Does Estes’ Kansas Win Bode Well for Nelson or Scott in Florida?

It may be April 2017, but the 2018 midterm elections are quickly approaching and, earlier this week, Kansas Republican Ron Estes won the southern district around Wichita by just five points or roughly 8,000 votes, giving Republicans a sneak preview into the political landscape since Trump was inaugurated. 

In November, Trump carried Estes’ district by 27 points and took home all six of Kansas’ electoral votes. Couple this information with the fact Kansas has not voted Democrat in a presidential election since 1964 and Estes should have won with a wider margin, but, instead, the narrow victory in the Sunflower State shows a feeling of uncertainty in the current state of politics and forecasts a tough road in 2018 for Republicans.

For candidates looking to run in 2018 as a Republican, the election of Ron Estes should serve as a case study in what could be a tough midterm election, especially those looking for a promotion from governor to senator. (*cough* Governor Rick Scott *cough*) 

In less than six months, Florida Governor Rick Scott will term out and, rumor has it, he is taking aim at incumbent Senator Bill Nelson’s seat. In a recent poll, more than half of Floridians — 57 percent — approved of Scott’s performance, while a smaller number, 53 percent, approved of Nelson’s performance. Ranked 34 as most-popular governor, Scott’s edge over Nelson could be enough to oust the three-term Senator.

Like Kansas, Florida delivered a win to Trump in 2016; however, Florida is a swing state and Rick Scott will have to rely on two things, if he wants to file a change of address form and head to Washington. First, Scott will need to spend a good chunk of money for ad buys and in the social media space to paint a picture tying Bill Nelson to the rising cost of health care. Second, Governor Scott will also have to continue to double down on his jobs messaging; since being elected Florida businesses have created over 1.26 million private-sector jobs. This type of messaging will no doubt leave voters wondering, “What has Senator Nelson done lately?” 

Scott will have to head into 2018 with strong approval ratings, as he may not be able to rely on Trump supporters. The close margin of the GOP victory in Kansas shows there may be a drop in the enthusiasm of Trump supporters and, if this downward trend continues, it could translate to even lower than normal voter turnout in November 2018, especially in a swing state such as Florida. Aside from a wane in excitement over Trump, if Trump continues to be as popular as a root canal, opponents will work hard to tie Scott to Trump, since Scott was a vocal supporter of the president during the 2016 election.

While Scott has not declared his candidacy, his actions across the Sunshine State tell a different story. Other polling matchups have showed Nelson with a slight edge over Scott, but if Scott’s gubernatorial reelection in 2014 showed Floridians anything, he should not be underestimated. According to my Magic 8 Ball, Governor Rick Scott’s chances of unseating three-time incumbent Bill Nelson are good. Things are just starting to heat up in Florida and the summer humidity won’t be the only thing that has Nelson sweating.