We published the final Florida Insider Poll of the primary season last week. Asked about lessons learned and for any other comments, here's what the the Insiders had to say (Reminder: These are utterly unscientific surveys, with loads of biased Insiders, including people working for at least one of the candidates in question):


Don't vote too early.

Democrats desperately need to build their bench at the local level. Our party is starving for experienced candidates who know how to win a contentious race.

Trump's endorsement matters in GOP primaries. Putnum's gun background check fiasco may have cost him anyway, but the Trump endorsement put DeSantis over the top. 

The Democrats were nastier than I've ever seen, exept for Gwen Graham.  I think her responses were exactly right. Just enough correction and push back and a final comment that negative attacks don't fix a thing. On to the general election.

Trump is the elephant in the room. He's on the ballot, even though his name is not. 

Start early, define yourself early and money alone CAN'T buy you votes.  Voters are energized in this Primary. Analysis shows that in many Florida counties nearly one-third of all Primary voters have not voted in the 2014 nor 2016 Primary elections – the crowded cycle is drawing bigger voter participation.

With no runoff the Democratic gubernatorial nominee could receive less than one-third of the primary vote.

Jeff Greene and Rick Scott are proof that just spending does not equal winning. 

Adam Putnam will pull out a squeaker victory primarily because of a superior ground game that has been created and tested over the past eight years.  He also benefit from his extensive travels and one-on-one campaigning which helps to created dedicated and personally-invested voters.  This is the way that it should be because no one running for Governor should skate into office simply based on television appearances and a Presidential endorsement.  An insightful understanding of the differences in values and outlook from the various parts of the state comes from this personal campaigning and personal contact on the campaign trail.

Gwen Graham will benefit from the fact that she's a woman and a centrist battling 4 very liberal Democrats.  The liberals are all eating in to each others votes and so she will come in first place, as she should.  The idea of a Gillum surge is really fake news when one realizes that so few African-American know that he's one of them and Bernie doesn't really help, because he waited too late and Bernie's coattails haven't been strong in the past (except obviously in Democratic Socialist NYC). She is the one Democrat who has a very strong chance of winning the right to live in the Governor's Mansion.  While she certainly aggravates progressive Dem's she will nevertheless appeal to many Independent and even some Republican voters which makes her a unique candidate for her party.  This is the Dem's best chance to win a statewide race because every other statewide Democratic candidate will likely lose to their Republican opponent because of a lack of funding and name recognition, inexperience of Dem political operatives and lack of a cohesive message.

The GOP race for Attorney General is interesting in that you have an very experienced prosecutor/lawyer who is a former Democrat battling a very conservative corporate lawyers from far-off Pensacola.  In a relatively close race, Moody will pull it out primarily because she has the support of a signfificant number of Sheriffs (who in their own right are generally the strongest politicians in their county) and State Attorney which helps sell the conservative bona fides of Moody.  White's attacks on her past lawsuit against Trump and her support of other Democratic candidates is what makes this race so close in the primary.

Sean Shaw will win the Democratic nod going away.  He's handsome, articulate, smart and aggressive in his talking points.  His challenge is that no African-American has ever won a statewide race and he's not going to break that mold this time around.  Unless African-American Democrats come out because Gwen Graham selects an African-American running mate (and even that probably won't motivate a higher than expected A-A turnout), his chances of victory are slim to none.

The GOP race for Agriculture Commissioner is probably the most interesting one simply because there are three candidates all of whom have had success in the state legislature.  The money lead by Baxter Troutman may make him the nominee, but this will be a close race again among him and Sen. Grimsley and Rep. Caldwell.  All have roots in the agricultural community and they will automatically be the fave in the general election as the Democratic candidates have little real connection to the industry.  The race here is in the GOP primary for sure…..On the Democratic side, Ms. Fried will be the nominee in part because of the publicity caused by Wells Fargo Bank deciding to close her campaign account.  That will be a Godsend for her because it gives her earned media that otherwise she wouldn't get.  Being the lone pro-marijuana candidate doesn't hurt either, but it will in the general election and one again the Dem's will fail to get a Cabinet post.  The Party did a terrible job of recruitment here and it really shows as all three are very weak candidates….Bill Nelson is a dead man walking.  He's finally drawn a very strong GOP opponent unlike the last four times.  Politico, I believe, called him "America's luckiest politician" because the Repubs could never get a strong person to challenge him.  Bill looks old and his dearth of legislation passed  over his 18-year career is what makes him so vulnerable in addition to the fact that many Floridians don't know who he is.  His biggest mistake has been his lack of consistent and meaningful relationship with the African-American community and their disdain for him as become readily apparent.  That will be the deathblow for him as they're the most dependable Democratic voters and they aren't motivated one iota to vote for him in November.  Scott's money will pummel Nelson and Rick will win rather comfortably (given his past campaigns) by 4%.

If Democrats want the blue wave to crest with victory we will need to make it happen ourselves through hard  laser focused work or we will face a  red tide.

Scott is screwed. He is a sitting two-term governor who has spent upwards of $40 million against a U.S. Senator who has spent nothing and he is still even or below water.  

Jeff Greene Might (or might not) have been a good candidate IF he got in earlier.  He got in too late.  Gwen Graham is a superior candidate running a horrible campaign.  She needs to send Flowers to Jeff Greene, because if Greene hadn't entered the race, Levine would have won the primary.

I expect the Democrats to nominate Graham, Shaw, Ring and Levine. I expect the Republicans to nominate DeSantis, White, some conservative white guy for Ag commissioner, and Patronis.  The R's will nominate four very conservative white guys, each trying to prove that he's the Trumpiest.  The D's will nominate two women,  an African American, and a nebbishy Jewish boy.  Which ticket sounds more like Florida, and more electable?  I'm a Democrat, and wouldn't have supported them (openly), but Putnam, Moody, and Grimsley are all well-qualified to hold the offices that they're seeking.  The likely Trumpista winners aren't as qualified.

The Trump star is shining over Desantis.  Great for primary.   Given today's criminal convictions, not so shiny for the general.  Watching to see if moderate Rs can pull off a course correction….

Negative ads don't work

The party needs the support of Andrew Gillum post-primary, and I hope he decides to stick around.

For the first time all cycle i have lost confidence in My graham prediction. But sticking with it. 

Late spending either direct or from allied groups can create a surge as we've seen for Greene and Gillum – because in party primaries with no incumbent or deep-rooted candidate, voters are almost always persuadable. 

I'm basing some answers — i.e. Putnam and  Moody in GOP primaries — on the idea that primaries are the hardest races to poll accurately. One lesson I haven't learned yet but may learn is: How  deep does the Republican Party's infatuation  with Trump really go? Another: This primary has driven candidates to run. Will it also drive voters to vote?

If I hear "Blue Wave" one more time, I'm going to drown myself in it.

The only shot Nelson has is on Levine or Gillums back 

Republicans are being forced to embrace Trump in their primaries- but will have only 2 months to create some distance before the general.  That will be a tough road to navigate for some.  

The political winds and outside forces matter more than the quality of the campaigns this election cycle. Gwen Graham has run the worst campaign on the Democratic side but is more likely than any of her  opponents to win the Democratic Gubernatorial Primary. On the Republican side nothing that Putnam did mattered once Trump decided to actively back DeSantis.

Conventional Wisdom is an oxymoron

I think women break late for Gillum and put him over the edge (or that he gets closer than most are predicting) because of his strong and authentic stands on economic policies.  Women bear the brunt of economic hardship in the absence of a higher minimum wage, affordable child care, equal pay, and paid sick leave.  Don't be surprised if women end up in the Gillum column for this reason.

The "Gillum Surge" is real, and exactly as the campaign predicted 18 months ago — consolidating African-American voters, motivating Obama coalition voters, and harnessing grassroots desire for an authentic progressive, at just the right time. After five cycles of Republican-lite nominees, it's about time.

Putnam got McCollumed. Greene had plenty of green, just didn't hit the green. Nikki should thank Wells Fargo for the publicity. Is this ride over yet?

There will be some surprises.   A silent large group of Rs with deep disdain for everything Trump will secretly vote for Putnam.  He will pull off a Harry Trumanesque victory despite headlines and polls.  Gwen will win the D nomination and the general.  Sean Shaw will succeed where Andrew Gillum's surge is ultimately short-lived and will fall measurably short of victory. LeGreen or GreeVine will cancel out each other.  

Democrats have finally found some courage to challenge the status quo, running in numbers we haven't seen before, all thanks to Donald Trump. Whether or not that translates into victories in November is irrelevant. If you lose you need to keep trying.  You can't win unless you learn how to lose. And you definitely can't win if you don't even try. 

The Blue Wave will be just enough to lift Bill Nelson's boat.

On election night, Gwen Graham's first thank you call should be to Jeff Greene who–by simply entering the race–did more to knock down Philip Levine than anything else.

This is No Longer Jeb Bush's Florida.   Jeb's RPOF is as extinct as the Dinasour.    Florida's RPOF is the Party of Donald Trump and Alien Conspiracy Theorist 


Philip Levine would be a better option te defeat De Santis.  He has proven to show he cares about the different groups comprise Florida due to the diversity of his staff and his engagement strategy.    Graham has not but will be picked because of her association with her father and because she is a woman.  If she wins, she definitely will need to change her PR strategy, do bilingual ads and stop presenting herself as a PTA mom.  She is an attorney.  She must show her capacity to lead. The way it is looking, it seems like she is doing the same Alex Sink Strategy, and we saw how that ended…

If Graham and DeSantis win the obvious takeaway is that the Dems can field an establishment candidate and win and the Republicans can't.  This means the Dems have managed to muster enough of an immune response to shut down the Bernie contagion (in Gillum, et al.) while Republicans are still spiking the Trump fever of grievance and nativism.  If so, that bodes well for Graham in the general.  She will easily draw in those educated suburban women who hate Trump which is to say virtually all of them.  One interesting twist is that DeSantis can run to the center as an anti-Big Sugar environmentalist while Graham spreads out the blueprints for her new mall, Swamplandia.  Nevertheless, Tallahassee needs to gird its loins for possibly the first gubernatorial party flip in two decades.          

It is good to be the only woman in a crowded field.

Voters aren't paying much attention to the primaries but will be tuning in and energized for the general election.

I have made my predictions but don't feel particularly confident about any of them. It seemed DeSantis had taken a lead in the polls but then two recent polls (Bay News 9/ News Channel 13 and St Leo's) showed it close or with Putnam up – but I think the Trump endorsement in this cycle get DeSantis over the finish line. On the Democratic side I think 3 candidates could win but that Graham will pull it out over Levine and Greene (or perhaps Gillum in 3rd). Likewise with the Ag Commissioner race I see 3 Republicans with a chance to win – I picked Troutman because he self funded with $3 million but a win by Grimsley or Caldwell would not surprise me since they each raised over $2 million displaying more widespread support. On the Democratic Ag race I was undecided but chose Nikki Fried since she seems to have more high profile endorsements and was in the news all over the state recently when Wells Fargo terminated her campaign account because of her connections to the medical cannabis industry – in a low information race that should boost her name recognition among Democratic voters as Primary Election Day arrives. I have a little more confidence in my Attorney General picks of Moody for the GOP and Shaw for the Dems – I would be a little surprised if they each did not win their nominations. I have changed my mind twice already for the US Senate race in Nov – currently I think Scott although last time around I thought Nelson. The way it is going I am likely to change my mind again in Sept and Oct! This is one of the most exciting primary election seasons that Florida has seen in quite a while!

It appears the wheels are falling off some political tour buses to take on new passengers, such as Roger Stone and Michael Cohen. Florida is in for a roller coaster political season…

Blue wave is forming because of presidential incompetence and criminality 

The two biggest lessons are that the parties are virtually meaningless and that the elections have never been more fluid and unpredictable.  First, Graham is in the lead and then Levine and then Greene and then back to Graham.  For Republicans, Putnam had a massive fundraising advantage and a large lead in the polls.  Then Trump endorses and it looks like DeSantis has the race locked up.  Now the race is a dead heat.

May the best person win.  Unfortunately, the best person is often not in the race or, if they are, they lose.

Florida's unique demographics are not conducive to a wave but the cycle may produce more than a ripple.  What ever the size of that shift, women voters and education issues may lead the change.


It's the same as every other primary cycle.   Candidates run around trying desperately to be heard and relevant and the vast, vast majority of the voters are not interested until a few weeks out.  The political junkies are always paying attention (just like fans of any sport) but the average joe who watches the Super Bowl then goes back to work the next day treats this about the same.  We flatter ourselves that the voters are carefully paying attention an weighing their decision.  Some do for sure but primaries are about Name ID and generals are about distinctions.  I have polls going back 20 years where there is still HUGE undecided 3 weeks before a primary, primarily driven by lack of Name ID yet….and of course, only primary super voters are polled.

Adam Putnam will eke out a victory through old fashioned, person to person, shoe leather campaigning.  Putnam, who has already won statewide twice with big turnout numbers in large Democratic counties, can defeat Gwen Graham.  DeSantis, however, is untested at best. And his frequent Fox News appearances and never-ending "Trump Endorsed Me" references are becoming the butt of jokes. Each fancies himself as the most Trumptastic candidate, but only Putnam will win that crossover vote from moderates and centrists.   This race will be a photo finish with Putnam by a nose.

A possible lesson to be learned on the GOP gubernatorial race, if DeSantis wins.  Never underestimate the power of Trump in a GOP primary.  His supporters are very dedicated.  One year ago it looked like Adam Putnam was going to cruise to victory in the primary – high name ID among GOP voters, huge war chest, knowledgeable on FL issues and good ground game.  DeSantis had virtually no name recognition, no funds, did not understand FL issues and had no political infrastructure.  One year later,  the race has completely flipped with Putnam contributors "hedging" their bets by contributing to DeSantis.  Amazing turn of events.   

Don't under estimate Adam's strong grassroots support. 

Say what you will about his national approval rating, news cycles, or whatever the chattering class is worried about today. Trump is stronger than almost any modern president, Republican or Democrat, within his own party. 

Lessons learned in order:

1) Trump endorsement is YUGE in Florida

2) Negative campaigning works and isn't going away

3) If you are in a crowded Democratic primary and have billions of dollars, you might want to start campaigning earlier (Jeff Greene)…As for DeSantis v Putnam, expecting a large DeSantis victory and not believing it will be all that close.  Trump came out for DeSantis in person right as absentees started hitting.  …. If Ashley Moody loses, it means negative campaigning from Frank White was successful (also with a Trump angle to it)….Does anyone even seem to care who the Agricultural commissioner is on the Republican side?  It seems to be there is more interest among Democrats for their nominee, who will most surely lose.

If we're going to have a bunch of billionaires running for statewide office in Florida, couldn't we have someone decent like Mike Fernandez or Paul Tudor Jones?

We can only hope that our Republican nominee for Governor will be someone who knows Two Egg isn't just a breakfast option at Denny's. 

Name ID and political pedigree still matter. The Dem primary is a perfect example. The Graham name still carries weight. 

DeSantis should walk away with a relatively easy victory over Putnam, the question is, where does he go from here? Running as a Trumplican isn't going to win you the Governors mansion. 

The Democratic race is really up for grabs, the last minute money push in to Gillum could make all the difference and push him over the finish line. Bob Grahams daughter continues to ho-hum her way along, we'll have to wait and see where the chips fall. But a Gillum – DeSantis matchup would be exciting, truly pitting two polar opposite ideologies against each other.

We should see a matchup between Moody and Shaw in the General Election for Florida's Attorney General, despite the fortune that White has put into the race.

Troutman has thrown a fortune of personal money at the race, and he could well buy his way in to the nomination. But Grimsley, and especially Caldwell, have put in the miles and effort to really earn the nomination. This race is just to close to call.

Fried should waltz out of the primary with the D nomination. I can picture her #metoo ads against Troutman and pro marijuana mailers now.

Rick Scott continues to outperform Bill Nelson. Of all the races on the docket, none relies upon Trumps public image and the national economy more. Nelson has been a do nothing for too long, when compared to Rick Scott's performance as Governor of the State, the only thing that could weigh him down is a voter rebuttal of Trump.

Adam Putnam comes from behind and wins!  

Republicans are going to have a tough time this cycle! 

Like it or not, good or bad, it appears self-funders are the new normal.

The Blue Wave is hitting a Big Red Wall in Florida. It all starts with Scott spanking Nelson. 

Don't be a car salesman turned politician. 

I don't know if this is a downstream component of the age of Trump, or the continued upward curve of social media, or just the ongoing decline of attention spans, but it feels like the level of engagement by average voters in our state elections is remarkably low, given the fervor around national politics. Maybe it's because it's the primary, so it's about choosing party reps rather than doing battle with the partisan enemy, but it just seems like most voters are still not locked in.

Social media may be played out. The atmosphere on the platforms have become so toxic, regular voters will not post a lot of support for candidates the way they did in the last few Cycles, just to avoid a fight.  Direct Mail, knocking on doors and word-of-mouth still matter

grassroots and heritage still beats the internet outreach

GOP looking A-OK for the fall. Socialism messaging is not helping Dems. Economy and strong leadership from President Trump helping Republicans big time. 

there's currently no blue wave in Florida.

Failure to comprehend the Trump wave will cost you the election! 

A Graham-Gillum ticket would be a major challenge to GOP

It feels like DeSantis has peaked, although he probably had holds on for the win. It will be much closer than most think.

While I'm still picking Putnam over DeSantis because it's the right thing for Florida, it's beginning to look like the "Trump bump" is more of a "Trump thump" in the Republican gubernatorial race. 

I now hate all things politics. 

Too much wasted money and time because if the crowding. Dissipates the interest.

Trump is clearly a trump card, doubtful he'll win all hands, but sure tightens the game, and makes it a lot more interesting!

Grimsley is a good person, she should not have listened to her insanely greedy consultants. Taking Jack's money will haunt her, personally and professionally. 

Question – Will the affect of TV and mail pieces continue to erode in favor of online based ads?  We shall see Tuesday.  

I think the women will over perform.  we'll see. 

Well obviously this depends on the actual results, but I'm sincerely hoping that primary voters actually pay attention to the candidates' positions on the issues and not just who screams the loudest. … Sigh. Who am I kidding. We're doomed. 

Ron DeSantis is enjoying a Trump Wave that will carry him into the general election.  

Wow, what a colossal disaster for the dysfunctional democrats in Florida.  They have their best electoral chances in more than a decade, and just looks and the sorry mess of options they have for cabinet races.  it looks like a list of characters from a star wars bar….Philip Levine and Jeff Green are about to complete one of the greatest episodes of ego masturbation in the history of our state.  Ironically, by having both of them in the race, the one candidate that can win the general looks likely to be the nominee.  Watch out for Gillum though as black voters start paying attention and realize he looks like them.  He will surge.

Everything Trump Touches … Lives?