It was a crushing blow to Florida Democrats, who hoped a "blue wave" of anti-Trump sentiment would enable them to win a governor's race for the first time since 1994.
DeSantis, who attended Yale University and Harvard Law School, resigned his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in September to focus exclusively on his gubernatorial bid. "We could not be prouder of the way we ran this race", a tearful Gillum told supporters. Recent surveys for the Florida race, which is one of Real Clear Politics' 12 "toss-up" gubernatorial races, have all given Gillum the edge. On issues like climate change, which is increasingly important in Florida, Mr. DeSantis has said he didn't want to be known as an "alarmist", while Mr. Gillum promised to be a governor who "believes in science".
In Colorado, Democrat Jared Polis was set to become the first openly gay man to be elected governor of a USA state, after NBC News projected him to win against Republican Walker Stapleton.
"This guy being in the Oval Office motivated me to come out and vote", Jeffrey Pinder said after voting at Edison Towers at NW Seventh Avenue and 58th Street. He enjoyed support from President Trump throughout his campaign.More news: Rassie Erasmus Trolls World Rugby By Teaching Springbok Owen Farrell Tackle 'Technique'
Gillum told supporters in Wakulla that Tuesday is a choice between the "Trumpizing of America" and working together.
An NBC News/Marist poll released Monday has Gillum with a 4-point lead over DeSantis. In a Fox News interview the morning after he won the GOP nomination, DeSantis said Gillum's proposals would harm the state's economy and he urged Florida voters not to "monkey this up" by electing Gillum. He was a member of the House for a number of years and indeed a member of the leadership considered one of the most promising young politicians in the state.
But DeSantis won the governor's mansion by turning out the base and the state's growing share of conservative retirees from the Midwest, many of whom strongly back Trump.
Trump again played a major role in the general election, appearing at rallies with DeSantis in Lee County and Pensacola in the final week of the campaign.
But many said he conceded too soon. He said health care is a priority for him because of a pre-existing medical condition.