TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — In the final full week before Election Day, both candidates in the race for governor are pushing hard for voters to turn out.
A solid response from the electorate is everything in a state like Florida, which historically has had very narrow victories for statewide positions like the governor.
However, Democrats are currently down in ballots cast and very short on time.
It's a bad sign for Charlie Crist, who also retains a double-digit deficit behind Gov. Ron DeSantis, according to recent polls.
Crist, this week, is doing what he can to bolster support. The former governor and congressman cast his ballot early, in person, at a St. Pete precinct Monday. There, he urged supporters to do the same at locations across the state.
To kick off the last full week before Election Day, I’m announcing our Choose Freedom Tour— tune in! https://t.co/K22gwYsUUb— Charlie Crist (@CharlieCrist) October 31, 2022
"This is your vote," Crist said. "This is your time to be heard. Polls are up and polls are down — but the final vote is what matters the most. So, get out. Vote. Vote like your life depends on it because it does."
Crist's final strategy is a nine-day bus tour running through Election Day. He plans to hit key metro areas in Broward, Duval, Palm Beach, Volusia and Hillsborough counties. The campaign said his message will continue to stress abortion access, still hoping it'll energize the needed voting blocks.
The latest Florida numbers, however, show the GOP continues to outpace Democrats in early voting. As of Monday, Republicans had a lead of nearly 100,000 mail-in and in-person ballots, with Election Day also expected to swing in their favor.
"Right now, the story in Florida seems to be that the Republicans are going to run away with things," Dr. Susan MacManus, University of South Florida professor emerita, said.
MacManus believes the perspective could further depress Democratic turnout if the base believes the race is already over.
Meanwhile, Gov. Ron DeSantis isn't breaking, despite a perceived advantage. He, too, called for a high turnout during stops this weekend, including one in Collier County.
"Don't take anything for granted" DeSantis said while speaking in Ave Maria. "Don't be complacent about this."
The governor's agenda also included high-profile events like a Luke Bryan concert and a University of Florida football game. Online, his campaign launched three new ads touting DeSantis's record on education and the economy.
But, perhaps as a sign of re-election confidence, DeSantis left the campaign trail entirely Saturday. Speaking in New York, he stumped for fellow GOP gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin. The governor has made several stops across the country this cycle to boost Republican candidates in close congressional battles as well.
Crist, on Tuesday, is hoping to get a bump in election energy when he meets with President Joe Biden. The two have scheduled a get-out-the-vote and fundraising rally in Miami Gardens.