TalkingPoints: US Senate race in Florida

Published: July 5, 2022 4:17 PM EDT
Updated: July 15, 2022 11:54 AM EDT

Control of Congress is up for grabs during the midterm elections.

WINK News is breaking down the issues and tracking down the candidates to get your questions answered.

It’s part of our new series called “TalkingPoints: The Truth Behind the Talk.”

The first race TalkingPoints is tackling is the U.S. Senate race in Florida where incumbent Republican Sen. Marco Rubio is likely to face Democratic House Rep. Val Demings, of Central Florida.

Demings has been in Congress for five years, and was the first woman to hold the title of police chief in Orlando.

Florida polls show Rubio leading Demings by an average of 9 points.

While it’s still early, political analysts Florida Gulf Coast University Professor Peter Bergerson and Middlebury College Professor Matthew Dickinson both explain why they think Rubio will be hard to beat.

“Incumbents win 95% of the time,” Bergerson said. “It’s hard for a nobody to beat somebody.”

Dickinson said a candidate trying to unseat an incumbent must do two things.

“One is, you must make the case that the incumbent has somehow failed in their job, but two, you have to present an alternative,” Dickinson said. “Rubio generally is viewed somewhat favorably by Florida voters, a roughly 50 to 55% approval rating. That is generally a good sign heading into an election.”

There’s also a sign this could become an expensive and intense race right up to the finish line. Both have raised more than $30 million, putting them well beyond the rest of the pack.

Demings is currently in the lead by about $600k.

“Marco Rubio is in a very close race, but in November, it’s ultimately going to come down to how well the Republicans turn out to vote for Ron DeSantis,” said Jonathan Martin, chair of the Lee County GOP.

But Kari Lerner, the chair of the Democratic Party of Lee County has a different point of view.

“I would turn it around and say, why is Senator Rubio doing so poorly when he’s an incumbent,” Lerner said. “Why isn’t he the slam dunk?”

On Thursday, WINK News will sit down with Sen. Rubio and Congresswoman Demings for one-on-one interviews.

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