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Friday
Dec022016

Florida Early Vote, a retrospective

It is time for one last big data piece on Florida 2016.

For about 18 hours a day over 2+ weeks, I found myself living and breathing early voting data. So now that all the data has been reported from counties, I wanted to take a look back at some assumptions, and compare them to the actual voting data.

Before I begin, there are five things to keep in mind:

1. Every time I talk in percentages, those percentages are relative to the two-party, ie Trump v Clinton numbers. I have no use or interest in playing the "what if" questions around third-party votes, so the data in here is just the two party vote. For what it is worth, this is pretty standard for my blogs.

2. I compiled this data over the entire month of November, often by pestering counties to provide data they don't have on their website. Some of the data came before the final, final certified versions, so there might be exceptionally slight variances - like tens of votes in a county - from the state final counts. However, there is nothing that happened so significant to change any findings.

3. When I talk about early voting, that is both in-person and vote by mail combined, unless I specify otherwise.

4. For the sake of interpreting the data, everything that wasn't an in-person or traditional vote by mail ballot was allocated to Election Day. So this means that there are likely provisionals from in-person early, and vbm, as well as late military ballots in Election Day. I don't think the impact of this is significant, but I'm flagging it regardless.

5. We know how people voted on Election day, but we do not know yet who voted on Election Day. In terms of firm lessons and takeaways, some of that will have to wait.

And since I was wrong about the final outcome, before we get started, here were some of my macro-assumptions going into Election Day.

When early voting started, I thought Presidential turnout would fall about 9.2 million votes. Because of early vote turnout, and based on who was left to vote on Election Day - namely voters who voted on Election Day in 2012, I modified that projection to 9.5 million late during the second week of early voting, and assuming that 3% of those would vote for someone else, this meant slightly over 9.2 million would vote for either Trump or Clinton.

I was assuming going into Election Day, we were at about 67-68% of our total turnout, and while the Democrats had a 96,000 lead among registered voters heading into Election Day, I was operating from a place that her lead was between 3-4%, largely due to the overwhelmingly diverse nature of the NPA vote, which would put her raw vote lead between 180-250K votes.

This meant Trump had to win Election Day, on the low-end by about 5.8% to upper end of 8%, just to break even. Both of these numbers are above Romney's Election Day win in 2012 (I can't remember McCain, but I suspect it is above McCain as well).

Here are two other things baked into my assumptions: Republicans had about 100,000 more "certain" voters left to vote, though when you looked at just 2012 voters, the number was about 40K.

So worse-case scenario, Democratic turnout struggled and only the certain voters turn-out. the R versus D lands about even for the entire election, and the early vote strength combined with a a more diverse NPA vote would carry the day. I think my final memo pegged her winning Florida by about 1.5%, which was about 130K votes, meaning on the more optimistic view of Clinton's early vote lead, Trump could still win Election Day by more than Romney, and she'd still win.

Since Trump is a golfer, I described his challenge on Election Day in golf terms: a 250 yard shot over water.

So here are the toplines:

9.42 million Floridians cast a ballot for President. For what it is worth, 9.58 million Floridians cast a ballot, though it was only 9.3 million in the Senate race.

9,122,861 Floridians voted for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Trump's margin was about 113K votes, or roughly 1.2% out of the two-party voters.

69.3% of the vote was cast before Election Day.

Of the VBM/early vote, Clinton won by just over 247K votes -- roughly a 4 point edge (she won both VBM and early vote)

On election day, Trump won by 360K, or a roughly 13 point margin over Clinton.

Toplines versus basic assumptions:

Turnout on Election Day was slightly lower than I expected, by about 80-100K votes. Given that my projection was based largely on the number of 2012 voters who had yet to vote, it was almost certainly lower because some share of 2012 Election Day Democrats didn't show up, and, more than likely, another share voted for Trump. This is the big question I will be looking at when the state updates the final 2016 voter file.

Clinton's nearly 250K vote lead was actually at the upper-end of my projections. Honestly, this surprised me. I suspected some of my optimism in the numbers leading up to the election was misplaced, and honestly thought as I put numbers into Excel, that we'd see she had gone into Election Day with a narrower lead. However, almost everything was landing right on target for her to win. As I get more into this, and look at some of the benchmarks I tracked throughout, you can see the pattern for my optimism going into Election Day.

However, Trump just crushed Election Day. There is no other way to look at it. And as I discussed in the first look back at the numbers, it really happened in just a handful of places: namely the Tampa and Orlando media markets. For example, his two-party vote share was 8.39% higher on Election Day (56.44) than Early Vote. (48.05), but in Tampa it was up 8.92% (51.5% EV, 60.42 ED), and Orlando was up 9.08% (48.8% EV, 57.88% ED). Less than 3 million voted for Bush or Clinton on Election Day, yet he won the day by 360K votes.

How big is that? Bush won Florida in 2004 by landslide for Florida proportions: 380K votes -- out of 7.6 million cast. Trump's Election Day margin almost matched it.

Benchmarks

For most of early voting, I tracked a variety of benchmarks, namely Hillsborough (the only county that voted for Bush and Obama both times), the I-4 corridor counties, South Florida and #Duuuval county. So for the sake of this exercise, let's start there:

Hillsborough:

Clinton went into Election Day with about a 29K partisan advantage among early voters, or a partisan lead of about 6.8%.

When the votes were cast, she carried the early voting period almost 44,000 votes, or almost 11% of the two-party vote. Trump won election day by just under 2 points, or right at 3,000 votes, so when all was done, Clinton carried the county by 41,000 votes. The final percentage margin, 6.8% was almost the same as Obama, and her raw vote win was about 5,000 votes larger.

The county was a little below where it should have been for turnout. Hillsborough is typically about 6.% f the statewide vote, but it landed at 6.3%, largely because its Election Day share was down -- only 29% of Hillsborough votes came on Election Day.

Long and short of it, Hillsborough could have been a little better, but that number is right at what a win for Democrats looks like.

I-4 Corridor

Hillary Clinton won the I-4 counties by almost 162K votes, but here the Trump surge on Election Day is very evident. She won these counties by almost 200,000 votes in the early/vbm phase, yet Trump won Election Day by almost 35,000 votes. Overall, Clinton won the early phase with 56.3% of the two-party vote, though only won 47.3% of the Elecion Day vote -- a surge which exceeded his statewide average.

When you look at the Volusia and Polk numbers, you can see the seeds of how Trump won on Election Day. Compared to the state, both saw their Election Day turnout levels exceed Early Vote -- with 34% of the Volusia vote coming on Election Day, and over 40% for Polk. Once fairly Democratic Volusia has been the canary in the coal mine for a free cycles - there is a reason I've highlighted it in blogs for years. If I was going to do qualitative research into 2016, I'd start with focus groups in Volusia.

Pinellas is a slightly different kind of animal, but his Election Day performance is probably indicative of late deciders breaking almost exclusively for Trump. Had the FBI Director not chosen to insert himself into the campaign with a week to ago, I suspect Clinton would have carried Pinellas (albeit very narrowly).

In total, 24.1% of the statewide vote came from these counties, of which 70.6% of the vote came before Election Day. Another way to look at it: while only 29.4% of the total vote from these counties came in on Election Day, 33.4% of Trumps' vote total from these counties came in on Election Day. I suspect when Election Day voter data comes out, we will see a cratering of minority participation.


Volusia (Daytona)
Final early vote party spread: 39.6 R, 37.1 D, 23.3 NPA R + 4,302
Actual early vote spread: Trump +8.88% (+14,754 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Trump +22.28% (+19,162 votes)
Final results: Trump +33,916 (54.3-41.4%). In 12, Romney was +2700 (+1.15%)

Seminole – suburban Orlando
Final early vote party spread: 41.0 R, 35.0D, 24.0 NPA R +10,316
Actual Early Vote spread: Clinton +1.84% (+2,989 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Trump +12.36% (+6,518 votes)
Final results: Trump +3,529 votes (48.1-46.5%). In 12, Romney was +13,500 (+6.5%)

Orange (Orlando)
Final early party spread: 45.8 D, 29.5 R, 24.7 NPA D +67,155
Actual Early Vote spread: Clinton +29.71% (+116,949 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Clinton +13.49% (+17.729 votes)
Final spread: Clinton +134,678 votes (59.7%-35.4%). In 2012, Obama was +85,000 (+18.2%)

Osceola – heavy Hispanic suburban Orlando.
Final early vote party spread : 47.1 D, 26.2 R, 26.7 NPA D + 22,625
Actual Early Vote spread: Clinton +29.71% (+30,645 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Clinton+13.98% (+4,512 votes)
Final results: Clinton: +35,157 votes (60.4-30.6%). In 2012, Obama was roughly +27K (+24.4%)

Imperial Polk – between Tampa/Orlando
Final Early Vote Party Spread: 39.6 R, 39 D, 21.4 NPA R +1,085
Actual Early Vote Spread: Trump +7.55% (+12,424 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Trump +25.01% (+27,573 votes)
Final results: Trump +13.94% (+39,997 votes). In 2012, Romney was +19K votes (+6.8%)

Hillsborough (See Above)

Pinellas (Clearwater/St. Pete)
Final early vote party spread: 38.5 R, 38.2 D, 23.3 NPA D +752
Actual early vote spread: Clinton +4.58% (+14,460 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Trump +12.72% (+19,960 votes)
Final results: Trump +1.1% (+5,500 votes). In 2012, Obama won by about 26K votes (+5.5%)

South Florida

Going into Election Day, there was almost nothing that I didn't feel good about in South Florida, and here is why: 87.7% of the entire 2012 election turnout voted early in Dade. In Broward, it was a respectable 81%. In fact, 11.9% of all early votes came in from Dade (should be 10.3%), and Broward was at 9.65% (should have been 8.75%).

And then Election Day happened. The issue here was different than I-4. Trump's share of the two-party vote in Broward and Dade went from 32% to 38.7%, a growth of 6.7%, which while significant, is lower than his statewide average increase of 8.4%. What happened on Election Day is people didn't vote. Statewide, 30.7% of the vote came on Election Day -- in Broward and Dade, it was 23.2%. Another way of looking ai: these two counties made up 21.5% of early vote, and only 14.7 of Election Day

That being said, these two counties both exceeded their projected share of the statewide vote, as well as set records for vote margins. Democrats can not blame losing on Broward and Dade not doing their jobs.

On the flip side, I was concerned about Palm Beach County the entire early vote period. Even in my last memo, I called Palm Beach a "red flag" largely due to lagging turnout. While the Democratic margins were good, Palm Beach was only 5.9% of the statewide early vote, and it should have been 7%. Well it turned out on Election Day -- 41.1% of the total Palm Beach County vote came in on Election Day, making up 9.5% of the total statewide vote, the biggest single jump in the state. And it was a Trump vote that showed up: after running up a 95K vote lead in the early vote, Clinton won Election Day by just over 7K.

When it boils down to it, Clinton won the county by about the same vote margin as Obama in 2012 (which was down from 08), but her vote share was down. Frankly going forward, Palm Beach is a place where Democrats need to up their game.

Palm Beach
Final early vote party spread: 47.3 D, 28.4 R, 24.3 NPA D +74,728
Actual early vote spread: Clinton +24.9% (+94,888 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Clinton +2.78 (+7,383 votes)
Final results: Clinton +15.1% (+102,271 votes). In 2012, Obama won by just over 102K (+17%).

Broward
Final early vote party spread: 55.4 D, 21.7 R, 22.9 NPA D +212,077
Actual early vote spread: Clinton +41.7% (+254,391 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Clinton +18.6 (+37,978 votes)
Final results: Clinton +34.9% (+292,369 votes). In 2012, Obama won by 264K votes (+34.9%)

Miami-Dade
Final early vote party spread: 43.9 D, 29.2 R, 26.9 NPA D +114,767
Actual early vote spread: Clinton +34.4% (+234,758 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Clinton +26.7% (+55,389 votes)
Final results: Clinton +29.4% (+290,147 votes). In 2012, Obama won by 208.5K votes (+23.6%)

#DUUUUVAL

Clinton had one job in Duval, keep it manageable. If you had given the Clinton campaign the option of spotting Trump a 20,000 vote win in Duval in exchange for both campaigns walking away, I would have urged them to take it. After all, this is a county where Bush in 04 won by 61,000 votes, and given that Trump exceeded the Bush 04 margins in most counties, running up a big number here was a real possibility.

But she did her job here, plus some. In keeping Trump's Duval margins under 6,000 votes, she had the best showing in Duval for a Presidential Democratic candidate since Jimmy Carter, and she held Trump well below the Rubio numbers, who won the county by 70,000 votes. If #NeverTrump succeeded anywhere, it was in Duval.

Final early vote party spread: 42.5D, 41.1 R, 16.4 NPA D +4,279
Actual early vote spread: Clinton +1.9% (+5.439 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Trump +8.9% (+11,407 votes)
Final results: Trump +1.4% (+5,968 votes). In 2012, Romney won by 15K votes (+3.6%)

Final Thoughts

There isn't much more to say -- Clinton had the race where it needed to be, and Trump won it on Election Day.

First, one quick note on the votes before Election Day. Democrats had about 1.5% edge in the voters who had voted either in-person early or a vote by mail ballot, yet she won the early voting period by almost 4%. This was likely do to her over-performing with NPAs, given that non-white voters made up 37% of NPA voters (comapred to 33% of partisans).

I suspect what we will see when the Election Day voter data comes out that white NPA participation was quite high, balancing out the racial make-up of the NPA voter to look more like the electorate at-large.

So where did Trump really win it? The data from the early vote/Election Day totals confirms my first glance: This was a win primarily in suburban/exurban I-4.

Here's why.

Start with my favorite analogy, Florida as a scale. The GOP media market buckets (Pensacola, Panama City, Jacksonville and Fort Myers) and the Dem buckets (Tallahassee, Gainesville, West Palm and Miami) largely balance themselves out, and I-4 tilts it one way or the other. This year, in their core markets, Republicans did much better on Election Day than the Democrats, winning them by 188K votes, compared to the Democrats only winning theirs by 70K, carrying a margin of roughly 120K votes out of their core markets.

However, Democrats went into Election Day with a bigger margin, having crushed the Republicans in early vote, by almost 260K votes. In fact, Clinton's 141K final margin over Trump in the core partisan markets was a few thousand votes higher than Obama in 2012.

Then we get to I-4, and this time, we look at it not as just as the counties on I-4, but every county in the two media markets. Going into Election Day, I-4 was pretty balanced, with Trump holding a 11K vote lead. But on Election Day, Trump won by 242K votes. In other words, 95.5% of Trump's total margin in the Tampa and Orlando media markets came on Election Day. In total, Trump won 59% of the two-party vote in the Tampa and Orlando media markets on Election Day.

And of those 242K votes, 200K of that margin came from the non-urban counties in the media market, in other words. Just on Election Day.

And while it is true that Republicans always do better on Election Day, his Election Day "improvement" particularly in the Tampa media markets far exceeded Romney.

For example, in Pasco, his vote share was 7.69% higher on Election Day than in Early Vote, where as Romney was 2.59% higher, or 5.1% greater than Romney. In Polk, he was also 5.1% higher, Seminole 5.1%, Sarasota 5.4%, and Pinellas 7.2%. We saw similar things in the outlying counties in the Palm Beach market, where in St. Lucie, his vote share was 11.1% higher on Election Day, a 5.2% increase on Romney, and in Martin County, where his Election Day improvement was 6.3% higher than Romney.

I could keep writing on this, but until we get actual voter data from Election Day back, there isn't much else to add. I will do a piece on my thoughts on where the Democrats should go from here sometime in the next few weeks, but as I mentioned in my last piece, the Trump loss, at least regionally, looks a lot like the Bush win in 04 -- and there is a road map for how to reverse it (see Obama).

And again, I don't think it is as simple as Republicans had more voters left to vote, because best case scenario, that number was only about 100,000 more voters. No, this almost surely a cratering of Democratic turnout, all Election Day deciders going to Trump, and an Election Day surge contributing to the comeback.

The combination of two unliked candidates, Trump's success at driving the narrative into the ground, and all of the late-breaking issues going to Trump, it ended up being the perfect storm on November 8th, or in Trump's case, the perfect 3-wood over water to that green 250 yards away.

And I lied in the first sentence -- I'll be back once we have the full voter file with Election Day voters. Until then, Happy Holidays, unless you are a Jags fan,,because we will surely all get a Gus Bradley extension for Christmas.

Monday
Nov142016

Florida 2016 in the rearview mirror

Give any Florida strategist with statewide experience the following data points: by 7:15pm, the Democratic candidate has a 10 point lead in Hillsborough, a 100K vote lead in Orange, a 200K vote lead in both Dade and Broward early voting, and is ahead in Duval, and everyone would think the same thing: that Democratic candidate is going to win. Certainly that is what I thought, and what everyone, R and D, who texted me around that time thought too.

Back in October, I had looked at several different models. Most of them played out with a narrow Clinton win, one of them came back a tie (not in percentages - an actual raw vote tie), and in one of them, where I assumed in most counties that Trump would earn the higher of Romney or Bush04 vote share, and in that one, Trump won by a point. I sent it to a few friends on both sides, who generally dismissed it. Going into Election Day, pretty much everything was lining up with one of the models that had her headed to about 1.5-2 point win.

I have a plan every Election Night: check Pasco early vote, then hit refresh until Hillsborough, Pinellas, Duval, Orange, Dade and Broward report, followed by a swing through I-4 suburban and exurban counties. Sure the initial Pasco and Pinellas numbers didn't look too good, but they looked survivable, especially considering pretty much everything else was at or above my target. Then I went and looked at Volusia...Hernando...Brevard...Sarasota...Polk...then back to Pasco. The last of my models was more than playing out. I slammed down the rest of my beer, and called a buddy in Brooklyn to report the bad news. It was done. CNN could have called it at 8:00 EST, she wasn't winning Florida. In fact, looking back at my texts, I told a guy at CNN around 8:15 EST that it was done.

Despite my optimism going into Election Day, in my gut, I knew this could happen. As many folks have heard me say over the last few years, while I am a big believer -- and still am -- that demographic trends work in the Democratic Party's favor, all of this hinges on the Democratic candidate maintaining a reasonable floor with white voters. Frankly, it was a big part of why I was a big proponent of the Vice President running. As I told CNN's "The Lead" in late August 2015 about Biden: "I live in the swing state of Florida. If you look at the way Democrats have struggled with working class, working white voters primarily...he gives us a chance to talk to some voters in the general election that we've struggled with the last few cycles."

President Obama had some reach with these voters, or at least enough for us to win. In 2008, we knew we had to hit 40 with whites, in 2012, we needed to get close to it. For Secretary Clinton, it meant maintaining President Obama's numbers with whites from 2012. As you will see in a few minutes, she clearly didn't -- not only here, but throughout the country.

So let's start with a couple of Florida factoids:

*2016 marked the 4th straight statewide election (two Governors, two Presidentials), where the victor's margin of victory was roughly a point.

*And just to drive home the point of Florida's competitiveness -- when you go back to 1992, the year where Florida became a true battleground state, there have been more than 50 million votes cast for President, and Republicans and Democrats are separated by 12,000 votes. No, that isn't a typo -- 12,000 votes, or right at 0.02%.

*Trump set the new high water mark for Republican vote share in 40 of Florida's 67 counties.

So what happened?

I often will describe Florida as a scale. Take the GOP markets (North Florida markets + Fort Myers) and in a neutral year, it will balance out the Dem markets (Miami and West Palm), and more or less, the race balances of the fulcrum of I-4. Because of the Democratic trends in Miami-Dade, the math has changed a bit: Democrats can now count on bigger margins out of their markets than the GOP can out of theirs, and thus can still win even if they lose I-4 by a little bit. This was the Obama 2012 path: the President carried a margin of about 550K votes out of his base markets, Romney was about 410K out of his, and even though Romney narrowly carried both I-4 markets, it wasn't enough.

Which is a good way to frame the "Things that didn't cost Hillary Florida" section:

Base turnout: Both Broward and Dade county had higher turnout rates, and the Miami media market had a higher margin for Clinton than Obama. And even with Palm Beach coming in a little short, she won her two base markets by about 75K more votes than Obama 2012, and won a slighly higher share of the vote. Broward and Dade alone combines for a 580K vote margin, and honestly, I think around 600K is pretty close to maxing out.

The Panhandle: True, Trump did win the "I-10 corridor" by more votes than Romney, but it wasn't significant. His 345K vote margin as slighly better than Romney's 308K, and pretty much in line with Bush 04's 338K North Florida vote majority. And frankly, Clinton succeeded in the major North Florida objective: keep #Duuuval County close. Trump's 6,000 vote plurality in Duval County was the best Democratic performance in a Presidential election since Carter won Duval in 1976.

Hispanics: It is true that Hispanics under-performed out west, but here in Florida, she did considerably better than Obama in the exit polls -- polls that are reflective in the record margins she posted in the heavily Hispanic areas of Miami-Dade, Broward, Orange, and Osceola.

SW Florida: This was the GOP talking point during early vote: SW Florida was blowing up for Trump. And they were right, it did. But SW Florida typically has exceptionally high turnout, and high GOP margins, and in the end, Trump's total was only about 40K votes bigger than Romney.

In fact, if you add up the 8 "partisan" markets, which make up 55% of the statewide vote, the 2016 election was basically a repeat of 2012. Trump's margin was less than 2,000 votes better than Romney.

It was rural Florida: Trump did very well in rural Florida, but so did Romney. If you take all the counties with less than 250,000 residents, he increased Romney's vote share by 125,000 votes -- enough to make up the Obama 2012 margin -- except, Clinton increased Obama's margin in the counties with more than 750,000 residents by over 100,000 votes. In other words, rural and suburban cancel eachother out. What doesn't cancel out -- midsize suburban/exurban counties, places with 250,000-750,000 residents -- Trump won them by 200,000 more votes than Romney

One more reason: HRC 'cannibalized' her vote early, in other words, had all the typical Democrats vote early, and lost because there were just simply that many more Republicans left to vote. Here is why this one is tricky.

First, Republicans have a lot more "reliable voters" in that, they have fewer voters that drop-off in the midterm elections. Democrats have more "potential voters" - in other words, unreliable or first-time voters. During early voting, GOP had over 200K more "three of three" voters -- in other words, people who voted in 2014, 2012, and 2010 who voted early than Democrats, but the Dems had a lot more infrequent voters. And yes, the Dems had more "2012 voters" who voted early, but they also just had more 2012 voters.

Going into Election day, GOP still had more than 100K "three of three" voters to vote, which alone wasn't enough to get him to the kind of win he had. However, if you looked at just people who voted in 2012, the GOP edge was just 40K. In other words, had the 2012 voters all voted, the Dem early voting margin would have remained. We don't yet know who exactly voted on election day, but what we do know is the GOP really surged, and Dems didn't.

In fact, in ten of the eleven counties where Trump most increased the vote margins from Romney, his vote share (not margin) was at least 6.3% higher on election day than during early voting -- and in six of the eleven, the increase was at least 8.2%. For example, Trump won 53.8% of the Polk County early vote, but won 62.6% of the election day vote -- an increase in his share of 8.8%. In other words, in some of these counties, Trump was winning Election Day by 15 points more than he won Early voting.

And this didn't just happen in counties where Trump won. Even base Democratic counties saw this Trump surge. Take Broward County, where Trump won less than 30% of the early votes, he won over 40% on Election Day, or Orange County, where she won early voting by more than 30 points and racked up an almost 120K vote lead, only to watch Trump cut her Election Day only margin to 17K votes. In my last memo, I described what I thought Trump's Election Day challenge was in golf terms -- a 250 yard shot over water. Turns out, he did have that shot. Simply, he crushed her on Election Day.

So, where did he beat her? Simple: I-4, and more specifically, the 15 counties that make up suburban and exurban I-4.

Quick recap: The I-4 corridor is roughly defined as the Tampa and Orlando media markets. If you are a Democrat, win here, and you win. If you are a Republican, win big here, and you win. Given that the rest of the state in 2016 generally looked like 2012, Trump needed to win big here.

But that wasn't necessarily easy. The urban core in the Orlando market (Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties), is getting more Democratic quickly. In fact, in these three counties alone, Hillary Clinton extended President Obama's 2012 margins by over 65,000 votes. So, not only does Trump have to win the I-4 markets by 75,000 votes more than Romney did in 2012 just to win, he needs to find 65,000 more to make up for urban Orlando.

Well he did, and more. Trump won the I-4 markets by more than 250K votes. Where Romney won the two-party vote share on I-4 by 2 points, Trump won it by 6 -- including winning the Tampa market by 9 points.

But it was even more granular than this. If you break up the markets into two buckets: urban counties (Hillsborough, Pinellas, Orange, Osceola and Seminole), and non-urban counties, the Trump path to victory -- and the challenge for Democrats, becomes even more clear.

Despite losing Pinellas County -- and Trump's significant gains there, Hillary Clinton won "urban I-4" by some 200K votes, which was more than Obama in 2008 or Obama in 2012. These counties account for about 48% of the votes on the I-4 corridor.

In the other 15, which make up the other 52% the region's votes, Donald Trump won by 450K votes. By comparison, Romney won these counties by 220K votes, and McCain by 130K. In other words, pretty much the entire rest of the state's election balanced out just like 2012, except one glaring place: suburban/exurban I-4. If you look back at 2004, you will see a fairly similar dynamic.

Here are a few examples:

Pasco
2008: McCain +7,687
2012: Romney +14,164
2016: Trump +51,899

Volusia
2008: Obama +13,857
2012: Romney +2,742
2016: Trump: +33,970

Hernando
2008: McCain +3,135
2012: Romney +7,108
2016: Trump: 26,860

I could go on like this for awhile

Overall, Trump won the Orlando market by slightly more than Romney, which is pretty remarkable given Clinton's strength in the core of Orlando. The Tampa market was solidly Trump. winning the two party vote share by 9 points. The rule of Tampa picking Presidents was once again true.

What is interesting is this is also the place where we saw the closest thing to a GOP turnout surge. Of these 15 counties, all but three of them saw turnout rates above 2012, with most seeing their turnout rates up 3-5 points. Whlle these counties are economically quite different, they are almost universally less diverse than the state at-large. We won't know exactly who voted on Election Day for a few more weeks, but I would bet we will see some increase in infrequent white voters of all parties to help drive those margins.

Overall, turnout was a bit all over the place this year. The I-10 markets were a smaller share of the vote than 2012, and Orlando was much higher. But within markets, you can see the exurban/suburban thing play out. That being said, Democrats can't blame this on turnout.

I also think there is an element here of Clinton losing the turnout fight in these places. These were the communities that were not getting a ton of field support (note, I didn't say none), but were places that Americans for Prosperity were heavily invested in behalf of Rubio. I've worried for some time that the "Trump has no ground game" narrative could slowly seep towards complacency, and we might have seen the proof of this in these areas. I wrote about this in a piece on May, when I suggested Trump could win the same way Scott won. Well, it happened.

So what comes next? Well, I will write more on that subject coming soon, but for some of us old guys, we will recognize the 2016 map as very similar to the 2004 map. In the two cycles that followed, Democrats won two statewide races, plus the Presidency, and picked up numerous seats in the Congress and Legislature? How? By reaching back into these communities and restarting the conversation. In Florida, the basic rule winning is managing margins, particularly in suburban and exurban I-4. In 04, Bush did it and won. In 08 and 12, Obama won that battle. In 16, Trump did.

And again, this isn't just a Florida deal -- what happened here isn't isolated. But I will make this one point -- one I've made a lot over the last few years: if Democrats in Florida can win around 40% of the white vote -- which is less than what Obama won in 2008, they will win almost every statewide race going forward. Demographics can be destiny -- but it isn't automatically.

Lastly, to the organizers on both sides -- stay in the fight. If you were for Trump, go be a part of the solution. President Obama told his 2008 organizers to go make their own solutions -- you should too. For the Clinton organizers, get up off the mat. There are more fights ahead and more chances to contribute.

Tuesday
Nov082016

We made it America.

To: Anyone who has been reading my memos, Putin included.
From: Steve Schale
Re: We survived, and genuine thanks from me.

First, thank you all for following along for the last two weeks. This memo isn't going to be a big data dump. For those, you can go back and read the other 12 versions of this thing.

But I want to start with a couple of numbers. First: 67. 67% was the percentage of the electorate was white in 2012 -- which by the way was down from 71 in 2008. My foundational assumption was if the electorate was more diverse than 2012, the basic coalition that got President Obama over the line in 2012 would hold. We finish early voting at 65.7 white, 15.3 hispanic, and 13.1 black, with the black number closing in on the 2012 share, and the white number down.

The other thing working into play here is the explosion of turnout in Central Florida and Miami. If you reweighted the 2012 election by the current 2016 share of vote by market, Obama would have beaten Romney by almost twice the 2012 margin, or 1.5%. Under same scenario, if you apply the 2012 margins by county to the 2016 turnout, you end up with a nearly 2 point Clinton win. And none of this factors in the likelihood that race will drive larger margins in some areas -- and smaller Republican ones in others.

So as I think about this race, I try to get my head around what both candidates have going for them.

First the factors that Clinton should feel good about:

The electorate is more diverse than 2012.

The Orlando area (Orange and Osceola) and Miami area (Broward and Dade) are turning out a full 3 points higher as a share of the state (29.3% than projected (26.15%).

While Republicans talked about Trump's ability to turn-out low propensity voters, it is Clinton who has turned out 250,000 more low propensity voters.

NPA voters, making up the largest share they've ever made up in a Florida Presidential election, are 4 points more diverse than the electoate at-large, including a 20% Hispanic share.

Voters who do not fit into one of the three main demographic categories are over 50% low propensity, and combined, are 77% Democratic or NPA.

North Florida, a Trump stronghold, is well under its performance targets, yet #Duuuval County, a GOP stronghold, is actually starting Election Day with a 4K voter Democratic edge. Again, this is why the President came to Duval. For Dems, it was never about winning there, but it is all about stopping the tide.

Factors Trump Should Feel Good About

The Fort Myers media market is over-performing its projected market share by about 1%

Democrats have a smaller raw voter lead going into Election Day. While I think there are structural reasons for this, it is still reality.

There are more Republicans who voted in both 2008 and 2012 left to vote than Democrats (though among just 2012 voters, it's basically a tie).

So what does this mean?

Those are not equal ledgers, and pretty much everything that Hillary Clinton wanted to have happen to position herself to win Florida has happened.

I was asked yesterday about a journalist, "So Schale, what would you be worried about if you were in her campaign?"

Truthfully, not a lot. I am normally superstitious about turnout, so of course you worry about that. But at the same time, I also recognize that for Trump to win, he has to have a ridiculously good day. I suspect that when early voting is counted, that she will have won the early vote by 3-4 points, and if early voting is, let's say 2/3rds of all the votes, it means Trump has to win tomorrow by 6-8 points. I don't think 6-8 points is out there today for him.

If you look at the 3.2 million voters who in 2012 who haven't voted yet, even if they all vote, Miami and Orlando still remain well above both their 2012 share and their projected share, and I-10 (Trump Country) still falls below 2012. Also, Fort Myers comes back to life, finishing where it should, about 6.6% of the electorate.

So in other words, even if all those 2012 voters come out -- voters that lean a little Republican, the electorate is still regionally balanced better for Clinton than Obama, is more diverse than it was for Obama, and has an NPA voter pool that is more diverse than it was for Obama -- or in any state where Trump is winning NPAs. Can Trump win today? Sure. Is it likely? Not really.

In other words, what should I be concerned about?

My good friend Tom Eldon, a longtime FL pollster and fellow oenophile, asked me today "On scale of 1-10, how are you feeling?" If I was a 7 going into 2012 (just ask every reporter who heard me make my pitch for why Obama would win a state no one thought he would), and a 10 in 2008, Tom agreed he was also a 9 (sorry to out you bro).

Really it is this simple: If the Clinton operation hits its marks tonight, she's going to win. It's going to be fairly close, probably in the 1.5% margin range. It's hard to nail down exactly because I don't have access to campaign polling (real polling, not public polls).

What To Look for?

Data is going to come in very fast today after 7.

Two scenarios: because so much vote is early & will be reported early, if she's going to win by say 2 or more, I think it will be fairly apparent early. Under a point, it will be late.

Brian Corley in Pasco County usually reports first, VBM-ABS just after 7pm. Pinellas is early as well, and often Orange and Duval come not long after. In those counties, you are looking at 60-75% of the vote coming in at one time. If it is relatively close in Duval and Pasco, and she's leading in Pinellas, and Orange is looking +20, she's probably going to win, but it will take time for race to play out. If Orange is bigger than that or if she starts out tied or with a lead in Duval, it could be faster.

Dade will also come, probably around 7:30 (though being Dade, it might be 7:30 on Thursday). As I told a reporter tonight, I have no clue what to expect. She could be up 25, or she might be up 40, but I suspect it will be big. Former is probably a winning number, latter would be tough to beat. Broward should be about the same time. I suspect a margin north of 200K in the early voting.

Around 8pm, the Panhandle will come in. Romney won the Panama City and Pensacola media markets by about 180K votes. So to be super generous, spot Trump 250K in the Central Time Zone. Unless there is something really odd with the reporting - like Dade or Palm Beach report nothing before 8, if she is up in the 300K margin, it will be hard for Trump to overcome. If it is 400 at that point, you can go home.

But we will know pretty early if it is a short night or a long night. But either way, I think it is a steep challenge for Trump. Since he is a golfer - I'll put it this way: I think he's basically facing a 250 yard carry over water, into a little wind, and that's a shot he probably doesn't have in his bag. God knows I don't have that shot anymore.

Remember, you have to track these on individual county sites until 8. State won't report data until polls close in the CST zone.

What is interesting about Florida is that the margins in counties consistent over time. Outside of a handful of places, we have a decent sense of where it will land. For Trump to win, ths basically has to happen: in 64 counties, he has to get the highest share of any Republican between 2000 and 2012, and he has to keep Clinton's margins in Osceola, Orange, and Dade in the low 20s. He has major problems with the former, namely semi-large places like Sarasota, Polk and Duval, which so no signs of being anywhere near their GOP highs. And with the latter, I don't see how Clinton doesn't stretch Obama's margins in all three of those counties.

So with that, I think she wins. In fact, I am pretty confident. I don't think it's a huge margin, but no win in FL Presidential or Gubernatorial races these days is huge.

Lastly, I hate Election Day as a staffer. Other than trying to get your side on TV or ordering robo calls, there isn't really anything you can do other than trust your operation, and hanging out in the boiler room all day is about the most horrible thing you can do. I spend most of Eday calling fellow hacks of both parties. I've always found it a strangely congenial day between warriors, mainly because we are all doing the same thing, pretty much sitting around.

Today, I take out my Turkish group, and we are going to go see some campaigning, before heading to Tampa to watch the results. I will be providing some thoughts on early returns on Twitter, so pay attention.

Finally, and I mean this with all sincerity, I truly appreciate everyone who took the timto read my musings. When I wrote the first one last Tuesday, I did not plan on doing this daily, but it kind of took off. For me, writing is how I think things out, and so over the last two weeks, I've used these memos, not only to provide some data, but also to work through some of the emerging questions about this race. I also hoped to provide some context to the map, from the eyes of someone who has been trying to read defenses for a solid decade on the field of play.

I'd also like to thank my wife for putting up with me not paying attention to anything other than my spreadsheets for two weeks, my friends who have dealt with me constantly responding to emails and texts, and those who have found my voice mail full. I also want to thank my friend Dan Smith at UF for letting me bounce some theories and data off him, as well as other hack friends, including more than one Republican that I won't name to protect the innocent, for being good checks on what I was writing. I don't have staff, and for 99% of the time, I was doing all my own data work, so forgive me if I didn't respond to you on phone, email or twitter. I've been drinking straight from the proverbial fire hose since about 2pm on day one of in-person voting. As I've told many reporters, my respect for how they manage the flow of information has substantially risen - and thanks to all of you for your feedback over the last two weeks.

I've enjoyed having a life for most this cycle, but it was fun to be in the game for a few weeks. But mostly, having not slept more than 5 hours in 2 weeks, or eaten more than 2-3 proper meals, I'm ready for it to end. It's time to put this shibacle of an election behind & hopefully start reducing the acrimony on both sides of the American debate.

So until 2020 -- if I am crazy enough to do this again, Happy Election Day, that singular day when we get to renew the greatest experiment in self-governing man has ever known.

Monday
Nov072016

1 more day. We can do this

To: The tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to be free of 2016

From: Steve Schale, Florida Sherpa

Re: It is almost drinkin' time

I usually do a timeline here, but since I cant even imagine life in a post-2016 election cycle world, I am simply going to say, Thank God America, we have damn near made it. Like the weed that I can't get to stop growing up the side of my back yard fence, admit it, you thought this would never end. But it is going to. Yes. Tomorrow, we will have a winner. Just hang in there one more day.

On Sunday, I took my Turkish crew to the St. Mark AME Church for a Souls to the Polls service with Val Demings and Kamia Brown, after which we visited an early voting site nearby. The lines at noon were already quite long, so it came as no surprise that Orange County (Orlando) set a turnout record. And so did Osceola, and Hillsborough, Broward, Palm Beach, Duval, Leon, Pinellas, and yes, Miami Dade.

In fact, Miami Dade had more people vote today than 33 counties have had vote in this entire election. They more than 760K people who voted in early voting is equal to almost 88% of the entire vote cast in the 2012 election. If Election Day turnout is just half of what it was in 2012, more than 1 million people will vote in Dade. I had it estimated at 900K, as did most people I spoke with.

In total, almost 260k people voted yesterday in the 15 counties that cast ballots. To put that in context, most days last week of in-person early voting barely eclipsed the total from 15 counties. Frankly, the turnout was stunning.

There will be some VBM ballots which will show up tomorrow at elections offices, but the below numbers are pretty much what we will see heading into E-Day.

So let me try to make some sense out of this.

Total Ballots cast: 6,419,154

Total Vote By Mail: 2,549,633 (41.5%)

Total Early Vote: 3,869,521 (58.5%)

Democrats: 2,558.072 (39.85%)

Republicans: 2,470,823 (38.49%)

NPA: 1,390,259 (21.66%)

Total Margin: DEM +1.36%

How big is the final weekend for Dems?

Friday: Dems +0.13 (+7K)

Saturday: Dems +0.59 (+32K)

Sunday: Dems +1.36 (+87K)

To repeat from yesterday, my go-to model for this cycle has been 40D-39R-21NPA. NPA’s are going to outpace it, but I still think +1 DEM is pretty safe.

And when you add Sunday, here is how the NPA tracked over the last week

After Sunday: 21.66%

After Sat: 21.35%

After Fri: 20.55%

After Thurs: 20.2%

After Wed: 19.8%

After Sunday: 19.3%

Right now, I think about 67% percent of the likely electorate has voted. Late last week, I predicted 70%, but to be fair, I had it at 9.2m turnout late last week. At that turnout, EV ended up at 69.7%, so that prediction was almost OK. 9.5 million is where I do think it lands – that is roughly 08 level turnout (exact 08 would be 9.55m). Given the sheer numbers of low propensity voters, it could go beyond that, but honestly, I would be surprised (albeit pleasantly).

So let’s dive in to the usual benchmarks

Hillsborough:

Hillsborough had a record day, with Dems leading the day by a 3500 voter plurality. NPA voters made up 30% of the voters yesterday, which is pretty remarkable, out placing NPA registration at 28.

All in all, the Dems will go into Eday with a 7 point voter registration advantage, which is slightly more Republican than the county’s voter registration statistics. D’s maintain an 8 point voter registration advantage in the county. Keep in mind, the reason I use Hillsborough is it is the recent benchmark, as the only county won by Bush twice and Obama twice.

And Hillsborough is doing a nice job of playing its role as the state benchmark. It should be about 6.5% of all statewide votes, and that is pretty much where it is in early voting (6.51%)

Yesterday: 41.7 Dem – 28.3 GOP – 30.0 NPA.

Total: 42.1 Dem – 35.3 GOP – 22.6 NPA

Dem +28,092

I-4

Almost as many people voted as Saturday, even though Volusia had no early voting, and the Dems won the day by over 13,00. But again, the big news is NPA, which made up 30% of all the voters along the highway, out-pacing Republicans.

Again it was metro-Orlando driving the NPA surge, with Seminole, Osceola, and Orange all over 30% NPA, with Osceola topping out at 33%. In fact, yesterday’s record day in both Osceola and Orange (I don’t have historic Seminole data), saw Dem + NPA = over 75% of the vote. The Obama effect again.

To date: 42.1 D - 35.4 R – 23.4 NPA

Yesterday: 41.6 D -28.4 R – 30.0 NPA

In total 1.74 million votes were cast in the 7 counties along this interstate. To put this in perspective, I-4 county early voting in 2016 was bigger than Iowa in 2012.

These counties are now exceeding my projection of the state’s share by 0.8%, coming in at 27.16% of the state through yesterday, compared to my projection of 26.38%. But as I mentioned yesterday, this is not a disparity created equally along the interstate. In terms of ranking, Orange and Osceola are the fourth and fifth most “over-performing” counties in the state. On the flip side, the 5th most under-performing: Polk, which typically is a lean-GOP county, and frankly, is the kind of place I expected to see a “secret-Trump vote” surge. It might happen Tuesday, but I’m not convinced.

Also, my phone will blow up if I don’t mention that Pinellas flipped to the Dem column yesterday. It is still exceptionally tight and my gut says Trump does better than Romney.

Just to recap the counties on I-4 –

Volusia (Daytona) – should lean a little red this year (NO EV ON SUN)

All votes: 39.7 R, 37.2 D, 23.1 NPA

R + 4,235

Seminole – suburban Orlando, more white/republican. As a note, the SOE here, Mike Ertel here is a great guy, and today is hosting my Turkish delegation to walk through how votes are tabulated. Given how busy he is, I truly am grateful.

All votes: 41.3 R, 35.1D, 23.8 NPA

R +10,186

Orange (Orlando)

All votes: 46 D, 29.5 R, 24.5 NPA

D +65,553


Osceola – very Hispanic. President Obama was there

All votes: 47.3 D, 26.3 R, 26.4 NPA

D + 21,986

Imperial Polk – between Tampa/Orlando – lean R

All votes: 39.7 R, 39 D, 21.3 NPA

R +1,023

Hillsborough – twice for Bush, twice for Obama

Total: 42.1 Dem – 35.3 GOP – 22.6 NPA

Dem +28,092

Pinellas – lean D county on Gulf, west of Tampa

All votes: 38.6 R, 38.4 D, 23.0 NPA

D +358

Last look at I-4, by looking at the media markets, Republicans continue to hold a slight edge. To win Florida, Trump needs to grow slightly from Romney in both Tampa, and Orlando.

I noticed something over the last few days that is interesting: early in the voting period, the Tampa market was way out-performing the state, and now it is under-performing. Why is that? Hillsborough is roughly where it should be, but Pasco, Polk and Pinellas are well behind. Combined, those three counties are about a point below where they should perform as a share of the state. Will that be made up Tuesday? I don’t know, but I do think for Trump to do well, he needs pretty solid margins and volume from particularly Pasco and Polk.

Honestly in these two markets, Clinton appears to be right on path to meet her goals.

South Florida

It was like Miami had LeBron back yesterday, joined by Jordan in his prime.

Over 100,000 people voted in just Broward and Dade yesterday. In other words, 40% of yesterday came from the two biggest Democratic counties in Florida. Anyone care to write the “lack of enthusiasm” story today.

The numbers speak for themselves. 87.7% of the entire 2012 election turnout has already voted in Dade. That just doesn’t happen. And Broward is at a respectable 81%.

Dade is at 11.9% of all votes cast so far (should be 10.3%), and Broward is at 9.55%, where I had it pegged at 8.75%. The media market is a full two points bigger than it should be. If the Miami market finishes at 21.8% of all votes, this thing is cooked, and we will know it before 8:00 (assuming Miami decides to count all these ballots)

The red flag for Dems: Palm Beach. It is at 62% of its 2012 total, and it is also the county most “under-performing.” It should be about 7% of the state vote, but today it is about 5.9%. Of all the data points right now, this is the only one that concerns me. While Miami is more than making up for it, for HRC, win path is much easier with a more robust Palm Beach.

Palm Beach

All votes: 47.4 D, 28.5 R, 24.1 NPA

D +71,994

Broward

All votes: 55.5 D, 21.7 R, 22.8 NPA

D +206,981

Miami-Dade

All votes, 44.1 D, 29.3 R, 26.6 NPA

D +112,220

Duuuuuuval

The Obama effect:

D’s were down 3,000 when he got there.

They finish early voting up 4,248

#ThanksObama

Will Dems win Duval? Hell no. Will Trump win it by the Bush 04 margins he needs to make up from the Dade County wave? Absolutely not.

Additional Thoughts.

My basic view on this cycle, going back over a year, is that diversity would create the mechanism for Democrats to overcome other issues in the campaign, whether they be candidate or structurally-based.

Many folks doubted that 2016 would be more diverse. I had these same fights in 2012, as the Romney campaign tried to make the case that 2008 wasn't replicable, not understanding that nothing had to be replicated, because the pie of Florida voters had changed. Almost any 2012 reporter can attest I was a broken record on this -- demographics are changing and people aren't reading the state right.

Last week was deja vu, as early voting looked slow for the Dems, though signs of this Hispanic surge started to emerge, I had the same conversations with many of the same people.

One of the challenges Democrats have in Florida dealing with these process-driven stories about turnout is one of optics. Even when VBM is competitive between the parties, as it was this year, it is dominated by older white voters. This leads to the inevitable "X" group won't vote story, typcially backed up by a few quotes from people who have no invovlement in the actual campaign. We saw this it this year again.

But two things emerged last week. One, this low propensity Hispanic thing became a thing. While Trump folks argued that Trump would turn out low propensity voters, we'd see slight edges for Democrats in this category. What became clear over days last week, this was a Hispanic deal, and as week 2 of early voting took hold, so did this surge. As of Saturday, Democrats had an egde of more than 175K low propensity voters.

Secondly, we began to see the edging upward of NPA voters. I had projected NPA at 21% of the electorate, but it will probably land closer to 23. And it is really diverse, running an average of four points more diverse than the electorate as a whole.

So you end up with this scenario -- a fairly close partisan break, but below that, you saw surging Hispanic, surging NPA, and growing proof that the electorate would be more diverse than it was in 2012. Then we also learn that a large chunk of the GOP advantage was built with voters who were registered Dems in 2012 (though almost certainly not Dem Voters), as well as the GOP having cannibalized more of its own Election Day vote, and I began to realize this was looking better each day.

On that diversity issue, just since last week, the percentage of the electorate that's white has gone from 71 then over the last few days from 68.6 to 68.0, to 67.4, to 66.8. Since Thursday, there has been no day when the electorate has been more than 61% white. This is the Clinton recipe for winning.

So when I get asked -- all the freaking time -- about the fact the R versus D number is lower for the Dems than 2012, I answer, sure. And last week, I did worry about it, but this week, what has become clear is that structurally, we live in a state with more NPA, and more old conservative Dems who have switched parties, which drive down the total. But, we also live in a state that is getting more diverse, more quickly, and based on the 2012 experience, that is far more important in my eyes.

And the R versus D thing still isn't really out of whack. My most frequent model has the state going 40D, 39R, 21NPA, which I figured would land at 66 white. We are going to land more like 39D, 38R, 23NPA, and with that NPA driven by Hispanics (20% of NPA voters), this really looks like a Clinton coalition. In fact, most people, Republican and Democratic, I talked to in Florida were projecting D +1, so despte the talking points from the DNC, we are right on track.

I am going to write a wrap tomorrow for E-Day, but two questions I get a lot.

What am I worried about for HRC?

Really, almost nothing. I've mentioned the Palm Beach thing a few times, but right now, the diversity mix is rounding nicely into shape, and our best counties are way out-performing the state. Right now, she needs the organization on the ground to get this done on Tuesday

Could there be a Trump surge on Tuesday? It is possible, because the counties most under-performing right now are Trump counties. His problem, most of them are very small, part of what Jonathan Martin called the Gingrich Counties (where Newt beat Romney)-- those rural places in-between all the big counties.

All in all, the I-10 markets are way below where they should be, maybe as much as 3% below where its share should be. If that comes in tomorrow, it will tighten the race considerably.

Tomorrow's memo will also lay out some things you watch for. If she wins by 3, we will know pretty well, probably before the Panhandle returns come back after 8. If it is close, prepare for a long night.

One last thing -- and this is just for the FL HRC organizers out there.

You all got this. This thing is right there. You've spent 6 months training for this moment. This is what you built for. Do your job today and tomorrow, stay focused on your goals, and you can say you made history.

Sunday
Nov062016

The Shibacle is Almost Over

To: America

From: Steve Schale, A Tired Florida Man
Re: 2nd to last Memo

2 days until E-Day
4 days until I am home for a nice long time.
6 days until FSU basketball tips off.
That's all I care about now.

It is Sunday. We are so close to the end of this shibacle that let’s all be extra careful not to do anything to break it.

Today marks Souls to the Polls. I am celebrating this day by taking a group of Turkish political party leaders to St. Mark AME Church in Orlando with my buddy, State Representative Elect Kamia Brown. President Obama is in Osceola County today, a place that he held a rally in 2008 with then President Bill Clinton, and Fake Former President Matt Santos. I believe it may have been the first political rally in Florida with three Presidents on stage, that is, outside of a meeting of Condo Presidents in Broward.

Speaking of Broward, Hillary Clinton was there on Saturday, helping turn out more vote. Broward had another solid day, with almost 36K in-person votes.

All in all, just over 420K Floridians voted yesterday, it was the best net day of the cycle for Democrats.

Total Ballots cast: 6,152,099

Total Vote By Mail: 2,536,167 (42.2%)
Total Early Vote: 3,615,932 (57.8%)

Democrats: 2,435,493 (39.58%)
Republicans: 2,403,171 (39.06%)
NPA: 1,201,715 (21.35%)

Total Margin: DEM +0.59%

For the record, my go-to model for this cycle has been 40D-39R-21NPA. NPA’s are going to outpace it, but I do think +1 DEM is pretty safe.

One of the biggest things to note is how fast the NPA share has grown

After Sat: 21.35%
After Fri: 20.55%
After Thurs: 20.2%
After Wed: 19.8%
After Sunday: 19.3%

So far, through Friday, the electorate is 67.4% white, but among NPAs, it is 63.5% white. Among all voters, through Friday, it is 14.5% Hispanic, but among NPA’s, it is 20.2%

Right now, I think about 65% percent of the likely electorate has voted. At the higher turnout rate, I think we will be between 66-67% of likely voters having voted through Sunday. Another way of looking at this – our early vote as of yesterday is 91 more people than voted in all of Pennsylvania in the 2012 election. EV Florida with 2 days to go would be the 5th largest voting state in America.

Sunday voting in Florida is optional by county, and while most counties said no, all the major big counties said yes. It should be an opportunity for the Democrats to add to their margin.

:

Hillsborough followed up a record day by falling 300 votes short of setting another record. It was also the strongest day for Democrats since the beginning of the in-person early voting, netting a 3,000 vote plurality heading into Soul’s to the Polls. Again, NPA voters really drove the day, with almost as many NPA voters (8,237) voting as Republicans (9,026). Dems now hold a 25K vote lead.

Yesterday: 41.2 Dem – 30.7 GOP – 28.1 NPA.

Total: 42.1 Dem – 35.8 GOP – 22.1 NPA

I-4

Over 110,000 people voted yesterday, and the Dems won the day by over 10,000. But again, the big news is NPA, which made up 28% of all the voters along the highway.

To give you an idea of how the NPA surge looked yesterday, here are the I-4 counties with all votes counted, and just yesterday:

To date: 41.1 D - 35.9 R – 23 NPA

Yesterday: 40.5 D -31.3 R – 28.2 NPA

The other thing in here that is good news for the Democrats, while the I-4 corridor is almost exactly where it should be in terms of projected vote: 26.71% of the state through yesterday, compared to my projection of 26.38%, it isn’t distributed equally. Places over-performing: Osceola and Orange. Under-performing? Polk and Volusia. That almost look like the opposite of a secret-Trump vote surge.

In fact, yesterday, Osceola saw almost 32% come from NPA, and Orange almost 30%. I don’t have the time today to run the demographics on that, but I honestly don’t think I need to, because by this point, readers of this deal know who lives there.

Just to recap the counties on I-4 –

Volusia (Daytona) – should lean a little red this year.
All votes: 39.7 R, 37.2 D, 23.1 NPA
R + 4,235

Seminole – suburban Orlando, more white/republican.
All votes: 42.6 R, 35.1D, 23.3 NPA
R +10,234

Orange (Orlando)
All votes: 46 D, 30 R, 24 NPA
D +59,800

Osceola – very Hispanic. President Obama there today.
All votes: 47.5 D, 26.7 R, 25.9 NPA
D + 20,217

Imperial Polk – between Tampa/Orlando – lean R
All votes: 40.1 R, 39 D, 20.9 NPA
R +1,827

Hillsborough – twice for Bush, twice for Obama
All votes: 42.1 D, 35.8 R, 22.1 NPA
D +24,608

Pinellas – lean D county on Gulf, west of Tampa
All votes: 38.8 R, 38.5 D, 22.7 NPA
R +840

Last look at I-4, by looking at the media markets, Republicans hold a slight edge in both the Orlando and Tampa media markets. To win Florida, Trump needs to grow slightly from Romney in both Tampa, and Orlando. Given the conservative strength in places like Lake and Brevard, there was an opportunity to do that. So far, at least on the partisanship, the Orlando DMA is leaning pretty much a draw. That is a win for Clinton.

In Tampa, Republicans have a slight registration advantage, but nothing outside the normal. The counties outside of urban Tampa have strong GOP registration advantage, though particularly as you go to places like Sarasota, don’t vote as Republican as they register. As Obama proved in 2012, you don’t have to win the Tampa DMA to win Florida, you just have to keep it close to a tie. Based on the +3 GOP registration edge, with 22% NPA, I think she’s probably right there.

South Florida

I’ve run out of words to describe Miami. Mr. 305 himself might use the term “en fuego” to describe it.

Yesterday, 50K more people voted there, meaning 708K have voted there through yesterday, compared to 879K who voted there in the entire 2012 election. Yesterday almost matched Friday’s record, but compared to the rest of the state, it was even bigger. 12% of all voters came from Dade yesterday, and it was 42.5 Dem, 33.2 NPA, 24.4 GOP. That NPA number is going to be all Caribbean and Hispanic voters. I honestly at this point don’t know what to think about final turnout in Dade. It is going to be well over a million votes at this point, which if HRC wins by just same margin as Obama, will net +237K votes to her margin. If she increases the margin to say 65-35, which isn’t inconceivable at all, it goes to 300K. If that happens, she’s not going to lose Florida.

Broward had another really great day, and Palm Beach continues to get better. Right now, I think she easily wins Broward and Dade by 500K combined votes, which in the back of my head has been the magic number.

Palm Beach
All votes: 46 D, 39 R, 24 NPA
D +66,510

Broward
All votes: 55.7 D, 22.1 R, 22.2 NPA
D +188,499

Miami-Dade
All votes, 44 D, 29.8 R, 26.2 NPA
D +100,291

Duuuuuuval

The Obama effect:

D’s were down 3,000 when he got there.

They are now ahead.

#ThanksObama

Additional notes:

I don’t have yesterday’s diversity numbers, but based on voting patterns, there is no question in my mind we will go into Election Day under the 2012 standard of 67% white. The electorate is now under 67.6% white (67 In 2012), with Black and Hispanic voters continuing to grow in share of the electorate. Friday was 61 white to 39 non-whites. There is no question in my mind that the electorate will be more diverse than 2012.

Miami and Orlando continue to over-perform. Fort Myers is the bright spot for Republicans. There are still another 3.4m or so likely votes, but I'm sure of one thing, the folks in Brooklyn have to be feeling better than the folks in Trump Tower.

More later.

Saturday
Nov052016

It is Saturday - GO WATCH FOOTBALL

To: Whoever Reads This Stuff on a Saturday
From: Steve Schale, Florida Man
Re: GO WATCH FOOTBALL!

3 days until E-Day

*5 days until I am home for a nice long time
*7 days until FSU basketball tips off.
*105 days until pitchers and catchers

Think about it. Next week at this time, you won’t be reading memos from some dude in Florida. You will be relaxing in your home. Just visualize that for a second.

This memo will be shorter. As I mentioned yesterday, I have the honor of hosting a group of Turkish political types in Orlando for the election. We are actually going to see the President’s rally tomorrow. Between driving to Orlando this morning and spending time with the delegates, I’ve just not had much time to write. Hope to do more tomorrow.

In meantime, two things: yesterday was really robust, and as a result, and after consulting with Dan Smith from the University of Florida, I am upping my estimate from 9.2 million to 9.5 million. This puts it basically at 08 turnout levels.

On a day that saw 464,000 voters with almost 26% of the votes come in from NPAs, Democrats won the day by about 9K votes, winning narrowly both VBM and EV.

Total Ballots cast: 5,731,761
Total Vote By Mail: 2,370,567 (45%)
Total Early Vote: 2,897.183 (55%)

Democrats: 2,268,663 (39.58%)
Republicans: 2,261,383 (39.45)
NPA: 1,201,715 (20.97%)

Total Margin: DEM +0.13%

Right now, I think about 60% percent of the likely electorate has voted. At the higher turnout rate, I think we will be between 66-67% of likely voters having voted through Sunday. Another way of looking at this – our early vote as of yesterday is 91 more people than voted in all of Pennsylvania in the 2012 election. EV Florida with 2 days to go would be the 5th largest voting state in America.

Hillsborough:

Hillsborough had a record day. Over 29K voters, with 27.3% of them registered NPA. Democrats won a plurality of about 1,600, one of their best days of the cycle

Yesterday: 39.2 Dem – 33.5 GOP – 27.3 NPA.

Total: 42.1 Dem – 36.1 GOP – 21.8 NPA

I-4

Turnout was quite robust on the I-4 yesterday. More than 123,000 voters, with again, really big NPA turnout. More than 34K were NPA, equaling 27.8% of the voters.

In total, Dems won the day by about 6800 voters, or roughly 38.9-33.4%.

One thing that is interesting over the last few days is just the scale of turnout in both Orange and Osceola County. I projected that Orange would be just under 6% of all FL voters this year, and yesterday, it was 7% of all early voting. For Osceola, I have it about 1.4% of the state, and it was 1.65%. Really robust turnout. In fact, every county except Pinellas was above its state projection, though I suspect that has more to do with the VBM nature of the county – and residents voting earlier.

One other way to put Orange County in perspective: Orange County Florida is now at 73% of its entire 2012 POTUS turnout. Roughly 467K 2012 votes. Over 343K have voted so far in 2016

South Florida

I told one of the smartest national guys I know about Miami, and his response was “insane.” Then 12 hours later he texted me again and said “I still can’t believe those Miami numbers.”

To put Miami in perspective, in 658K have voted there through yesterday, compared to 879K who voted there in the entire 2012 election. Yesterday was the biggest day of early voting in the county’s history. A county I expect to be at best, 10.5% of statewide votes is well over 11.15% of the state, and yesterday was almost 12% of all voters. And right now the 44D-30R-26NPA split should play out pretty favorably for the Democrats.

There has been commentary about Broward being down. However, in my model, it is actually up. Why? Broward always lags the state, so any improvement over its typical lagging is a positive. Dems have a 174k lead in Broward, which is right now is over 9% of the statewide vote, slightly ahead of my projection. Yesterday, it was over 10% of all votes cast. In other words, in the biggest two Dem counties, which should account for about 19% of the statewide vote, yesterday they provided almost 22% of statewide votes.

I picked on Palm Beach yesterday, but Friday was better. I still have it lagging the state, though overall, these three counties are preforming at a higher share of the vote than projected.

Duuuuuuval

The Obama effect:

GOP led Dems by over 3,000 voters before he came to town. Yesterday it was cut to 1,500. As I write this, it is under 300.


And that was his goal. Take away a Trump big win. To quote Rick Scott, “it’s working.”

Additional notes:

The electorate continues to get more diverse. The electorate is now under 67.6% white (67 In 2012), with Black and Hispanic voters continuing to grow in share of the electorate. Yesterday was 61 white to 39 non-whites. There is no question in my mind that the electorate will be more diverse than 2012.

African American turnout hit a 2016 record yesterday, beating the record set each of the two previous days, and Hispanic was 17% of all voters. That is how HRC wins Florida.

I restate this because of the attention to the R versus D delta, and comparisons to 2012. Right now, the most important thing is diversity in my opinion. So many voters have moved to NPA that the Dem party advantage is much lower. This is compounded by the number of North Florida Dems who finally switched.

Yesterday, 73% of Dems and NPA Hispanics were “low propensity.” In total 50% of all Dem voters were low propensity. GOP is turning them out as well, but at a lower rate, 40% yesterday. In real numbers, that is nearly a 25,000 gulf.

I also want to restate something verbatim I wrote yesterday, mainly for my friends at CNN who keep reporting the topline numbers with no context. So here goes:

Between 2012 and 2016, a significant number of white Democrats switched parties. A large number of them came from places where the odds of them voting for any Democrat in recent history was very low, and certainly not one for President. For those not from here, you have to remember that large parts of the state are still very “southern” and as such, has retained some of that Southern Democrat identity, even though many of those voters have long stopped voting for Dems for President. The Obama second term and the rise of Trump – plus the fact that Republicans are winning more local offices, gave them the nudge to shed the label and “re-categorize themselves” into the party where they really belong.

So I asked some data people a question: is there a chance that part of the GOP lead is built with people who four years ago, were Democrat early voters – even if they were Dems in name only. The answer is yes. Almost 50,000 2016 Republican early voters were Democratic early voters in 2012. In other words, if none of those voters had switched, Dems would have a roughly 100K vote lead over the GOP today – even though that lead would have been meaningless.

I do believe this thing is tracking towards a Clinton victory. We get an electorate that is 65-66% white, and turnout closer to 2008 than 2012, and that is how the coalition is built.

It is also a good reminder that Florida is getting more diverse. By 2020, we will be talking about electorates that are 63-64% white, and by 2024, just above 60. The state is changing that rapidly.

I hope to do more tomorrow, and again, I apologize for the delay today. But as much as I love Florida, I love the volunteer work I do for the American Council of Young Political Leaders even more, and I am off to show our Turkish friends the country we call home – starting with an Orlando Magic game tonight.

Best to all

Friday
Nov042016

It is Friday somewhere -- and that somewhere is 2016 Election!

To: A tired, weary nation, and the Trump tech guys in Macedonia
From: Steve Schale, Florida Man
Re: Why in the world did I start doing these?

*1 day since the leader of the free world did the #swoop at UNF.
*4 days until the election
*6 days until I am home for a nice long time.
*8 days until FSU basketball tips off.
*106 days until pitchers and catchers
*131 days to get your NCAA basketball bracket complete – and your $20 in.

It is Friday. The greatest Friday in like two years, because it is the last Friday of this quadrennial renewal of our federalist experiment in self-governing. I can only imagine the letters that Adams and Jefferson are sending via pigeon carrier in Heaven right now. Or maybe they have texting now, guess we’ll find out one day.

Ballots. Barack Obama flew to Florida to tell you to return your ballot. Please listen to the man.

Speaking of President Obama, I had the honor to welcome him back to Jacksonville yesterday on what was a strangely emotional day. It is hard to believe it has been eight years. And while I have rather enjoyed having a life this cycle, it was good for the ole bloodstream to jump in for a day.

We’ve also reached the part of the campaign that is very difficult for the people who are in them, on both sides. Once you get to Friday, the die is largely cast. You’ve made your final moves, and other than ordering some robo calls or making adjustments to canvass operations, you really just have to trust your plan, and trust the kids on the ground to execute. I went and banged on doors in 08 for a few hours the last weekend, just to get out the nervous energy.

It is also the point where exhaustion has long since been replaced with a zombie-like consciousness, fueled by an occasional morsel of pizza, or candy, or whatever else you can find, mixed with coffee, Coca-Cola, and whatever cheap beer is in the fridge. In hack-lingo, this is the “October Diet,” and by this point in 2008, I was lucky if I was getting 3-4 hours a sleep. And this is true, whether you are at the top of the org chart, or an organizer at the bottom. In other words, you aren’t thinking well, and campaigns become defensive.

I say this to give some perspective to what is happening right now: tired kids in offices full of pizza boxes and beer bottles in trash cans that haven’t been emptied in weeks, pulling 16-18 hour days, often sleeping on couches or in spare rooms of “supporter housing.” For most of them, this is the only campaign they will ever work on – most be doing something different soon, grad school, teaching, etc. Even if their team wins, most will never go to Washington. There is something romantically heroic about it.

That is how early voting and Election Day gets done: kids grinding out this thing, one voter at a time. I used to tell them I had the easy job, and I couldn’t do what they do. With all the elevation publicly of hacks, the media (and pretty much everyone) often forgets in these things, but how they do their job will determine not only who wins this state, but potentially who is President. I used to tell my crew that their job was simple: just do your job, and if you do, you will change the course of history.

So with that, here is where we stand:

Yesterday, we blew past the five million mark, pushing over 5.25m votes. I do want to note, especially because as you will see, the margin is razor close, that there are discrepancies between the data the state reported and data you can get off county election’s offices. In some cases, those differences would benefit the D’s, in some the R’s. In other words, these numbers could change a little during the day.


Total Ballots cast: 5,267,750
Total Vote By Mail: 2,370,567 (45%)
Total Early Vote: 2,897.183 (55%)

Republicans: 2,093,586 (39.74%)
Democrats: 2,091,753 (39.71%)
NPA: 769,241 (20.55%)

Total Margin: GOP +0.03%

Dems won VBM and EV today, the first time the former has happened. I wouldn’t be surprised if this continues, largely because of math. There are a lot more Dem ballots out there than GOP ballots, in part because the Dems pushed VBM later in October, and in part because, I have no freaking idea why people haven’t mailed back their ballots.

Right now, I think about 57 percent of the likely electorate has voted. At this pace, if the next few days of early and VBM returns look like the last few days, we will be at 70% of the likely electorate done by E Day. One caveat, given the number of low propensity voters who are showing up, I might revise my turnout estimate upward, in which case, that 70% number will become more like 67-68%, but still, at that rate, we are going to have a pretty good sense where Florida is headed pretty darn early on Tuesday.

And yes, there are still almost a million vote-by-mail ballots sitting out there, and yes, Democrats have more outstanding mail in ballots than Republicans. Unreturned vote-by-mail ballots look like this: 41D-34R-25NPA, meaning 82,873 more Dem ballots are out there.

PRO TIP: AT THIS POINT, DON’T MAIL YOUR BALLOT BACK – TAKE IT TO AN EV SITE, THE SOE OFFICE OR YOUR POLLING LOCATION ON TUESDAY.

Hillsborough:

Hillsborough had a bigger day yesterday than the day before, with 26,164 ballots in the door. Democrats won by about 6%, equal to their overall margin lead, or about 1,500 voters. NPA voters though continue to show up late in early voting, as yesterday 26.5% of all Hillsborough voters were NPA. Throughout all of early voting, NPA =21%, so this is definitely an up-tick.

Staying in the Bay area, I get a fair amount of questions from my Pinellas readers. For those unfamiliar with Pinellas, it is home to St. Petersburg and Clearwater, the peninsula of land that is on the west side of Tampa Bay (remember, Tampa is the city, Tampa Bay is the water). It was one of the first places Republicans where Florida did very well, an homage to the area’s ties to the Midwest. Since about 2004, party affiliation there has been very close, though Democrats tend to do better than the party affiliation at the top of the ticket, since it tends to have a more moderate Republican voter. It is also unique in that the county votes overwhelmingly VBM, so we will know a lot of results very quickly.

Right now, Dems did win yesterday, and the GOP has about 1500 voter lead in the county (Dems have about the same lead in voter reg).

Metro Orlando & rest of I-4

Looking at the rest of I-4, the big news yesterday is the continued explosion of NPA voters. Of the five remaining I-4 counties, Polk, Osceola, Orange, Seminole and Volusia, none had NPA’s share of the day equal less than 24.5%. As I wrote about yesterday, this is largely driven by Puerto Ricans voting in strong numbers.

One thing that is also noteworthy from yesterday, the two places with the highest Puerto Rican populations, Orange and Osceola counties both out-performed their projected share of the statewide vote. In other words, more people turned out there than you’d expect based on their likely proportion to the rest of the state. In fact, both are above their projected share for the entirety of early voting. Polk is a little below where it should land, and both Seminole and Volusia are pretty much on marks.

As I wrote on a blog earlier, the dynamic in this market is whether GOP turns out more voters in the surrounding counties than Dems can win in the urban counties. In both Lake and Flagler, Republicans are doing well, though I don’t think well enough to balance out what is happening in Orange and Osceola.

Hillary Clinton doesn’t need to win the Orlando media market. Romney did narrowly in 2012, but she does need to keep it close. Right now, it looks pretty close.

South Florida

Miami and Broward blowing up. There is no other way to look at it.

Look at it this way: I expect Broward to be just under 9% of all statewide votes. Yesterday it was 10.3%. And Miami-Dade should land somewhere around 10.5% of all votes. Yesterday it was 12.1%.

What is driving that? NPAs.

26% of Broward voters yesterday were NPA, and 30% of Miami-Dade. Look at it another way: 74% of all voters in Dade yesterday were either Democratic or NPA, and 79% in Broward.

The story in Palm Beach isn’t the same, and if I was a Democratic hack working in a campaign, I would be raising a flag. The margins are solid, but the turnout is lagging. While Broward and Dade are both exceeding their projected shares, Palm Beach is well behind it.

The Broward partisan margin us up to 160,000, and Miami-Dade is now over 80K, but in frankly bigger news there, total NPA vote now trails GOP votes by about 30K.

Duuuuuuval

Well the President flew into town, dropped a #DUUUVAL on the crowd, and did the Osprey “swoop” inside UNF Arena.

*Side note about my ex-boss – it is hard to imagine either of the 2016 frontrunners pulling those two things off. I am pretty sure, Trump didn’t do either at his West Side (is the best side) rally.

*Side note 2: Had I realized Trump’s rally was on the west side, I would have encouraged my press buddies to hit Intuition Brewing as a place where they could file their stories without Trump supporters yelling at them. Their IPA is much tastier than the water at the Equestrian Center.

OK, back to Duval. President comes to town and what happens? In-person Early vote had a record day. #ThanksObama

Democrats continue to chip away at the margin here, which is under 2,500 voters, and now just 1.1%. There remain a huge number of African American voters who have not voted, as African American turnout here lags the state. But all in all, turnout here is lagging a bit, which means it isn’t crushing for Trump either.

Additional notes:

The electorate continues to get more diverse. The electorate is now under 68.6% white (67 In 2012), with Black and Hispanic voters continuing to grow in share of the electorate.

And let’s talk about the Hispanic vote a little today.

First, through Wednesday, 170,000 more Hispanics had voted early (or VBM) in 2016 than voted early or by VBM in the entire 2012 cycle. And keep in mind, because Hispanic is a self-identifying marker, studies have found that the real Hispanic vote is larger than the registration. So while Hispanics might make up 14.2% of the voters who have voted so far, in reality, the number is larger.

And it isn’t just that Hispanics are voting, it is the types of Hispanics who are voting. Here is one way to look at it: Right now, statewide, 16% of early voters are either first time Florida voters, or haven’t voted in any of the last three elections. Across party lines, 24% of all the Hispanic votes today come from these first-time voters. Among Hispanic Republicans, it is 14%, among Democrats, it goes up to 26%, and among Hispanic NPAs, a whopping 32% have no previous or recent voting history.

When you expand it out to voters who voted in one of the last three, which is what I define as “low propensity,” it goes up to 53% of Hispanic Democrats and 60% of Hispanic NPAs. That, my friends, is the definition of a surge.

Right now, Democrats hold a 117K vote advantage among all low propensity voters, in large part due to this Hispanic surge. 32% of Democratic voters so far are low propensity voters, compared to 26% of the GOP voters. But among NPA, the number rises to 48%. That’s right, 48% of NPAs who have voted so far are low propensity – and 25% of those are Hispanic.

In fact, of the NPA low propensity voters, a full 42% of them are non-white. That right there is the Clinton turnout machine edge.

One last thing on these NPA voters, right now, the overall electorate is 68.6% white, but among NPAs, that number drops to 65%. In other words, NPA voters are more diverse than the electorate as a whole. That almost certainly bodes well for Clinton.

Why do I mention all this? Well, it is because so much attention is paid to the top line EV numbers: R versus D. But the more I think about it, the more I think the fact D’s have trailed later into EV than normal, the more I wonder it has more to do structurally with HRC’s coalition than it does any partisan advantage. As I told a reporter, I think the R vs D number now is more of an optics problem than an electoral one.

One other thing about that GOP advantage. Between 2012 and 2016, a significant number of white Democrats switched parties. A large number of them came from places where the odds of them voting for any Democrat in recent history was very low, and certainly not one for President. For those not from here, you have to remember that large parts of the state are still very “southern” and as such, has retained some of that Southern Democrat identity, even though many of those voters have long stopped voting for Dems for President. The Obama second term and the rise of Trump – plus the fact that Republicans are winning more local offices, gave them the nudge to shed the label and “re-categorize themselves” into the party where they really belong.

So I asked some data people a question: is there a chance that part of the GOP lead is built with people who four years ago, were Democrat early voters – even if they were Dems in name only. The answer is yes. Almost 50,000 2016 Republican early voters were Democratic early voters in 2012. In other words, if none of those voters had switched, Dems would have a 80-90K vote lead over the GOP today – even though that lead would have been meaningless.

One last key stat from Wednesday: African Americans and Caribbean Americans had their largest day of 2016, with 55,000 Black voters voting early. The Black share of the electorate now stands at a solid 12% and growing.

Couple of last observations. Right now, Republicans should be feeling good about turnout in SW Florida, as well as around the Villages, where the areas are turning out at a larger share of the electorate than projected. For Democrats, areas with high Hispanic are really high, including the counties mentioned earlier in SE Florida and around Orlando. North Florida is getting better for Republicans, but is still lagging.

Which leads me to my final point. My buddy Peter Hamby, who works at Snapchat and who I think is one of the smarter people around, tweeted something last night which I think is both likely – and reminiscent of 2012: There's more likelihood polls are overlooking disconnected millennials, African-Americans & Hispanics than "closet Trump supporters" From my observation, particularly with the NPA growth and the number of low propensity voters in Florida, I think this could be happening here, and is one of the reason I am less concerned about the party delta than I was earlier in the week.

All of this has me leaning a bit that the state is shaping up nicely for HRC, but while I think that, in no way is it in the bag, or close to it. Donald Trump could still very well win Florida, and it remains exceptionally close. The race really will go to the side that does the best job over the next 96 hours. I used the term “crazy close” yesterday and I think it still works today.

OK – little scheduling news. Starting Saturday, I am hosting a group of Turkish party leaders through the American Council of Young Political Leaders, who will be in Florida observing the elections. It is a joint project with the State Department to introduce foreign leaders to American democracy. Since the 2012 Presidential, I have really gotten engaged in the political exchange community – it is easily some of the most meaningful work I do (if you are curious, I have written extensively about it on my blog).

I bring this up because my plan is to write a memo on Saturday for Friday, publish some notes Sunday from Saturday, and write a longer read on Monday that goes into more depth about where we stand. Tuesday morning, I hope to do a short piece that is simply what to look for on Election Night. I will also do an election wrap-up, though it might be a few days after. We’ll just see if I am still standing on 11/9.

However, because of my responsibilities with ACYPL and this delegation, I probably won’t have time to banter for hours on Twitter, though I will continue to try to respond best I can.

Thursday
Nov032016

5 Days out and POTUS returns to Duval

To: Curious Americans and President Putin
From: Steve Schale, Proud FloridaMan
Re: 5 Days out -- and 8 years later, POTUS returns to Duval

*5 days until the election
*7 days until the first Thursday after the election.
*9 days until FSU basketball tips off.
*23 days until the Tallahassee Turkey Trot 15K
*113 days until Daytona 500

Welcome to the last Thursday, and before I begin, a note to Democrats:

REALLY? What are you waiting for? Return those ballots!

So beginning today with a point of personal privilege. After hitting send on this memo, I am headed to Jacksonville for President Obama’s rally. 8 years ago today, then Senator Barack Obama was in Jacksonville, for his final rally in Florida, and his first of the final day. It was also the day he lost his grandmother. After the rally, I sat down to explain where were in early vote, and as I tried to explain it in my overly data-centric way (we are ahead by more than Kerry lost by, etc), he finally asked me what I meant, to which I said, “it means we’ve won.”

He left Jacksonville with a little smile, and I went back to Tampa completely freaking out that I just essentially guaranteed him that we had won, thinking ‘holy crap, if somehow we lose this thing, he’ll always remember me as that jerk in Florida who said we had won.” So thank God we won. It is hard to believe it’s been eight years. For a guy who grew up in a small town in rural Illinois, and a small town in North Florida, it has been both the ride, and the professional blessing of a lifetime. Basically, I spend most days wondering how I’ve gotten to do these things.

But why Jacksonville? Forgive me for making this point daily, but Florida is all about managing margins. For Dems to win, we have to run up very big margins in a handful of places, then hang on. For GOP to win, they run up strong margins in more counties, thus both sides want to take away one of the other’s strengths. The GOP for example, in the last few Presidentials has worked to erode Democratic support in Palm Beach. For Dems, the most obvious place to do the same is Duval, because of the county’s large African American population.

Part of what makes such a great place to work is it is ever changing. You can never say you “know Florida,” because just when you think you figure it out, something changes. And in 2016, we are seeing two pretty big changes: the real rise of NPA voters, and the rise of Hispanics – and actually, the two are pretty intertwined. But more on that later.

Yesterday was a big day for early voting. Several counties, including Orange (Orlando), Palm Beach, and Alachua (where UF is) had their biggest days. Many others were pretty close to their best day. And as a former Draft Biden guy, I want to point out the two places the VP visited today saw big increases in early voting over yesterday. Basically, Wednesday was a day that Florida got its vote on.

And while there has seemed to be a collective surprise that Florida has gotten close, a note that the three polls today were C+1, C+2, C+3. 31 million votes over the last 4 Presidentials, and 70K separate the two parties. Yes, it is gonna be close. How close? Well I’ll tell you a little secret: one of the models I ran in early October had the race come back as a tie. Not a tie like “48-48”, an actual, vote specific tie.

So with that, here is where we stand:

Yesterday, we pushed close to the 5 million vote mark, a mark which will happen today.

Republicans won vote-by-mail by a 1K vote plurality, and Dems won In-person early by 7K. In total, 400,489 people voted yesterday. One other note, NPA participation is definitely increasing, a trend which started over the weekend. Statewide NPA participation to date is 20%, but yesterday, statewide NPA participation was 24.

Total Ballots cast: 4,687,113

Total Vote By Mail: 2,273,978 (46.7%)
Total Early Vote: 2,593,135 (53.3%)

Republicans: 1,948,126 (40.0%)
Democrats: 1,936,240 (39.8%)
NPA: 769,241 (20.2%)

Total Margin: GOP +0.22%

Right now, I think about 52 percent of the likely electorate has voted.

And there are still 1,085,676 vote-by-mail ballots sitting out there, and yes, Democrats have more outstanding mail in ballots than Republicans. Unreturned vote-by-mail ballots look like this: 41D-34R-25NPA, meaning 84,088 Democrats apparently think getting daily calls from organizers is more fun than voting.

PRO TIP: IF YOU VOTE, THE EVER INCREASINGLY ANXIOUS CALLS STOP. SAY #NEVERROBO BY RETURNING YOUR BALLOT TODAY.

Hillsborough:

It was a very good day for Democrats in Hillsborough. Almost 25K ballots were processed today, and Dems won the day by 1,400 votes, carrying both the VBM returns and the in-person vote. Also, NPA made up 25.5% of all votes today, as Dems maintain their 6 point edge over the GOP (+18,600).

There is a Hispanic surge happening here. 26% of Hispanic voters so far have no voting history, compared to 13% for both whites and blacks. What is interesting about Hillsborough is while it is known for its Cuban roots, it is actually home to the largest populations of Mexicans in the state, a demographic that has begun to change the county’s politics. Right now, the county is about 66% white, 14% black, and 13% Hispanic, but it will be interesting to watch it change in the coming days. Given the rise of NPA, I suspect it will get more Hispanic.

Metro Orlando

Rather than looking at I-4, I wanted to take a deeper look at the metro Orlando area.

It is easy to think about what is happening politically in Central Florida as an Orlando phenomenon, but the demographic shifts that have occurred in the region really spread out over the three county metro Orlando area (Seminole, Orange and Osceola). The difference from the Bush wins to the Obama wins has been stunning: In the two Bush wins, Bush carried the three county area by an average of 22,000 votes. In the two Obama wins, the President carried them by a margin of roughly 100,000 votes -- a nearly 122,000 vote margin improvement for the Democrats.

No place is more stark than Osceola County, a place that Bush won by 5 in 2004, but Obama won by 24 just 8 years later. That, my friends, is what Puerto Rican growth is doing to politics.

It is obvious, but still important to stress, that the reason Puerto Ricans are changing the politics so fast, is unlike all other Hispanic migrants to Florida, they can vote on day one as US Citizens, so their growth has an acute impact on politics. Orange County, for example, once one of the whitest, and most Republican places, is now majority-minority in registered voters, and overwhelmingly Democratic. The changes aren’t as significant in Seminole, but they are still happening.

In terms of total early voting there, you can see how the NPA’s compared yesterday to previous voting. What you are seeing, in part, is Puerto Rican surge.

Seminole: 43R-35D-22NPA – Total: +8,907R (Yesterday: 41R-33D-26NPA)
Orange: 47D-30R-23NPA – Total +46,974D (Yesterday: 46D-28R-28NPA)
Osceola: 48D-28R-24NPA – Total +15,430D (Yesterday: 46D-24R-30NPA)

So to that point, let’s dig a bit deeper. In Orange County, 29% of Hispanics who have voted were first-time voters. In Osceola, it is 31%. 55% of Orange County Hispanics have voted in no more than 1 of the last 3 elections, a number that rises to 59% in Osceola. And many are registering NPA, not Democratic, which is why it is significant that yesterday, on the biggest day in early voting in Orange County, 72% of voters were Dem and NPA.

South Florida

Yesterday, 114K people voted in South Florida, of which 27% were NPA. In total, Democrats won the day by almost 29K votes, with the margins 48D-25R-27NPA, and total votes in the Palm Beach and Miami media markets accounted for 30% of statewide votes. Miami continues to over-perform, and Palm Beach is a little low. If Palm Beach can catch up to its historical levels, South Florida is going to turn in some very high margins for Hillary Clinton.

You can see the NPA surge below.


Palm Beach: 48D-29R-23NPA – Total +53,135 D (Yesterday: 45D-29R-26NPA)
Broward: 57D-23R-20NPA – Total: +146,704 D (Yesterday: 54D-21R-25NPA)
Dade: 44D-31R-25NPA – Total +73,185 (Yesterday: 43D-27R-30NPA)

Duuuuuuval

The President is going to arrive in a Duval that looks a lot more like it did in his two elections than the previous two.


As a reminder, Bush in 2004 won Duval by 17 points, or about 61,000 votes. In Obama’s two wins, the margin averaged around 10,000 votes. In 2008, we lost by only 8,000, and honestly, I am still annoyed we didn’t get closer. That and losing Sarasota by 227 votes are the two places that still but me. In my opinion, anything under a 20K vote loss in Duval is a win.

More than 20,000 people voted yesterday, mostly through in-person early voting, which the Democrats won, leading to the Dems winning the day by about 100 votes. Not a ton, but succeeding in keeping the margin in check. The GOP margin now stands at 1.3 (43.2R-41.9D). This is a place where African-American turnout is a little low, about 25% to date (compared to about 30% statewide). But this is also a place where African American turnout rises in the final weekend and into Election Day, so the President is right on time.

Additional notes:

The electorate continues to get more diverse. Through the Sunday vote, Hispanics are now 14% of the votes so far, with Black voters (African American and Caribbean) at 11.8. White is down to 69. Keep in mind, it was 67 in 2012, and it has come down from 71 in just a few days.


Real quick, I use Black voters, and not African American for a very specific reason: a rather sizable piece of the Florida Black population isn’t actually African American, but instead is Caribbean American.

I wanted to look at turnout another way though. As of the voter specific data I have available (ending Tuesday – this runs a day behind), about 34% of the state has voted. But when you look at it from an ethnic perspective, it looks like this: about 36% for whites, 30% for Hispanics and 30% for Black voters. Now, when you keep in mind that the vote by mail electorate is quite white, one would expect the white turnout to be way out front, then come back to the rest of the state. This is basically what is happening.

So let’s revisit briefly this black turnout piece from yesterday. If you think about the state as a pie, each ethnicity takes up a piece. Between 2012 and 2016, the white piece got smaller, the black piece stayed about the same, and the Hispanic and other pieces all grew. Also, when you think back to 2012, Black voters actually exceeded their voter registration share. That is not normal, thus when people talk about black turnout being down, it is important to remember there are two reasons: 1. Barack Obama was a historic figure and isn’t on the ballot, and 2. Hispanics are owning more of the pie.

As I described to someone today, comparing 2016 Clinton black turnout to 2008 or 2012 is like comparing the 91 Bulls to the 96 Bulls. The 91 Bulls won 61 games and the Championship. The 96 Bulls won 72 with arguably the greatest pure team of all time. We all like to talk about the 96 Bulls, but the 91 team was damn good and has a ring.

Clinton doesn’t need 08/12 turn-out, she needs Black share of electorate to approach its share of registered voters. And when you look at Black turnout today as it relates to whites, as well as how the share has grown since the start of in-person early voting (Blacks have been 15% of in-person early voting), it is trending well towards that goal.

One last piece, because I don’t think it has gotten the attention it deserves: the Republican early leads have been built, not completely, but in part by cannibalizing their own Election Day vote. The conventional wisdom is the GOP wins election day, but honestly, specifically in 2008 and to a lesser extent in 2012, they won election day because we were basically done, and thus won Election Day, not because they were better at it, but because they had a larger pool of highly likely voters left to vote.

In 2016, they have gotten a larger share – and number of their traditional Election Day voters to vote early, which has left an interesting scenario: Democrats have more “2012 voters” left to vote than do Republicans.

Quickly looking at how the state is playing out. It looks like Fort Myers, which has gotten a lot of ink for high turnout, is really coming back to Earth, an indication that it might have just voted quickly, instead of really expanding. The Fort Myers media market yesterday made up just 3% of all the votes (it is about 6.7% of statewide votes historically). The market is still over-performing, at about 8% of statewide totals, but that is down from about 10.5% last Friday.

On flip-side, for Republicans, North Florida did come out yesterday, making up about 25% of statewide votes, raising its statewide share to 17%, which is closer to being in-line with where it typically falls. Granted some of that is strong Dem days in Leon & Alachua, but on the whole, more North Florida voting is good for Trump.

Dems can take heart that Miami and Orlando continue to be strong, with 22% of statewide votes yesterday coming from the Miami DMA, an 20% from Orlando, keeping both markets above their historical shares. In the back of my mind, a 500K vote margin out of Broward and Dade is probably the upper-end of HRC numbers – and also, possibly the number that makes it pretty tough for Trump to win. If Miami can continue to stay about 20% of the state, getting close to that 500K margin looks attainable.

With that, I am off to Jacksonville. Talk to you all tomorrow.


Wednesday
Nov022016

6 More Days -- And No More Wednesdays!

To: Curious Americans and President Putin

From: Steve Schale

Re: No More Wednesdays!!

*6 days until the election
*10 days until FSU basketball tips off.
*24 days until I start Clark Griswolding my house.
*114 days until Daytona 500

Before I begin, a note to Democrats:

RETURN YOUR FREAKING VBM BALLOTS, PLEASE.

So here is the best news you will read all day: We have woken up on a Wednesday for the very last time of the 2016 Presidential election. And no, don t tweet at me about 269 scenarios or recounts, in doing so you are just tempting fate. Seven days from this moment, you will likely be hungover, and I will be back to tweeting about NASCAR and the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Also, I got a lot of twitter feedback about my memo yesterday about Democrats needing to buy stamps to mail back their ballot. Sure, some places don t require it BUT THAT WASN'T THE POINT. Mail back your freaking ballots people.

So one more thing I keep getting asked, so, Steve, what is the secret to winning Florida? I am going to let you in on a little secret, to quote one of my favorite GOP operatives, Kevin Sweeny: "the secret is, there is no secret." Florida is a collection of lots of pockets of voters. It is all about managing the margins in those places, expanding the electorate where it helps you, and playing defense. This is not the kind of place where you can say definitively, if X happens, candidate Y will win or lose. It is more like building a mosaic with many different colored tiles.

I'll address the issue that popped up yesterday with African American turnout later, but keep the above in mind when we get to it.

And please don't ask me about the guy on MSNBC who said HRC is up 28% with GOP and up 8% statewide. She isn't. I do think she is slightly ahead, but not like that guy said. And no, I don't want to argue his methodology, or why he might be right. He isn't. Cool?

So where are we today, besides close?

Well we say almost 400K votes, thanks to a slight pick-up of both vote by mail returns & in-person voting. We also saw in-person overtake VBM as we push towards the 4.5m vote mark & almost to 50% of likely turnout. I think we are roughly 48% to goal turnout. Overall, the day was a push, with Republicans winning VBM by 2K, and Dems winning the in-person early by a few hundred votes.

Total Ballots cast: 4,466,624

Total Vote By Mail: 2,168,750(48.4%)
Total Early Vote: 2,297,874 (51.6%)

Republicans: 1,798,954 (40.3%)
Democrats: 1,781,498 (39.9%)
NPA: 886,172 (19.8%)

Total Margin: GOP +0.39%

And there are still 1,173,799 vote-by-mail ballots sitting out there, and yes, Democrats have more outstanding mail in ballots than Republicans. Unreturned vote-by-mail ballots remains the same as yesterday, looking like this: 41D-35R-24NPA, meaning 82,541 more Democrats have ballots sliding between the couch cushions.

#UGH

Back to benchmarks

Hillsborough:

For Democrats, Tuesday looked like Monday, narrowly winning vote-by-mail and having a solid plurality day with in-person-early vote. As will be a trend on the I-4, NPA is up here too, at almost 25% of the vote for the day, as Democrats still maintain a just over 6% lead over Republicans, or about 17,200 voters.

For the day: 25,513 total votes (39.2-36.2-24.6 D-R-NPA).

I-4

Overall, it was a decent, not great day, as Democrats won the plurality of votes, narrowly losing Pinellas, Polk and Seminole, but winning elsewhere. In the counties that were a loss, the margins were exceptionally narrow. For example, the Dems plurality margin in Osceola was bigger than the loss in the three counties combined. Good reminder that margins in Florida really matter. Dems did win Polk's in-person early voting again

Orange County did have a very solid day, driven by large NPA participation. In fact, no county on the I-4 corridor saw less than 23% NPA share for the day, and places like Osceola saw the number in the mid 27s. There isn't one easy take-away from this, though in the core of the Orlando media market, this is almost surely Hispanic surge.

South Florida

Another solid day in South Florida, as Broward, Palm Beach, and Dade all saw bigger days than yesterday, all powered by NPA voters. In Dade, NPAs were 29% of the vote, Broward 24%, and Palm Beach 25%. As a result, the Dem share margin was lower than yesterday, but I suspect that in real votes, the HRC number grew here. Dems increased their Broward lead to over 130K votes, and Palm Beach is now pushing 50K.

I will have a deeper dive into this and I-4 tomorrow.

#Duuuuuuval

Republicans won the day by 95 votes, but because Democrats on won the in-person early vote by about 250 votes, meaning they cut the overall GOP advantage from 1.7% to 1.5%, out of 168K votes.

As a reminder, Bush in 2004 won Duval by 17 points, or about 61,000 votes. In Obama's two wins, the margin averaged around 10,000 votes. I would happily spot the GOP a 20,000 vote win and walk away, but right now, I don t see any path to him to get back to that 17-point Bush margin. And since there are very few places where he can change the traditional Florida battleground math, right now, Democrats are in pretty good place.

Additional notes:

Much was made about the Politico story about black turnout in Florida. I'm not going to use my space to push back or spout talking points, rather to provide context.

Comparing turnout to 2012 or 2008 is like comparing something to the 96 Bulls. Some things are special, like the historical election of the first black President & his re-election. As a result in 2012, the share of African American & Caribbean voters actually exceeded their voter registration share. That's not normal, and shouldn't be expected.

What I do expect is two things: black vote in Florida to approach its share of registration (13.9) and total diversity to be higher than 12. Both of those things make a HRC win path much cleaner.

When in person early vote began, which is always far more white & far older than the population at large, black voters made up 7-8% of turnout. That number has steadily climbed to 11.7%, as black voters make up around 15% of in-person early voters. It probably is now 12, though I won't know until the afternoon. Frankly at 12, we can win, but as in-person early overtakes vote by mail, that number should grow to 13. In fact, if just the remaining likely black voters vote, we get right around that number, and HRC has been turning out low propensity voters.

So yes, it's an issue that the campaign should worry about, and yes, it's one that deserves attention, but no, all is not lost.

Secondly, Hispanics are absolutely surging. Almost 14% of the electorate, more than half of Hispanic Dems (51%) and Hispanic NPA (57%) are low propensity, which has led the Dems to a 90k voter lead with unlikely voters. Now 31% of Dem voters are low propensity, compared to 24% of Republicans. It's higher than both with NPAs.

Two other observations today.

I've been thinking about the "why Dems aren't ahead" question, and I think the answer may be more structural than obvious. Over the last four years, Democrats have lost about 400k white Dems, many to party switching, and a large number in North Florida. I'm going to explore this question more, but I have a hunch those 12 leads people keep talking about week built, in part, with voters who are not Dems anymore, and probably in the end didn't vote for Obama.

Also, just to reiterate a point from yesterday, more 2012 Election Day GOP have voted early than 2012 EDay Dems, by about 35k voters. Take those out & Dems have been leading since early last week.

However, what that means is Dems have more 2012 voters yet to vote, meaning at same time, the old rule about GOP crushing Election Day may not apply.

I still think we are headed towards an electorate that's 34-35% non-white. It was 33% in 12, and 29% in 08. Voter reg is 36% non-white. Anything more diverse than 12 is a net positive for Clinton.

I'm back home this afternoon, so tomorrow will dig deeper into these questions, as well as how turnout is looking in some key areas.

Thanks again for reading these. I do truly appreciate your time

Tuesday
Nov012016

One Week To Go!!!!!!

To: People like me who need a life

From: Steve Schale

Re: Freedom is Near

*Note, this was written quickly. Forgive my English language failures

*7 days until the election

*11 days until FSU basketball tips off.

*115 days until Daytona 500

*1455 days until my 7 day out memo in 2020.

Before I begin, a note to Democrats (Republicans, skip a graph or two)

Have you voted.

If yes, skip the bold section.

If no, seriously, WTF are you waiting for? Too cool to early vote? Well, be that way. You are banned from this memo until you vote.

OK, America, we’ve made it this far. It has been 504 days since Trump announced for President. We only have seven more to go. Embrace your inner Joe Biden: “Come on, we are America. We can do this”

I got a ton of calls, emails, tweets, and notes by pigeon carrier asking me to sum up yesterday’s five-page memo.

So here it is: It is close. Shocker. It is Florida. It is always close.

How close?

So here is where we stand:

Yesterday, we had our four millionth vote, and we saw the Big 3 counties in SE Florida top one million votes. We also saw in-person early vote almost overtake vote-by-mail. That will happen today.

Republicans won vote-by-mail by a 8K vote plurality, and Dems won EV by 1K. In total, 345,875 people voted yesterday. One other note, NPA participation is definitely increasing, a trend which started over the weekend.

I do need to note that not all of the data on the state site lines up with data on local SOE sites. The differences aren’t huge – though because one of the places where it looks like the data isn’t totally updated is Broward, this could change these numbers throughout the day:

Total Ballots cast: 4,077.521

Total Vote By Mail: 2,054,519 (50.4%)

Total Early Vote: 2,023,002 (49.6%)

Republicans: 1,648,603 (40.4%)

Democrats: 1,632,677 (40.0%)

NPA: 769,241 (19.6%)

Total Margin: GOP +0.39%

The brilliant Tim Russert is running around heaven with that little white board, saying “I told you so, Florida, Florida, Florida,” though I suspect he’s added a hashtag – because he’s Tim Russert.

Right now, I think about 43-44 percent of the likely electorate has voted.

And there are still 1,273.396 vote-by-mail ballots sitting out there, and yes, Democrats have more outstanding mail in ballots than Republicans. Unreturned vote-by-mail ballots look like this: 41D-35R-24NPA, meaning 79,658 Democrats apparently think watching cat videos is more important than putting a stamp on their ballot.

YO DEMS – THE CAT VIDEOS WILL BE THERE IN 5 MINUTES – VOTE YOUR BALLOT AND PUT IT IN THE MAILBOX

Back to the benchmarks. In advance, I apologize for the thinner look at the county data below. I had to hit the road early this morning and the state updated the site late.

Hillsborough:

Democrats had a good, but not great day. The early voting margin was about 1,000 over the GOP, but the GOP narrowly won the vote-by-mail vote (GOP +43). The NPA number here, like everywhere, is increasing. 23% of the total vote in today was NPA, leading the overall NPA share to rise to 20%. Democrats still maintain about a 6.5% lead over Republicans, or about 16,500 voters.

And Hillsborough Democrats, there are 7,718 more Democrats with a ballots on their couch than Republicans, but the Republicans won the vote-by-mail day. #JustSayin

I-4

Democrats won the day, another which saw increased NPA participation. The day went 40-35-25 to the Dems, claiming a 4K vote plurality. About 83,000 ballots were processed today.

In the “this probably means more for 2020” file, Democrats won the day in Polk, after winning in-person early voting for the 8th day in a row.

South Florida

According to the ballots on the state site, Democrats won the day by about 20,000 votes, but I would caution that it doesn’t look as though the Broward VBM totals are fully updated, so this will grow

While I didn’t love the totals for the day, the margins for Democrats in Dade continue to improve, winning the day 45-28-27, which is several points better than the Dem’s registration advantage, and once again Broward NPA’s outpaced Broward Republicans.

Duuuuuuval

Republicans won the day by 95 votes, but because Democrats on won the in-person early vote by about 250 votes, meaning they cut the overall GOP advantage from 1.7% to 1.5%, out of 168K votes.

As a reminder, Bush in 2004 won Duval by 17 points, or about 61,000 votes. In Obama’s two wins, the margin averaged around 10,000 votes. I would happily spot the GOP a 20,000 vote win and walk away, but right now, I don’t see any path to him to get back to that 17-point Bush margin. And since there are very few places where he can change the traditional Florida battleground math, right now, Democrats are in pretty good place.

And again, special note to Duval Democrats: You don’t have to lose days to the GOP. There are 1,730 more Democratic vote-by-mail ballots sitting on entry-way tables. Go talk to your neighbors.

Additional notes:

The electorate continues to get more diverse. Through the Sunday vote, Hispanics are now 13.5% of the votes so far, with Black voters (African American and Caribbean) at 11. White is down to 70, and has trended down from nearly 80% when in-person early voting started. I have no doubt at this point that the electorate in 2016 will end up more diverse than 2012.

I also don’t expect the Black share of vote to match 2012. That was a historic moment. But I do expect the Black share of vote to approach its registration share (13.9%). In my models, which have her winning, I expect it to land at 13%, so anything north of this is positive.

On the flip-side, Hispanics, particularly low propensity Democratic and NPA Hispanics, are turning out. So far, 50% of Hispanic Democrats, and 55% of Hispanic NPAs who have voted are low propensity voters, which I define as voters who either have no voting history, or have voted in just one of the last three elections. And keep in mind, Hispanic registration grew by 121K voters in just the ten weeks after August 1.

Democrats now have a low propensity voter advantage of 65,000.

Moreover, there is something in Dade that I have been wondering about. Right now, 153K Hispanics have voted, many of whom are people who surely fall into Rubio’s turnout universe. But how many will vote for Rubio, but Clinton? In other words, as Rubio is turning out Miami Republicans, for his own campaign, is he also inadvertently helping Clinton. In a lot of polling I’ve seen in South Florida, there are areas where the difference between the Rubio and Clinton margins are as much as 20 points. How many of those are Miami Hispanic Republicans? I suspect it is more than a few.

Another interesting point that a very smart observer mentioned to me yesterday: more traditional Election Day Republicans are voting early than Election Day Democrats. According to the file I use, about 620,000 people who have voted early already are voters who in 2012 voted on Election Day. In other words, in the absurd terms of today’s politics – these are early voters that the parties are “cannibalizing” from their own Election Day turnout.

Republicans have been making the case that Democrats have closed the VBM gaps by cannibalizing their own vote, but here is an interesting finding: Republicans are actually doing it more to themselves. Right now, about 34,000 more 2012 Election Day Republicans have early than Democrats.

In other words, the GOP lead right now is based on cannibalizing their own supposed Election Day advantage.

On flip side, Democrats please don’t get all giddy. There are plenty of worrisome things in the data, not the least of which is the ridiculous number of vote-by-mail ballots are out there, and there are slightly more 2012 voting Republicans yet to vote than Democrats. In other words, to stay with the theme, take nothing for granted. And again, there are almost 80,000 more Democratic VBM ballots gathering dust in homes around the state – but a large chunk of those are low propensity voters – volunteer to go chase those. Whether or not Trump wins Florida is largely on you.

One last thing, looking at media market vote shares.

For the day, Orlando really stretched it out, coming in as 23% of the state’s votes for the day. Jacksonville also had a good day, with nearly 10% of all the ballots coming in. West Palm continues to be under where it should be, and Miami looked almost exactly as it should.

Overall, Fort Myers continues to come back to reality, but so does North Florida, which is up to 17% of all votes processed. Orlando and Miami continue to exceed their traditional vote shares, which is likely a result of some of this Hispanic surge.

Lastly, tomorrow morning I have an early meeting, and a drive back to Tallahassee. I honestly don’t know if I will get a full memo out before late in the day. I will definitely tweet out some data, and try to get some notes out early, but forgive me, this #FloridaMan volunteer has some real work to do tomorrow.