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November 8, 2016
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2014 Election News

In 2010, Republican Rick Scott won two close elections on his way to the Florida statehouse.  He had to survive first a heated primary battle with former Congressman Bill McCollum - which he did by a slim 3-point margin - before moving on to face the Democrat, Florida's Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink.  She had enjoyed a much easier path to the November ballot, cruising to the Democratic nomination with almost 77% of the primary vote.

The gubernatorial race that year was an open seat election, but the sitting governor at the time wasn't retiring from politics.  He wasn't even sitting out the election.  Instead, then-Republican Charlie Crist threw his hat into a different ring, launching a bid for the open Senate seat held by interim GOP Senator George LeMieux.  (Crist had appointed LeMieux a year earlier after Mel Martinez's resignation in August 2009.)

Scott went on to win the general election against Sink by a very narrow 49% to $8% count, and Crist ended up losing badly to Republican Marco Rubio as an independent candidate in three-way race.  Democrat Kendrick Meek also ran in that race but ended up with just 20% of the vote to come in third.

Now, four years later, Crist, wearing the blue team's jersey, is back attempting to reclaim the governorship he voluntarily relinquished in 2010.  Never a very conservative kind of guy, Crist officially switched to the Democratic Party on December 7, 2012.  He is the front runner among a crowded field vying for the Democratic nomination.  Though he is the heavy favorite to prevail in the August 26 primary, Florida State Senator Nan Rich will provide a legitimate intra-party opponent.

On the Republican side, Governor Scott should earn the GOP nomination once again.  However, he hasn't been quite the darling of the Right as evidence by the seven declared Republicans running against him.  Still, it looks right now very much like a Rick Scott - Charlie Crist matchup in the general.

Polls taken so far measuring a Scott/Crist contest show the Democrat with the early lead.  A University of Florida survey released in January put Crist advantage at 7 points, 47-40.  Since both men are already well-known quantities to Florida voters, early polls are probably more predictive of the actual result than in other election scenarios.  So, while there are plenty of months left for the numbers to move one way or the other, Crist looks to me to be the true favorite in this race.

Preliminary projection:  Weak DEM Gain

You can track this race throughout the 2014 election season here at Election Projection by visiting the Florida Governor Election page for polls, projections and updates.  Also, check out the 2014 Governor Elections page for a summary of all gubernatorial races on tap in 2014 complete with EP's colorful red and blue Governor map.

posted by Scott Elliott at 8:18pm 02/15/14 :: link
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