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2014 Florida Governor Race Polling In Dead Heat

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  On the eve of the election, the battle for the governor’s chair remained a toss-up. Voters in the Panhandle, for the most part, have had to admire – or revile – the candidates from afar.

Florida's brutal and expensive race for governor is ending in the same way it began: bitter, personal and close as ever. The Tampa Tribune reports the overall price tag is expected to be well north of $150 million. That would also make it the most expensive among the nation’s other 36 gubernatorial races this year.  

Scott and Crist spent Monday crisscrossing the state, or rather, crisscrossing down state.

“Crist has had to spend a lot of time in south Florida, where there’s a huge concentration of Democrats and a lot of minority voters, which are key to him winning,” said Susan McManus, a political scientist at the University of South Florida.

Crist, who took this region when he won as a Republican in 2006, visited Pensacola in late July.  His running mate, Annette Taddeo,visited Pensacola in mid-September. McManus says Crist’s focus in the peninsula is a lesson learned from Democrat Alex Sink’s campaign for governor four years ago, against then-newcomer Rick Scott.

“The Sink campaign did not do well, particularly among the African-American community in south Florida in 2010,” said McManus. “And the Crist campaign is determined not to make that mistake again.”

Scott has made a handful of stops in the Panhandle. Some of them were in his capacity as Governor,such as one in May to inspect flood damage in Pensacola. Others were purely campaign, including a mid-September visit to New World Landing in downtown Pensacola.

One thought about the rare Panhandle stops is that Crist knows he’ll not get conservative voters’ support as a Democrat, and that Scott believes he has the region locked up by virtue of the “R” next to his name on the ballot. But USF’s Susan McManus says that’s not the only theory.

“There are also some strong surrogates out in the Panhandle area that have been campaigning for each of them,” McManus said. “But, you really ignore the Panhandle at your own peril, because the turnout rate of counties in the Panhandle is extremely high, compared to the turnout rate in some of these larger urban areas.”

Meanwhile, the final Quinnipiac University poll before the election gives Crist a 42-41% lead over Scott. The 3.4 percentage point margin of error keeps the race a virtual dead heat.  Libertarian Adrian Wyllie is at seven percent.

The final days of the campaign have turned into a “Battle of the Political Stars.” Charlie Crist stumped with former President Bill Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden. Rick Scott’s rallies featured a pair governors – Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal and Rick Perry of Texas -- who are considered to be possible 2016 presidential candidates.