TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — NBC News has projected Governor Ron DeSantis to win the Florida governor race.

Just after 8 p.m., the news outlet projected DeSantis to take his political opponent, Charlie Crist, as he extended his lead by about 1.5 million votes, a difference of approximately 20%.

Roughly 90 minutes after polls closed, Crist took to the stage to deliver “election night remarks.” In his speech, Crist thanked his supporters and God for their support.

“First and foremost, I want to give a good congratulations to Governor DeSantis on his re-election, and that’s okay,” Crist said. “I can’t thank all of my fellow Floridians for so much, for so long and it’s been an absolute blessing. I feel like the most blessed man ever.”

“Unfortunately, tonight did not turn out the way we hoped,” he added in a press release.

DeSantis’ victory over former Rep. Charlie Crist could become a springboard for a possible presidential run and put him on a collision course with former President Donald Trump, who has said the gloves would come off in a hypothetical match-up for the White House.

During a victory speech to cheering supporters in Tampa, DeSantis said “freedom is here to stay.”

“We made promises to the people of Florida, and we have delivered on those promises,” DeSantis said. “And so today, after four years, the people have delivered their verdict. Freedom is here to stay.”

The governor went on to thank his campaign staff, volunteers, and “the greatest first lady in all 50 states,” Casey DeSantis.

“We’ve accomplished more than anybody thought possible four years ago, but we’ve got so much more to do and I have only begun to fight,” DeSantis said. “Thank you for a historic landslide victory.

According to the University of North Florida’s post-gubernatorial debate poll, DeSantis maintained a “comfortable” 14-point lead in his race for reelection over Crist.

“The surprise in these numbers is that a statewide race in Florida is closer to a blowout than a recount,” said University political science professor and UNF Public Opinion Research Lab Director Dr. Michael Bender.

Similarly, a poll from the University of South Florida showed both races skewing in favor of the Republican candidate.

The poll found DeSantis to have a 52% favorable rating in comparison to Crist’s rating of 31%.

By far, the USF poll showed the biggest issue on the ballot for the governor was economic, with 80% of those surveyed saying their choice for governor is responsible for shaping the state’s future.

This is a developing story. Stay up to date on the latest Election Day coverage from News Channel 8 on-air and on the go with the free WFLA News Channel 8 mobile app.