Democrats Bill Nelson and Andrew Gillum have an edge in critical Florida races: NBC News/Marist poll

  • Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson has a lead over Republican Gov. Rick Scott in the key Florida Senate race, according to an NBC News/Marist poll.
  • Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum also has a lead over Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis in the race for Florida governor.
  • The Florida contests are among the most closely watched Senate and gubernatorial races this year.
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) speaks during a campaign rally at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades on August 31, 2018 in Orlando, Florida. 
Joe Raedle | Getty Images
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) speaks during a campaign rally at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades on August 31, 2018 in Orlando, Florida. 

Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson has a slim edge in his battle for re-election in Florida against Republican Gov. Rick Scott, according to an NBC News/Marist poll released Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the survey found progressive Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum has a solid lead over GOP Rep. Ron DeSantis in the contest for Florida governor. President Donald Trump is backing DeSantis. The swing state Senate and gubernatorial races are among the most closely watched in the country.

Nelson garners 48 percent of support among likely voters, while 45 percent back Scott and 6 percent are undecided, according to the poll. Eight percent of likely voters said they might vote differently in the country's most expensive Senate race so far. Nelson's lead falls within the survey's 4.7 percentage point margin of error.

On the gubernatorial side, 48 percent of likely voters back Gillum, versus 43 percent who support DeSantis. The survey adds to a string of polls showing an advantage for the mayor, a candidate who Republicans have cast as too far left for the state.

Andrew Gillum the Democratic candidate for Florida Governor speaks during a campaign rally at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades on August 31, 2018 in Orlando, Florida. 
Joe Raedle | Getty Images
Andrew Gillum the Democratic candidate for Florida Governor speaks during a campaign rally at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades on August 31, 2018 in Orlando, Florida. 

Nelson, a third-term senator, is one of the GOP's top Senate targets in November's midterm elections. Republicans, who hope to keep or expand their 51-49 majority in the chamber, see Florida as one of their best chances to nab a Democratic seat this year. Scott not only has statewide name recognition but also personal wealth to spend on his bid.

Most recent polls have found a tight race in Florida. Scott gained ground in recent months as his campaign spent heavily on ads.

But as Democrats started shelling out more money in Florida, Nelson's poll numbers appear to have recovered. Earlier Tuesday, a Quinnipiac survey of likely voters found a 7-percentage point lead for Nelson.

Floridians have slightly more positive opinions of Nelson than Scott. Among likely voters, 44 percent said they have a favorable view of the Democrat, while 36 percent responded that they have an unfavorable impression. For Scott, 46 percent said they have a positive view of him, versus 45 percent who responded that they have a negative impression.

More than half of likely voters, 52 percent, said they want more Democrats in Congress to serve as a check on Trump. Forty percent responded that they want more Republican lawmakers to back the president's priorities.

Likely voters view health care as the most important factor in deciding their vote, followed by the economy and jobs and immigration.

The NBC/Marist poll of Florida was conducted Sept.16-20 of 829 registered voters and has a margin of error of plus-minus 4.0 percentage points. The margin of error for the 600 likely voters is plus-minus 4.7 percentage points.