39-year old Andrew Gillum leads in latest Florida poll by 7 points, but university don says 3.5 million independents hold his fate

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Democratic governorship candidate in Florida, 39-year old Andrew Gillum, is leading Republican Ron DeSantis in the latest poll by 7 points, according to the Quinnipiac survey released on Monday, but a Florida university don told journalists also on Monday morning that the 3.5 million registered independent voters may likely determine who wins tomorrow night.

The Quinnipiac survey said 50 percent of likely voters favor Gillum while 43 percent of likely voters support DeSantis, a former Congressman whose comment not to  “monkey this up” against Gillum, a black candidate, was widely condemned and seen as racist.

On October 23, the Quinnipiac survey of the Florida governor’s race saw Gillum, the Mayor of Tallahassee, leading by 6 points. The latest poll has widened his lead by 1 percent. 

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But Dr Kathryn DePalo of Florida International University who addressed foreign journalists near Miami Beach on Monday morning said she sees a closer race.

Dr Kathryn DePalo of Florida International University addresses foreign journalists near Miami Beach on Monday November 5, 2018. Photo: Emmanuel Ikodor, TODAY NEWS AFRICA, Miami

With 4.6 million registered Republicans, 4.9 million registered Democrats both energized, Dr. DePalo said Tuesday’s result may come down to what the 3.5 million independent voters decide to do and how many young voters turn out to vote. 

Dr. DePalo said the Florida governorship election and other races may end up being a referendum on President Donald Trump who considers Florida as his second home, a state where he usually spends time at Mar-a-Lago, a resort and National Historic Landmark in Palm Beach.


Dr Kathryn DePalo of Florida International University addresses foreign journalists near Miami Beach on Monday, November 5, 2018. Video: Emmanuel IkodorTODAY NEWS AFRICA, Miami

According to Dr. DePalo, there are about 54.1 percent of white voters in Florida, 25 percent of Hispanics and 16.9 percent of blacks, but many white voters support Gillum, especially because of issues such as healthcare, gun control and Trump.

Dr Kathryn DePalo of Florida International University addresses foreign journalists near Miami Beach on Monday November 5, 2018. Photo: Emmanuel IkodorTODAY NEWS AFRICA, Miami

When polls close at 7pm in most counties in Florida on Tuesday, she would be watching closely to see what independents and young voters had decided to do. But already,  she explained that early voting has been huge, although only about 7 percent of young voters have so far voted.

She said between half and two-thirds of registered voters have already voted in Florida, which is already far ahead of previous midterm elections. 

Republicans were slightly ahead over Democrats in terms of early voting, but the last Sunday before elections in Florida often sees a huge African American turnout after church services. She did not have the latest statistics.

Dr Kathryn DePalo of Florida International University addresses foreign journalists near Miami Beach on Monday November 5, 2018. Photo: Emmanuel Ikodor, TODAY NEWS AFRICA, Miami

She said because Democrats and Republicans kept energizing their base, turnout on Tuesday will be key to the final results in Florida, a state called “the microcosm of the nation” or the largest swing state in the United States, which is representative of the national mood.

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Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba covers the White House, the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions for Today News Africa in Washington D.C. Simon can be reached on simonateba@todaynewsafrica.com

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