By these measures, the political winds are blowing for DeSantis and hard against Crist | Column

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Op-Ed first published in the Tampa Bay Times on Oct. 2.


By Greg C. Truax and Barry Edwards

We have followed these indicators on many past and present campaigns and have never seen these them as one-sided as in this race.

Where does the race for governor stand? Like the path of a hurricane, election analysis can easily veer off course. Rather than allowing emotion and a dollop of political bias to muddy political thinking, we offer for analysis a group of historically accurate political indicators, rather than arbitrarily cherry-picking a few favorites.

Barry Edwards
Barry Edwards 

It is important to look at the indicators as a “work taken as a whole.” (No cherry-picking.) Below are nine indicators we label “wind vanes” showing the status and direction of the gubernatorial election — which way the political winds are blowing. (You can also track other statewide races using these same indicators.) Three national midterm indicators — the president’s job approval rating, direction of the country and generic congressional vote — are used because they reflect how voters view the incumbent president and his party.

Greg C. Truax
Greg C. Truax 

We have given each indicator a numerical rating based on perceived importance that are then totaled for both major party candidates for governor: Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis vs. Democrat Charlie Crist, former congressman and governor.

• Real Clear Politics polling average of its last three listed public opinion polls. DeSantis leads Crist by 8.7 points, according to Real Clear Politics, which is a political news website and polling data aggregator. Three points for DeSantis.

• Campaign funds on hand, an indicator of a candidate’s ability to communicate with voters through Election Day. Crist has about $2.9 million while DeSantis totals about $102 million. Two points for DeSantis.

• New Democratic and Republican voter registrations since the last statewide midterm election in 2018. Republicans have added 514,646 active registrants through Aug. 31 while the Democrats have lost 12,173 active registered voters. Two points for DeSantis. (Note: No Party Affiliation voter registration is up sharply. See our past “Column: Why independent voters don’t decide elections” in the Times analyzing NPA voters.)

• Incumbency. Up for re-election, DeSantis is the incumbent and Crist the challenger. One point for DeSantis.

• Total funds raised by the Florida Democratic Party vs. the Republican Party of Florida. The RPOF and its affiliated committees have out-raised the FDP and its affiliated committees by about $54 million. One point for DeSantis.

• President’s job approval rating. President Joe Biden’s job approval, according to the Real Clear Politics average of its last three listed public opinion polls, is 41.3 percent. One point for DeSantis.

• Direction of country. 64.3 percent in the RCP average of its last three listed public opinion polls say the country is on the “wrong track.” One Point for DeSantis.

• Generic congressional vote: Republicans have a three-point lead, according to the RCP average of its last three listed public opinion polls. One point for DeSantis.

• Voter turnout. Analyzing voter turnout is the best way to determine the outcome of a statewide election. Since the 2002 midterm election, when our voter turnout chart data starts, through the last midterm in 2018, Republican voter turnout has exceeded Democratic voter turnout in every midterm election; GOP candidates have dominated statewide elections. The DeSantis factor, which has attracted new conservative-minded voters to Florida, means the 2022 election cycle will be the first time since Reconstruction Florida Republicans will have more active registered voters — 269,644 — than the Democrats. Look for Republican turnout to increase from midterm 2018 by two points to 42 percent of the electorate. Four points for DeSantis.

Wind vane total: DeSantis 16 points. Crist 0 points.

We have used these indicators as a guide on many past and present campaigns, as you can too. We have never seen these commonly used criteria on this guide as one-sided in any past campaign. Election Day is Nov. 8.

Barry Edwards is a veteran political consultant and analyst based in St. Petersburg. Greg C. Truax lives in Tampa, is president of Tampa Bay Publishing, a film studio and publisher of AliveTampaBay. Both grew up in St. Petersburg, and neither is associated with the Crist or DeSantis campaigns.

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