There’s a cynical saying in politics and business, used by those striving with a weak hand: “Fake it till you make it.” Florida Democrats are attempting to fake it just now, insisting that Florida is politically purple. It’s not working. Pay no attention to it. The reliable polls are showing both Governor Ron DeSantis and Senator Marco Rubio holding comfortable leads over their Democrat opponents. Republican candidates in other state-wide races hold even wider leads.
Mason-Dixon, a non-ideological polling outfit with a record of accuracy, shows DeSantis with an 11-point lead over Democrat Charlie Crist. The current Real Clear Politics average of polls shows DeSantis with a smaller 7-point lead, but this average includes some polls stretching back to August and polls by less than reliable pollsters.
Another Mason Dixon poll, taken at the same time, shows Rubio with a 6-point lead over Democrat Congresswoman Val Demings. The Real Clear average has Rubio up 4, with the same reservations as above. Republicans running for Florida Attorney General, Chief Financial Officer, and Agriculture Commissioner enjoy leads of 10 to 13 percent. None of this is very purple.
The poll on the governor’s race, which sampled 800 likely voters, took place Sept. 26-28, days before Ian blew through Florida causing extensive damage and loss of life. But so far DeSantis’s handling of state government’s response to the storm has been masterful. State and local agencies have been scrambled. Power is being restored, roads and bridges repaired, storm debris removed, and, most important, Floridians in peril rescued. More than 700 of these.
Even President Biden, underfoot in the storm area Wednesday, had to admit it. “I think he’s done a good job,” Biden said of DeSantis’s storm recovery efforts Wednesday. “We have very different political philosophies but we’ve worked hand-in-glove. In dealing with this crisis, we’ve been in complete lockstep.” DeSantis passed the olive branch back with, “I want to thank President Biden. We were very fortunate to have good coordination with the White House and FEMA.”
The honeymoon won’t last, of course. DeSantis and Biden have torn rhetorical strips off of each other in the past over COVID, immigration, and other tendentious issues and will doubtless return to this default position soon enough. While neither man considered this appearance a good forum for political point scoring, Biden couldn’t resist insisting that Ian was further proof that “climate change is real” and that “we ought to do something about it.” At least Biden didn’t attempt to shake hands with a palm tree, nor did he have to go to war with his coat, though I’m sure “Dr.” Jill was watchful and tense the whole time.
While Biden didn’t criticize DeSantis’s handling of the storm, other Democrats and the left-stream media have not held back. They’ve bleated that DeSantis should have ordered residents of Fort Myers and other southern counties to evacuate at a time when only God knew where the storm was going and all the meteorological computer jockeys were predicting the storm would hit the Tampa Bay Area. (Read more about this.) The same media outfits who criticized DeSantis for not ordering everyone in Southwest Florida to flee had all their personnel and equipment in Tampa. But this didn’t stop them from asserting that DeSantis should have known more than they did. (He does, on almost everything, though not the weather.) So far this unfair criticism does not seem to have gotten any traction. But the charge had to be made, because the media sees DeSantis, correctly, as a threat to their clients, the Democrats.
In the Senate race, Demings, like so many other Democrats this election cycle, and with plenty of out-of-state money to buy dishonest and inflammatory ads, is trying to ride abortion to an election victory against staunchly pro-life Rubio. Abortion as an issue has gotten a surprising amount of traction nationally, but in most places, not enough to deliver victory when voters are far more concerned about inflation, crime, and the total erasure of a southern border.
Demings faces severe Biden headwinds. The latest approval ratings for Biden in Florida show 54 percent thumbs down with only 42 percent saying he’s done a good job. Demings has a voting record in Congress, and she’s been a down-the-line supporter of Biden, the author of the policies and conditions a majority of Floridians say they don’t like. She’s a relatively new face on the state-wide scene, so her prospects will likely get dimmer the more voters learn about her record.
Across the country Republicans have some tough races for Senate seats and governorships. But in Florida the two Republican incumbents look golden. Of course, we don’t yet know what the October surprise will be. We probably should stop calling it the October surprise since we know something is coming, so no one should be surprised. The October hustle probably describes it better. But I digress…
Democrats will continue to try to fake it in Florida at least until the polls finally close. But if anyone plans to bet the mortgage money (I counsel against this), don’t bet on them making it.