To: Crist Supporters, Journalists, Assorted Pundits, the Spambots that hit my blog, the Bipartisan members of Kevin is Evil Fantasy Nascar League, and the people in Rick Scottworld who will be asked to respond to this memo, namely Tim and Ryan.
From: Steve Schale
Date: October 17, 2014
Yesterday, my memo writing counterpart at the Scott campaign, Tim Saler, issued a new piece in the wake of #FangateGoneGlobal regarding the state of the 2014 election from his perspective. While it would be easier for Tim and I to hammer this out over beers at Tucker Dukes in Tallahassee, I do admire both the certainty from which he writes his memos about the outcome of the election, as well as the volume.
Given the flakiness of Florida’s electoral world, I for one, am certain of nothing, except that Fred Taylor should be in the Hall of Fame – and that Governor Scott really doesn’t like fans.
But knowing that so many in Florida are fans of these dueling memos, I figured today was a cool day to refresh the memo I wrote from last week, given that the race has truly heated up over the last two weeks.
Under the “More things change” file: after Scott fans the TV airwaves, he remains stuck.
Governor Scott has set a new Week 3 general election record in Florida, spending $6.4 million this week in television ads. This is on top of the $5 million he spent last week. He’ll probably spend more than $7 million next week, and more than $8-10 million in Week 1.
Even with his staggering spending now topping $52 million – just on television (not including internet ads), he’s still receiving an average of 42 percent of the vote in the public polls (this includes no post-#fangate polls).
That’s the same 42 percent he was receiving in September, the same 42 percent he was receiving in the spring before he became Florida television station owners’ Man of the Year. And the same 42 percent he was receiving on January 2, 2014.
That is the definition of stuck.
Despite the current Governor’s hyper television spending, voters are narrowly fans of Crist.
As noted in the last memo, in August, Scott held an average lead in the public polls of just under 3 points.
In September, that dropped to dead even. In the eleven public polls released during the month of October, Crist now holds an average lead of 1 point. Narrow yes, but a lead nonetheless.
In fact, for the first time since May, both Real Clear Politics and the Huffington Post pollster averages (both use different polls in their averages) have Crist with a narrow lead.
Democratic absentee ballot requests hit the 1 million mark
Yesterday, the number of Democrats requesting an absentee ballot hit the 1 million mark. The total Republican advantage in requests is under 70,000, with the two parties separated by less than 3 percent.
By comparison at this point in the campaign in 2010, GOP ballot requests outnumbered Democratic requests by over 200,000, leading to a 12 percent request advantage.
In fact, Democratic requests since Labor Day outnumber GOP requests, with the Crist field and digital operation generating nearly 200,000 new requests since Labor Day – almost exclusively from voters who did not vote in 2010.
Absentee returns confirm one thing for sure: It is not 2010
One of the constant narratives from Florida Republicans, particularly those in the camp who have been preaching the inevitability of Scott cruising to re-election, was their sure belief that 2014 = 2010. But as ballots come in, it is clear that this is not 2010.
Sure, Republicans are leading among voters who voted in the best election for their party since the beginning of time in Florida. But here is what they don’t tell you.
Only 73 percent of people who have returned an absentee ballot voted in 2010. The other 27 percent – they didn’t vote in 2010. They are the so-called “irregular” or “Presidential” voters.
Let’s repeat that: Of the ballots cast to date – by the voters who are seemingly most interested in voting, 27 percent of the ballots have been cast by voters who did not vote in 2010. And Democrats have an edge, with 32 percent of their votes coming from voters who did not participate in 2010, compared to 20 percent of Republicans.
Republicans have long held an advantage in terms of absentee ballot voters. In fact, among the nearly 1.5 million voters currently holding an absentee ballot in their hands who voted in 2010, the GOP holds about an 180,000 voter advantage. They have more voters who always vote by absentee - so they will win among people who always vote by absentee.
But more importantly, the comparison of where we were then (2010) versus now. In 2010 – on today’s day in the campaign, Republicans held an 18.5 percent advantage among returned ballots. Today it is less than 13.5 percent – and is trending Democratic. We’ve dropped the gap from 20% to 13.5% in just 10 days, and again, that is with reports that there are many ballots in three south Florida counties that have yet to be processed.
Again, the GOP advantage among people voting to date is almost exclusively from voters who voted in three of the last three races. However, the difference between their 18.5% advantage on this day in the campaign in 2010 and the 13.5% advantage today is due to the increase in returned ballots from non-2010 voters.
Sure Republicans will win absentees. They always do. But the margin will be tighter.
And keep in mind, Scott won by 61,000 votes in 2010.
The Missing Rubio Factor
There is one other key reason why this isn’t 2010: Marco Rubio is in Washington, and not on the ballot.
I doubt all but the most partisan of Scott supporters would suggest the Florida wave in 2010 was caused by Rick Scott. In fact, Rick Scott received fewer voters than any other statewide Republican in 2010, falling behind Adam Putnam, Jeff Atwater, Pam Bondi and Marco Rubio.
But the last of these is the most significant. Rubio’s candidacy drove tea party enthusiasm, and as can be seen in election results, the two of them were tied at the hip electorally in 2010. In fact, only 26,000 votes separated Marco Rubio’s vote total from Rick Scott’s – and in all but two media markets in Florida, the margin was less than 11,000.
Scott was able to run a campaign against Washington and ride Marco Rubio and the federalized nature of the race in 2010. Today - like Charlie Crist was at the beginning of the Leadership Florida debate - Scott is on the ballot alone. And again, keep in mind, Governor Scott won by 61,000 votes in 2010.
As stated in the last memo, in 2010, roughly 70 percent of all registered voters were white, leading to an electorate that was roughly 75% white on Election Day.
However, the growth in the electorate since 2010 has almost exclusively been made up of people of color.
Since 2010, the number of registered voters in Florida has grown by roughly 590,000, with 71% of the growth coming from Hispanic, African American or Caribbean American voters, and another 10% coming from other ethnic groups. Only 19% of the growth has been among white voters.
So what does this really mean?
If nothing else changes from 2010, and all ethnic subgroups vote in the same turnout percentages as 2010, over 60 percent of new Florida voters would be black (24% of new voters) or Hispanic (39%). In other words, even in the worst case scenario turnout – which no one truly believes is likely – the Scott 61,000 vote margin of victory from 2010 is all but wiped out, just on demographics alone. And again, that assumes the Crist operation doesn’t turn out a single unlikely voter.
But what we know is that Crist is turning out unlikely voters – over 25% of the electorate so far – and those voters are favoring the Democrats.
The Crist campaign, with 120 staffers and 38 offices, is far more poised than the Democratic Party was in 2010 to turn out the votes necessary to win.
But in addition to the Crist operation, outside groups are investing in field in ways never before seen on the Democratic side of the aisle in a Governor’s race. In fact, according to published reports, NextGen Climate has spent over $10 million in Florida, with the majority being spent in the field – an operation that has been built by two-time Obama field czar Jackie Lee.
18 Days to Go
The campaign is far from over, but as Tim pointed out about facts being stubborn things, here are two that are real: fifty plus million dollars can’t move Governor Scott off of 42 percent, and Charlie Crist is leading this race. It is not a big lead, and Democrats need to stay focused on one thing: turning out voters. No Democrat should get complacent. People need to vote and turn out their friends.
Going back to the only thing I am certain of, that Fred Taylor should be in the Hall of Fame, this race is all about the blocking and tackling now. It’s the final drive of the Fourth Quarter and the old QB Charlie Crist has the ball and the lead. First downs are now all that separate him from the Governor’s Mansion.
And if it is getting hot over at Scott HQ, I know where they can get a fan or two.
Or a beer, which would be more productive than trading memos.
Until the next Saler memo, Go Noles! Beat Notre Dame!