratings in three open House races were shifted in favor of Democrats Tuesday by Cook Political Report, including the 27th district that includes parts of Miami as well as the Daytona Beach area formerly represented by DeSantis.

Gillum, seen as a more progressive Democrat, represents a departure from the “traditional, centrist kind of candidate” that Florida Democrats have tended to run for governor, said Kevin Wagner of Florida Atlantic University. As such, Gillum may be stoking turnout among voters who might not otherwise vote in a midterm election.

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SOURCE: Kim Chipman and Derek Wallbank