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 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.
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.
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.
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.