Democrats down in the polls, campaign money

The 2022 gubernatorial election is less than a year away, and three leading Democratic candidates have applied to deny GOP Governor Ron DeSantis a second term and momentum for a possible 2024 presidential campaign.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, Congressman Charlie Crist and Florida State Senator Annette Taddeo face a political battlefield plagued by disagreements over masks and vaccine warrants, chain disruptions supply and other pandemic-related issues as they attempt to capture the Governor’s Mansion.

The candidates have not yet established clear political differences between them. This could be one of the reasons why the Democrats’ victory is the longest of trials, according to consultants, politicians and grassroots activists.

In a FiveThirtyEight compilation out of 14 polls, DeSantis leads in 12 of them, with a double-digit margin in six. Crist wins in two polls.

It has been a generation since a Democrat won the governorship of Florida. Lawton Chiles was re-elected by 64,000 votes against Republican Jeb Bush in 1994. Bush came back in force four years later and won a landslide victory.

Former Governor Lawton Chiles was the last Democrat to win the governor's residence in 1994.

But over the past decade, Democrats have cut Bush’s 55% share of the 1998 vote by half a point. Democrats’ fortunes began to turn in 2010 when former CFO Alex Sink s he is 1.2% closer to defeating Republican Rick Scott.

Scott then used $ 15 million of his own money to win a one-point re-election in 2014 against Crist, a former Republican governor who ran as a Democrat.

Four years later, DeSantis won with less than half a percent, or 63,000 votes, against former Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum.

It was then. Today, DeSantis appears to have become more popular with voters in Florida.

According to a Saint-Léo University surveyDeSantis now has a higher job approval rate – 56% – than the share of vote it received in 2018, which was 49%.

And he’s built a $ 60 million campaign war chest with out-of-state fundraisers and frequent appearances on Fox News. That’s almost 20 times the money of any of the Democratic candidates.

And the governor has nothing to spend on a primary election.

The “brutal” 2022 campaign for Democrats?

Matt Isbell, data analyst and campaign consultant for Democratic Candidates, said the numbers, in terms of money and polls, appear to be against Democrats this cycle.

He compares the upcoming campaign to two people walking up a hill: “The Democrat has a rock strapped to his back, his pockets are loaded with stones and walks with stones in his shoes, while the Republican climbs an escalator.

He predicts that the 2022 campaign will be “brutal” for Democrats. “I’m not saying we shouldn’t try or give up and go home, but let’s be real,” Isbell said.

Devon Morris, who leads Volusia’s Young Democrats, sees obstacles in the Democrats’ path. They start with Republicans overtaking Democrats in voter registration, as well as the historic tendency of the midterm elections to go against the party in the White House.

His group welcomed the three candidates to various meetings. In their presentations and question-and-answer sessions that followed, there seemed to be little political disagreement between them.

All three have placed opposition to DeSantis at the center of their campaign, which Morris says may be a mistake.

“Focusing on politics rather than personality is usually how we deliver the winning message to voters,” Morris said, noting that DeSantis is quite popular – although his politics may not be with Democratic voters.

He believes the three candidates demonstrate different strengths: Crist, a loyal Democrat in the US House; Fried, an energetic candidate who won statewide; and Taddeo, a successful career in Miami-Dade politics to accompany a compelling life story to connect with voters.

“History says it’s going to be a tough race. Our role is to organize in places that we have never organized historically and try to reverse those historical trends,” Morris said of his 50-member Young Democrats club.

Democrats often align themselves with many dominant views

The Florida Democrats’ inability to win does not appear to be due to being out of step with voters. For several election cycles, if the polls are correct, Democrats’ stance will align with voters on issues such as the expansion of Medicaid, abortion rights and public schools.

And Democratic candidates have backed successful constitutional amendments over the past year that Republicans have opposed, including those that restored criminals’ voting rights, raised the minimum wage, allowed the use of marijuana at home. medical purposes and increased environmental spending.

“Yet Republicans consistently win elections. How (and) why is the million dollar question, ”said Kartik Krishnaiyer, in a discussion of how the GOP achieved near-majority status in the state House of Representatives.

Krishnaiyer, a former member of the Florida Democratic Party, founded the Florida Squeeze Political Blog, who has documented the Democratic / Republican divide in Florida politics since 2013.

He suggests Democrats are continually running out because when a voter shows up at a ballot box, problems don’t matter. Elections are decided by the enthusiasm and energy that a candidate develops among the voters, as he sees it.

And he sees an “enthusiasm gap” as the reason the GOP has held the governor’s mansion since the 1990s and now controls three of the four Cabinet seats, 24 of the 40 Senate seats, and 78 of the 120 House seats. at the State Capitol.

“I would love to have a candidate who will boost turnout where you don’t fall further behind (in the Legislature), even if you lose the governor’s race,” Krishnaiyer said.

But he, along with Isbell, said all signs for 2022 “looked worrisome” to Democrats.

The candidates

Here are the top three candidates vying for the Democratic post of governor of Florida in 2022.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried holds a press conference to provide an update on COVID-19 and discuss the issue of masking in Florida schools with Wakulla County School Board member Verna Brock at the Capitol on Monday August 9, 2021.

Nikki Fried:

  • Current position: Florida Commissioner of Agriculture, elected in 2018
  • Age: 43
  • Resume: Holland & Knight lawyer in Jacksonville, deputy public defender of the 8th Florida judicial circuit, lobbyist
  • Campaign cash: $ 3,263,204
  • Quote: “Floridians are looking for something new in this election: new leadership, new ideas and new energy. “
Senator Annette Taddeo holds a press conference outside the RA Gray building in Tallahassee after filing documents to run for the 2022 Florida governor's race on Monday, October 19, 2021.

Annette Taddeo:

  • Current position: State Senator for Senate District 40, elected in 2017
  • Age: 54
  • CV: Founder of Language Speak Translation Service, Chairman of the Miami-Dade Democratic Executive Committee 2012-14
  • Campaign cash: $ 626,996
  • Quote: “Expanding Medicaid is something I’ve been trying to do since I’ve been here, and once I have the veto I know we can do it.”
Governor Candidate Charlie Crist speaks at a press conference where he announced the second part of his "Justice for all" campaign at the historic Capitol on Thursday, October 14, 2021.

Charlie Crist:

  • Current role: District 13 congressman, first elected in 2016
  • Age: 65
  • CV: State Senator 1992-98, State Education Commissioner 2000-02, Attorney General 2002-06, Governor 2006-10
  • Campaign cash: $ 3,178,265
  • Quote: “The most important problem facing our state comes down to one thing: who can beat Ron DeSantis and bring back a sense of normalcy and compassion to the head of the Sunshine State? ”

James Call is a member of the USA TODAY NETWORK-Florida Capital Bureau. He can be contacted at jcall@tallahassee.com. Follow him on Twitter: @CallTallahassee

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