2018 Florida Senate - Scott vs. Nelson

Nelson (D)
Scott (R)
Final Results
Florida Snapshot

Final Results:  Scott +0.2 
RCP Ranking: Toss Up
Key 2018 Races: 
Governor | FL-7 | FL-13 | FL-16 | FL-18 | FL-25
FL-26 | FL-27

----------PAST KEY RACES----------

2016President | SenateFL-7 | FL-13 | FL-18 | FL-26
: Governor | FL-2 | FL-18 | FL-26
President | Senate | House
2010Governor | Senate | House
2008: Pres | FL-8 | FL-16 | FL-21 | FL-24 | FL-25
2006: Governor | FL-13 | FL-16 | FL-22
2004: President | Senate

Race Analysis

10/6/18 -- Rick Scott’s lead has evaporated as Bill Nelson has begun to spend.  The race is still close, but Nelson seems to have at least stabilized the situation when it looked like it might be getting away from him.

9/13/18 -- Rick Scott holds a narrow, but consistent, edge in the polling here.  He’s also extremely well known, while Nelson has cut a lower profile in the Senate. This could be a pleasant surprise for Republicans, but Scott, currently below 50 percent of the vote, probably faces a stiffer task with undecided voters than does Nelson.

----------Race Preview----------

Florida provided an unlikely site for the initial attempts at European colonization of the New World.  But a desire to protect the Gulf of Mexico from French exploration, which threatened the vital shipments of gold that flowed from the Aztec and Incan empires near the Florida Keys, brought permanent Spanish settlement to the area in the mid-1500s.  But as Spain went into decline, so too did its holdings in Florida.  After a period of back-and-forth between Spanish, English, and American forces, including Spain's acquiescence to England to use of Pensacola as a naval base in the War of 1812, Spain ceded Florida to the U.S. in 1819.

When Florida was admitted to the union in 1845, most of the populace was centered around Tallahassee and the panhandle, eschewing the dank, unhealthy swamp in the south.  To give some idea of scale, in 1854, Dade County's congressional vote was 19 votes for the Democrat and four votes for the Whig.  But in 1894, a severe freeze wiped out most of the citrus crop in the state. A second freeze in early 1895 finished the damage. All that was left was a single citrus farm owned by a fortunate widow in the Miami area.  It was a natural monopoly in the truest sense of the word. Given this leverage, she persuaded railroad magnate Henry Flagler to extend his railroad line south to Miami. He did so, in exchange for a 100-acre tract of land and an agreement to build a hotel. Thus was modern Miami born, as settlers flocked to the "freeze-proof" land. The first train tracks reached Miami in 1895; the city was incorporated in 1896 with 444 citizens.

Of course, Miami and the peninsula didn't stay sparsely populated for long, as northern immigrants transformed the state's landscape -- and its politics.  From 1970 to 2000, Democratic voter registration plummeted from 72 percent to 43 percent, though the party seems to have stanched the bleeding in recent years.  Today Florida leans a bit to the right of center, although its population continues to change at a rapid pace.

Bill Nelson is in many ways the last of a dying breed of moderate white Southern Democrats.  First elected to the House in 1978, Nelson's voting record was quite conservative.  He lost a bid for the gubernatorial nomination in 1990, but came back and won a Senate seat in 2000.  This time around, his voting record has been further to the left, though he is still one of the more conservative Democrats in the Senate. 

In 2006 he caught a break when Republicans nominated former Secretary of State Kathleen Harris to challenge him. He did so again in 2012 when the GOP nominated Rep. Connie Mack IV, who faced questions about his hard-partying youth and his recent voting record. This time, all eyes are on two-term governor Rick Scott, who may provide Nelson with his stiffest challenge to date.

Poll Data
Nelson (D)
Scott (R)
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