More drama in Florida: Senate race heads toward a recount as gubernatorial contest tightens

Key Points
  • The Florida Senate and gubernatorial races could both be headed for recounts.
  • Republican Gov. Rick Scott led narrowly over Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in a race that NBC News still considers too close to call.
  • Meanwhile, Republican Ron DeSantis' lead over Democrat Andrew Gillum was narrowing, even after Gillum conceded earlier in the week.
An employee of the Broward County Supervisor of Election's office in Lauderhill, Fla. counts ballots from the Mid-term election Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. 
Carline Jean | Sun Sentinel | Tribune News Service | Getty Images

Another election year, another nail-biter in Florida.

Both of Florida's closely watched statewide races remain close as final results come in. The Senate race between incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Gov. Rick Scott is too close to call, according to NBC News. Scott's lead of 0.2 percentage point is within the 0.5 percentage point threshold that triggers a mandatory recount in the state.

Meanwhile, Republican Ron DeSantis leads Democrat Andrew Gillum by about 0.5 percentage point in the widely followed gubernatorial race. While the ending margin could fall into recount territory, the Democratic Tallahassee mayor has already conceded to the former GOP representative. NBC News declared DeSantis the apparent winner.

Once again, a pivotal race in Florida appears set to come to a dramatic conclusion days after an election. The Senate contest will decide by how many seats the GOP can extend its majority, after the party appeared to lock up control of the chamber in Tuesday's elections. The gubernatorial race will determine the path of the country's third most populous state.

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Florida, one of the key U.S. swing states, is used to electoral drama. A Florida recount battle that took more than a month of sparring — and a Supreme Court decision — famously decided the 2000 presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore.

Scott has already declared victory in this year's Senate race. As the contest tightened on Thursday, widely followed forecaster Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight moved its rating on the Florida contest from "likely" Republican to "lean" Republican.

Silver pointed not only to Scott's dwindling lead, but also to reports of potential vote counting issues in Broward County, the state's second most populous county.

The Florida secretary of state's office did not immediately respond to CNBC's request to comment on reports of vote counting issues.

Prominent lawyer Marc Elias, who represents Nelson's campaign, said Thursday afternoon that he expected the margin in the race to narrow even more until a recount takes place. If the margin comes within 0.25 percentage point — where it stands currently — it would trigger a manual recount by hand.

Gillum's campaign has also started to prepare for the possibility of a recount, despite his earlier concession.

"Our campaign, along with our attorney Barry Richard, is monitoring the situation closely and is ready for any outcome, including a state-mandated recount," Gillum campaign spokeswoman Johanna Cervone said in a statement Thursday.

The Scott and DeSantis campaigns did not immediately respond to requests to comment on the possibility of a recount.