Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who pulled off an amazing upset to win the Democratic nomination for Florida governor this week, found himself with an early lead over his Republican rival.
Florida’s first African-American nominee for governor was enjoying a five-point advantage over U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, according to a survey released Thursday by the Democratic polling firm Public Policy Polling.
Gillum had the support of 48 percent of those surveyed against 43 percent for his Trump-backed opponent. The remaining 9 percent was undecided. The poll was conducted Wednesday and Thursday.
“The most interesting number is among Independent voters where Gillum leads DeSantis by 34,” Florida Democratic consultant Christian Ulvert, who commissioned the survey, told the Tampa Bay Times.
The poll was also drawn along gender lines, with Gillum leading among women by 21 percent, while DeSantis had a 13 percent advantage with men.
During his primary campaign, Gillum, 39, was once buried near the bottom of the five-candidate field of Democrats hoping to end two decades of Republicans controlling the governor’s office.
But an eleventh hour surge in the polls placed him neck-and-neck with former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham. On Tuesday, he pulled off an upset. The Florida A&M University graduate won 34.3 percent of the vote, edging Graham by just 3 percent.
His general election opponent is a three-term congressman who received an endorsement from President Donald Trump, which helped him handily defeat the state’s Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.
Less than 24 hours after winning the GOP nomination, DeSantis ignited a firestorm after he blew his racist dog whistle during a Fox News interview by warning voters that Gillum would “monkey things up” if they elect him.
The dynamics of the race has captured national attention. It features a Black candidate climbing to the top of state politics at a time when Trump’s influence has polarized voters along racial lines. It has also pittted the progressive Gillum against a candidate dedicated to turning back the clocks under Trump’s “Make America Great Again” mantra.