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New polls: Democrats lead marquee Florida races; Arizona Senate, Kansas governor effectively tied

UVA Center for Politics October 31st, 2018

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The final pre-election Reuters/Ipsos/University of Virginia Center for Politics state-level polls of this election cycle shows Democratic candidates leading for the Sunshine State’s high-profile gubernatorial and Senate contests, while the open-seat Senate race in Arizona and the battle for the open Kansas governorship are effectively tied.

These are the second Reuters/Ipsos/UVA Center for Politics polls in Arizona and Florida, and the first poll in Kansas. The results from the polls follow, with the findings from the previous polls in parentheses (incumbents noted with an *):

Arizona Senate: Martha McSally (R) 48%, Kyrsten Sinema (D) 46% (September: Sinema 47%-44%)

Arizona Governor: Doug Ducey* (R) 57%, David Garcia (D) 37% (September: Ducey 51%-39%)

Florida Senate: Bill Nelson* (D) 49%, Rick Scott (R) 44% (September: Scott 46%-45%)

Florida Governor: Andrew Gillum (D) 50%, Ron DeSantis (R) 44% (September: Gillum 50%-44%)

Kansas Governor: Laura Kelly (D) 43%, Kris Kobach (R) 41%, Greg Orman (I) 9%

The three polls were conducted online in English. The Arizona poll featured 799 likely voter respondents and was conducted from Oct. 17 to Oct. 26. The Florida poll featured 1,069 likely voter respondents and was conducted from Oct. 17 to Oct. 25. The Kansas poll featured 986 likely voter respondents and was conducted Oct. 17 to Oct. 27. More details, including tables, crosstabs, and methodological information, for all of these polls are available at:

Arizona: https://www.ipsos.com/en-us/news-polls/tie-in-arizona-senate-race

Florida: https://www.ipsos.com/en-us/news-polls/democrats-lead-in-florida-senate-governor-races

Kansas: https://www.ipsos.com/en-us/news-polls/tie-in-kansas-gubernatorial-race

Notably, these polls find better results for Democrats in the Florida Senate race and for Republicans in the Arizona Senate race compared to the first round of polls. Meanwhile, the Florida gubernatorial race has remained exactly the same while the GOP lead in the Arizona gubernatorial race has widened.

Likely an important factor in the GOP’s better numbers in Arizona than the last poll is that this poll features an electorate that is more favorable toward President Trump than the previous survey. Trump’s approval rating is 54% approve/45% disapprove in this poll but was 45% approve/53% disapprove in the last poll. That said, the differences between the Senate race back in September and now are slight: Sinema up 47%-44% last time, McSally up 48%-46% this time. Other polls generally reflect a close race.

At least in the race to be Florida’s chief executive, this poll found zero change from last time, giving Gillum a 50%-44% lead. The difference is in the Senate race, where Nelson effectively matches Gillum’s lead. Many polls have shown Gillum doing a little bit better than Nelson, but the two races have generally converged closer to one another. Back on Sept. 19, when we released our first Florida poll, Scott led Nelson by 0.8 points in the RealClearPolitics average of polls, while Gillum was up by 3.4 points, meaning that Gillum’s margin was about four points better than Nelson’s. As of Tuesday afternoon, Gillum was up by three points in the average while Nelson was up by two. Trump’s approval split in Florida is 45%-51% in this poll, quite similar to a 47%/53% split back in September.

Finally, the Kansas poll reinforces other surveys that have found a Toss-up race for the Kansas governorship, with Kelly (43%) and Kobach (41%) effectively tied, and with Orman, a 2014 Senate nominee who ran as an independent but effectively became the Democratic challenger, at 9%. Orman has been consistently polling around 10% support, and most seem to think he hurts Kelly a little more than Kobach. Our poll finds mixed support for that theory. On one hand, Orman is winning 9% of self-described Republicans but only 5% of Democrats, indicating perhaps a small Orman penalty on Kobach; on the other hand, Orman is winning 15% of self-described independents, a group that otherwise strongly supports Kelly (56%) over Kobach (14%), perhaps indicating Kelly would be doing even better with independents if not for Orman. In any event, this looks like a very tight race. Watch to see if Orman ends up getting less than 10% of support; independent candidates sometimes poll better than they actually perform.

Reuters, Ipsos, and the UVA Center for Politics have collaborated this fall on several state-level polls. Previously, this group released polls of five states in the Sun Beltfive mostly Midwestern statesIllinois and Missouri, Georgia and Tennessee, and a second round of polls in Nevada, Texas, and Wisconsin. These individual state-level polls also will help supplement the data presented on the UVA Center for Politics/Ipsos Political Atlas, a new website that uses Crystal Ball ratings, poll-based modeling, and social media data to present the state of play in this cycle’s Senate, House, and gubernatorial elections. A holistic approach is also what we at the Crystal Ball apply to polling, and we try to take many different surveys into account as we formulate our ratings.