Governor Rick Scott and Democratic Challenger Charlie Crist are neck-in-neck in the polls. The race is so tight some are suggesting Libertarian Adrian Wyllie could be the deciding factor in who gets the Governors Mansion.
With only days left until voters decide who will be the next Governor of Florida Scott and Crist are in a tight race. The latest poll by the Quinnipiac Polling Institute shows the race is tied for the current and former governor. Peter Brown, assistant director of the polling institute, says every single vote counts.
“The race to be Florida’s next Governor is a dead heat. 42 percent for Rick Scott. 42 percent for Charlie Crist, and seven-percent for Adrian Wyllie. It can’t get any closer.”
The tightness of the race was highlighted in the third and final gubernatorial debate where attacks got personal. Crist backed Scott into a corner, forcing the current Governor to answer questions on why he delayed an execution for Attorney General Pam Bondi.
Crist: Did the Attorney General ask you to delay the execution so she could go forward with a political fundraiser?
Scott: She asked me to delay it because it didn’t work on the dates she thought it was going to be on.”
Bondi made the delay request to Scott because the execution of an inmate conflicted with a political fundraiser. Scott doubled down and targeted Crist for his support of lifting a travel ban to Cuba—an issue important to the state’s Cuban American population.
“The only thing that’s changed with regard to the Castro brother’s is Charlie’s position. They’re terrorists. There’s no democracy there, there are human rights violations," Scott said.
Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie debated alone and answered the questions through a simulcast on youtube. Wyllie has fought to be taken seriously in the 2014 gubernatorial race, and despite being excluded from most debates and voter guides, he’s polling between seven and 13 percent. Wyllie unveiled his first statewide ad last week promoting his candidacy.
The ad is simple, just Wyllie against a white background and his campaign slogan splayed in a corner. The most recent poll from Quinnipiac has Wyllie with seven-percent support. Down a few points. But Quinnipiac’s Brown says that’s normal.
“In most cases, third party candidates numbers tended to drop close to the election, although there are exceptions to that rule. This appears not to be one of those exceptions," he says. "In a race this close, a teeny bit could be all that matters.”
The poll says while most of the support for Scott and Crist is fixed—meaning voters who say they’re supporting those two aren’t switching—Wyllie’s support is more fluid. At the start of the campaign cycle, Wyllie was pulling support away from Crist. Now, Brown says, it’s a lot harder to tell which candidate the Wyllie Effect could hurt more.
“In a race this close, if it gets down to five or four percent who vote for Mr. Wyllie, that’s another point or two, that someone else, either Crist or Scott, is going to get.”
For his part, Wyllie is staying the course even as his support may be shrinking. And while he may not win the governors mansion, his presence in the race could be enough to sink the candidacy of either Scott or Crist.