Clues May Come Early In Florida Governor Race
By Charles Parker // November 3, 2014
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By most measures, Tuesday’s election for Florida governor should be close. Most of the polls are within the margin of error, and neither candidate – Republican incumbent Rick Scott and Democrat Charlie Crist – has been able to force much separation in the numbers.
Most political watchdogs are saying that turnout will be the key and that it will be a late night.
However, there may be some clues earlier in the evening as to how things are trending. There are three congressional districts with toss-up races, according to www.realclearpolitics.com. These three – plus a bellweather county – could very well tell us who will be Florida’s next governor way before final votes are counted.
Florida 2 – This seat is currently held by incumbent Republican Steve Southerland. He is being challenged by Gwen Graham, the daughter of popular former Florida Governor Bob Graham. This had been a longtime Democrat seat in Congress until Southerland swept in on the 2010 wave. He won by a narrow margin in 2012. This panhandle district has few Hispanics, but about 33% African-American. If Graham can win, it might indicate that the Democrat stealth ground game is back in the mix.
Florida 18 – This conservative district is in the southeast part of the state, including Port St. Lucie and Martin counties. The incumbent is a young Democrat named Patrick Murphy, who upset GOP firebrand Allen West in 2012. Murphy won, while Mitt Romney carried the area by 4%. If the Republican challenger – state legislator Carl Domino – can pull off a win, it might signal that the GOP is scoring big.
Florida 26 – Democrat incumbent Joe Garcia upset an ethically-challenged Republican candidate in 2010 and President Obama won this south Florida district by 7% in 2012. But Republican Carlos Curbelo is making a run at it. If Garcia holds on, it might indicate that Crist is holding on as well to progressive south Florida.
Finally, Hillsborough County is a great place to watch in predicting Florida elections. It has picked the presidential winner every year since 1960, except once. But it went for Alex Sink – Rick Scott’s opponent – in 2010. It leans Democratic.
More voters have cast ballots early than in 2010. The bottom line is that if the county’s African-American and Hispanic voters are the majority of that early turnout, Crist will carry it. However, a Scott win – or even a closer margin that the 4% gap he lost by last time – would be a huge boost for a return to Tallahassee for the Republican governor.
So – while it may be late in the evening before a winner can be projected – these toss-ups can provide some good guesses early on as to whether Rick Scott or Charlie Crist is Florida’s next governor.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Space Coast Daily political reporter Charles Parker will be providing more analysis on Election Night with Ed Dean on WMEL 1300 AM beginning at 7 p.m.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Charles Parker is a longtime resident of Brevard County and has been writing for various publications for the last 40 years – both print and digital. Parker covers space, politics, religion, and other news and special events for Space Coast Daily.
Currently, he is an aerospace engineering teacher at Merritt Island High School. He is also the director of both the da Vinci Academy of Aerospace Technology and the Academy of Hospitality, Entrepreneurship, and Tourism at MIHS. He is a professor of Humanities and World Religions at Eastern Florida State College and Valencia College.
Parker has worked extensively in the tourism and aerospace industries in Brevard. He has also been a United Methodist pastor and director of a non-profit to help young adults aging out of foster care. He was formerly a board member at Brevard Achievement Center and the Childcare Association of Brevard. He was appointed by Governor Jeb Bush to the Children’s Services Council from 1999-2003.
Parker earned a BA in Organizational Management from Warner University and a Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary. He is married, has four children and one grandchild.
AUTHOR NOTE: These views are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Brevard Public Schools, Eastern Florida State College, or Valencia College.
You can follow Parker on Twitter @cparker_scd