CNN poll: Close Senate races in Florida and Tennessee before Election Day

Florida voters are almost evenly split on both the state's Senate and gubernatorial contests, while the Sena...

Posted: Nov 2, 2018 6:31 AM
Updated: Nov 2, 2018 6:31 AM

Florida voters are almost evenly split on both the state's Senate and gubernatorial contests, while the Senate contest in Tennessee appears to be shifting in the Republican's favor, according to new CNN polls conducted by SSRS.

In Florida's Senate race, Bill Nelson is locked in a close race with Rick Scott, with 49% of likely voters supporting Nelson, the incumbent Democrat, and 47% behind Scott, the state's Republican governor. The gubernatorial race is similarly divided: 49% for Democrat Andrew Gillum and 48% for Republican Ron DeSantis. In both contests, the share of likely voters who say they could change their minds in the final days of the campaign stands in single digits.

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RELATED: Full Florida poll results

The results reflect tighter contests than CNN's last poll in the state, which found both Democrats with an advantage. An average of other recent polling on each of the Florida races suggests a narrow Democratic tilt. A CNN poll of polls average assessing five recent live-interviewer telephone polls of the race -- including the new one from CNN -- finds Nelson topping Scott 48% to 45%, while Gillum edges DeSantis 49% to 45%.

In the new CNN poll, the decline in support for Gillum comes across demographic groups, but is sharpest among non-white voters (Gillum drops nine points among that group), those without college degrees (down seven points) and women (down six).

At the same time, DeSantis appears to have consolidated support among Republicans (94% of Republican voters now support him while fewer, 88%, backed him in the previous CNN poll) and has won over some independents (47% back him now compared to 42% in the last CNN poll).

In Tennessee, Republican Marsha Blackburn has overtaken former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen. In the new poll, 49% back Blackburn, 45% Bredesen. That reflects a reversal since a mid-September CNN poll found Bredesen with a five-point edge over Blackburn.

Men and independents are now less apt to say they support Bredesen, with the Democrat's backing among men dropping from 42% in September to 36% now. Among independents, Bredesen has gone from 54% support in September to 47% now.

RELATED: Full Tennessee poll results

Although few likely voters in the state say they could change their minds between now and Election Day, Bredesen does hold one advantage in the poll: he is viewed far more positively than Blackburn. While his favorability rating is net positive by 15 points, likely voters in Tennessee are about evenly divided on Blackburn, 48% see her favorably, 46% unfavorably.

Amid this bump for the Republican candidates in these two states, President Donald Trump also sees an uptick in his approval rating, especially among likely voters. In Florida, 47% of likely voters approve of the job Trump is doing as President, up from 43% in mid-October. A majority approve in Tennessee: 53% of likely voters say they approve of the way the President is handling his job, while 42% disapprove.

Health care tops the list of issues voters are considering when deciding their Senate vote in both states, though more so in Tennessee than in Florida. In Tennessee, 32% of likely voters call it their top issue, and 26% say so in Florida. The economy and immigration follow in both states.

Tennessee's governor race remains relatively uncompetitive with Bill Lee, the Republican, leading Democrat Karl Dean by 10 points among likely voters -- 52% to 42%, about the same as in September.

The CNN polls in Florida and Tennessee were conducted by SSRS October 24 through 29 among random statewide samples reached on landlines or cellphones by a live interviewer. In Florida, results for the full sample of 1,010 adults have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points, for the subset of 781 likely voters it is plus or minus 4.3 percentage points. In Tennessee, results for the full sample of 1,004 respondents have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points. It is 4.3 for results among the 764 likely voters.

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