Editor’s Note: This post was written by Brandon Murphy and JaiCe Stinton.
Florida’s 26th Congressional District race (FA-26) has narrowed down to a very slim margin between the two candidates, but there are polls predicting that the Republican nominee, Carlos Curbelo, will pull ahead of Democratic foe, Joe Garcia. Although current polls have Garcia still ahead of Curbelo, by .7%, we still believe that Curbelo will be the projected winner of Florida’s 26th Congressional district winning 50% to 48%.
As a vulnerable incumbent, Curbelo has the backing of House Speaker Paul Ryan and the financial support that comes with his endorsement. The two have been campaigning together for the past few weeks to maintain the majority control in the House. Florida’s 26th Congressional District is the eighth most expensive campaign in the country for the current cycle. Since April, Curbelo has reached almost a quarter of a billion dollars in campaign contributions, while Garcia has barely raised a half a million. However, Garcia has used his campaign dollars to buy ads attacking Curbelo for being similar to Republican nominee Donald Trump and it looks like this might benefit Garcia in the long run. However, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has been accused of airing false advertisements about Curbelo and his voting record. Curbelo has demanded that these ads be taken off the air because they misrepresent his record. Digging deeper, his record does show him supporting Democrat’s amendments to protect the Florida coast. Garcia has also been ridiculed by the media and voters for his outburst after a debate calling the moderator slang Spanish words. Garcia believed there was a bias against him and wanted to confront the situation.
Some research has stated that being a Republican candidate running in heavily Latino districts are more likely to lose, whether they support Trump as the GOP nominee or not. Curbelo has continuously said that he does not support Trump, yet the conservative tie to the party is enough to persuade voters to be wary. Curbelo has used social media to reach out to younger voters, in Spanish and in English, to express his distaste for Trump’s inappropriate comments.
The two presidential candidates and women were a major talking point in the second to last debate for the candidates of Florida’s 25th Congressional District. On Saturday, September 6th, 2016 Garcia was caught on video recording inappropriately speaking about Democratic presidential nominee Clinton’s sexual appeal. During the debate, Curbelo capitalized on the opportunity to compare Garcia’s comments to Trump’s comments about women that were released in early October from Access Hollywood. In response, Garcia said that he does respect women and that Curbelo has a proven record of voting against women’s rights.
For the constituents of Florida’s 26th Congressional District, it could come down to the mindset of voting for the lesser of two evils. Garcia has two scandals that are still looming from his past, while Curbelo has had a moderate voting record while in the House. For more conservative Republicans in this district, Curbelo is not the hardline Republican. However, we do not see this being a problem because most of the district has tended to lean Democratic after the redistricting. Curbelo has shown a trend for voting against key Republican legislation, whether it be bills, amendments or resolutions. He has taken solitary positions on abortion, climate change, government spending and immigration. We still believe that Curbelo should be the projected winner of Florida’s 26th Congressional district because he continues to vote for legislation that is true to his district and not always down party lines. We are taking into account that since it is an election year, more people will turn out and there is also an independent running who has collected 1% of the vote each time.