Democrat Bill Nelson has handily won re-election to a third term in the U.S. Senate with a nine-point margin over Republican challenger Connie Mack IV, according to exit polls for the Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald by Edison Research.
Nelson, 70, will return to Washington as the only Democrat in statewide office in Florida. His victory comes despite being outspent by his challenger in a $39 million race, the most expensive race of his political career.
Mack, 45, had hoped to unseat Nelson for the job once held by his father Connie Mack III, who retired in 2000 and was replaced by Nelson.
But the Fort Myers congressman never could get ahead of Nelson in the polls despite an estimated $22 million spent by Mack and outside political groups.
The exit poll includes preliminary results from interviews with 3,124 voters from a random sample of 50 precincts statewide Tuesday; 811 who voted early or absentee were interviewed by landline or cellular telephone from Oct. 29 through Nov. 4. The sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points; it is higher for subgroups.
Said Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith:
“On behalf of Florida Democrats, I wish Senator Bill Nelson congratulations on his reelection. Sen. Nelson has and will continue to serve our state and country with the highest level of distinction. Throughout this campaign and his entire career in public service, Sen. Nelson has stood up for the values that make our state great. He is a true champion for middle class families and a passionate advocate for our state. He has delivered for the people of Florida, and tonight they have delivered him a decisive victory.”
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