Florida Bellwether Poll Shows Dead Heats in U.S. Senate & Governor’s Races.

Suffolk University survey of Ohio bellwether gives edge to incumbent Democrat for U.S. Senate.

A new Suffolk University bellwether poll in Florida shows dead heats in both the U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races, setting the stage for a precinct-by-precinct count that could keep the Sunshine State on tenterhooks Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, an Ohio bellwether shows incumbent Sherrod Brown leading Republican Congressman Jim Renacci by 15 points in the U.S. Senate race, with the governor’s contest very tight.

A bellwether is an area of a state where voting patterns typically mirror the electoral outcomes of a larger area, based on similar previous elections and other data. The bellwether methodology is valuable for predicting outcomes, but not margins of victory.

Florida

The 2018 midterm bellwether of Volusia County showed Republican Gov. Rick Scott (42.67 percent) less than 1 point ahead of incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (42.0 percent) in a race that is statistically tied. Eleven percent were undecided, and 4 percent refused a response.

In the governor’s race, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democrat, (44 percent) led former Congressman Ron DeSantis, a Republican, (43.67 percent) by less than 1 point, with Reform Party candidate Darcy Richardson at 1 percent, and three other candidates combining for 1 percent, 7 percent were undecided, and 4 percent refusing a response.

“Even the bellwether, which usually provides us with a clearer picture of an outcome, has this race close, with no candidate breaking the race open,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “Volusia County has been uncanny over the past two or three midterm elections when the Florida ballot has featured both a governor’s and U.S. Senate race.”

On October 30, Suffolk University/USA TODAY network released a Florida statewide poll that showed Nelson leading Scott by 1.4 percentage points and Gillum leading DeSantis by less than 1 point, both within the poll’s margin of error. The bellwether poll of Volusia County fielded Nov. 1 – Nov. 3.

Ohio

Ohio’s only bellwether outcome outside of the margin of error occurs in Clark County, which has a remarkable record of forecasting statewide outcomes during a midterm election when both U.S. Senate and governor’s races appear on the ballot.

According to the poll, Brown (53 percent) leads Renacci (38 percent) by 15 points, with 7 percent undecided and 2 percent refusing a response.

“Clark County is speaking loudly for Sherrod Brown, and when Clark County speaks, the rest of the state not only listens, they follow suit, if history is any guide,” said Paleologos.

Clark County was less definitive in the governor’s race, with the poll showing Democrat Richard Cordray, former director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, (43 percent) leading Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine (42 percent) by 1 point, with Libertarian Travis Irvine at 1 percent, Green Party candidate Constance Gadell-Newton at less than 1 percent, 10 percent undecided, and 3 percent refusing a response.

Methodology

Using the combined voter lists from the November 2014 midterm, the November 2016 presidential election, and newly registered voters since 2016, the bellwether ID voters were called using a tight screen in which all respondents indicated that they were almost certain to vote in the upcoming midterm election or had already voted. All other respondents were screened out. The field was conducted Thursday, Nov. 1, through Saturday, Nov. 3. The margin of error for 300 respondents is +/- 5.65 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. Bellwethers are designed to predict winners, not margins of victory. Results are posted on the Suffolk University Political Research Center website. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310, dpaleologos@suffolk.edu.