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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – The race to be Florida’s next governor has drawn nationwide attention in this midterm election.
The latest poll shows Republican nominee Ron DeSantis up just one point on Democrat Andrew Gillum, but the race is still too close to call.
On Tuesday both men cast their ballots.
Gillum walked into his polling place at the Good Shepard Catholic Church in Tallahassee with his wife and children. Once inside, he cast his ballot. His choice – not a big surprise – he’s optimistic.
“Us winning tonight will send a message to Mr. Trump and Mr. DeSantis as well, that the politics of hatred and division of separation, that they’ve come to an end, at least in this election that’s what we’re going to show,” he said.
DeSantis walked into his polling place Ponte Vedra with his family by his side. He too was expecting a victory as he thanked supporters.
“I appreciate it. Thanks for your help, appreciate your help. Thank you,” he told those in line.
Monday night, with Sean “Diddy” Combs and other big stars by his side, Gillum campaigned until the very end with a huge rally and concert that went until early this morning at Florida A&M University.
“If we show up and we vote, the next time I see you I will greet you as the Governor of the great State of Florida. Let’s bring it home everybody,” he told the thousands in the crowd.
Gillum’s message is resonating with his base.
“I love his position on the environment,” said Gillum supporter Theresa Wells. “If we don’t save Florida, everything else is a moot point. And I really appreciate his position on health care.”
Gillum is feeling confident going into election night. He has a message for those who did not vote for him.
“I’m looking forward to then turning around to those voters whose vote I didn’t get and letting them know I plan to be a governor to them too,” he said.
Charles Zelden is a political science professor at Nova Southeastern University. He believes going after people who don’t normally vote democrat is a good strategy.
“If these nontraditional voters, young voters, women voters who may have voted republican in the past but might vote democrat right now, if they show up and continue to show up on Tuesday, Gillum’s in a really good situation,” Zeldon said. “If they don’t show up he’s going out lose by a point or two.”
DeSantis arrived at his polling place near Jacksonville on Election Day to some applause and support from the crowd.
Then he and his wife and kids waited in line to cast their votes.
DeSantis will watch the returns Tuesday night in Orlando.
At polling places across Orlando, turnout appeared steady on Election Day.
At Central Parkway Baptist Church the line stretched out the door.
And voters CBS4 spoke with, like the candidates for Governor, hold very different views.
Election experts, like Broward College political science professor Kevin Walsh, says the key to a possible DeSantis victory might be unusually high turnout for Republicans in a mid-term where their party controls the White House.
“This election really is outlier,” he said. “Republicans seem to be more enthusiastic, more energetic than you typically see in these mid-term elections and I think it could be decisive for DeSantis.”