Ahead of his first debate with Democrat Andrew Gillum Sunday, GOP governor nominee Ron DeSantis had some strong words — for CNN.
DeSantis’ campaign went off on the network for releasing a “misleading” poll hours before the 8 p.m. event showing Gillum up 12 points in the race for governor. The poll, conducted by SSRS, showed Gillum with 54 percent support to DeSantis’ 42 percent, with a margin of error of 4.2 percent. It also had U.S. Senator Bill Nelson leading Gov. Rick Scott by a 50 to 45 margin.
Both results are outliers in what otherwise have been shown as tight races.
A Real Clear Politics average of polls in the U.S. Senate race has Nelson ahead by 1.3 points. In the race for governor, Gillum has been consistently ahead in public polling. Yet polls over the last three weeks have shown Gillum ahead by only one or two points, and DeSantis’ campaign said Sunday that their own internal polling has the Republican up two.
DeSantis’ campaign released its internal numbers along with a lengthy statement Sunday ripping CNN for releasing what it called “a questionable and misleading poll attempting to portray DeSantis as trailing Gillum by double digits.” Spokesman Stephen Lawson alleged that CNN hoped to give Gillum an advantage.
“Simply put, this CNN survey is not worth the paper it is written on because the sample and weights do not reflect a Florida election,” said Lawson. “That CNN takes this poll seriously enough to blast it out to their viewers right before a debate on their network is why so many Americans believe that CNN peddles fake news.”
DeSantis’ campaign criticized the methodology of the poll, which was based off of answers from 1,012 adults who were asked how they identify their politics as opposed to their actual registration (a strategy used by some pollsters). The resulting breakdown was 32 percent Democrat, 29 percent Republican and 39 percent Independent – figures that are out-of-whack with historical midterm election turnouts for Florida.
“This poll is as amusing as it is suspicious in that it was released hours before a debate between the two candidates – clearly meant to give the advantage to Andrew Gillum,” Lawson said.
Later Sunday, SEA Polling, a firm that typically works for Democratic clients, released a different poll showing Gillum up 48 to 42 on DeSantis. The breakdown of that poll, based on likely voters and their actual registration, was 39 percent Democrat, 41 percent Republican and 20 percent “something else.”