Even amid all the talk of the Democratic political wave this year, Florida’s political elites are growing skeptical about Sen. Bill Nelson’s prospects for fending off Gov. Rick Scott’s challenge.
Among more than 200 experts and veterans of Florida politics surveyed in the latest Tampa Bay Times Florida Insider Poll, nearly six in 10 this week said they expect Scott to unseat the three-term Democratic Senator. Just over two months ago, more than 57 percent of the Florida Insiders surveyed expected Nelson to win.
“I’m very worried about Sen. Nelson,” said a Democrat. “I think the Democrats need to reevaluate our candidate and Gwen Graham should jump to the Senate race immediately.”
A Republican had a similar thought: “Bill Nelson’s best chance is a run for Governor. He should pivot now before Scott pastes his face to the floor. At least Nelson would win his party’s nomination. Better chance to win in the general than any other declared candidate in his party.”
“Rick Scott is focusing on Hispanics way before Nelson is. He did this in 2014. He is traveling to Puerto Rico, getting close to Venezuelans, Cubans and Colombians,” said a person registered to neither major party. “Nelson cannot ignore our Latino community and should have messages in English and Spanish. Commercials in both languages. He cannot only depend on the Dixiecrats.”
Florida Insider polls are unscientific surveys that reflect perceptions among Florida’s chattering class, rather than actual voters who decide elections. We allow anonymous responses to encourage frank assessments by people closely involved in the political process.
“Who wins the U.S. Senate race will depend entirely on how well Donald Trump is doing at the time of voting,” a Democrat said. “Scott has run behind in his two races for governor, and needed a Republican tailwind. This time, I think he’s a point or two ahead, and Nelson needs the tailwind.”