A new Quinnipiac Poll shows Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum with a six point lead over his Republican counterpart, former U.S. Representative Ron DeSantis, in the increasingly tight race to become Florida’s next governor.
As was the case with Quinnipiac’s poll on Florida’s U.S. Senate race released Monday, independents and non-party affiliates are driving the Democratic candidate’s lead.
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“Independents are a much sought after commodity in an election,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. “And one of the interesting things about this election, and in the Senate race poll which we released yesterday, is that both Democratic candidates are doing extremely well among independents. Somewhere around a 20 point lead among independents. And that’s actually the most important statistic about the election. Candidates who are getting 20 percent [more] of the independents in an election generally do pretty well.”
Mike Binder, the head of the University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research Lab, has been outspoken in his criticism of Quinnipiac’s pool of likely voters in its recent polls.
“NPAs and others are breaking heavily for Gillum and not quite as heavily, but they are breaking for [incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Bill] Nelson. And if you have a disproportionate amount of those people in the survey it’s going to alter your election results,” Binder said. “When you start putting out numbers that include close to 30 percent of NPAs, when during general elections you're lucky to get 23 or 24 percent and in midterms closer to 20 or 21, I just don’t think that’s a reasonable poll to put much stock into.”
In an interview with WJCT, Brown declined to respond to Binder’s criticism, saying he doesn’t comment on other polls/pollsters or Quinnipiac’s internal statistics. However, he did say he stands behind the results of Quinnipiac’s polls. “Obviously, we think our numbers are valid,” Brown said.
According to Quinnipiac, 1,161 Florida likely voters were surveyed from October 17 - 21 for this poll and Gillum’s lead falls outside of the poll’s stated 3.5 percent margin of error.
An average of public polls from Real Clear Politics has Gillum leading DeSantis by 4.7 percent.