- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 5, 2018

One day after declaring the Florida gubernatorial race too close to call, Quinnipiac University announced another poll Wednesday that puts the state’s Senate race also at “dead even.”

“Sen. Bill Nelson, the Democratic incumbent, faces the most difficult challenge of his long political career,” said Peter A. Brown, the assistant director of polling at Quinnipiac. “He is locked in a 49-49 percent contest with Republican Rick Scott, Florida’s governor.”

The latest poll offers more confirmation than surprise. Still, the nonexistent advantage for either candidate suggests Mr. Nelson has stabilized his campaign after foundering on Russian rocks last month. Without providing any evidence, Mr. Nelson declared Russian agents had already infiltrated Florida’s electoral apparatus, a charge rebutted by state officials and the FBI.

Mr. Nelson may also be benefiting from the surprise primary victory of Tallahassee’s Democratic Mayor Andrew Gillum in the gubernatorial contest to succeed Mr. Scott, the poll suggests. Mr. Gillum, who would become the Sunshine State’s first African-American governor, is expected to galvanize the black vote in the state, which Quinnipiac says breaks for Mr. Nelson by a 90-5 margin.

Mr. Scott still enjoys a modest advantage in the Real Clear Politics polling average which, after accounting for Quinnipiac’s tie and an identical result from Gravis, puts the race at +1.7 in Mr. Scott’s favor. The edge comes from his lead in 3 other polls which have him up by a +4.6 margin.

This week Mr. Scott has been touting his endorsement from veterans’ groups while Mr. Nelson has been focused on the confirmation hearings for U.S. Appeals Court Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

To some extent, the different paths reflect the campaigns’ long-term trends. Mr. Scott has tried to sell voters on his 8-year record as governor and to paint Mr. Nelson as the lapdog of more left-wing figures in the Democratic party like its Senate Minority Leader Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York, while Mr. Nelson has attempted to make the race more of a referendum on Mr. Trump and Republican control of Congress.

The Quinnipiac polls shows a slight majority of Floridians approve of Mr. Scott’s tenure in the Governor’s Mansion by 51-46 percent, although is overall favorability edge is more modest at 49-47 percent.

Mr. Nelson, on the other hand, received nearly identical marks in both categories, with 48-42 percent favorability rating and 49 versus 43 percent of voters approving of the job he’s doing as senator, according to the poll.

• James Varney can be reached at jvarney@washingtontimes.com.

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