Two polls released Tuesday show incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson leading Republican Rick Scott in the Florida senate race. An NBC/Marist poll has Nelson up by 3 points among likely voters (48-45) and Quinnipiac has Nelson up by 7 (53-46).
While it is always important to take individual polls with a grain of salt, movement within a given poll is a fairly good measure of how things might be shifting. In Quinnipiac’s previous polling on this race in early September, it was a dead heat with each candidate garnering 49 percent. That’s a big change in only three weeks, leaving just 6 percent undecided at this point.
In both polls the gender gap is significant, with Nelson winning among women by 13 percent and 17 percent. In addition to also winning among voters of color by overwhelming margins, Nelson has a strong lead among independents—16 points in both polls.
All of that, combined with the fact that Democrat Andrew Gillum continues to lead Republican Ron DeSantis in the governors race, led Lee Miringoff (Marist pollster) to report that “the political environment in Florida, overall, is tipping in the Democrats’ favor.”
The reason all of this is significant is that, when analyzing the chances of Democrats taking control of the Senate, the Florida race has been critical. Initially it looked like a possible pick-up for Republicans, making the uphill climb for Democrats this year even steeper. But the folks at NBC’s First Read note that since Gillum won the Democratic primary last month, Florida doesn’t seem as resistant to a blue wave as it once did.
As an example of how that changes things, after Tuesday’s polling results, the “no toss ups map” at Real Clear Politics has the senate at a 50-50 tie, with the assumption that Republicans pick up both Missouri and North Dakota, while Democrats pick up Arizona, Nevada and Tennessee. If that were to hold, Democratic control of the Senate would come down to whether or not Beto O’Rouke can beat Ted Cruz in Texas.
With all of that in mind, it is a good time to remember that, if a blue wave actually happens, it will be powered by women voters.
Sensing a theme in this week's Senate polls:
FL: Nelson (D) +17 over Scott (R) among women [Quinnipiac]
AZ: Sinema (D) +15 over McSally (R) among women [Marist]
MI: Stabenow (D) +24 over James (R) among women [Mitchell]
WI: Baldwin (D) +27 over Vukmir (R) among women [Marquette]
— Gabriel Debenedetti (@gdebenedetti) September 25, 2018
As one person on twitter responded to Debenedetti, “please Senator Hatch, keep talking.”