According to the Miami Herald, the senate race shaping up in Florida between Sen. Bill Nelson, the incumbent Democrat, and Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican who is term-limited, is a dead heat more than a year out, 37 percent to 36 percent. The same poll showed that 20 percent of Florida voters are not aware of who their choices are. However, since Nelson has won his Senate races comfortably in 2012 and 2006 after winning narrowly for the first time in 2000, the poll suggests that he is in trouble.

Why is Nelson in trouble?

As has been previously reported, Senator Nelson is a moderate who is in a party that is increasingly being dominated by the far left.

Moreover, Scott would be a formidable opponent with a huge money advantage and name recognition. Nelson has made a political mistake by dragging his feet on the nomination of Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Oklahoma for NASA administrator. Bridenstine would be the chief of the space agency as it begins to seriously undertake deep space exploration under the new Trump administration push to return to the moon. Nelson, who has cast himself in the role of a friend of NASA, risks alienating aerospace workers who have helped to elect and re-elect him to the Senate.

What can Nelson do now?

Nelson has a couple of options available to him. He can run his 2018 campaign like he has his previous ones, as a sensible Democrat who does not offend the values of Florida voters and who brings home the bacon in the form of aerospace and other contracts.

Or Nelson can tack just a little to the left, hoping to pick up enough liberal voters, including new immigrants from flood-ravaged Puerto Rico, to put him over the top. Each strategy has perils inherent within them. The moderate Nelson would not motivate liberal voters to go to the polls. The liberal Nelson would risk turning off moderate Democrats, causing them to either stay at home or vote for Scott.

More than a year remains until election day

To be sure, campaigning season for the 2018 midterms is long, with the election more than a year away as of this writing. Anything can happen in the months that follow until November 2018. However, both Nelson and Scott have to know that the results of the election are not a sure thing. They will have to work to remain senator in the first case and to become one in the other. The Florida senate race will thus be one of the more closely watched contests for next year's midterms.