What the hell just happened in Florida?

The Democrats outperformed the polls and made gains all over the place last night, including a number of red states. For that matter the Democrats outperformed in House races in Florida. So what the hell just happened in the races for Governor and Senate in Florida?

Andrew Gillum, the Democratic candidate for Governor of Florida, was ahead in every poll, by an average of around four points. Bill Nelson, the Democrat running for Senate reelection in Florida, was ahead in most polls. Yet they both shockingly appear to have lost, and it looks like they’re both conveniently just outside the 0.5% margin required for an automatic recount. If this feels all too familiar, that’s because it’s precisely what happened in Florida in 2016.

Yes, polls can be wrong. But this was a night where the Democrats met expectations or outperformed in most races. They won House seats in red districts, flipping dozens of seats. They flipped several Governor races, including in Kansas. This wasn’t a blue tsunami, but it was undoubtedly a blue wave. Yet here we are, for the second election in a row, scratching our heads at how the Democrats came in so far beneath their poll numbers in Florida. Are we really supposed to believe that the national polling outlets, which tend to be so skilled at assessing all the other states, are somehow inept when it comes to Florida?

Something doesn’t add up here. I said the same thing the night that Donald Trump inexplicably “won” Florida in 2016. The numbers, the polling, the demographics, were simply too far off not to be considered suspicious. When I first said as much, I was called a “conspiracy theorist” and worse, by the right, and by some on the left. But sure enough, we’ve since learned that Russian hackers were in the mix, and that Trump’s data analysis firm Cambridge Analytica was targeting voters by using stolen Facebook user data. Knowing what we now know, no reasonable person could conclude that the 2016 results in Florida were legitimate.

This time around the numbers were even more bizarre. Nelson lost by a smaller margin than Gillum, even though Gillum was polling solidly better than Nelson. Numbers aren’t supposed to work that way. I don’t know what happened in Florida tonight, but something isn’t right. The results in Florida were shockingly off base and suspicious in 2016, and they’re shockingly off base and suspicious again in similar fashion in 2018. This is something we absolutely must get to the bottom of before 2020.

Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report

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