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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.

Monday
Oct312016

Almost 4 million votes in and 8 days to go

To:     Everyone ready for this election to be over

From:  Steve Schale

Re:   The second to last Monday of 2016 election

 

*8 days until the election

*12 days until FSU basketball tips off.

*96 days until Tallahassee Marathon

*1232 days until the Florida Presidential Preference Primary

Before I begin, a quick side bar with Florida Democrats:

If you are reading this and haven’t voted, close your laptop or turn off your phone, and go vote.  If you don’t know where to vote, go to: https://gttp.votinginfoproject.org/.  Go do that now.  

I'll wait here until you are back.

Now that you have voted, back to the memo:

 

I think it is important to start by restating one of my favorite factoids about Florida.

If you add up all the people who have voted for President in Florida in the 2000,2004,2008, and 2012 elections, this is what you get:

Republicans: 15,086,968

Democrats: 15.015,920

Difference:  71.048

That is a margin of 0.24%.  Under Florida law, we’d be looking at a lengthy recount.  That’s how close we are. 

If you are curious about this, I wrote a lengthy blog piece entitled “Florida is Gonna Florida” a few weeks ago.  You can read it here: http://steveschale.com/blog/2016/9/19/florida-is-gonna-florida-2016-version.html

This weekend, Democrats won by about 15,000 votes out of 473,612 ballots cast.  The spread was roughly 41D-38R-21NPA.  I am not going to lie – I wish the weekend was bigger for Democrats, but given the number of people who had already voted, and how Dems have cut into the VBM advantage, I am honestly not sure what I had expected.  

So with that, let’s see where we are seven days of in-person early voting, and election day to go, about 40% of voters who will vote this year have voted. 

Total Ballots cast:   3,731,646

Total Vote By Mail:  1,963,274 (52.7%)

Total Early Vote:  1,768,372 (47.3%)

And by party:

Republicans:  1,509.467 (40.45%)

Democrats:  1,500,937 (40.22%)

NPA:  721,249 (19.33%)

Total Margin:  GOP +0.23% (Margin look familiar)

In other words, Florida is currently pulling a Florida.

By the time you watch Jake Tapper or Chuck Todd this afternoon, the odds are pretty high that the 4 millionth ballot will be cast.  There is also a chance in-person early voting will overtake vote-by-mail.  More likely tomorrow, but it could happen today.

To give some sense of what the last week might look like, we started Monday with about 1.2million Vote-By-Mail ballots, so since Monday, we’ve seen about 2.5 million additional votes.  Given that there are 1,345,257 vote-by-mail ballots still sitting on kitchen tables, I assume we will be between 6.5 and 7 million votes in prior to election day. This would put the election at 70% complete before the first poll opens at 7:00 AM on November 8th.

Really quick, the outstanding mail in ballots are roughly 40D-35R-25NPA, with Democrats having 71,388 more sitting on coffee tables than do Republicans.

YO DEMS – WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

After one week, we can state for a fact one thing:  this is an election that could come down to small handful of votes. Every vote is going to count, so if you want your side to carry Florida, get to work. 

It also means at the rate of early voting, we will have a very good sense of where Florida is by 7:30-8:00PM on election night whether someone is going to win by two points, or whether we are going to be watching people look at ballots with magnifying glasses.  I’ve seen the latter and am praying for the former.

Hillsborough

Democrats come out of the weekend with a roughly 16K partisan advantage, or about 6.5%.  For the Dems, this was boosted by a weekend where they won in-person early vote by 12 points.  In total, about 240,000 voters have cast ballots so far.  If week 2 of early voting repeats week 1, Hillsborough will have about 70% of its vote in before Election Day, and Democrats will have 28-30K, which pretty much parallels the party’s voter registration advantage.

I-4

Democrats won the weekend on the I-4 counties by about 9,000 votes (42-34-24) out of 110,000 cast, thanks to a +12.5% in-person early voting advantage.   The big thing this weekend:  a sizable jump in NPA participation: 24% of all votes this weekend coming from NPA.  Orange and Seminole Counties had really significant jumps in NPA participation – the former is almost surely good news for Democrats, and the latter may be too.  I won’t know until later today when I can see actual voter data.

Polk County has now gone seven days of in-person advantage for Democrats. Republicans still hold the overall advantage, but with the Puerto Rican trends there, I suspect by 2020, we are talking about Imperial Polk County as a battleground county – and if you are from Florida, this can be a little hard to wrap your head around. I look forward to the JMart deep dive/tour of BBQ locations in Polk sometime in the late summer of 2020. 

Over 1 million votes have been cast from the I-4 counties, with Democrats holding a 43-37 lead (just under 50K votes)

Overall, after one full weekend of early voting, here is how the I-4 counties look.

Volusia:  Weekend: 39-38-23 Dems – Overall: 41-38-21 GOP (R+3,773)

Seminole: Weekend 40-35-25 GOP – Overall: 43-36-21 GOP (R+6,767)

Orange:  Weekend 48-28-24 Dems – Overall: 48-21-21 DEM (D+36,165)

Osceola: Weekend 48-27-25 Dems – Overall: 48-29-23 DEM (D+11,264)

Polk: 40-40-20 Dems – Overall: 42-39-19 GOP (R+2,346)

Hillsborough: 43-34-23 Dems – Overall: 43-37-29 DEM (D+15,670)

Pinellas 39-37-23 GOP – Overall: 40-39-21 GOP (R+688)

South Florida

Overall this weekend, just shy of 150,000 people voted in the big 3 southern counties.  Overall, South Florida accounts for 954,495 votes, or about 26% of all ballots cast, but this weekend accounted for 31% of the votes cast on Saturday and Sunday. 

In total, Democrats won the weekend 49-27-25, winning a roughly 35,000 vote advantage.  They finish the weekend with South Florida plurality of over 200,000 votes.

Miami-Dade looked slightly more Democratic this weekend, which given the definitive advantage that the GOP has with vote-by-mail, this should be the start of more of a trend.  Broward and Palm Beach counties both had solid margins, but honestly, if I was running the HRC campaign, I would have liked to have seen bigger numbers.  I do understand it rained there, but alas, there are only 8 more days of voting. 

Also, reminder, Dade is very Dem-leaning NPA heavy, so the party margins there will always look lower than they likely are in reality. 

We also saw a big overall NPA jump here, which should benefit the Democrats.  Broward actually had more NPA vote than Republicans, and Dade saw the largest percentage jump of NPA participation of any county in Florida.

Here is where the counties stand:

Palm Beach: Weekend: 47-27-24 DEM -- Overall: 49-29-22 DEM (+41,620)

Broward:  Weekend: 57-21-22 DEM -- Overall: 57-23-20 DEM (+112,775)

Miami-Dade: Weekend: 43-29-28 DEM -- Overall: 45-31-24 DEM (+53,518)

Duuuuuuval

The key news:  The Jaguars didn’t lose on Sunday. So what if they didn’t play, but they still didn’t get a loss.

Democrats narrowly won the weekend, carrying a 260 vote plurality out of this weekend’s vote-by-mail and in-person early voting. 

This cuts the Republican advantage to 2,600, or about 1.7%.  The President will be here on Thursday, which should help drive some early voting turnout for the Democrats.

Total votes in so far, just under 156k. 

I still believe that Jacksonville has not seen the kind of turnout that Trump would need to return Duval to the kind of margins that Bush saw in 2000 and 2004, and the market is about 1% share less of the statewide vote than it should be, but let’s see how this week goes.

And Gus Bradley is still the head coach. 

Additional notes:

The electorate is still very white, though it trending in the right direction.  Black voters (African American and Caribbean) make up about 11%, Hispanics about 13%, and Whites about 71%.   To give some sense of movement, the electorate was close to 80% White when in-person early vote.  In-person early vote has been about 15% Black and 13% Hispanic.  This is good for Democrats, but could be better.

Democrats did have a good few days towards the end of the week with low-propensity voters. 29% of their vote now comes from less likely voters, compared to about 23% for Republicans, giving Dems about a 60,000 vote advantage here. 

On flip side, one of challenge Democrats will face:  While they hold a significant advantage in terms of number of available vote-by-mail votes (people still with ballots), almost half of their available VBM votes come from unlikely voters.    There is a real opportunity for Democrats to close the VBM gap – and in doing so, close the overall gap – and take a partisan lead, but need to go chase those ballots. 

REMINDER DEMOCRATS:  DEMS LOST IN 2000 by 537 VOTES – THERE ARE 1.34m VOTE BY MAIL BALLOTS NOT RETURNED.  NEED I SAY MORE?

In terms of media market distributions, the state is starting to look like it should.  Fort Myers has come back to earth; last week it was almost 11% of all ballots cast, and now it is about 8.5%.  By election day, that should land roughly 6.7%.

Miami and Orlando continue to over perform projections, with the Miami DMA now at 20.6% of all votes, where honestly, I would have taken in the mid 19s.  Orlando is now at 21.2%, which is high (I expected just at 20), but this seems to be a mixed bag, as Republican turnout is strong in the exurban counties around Orlando. Palm Beach has picked up a bit, but is still a little low. 

And as for the secret Trump vote, I-10 is catching up, but still struggling.  Those markets now account for 16.4% of the total statewide vote, under the 19-20 where it should land.

Lastly, as for the millennial “issues” – Alachua continues to well exceed its Democratic partisan registration advantage, now holding roughly a 30-point lead in ballots cast. 

Week Out Observations:

Back in the spring, I wrote a long blog about how Trump could win Florida.  The reaction was rather swift, and frequently highly critical from my side.  Well, he can definitely win Florida.

Do I think he will?  No, I still think the state has a built in edge for Clinton, based largely on the demographics.  I also think her turnout operation is much better.   But nothing is a given, and can he win? Yes.  If you don't want that, then get to work.

However, as I’ve warned a number of national Democrats and told many in the media, I don’t think the Trump operation is as nonexistent as some on my side wanted to believe.  The GOP Chairman Blaise Ingoglia here is a friend, and a smart guy.  Take Trump out of it – their party has been doing this, and doing it well for 20 plus years, they aren’t going to lay down.  Back in my true hack days, they were an adversary who I truly respected, and honestly, learned from.  Democrats who take their turnout operation for granted do so at their own peril.

One other factor:  There are a ton of really important down ballot races.  Add to the many Congressional races, every seat in the State House and State Senate are on the ballot.  In other words, a lot of people are turning out voters.

Democratic voter registration advantage is about 200K less than it was in 2012, and about 350K less than it was in 2008.  This in part explains why Republicans are still “ahead” at this point.  But it is important to note that a lot of that decrease comes from voters who switched parties – most of whom hadn’t voted for a Democrat since Carter or Kennedy, and the overall electorate is much more friendly to Democrats.  This electorate could be as much as 7 points more diverse than 2008, which is the reason I think she has a small built-in edge.

But it only works if people vote. Right now, the GOP is ahead of where I thought they would be – albeit not by a lot.  It doesn’t mean Trump or Clinton is winning – nope, it means it is a dog fight for turnout.  So if you want your candidate to win, go to the local field office and get to work.

I voted yesterday.  :-)

Saturday
Oct292016

Florida, Day 10, and it is FSU/Clemson

To:    FSU Fans, and the rest of America

From: Steve Schale

Re:     10 Days Out, and Clemson comes to Doak

*1 days since Gus Bradley should have been fired

*10 days until the election

*14 days until FSU basketball tips off.

I apologize for the delay today.  Before I wrote the first memo, I had a life planned for the last two weeks of the election.  While that has all changed, I did get up and run a half-marathon today.  After getting up at 4:30 AM and running 13 miles in the heat and south Georgia hills, yes, I am going to tell you that.

Tonight is also FSU/Clemson.  If your team needs a head coach, the guy sitting three seats over and a row down is a football genius.  If you don't believe me, just come sit by me tonight and he will tell you.

On to the story.

Florida now has over 3.25 million votes.  With the increased voter registration, I am adjusting my raw vote turnout projections, but even still, I think about 35% of all voters likely to vote have already cast a ballot.

We are also heading into the weekend.  Traditionally, Democrats do better with in-person early voting on weekends.

Friday looked like the rest of the week, with Democrats leading among in-person early voting, and Republicans leading with vote-by-mail, though the GOP did have a good day on VBM

Day five of in person early voting looked like this: 

Vote By Mail:    128,058 (+1K from yesterday) votes, GOP won (43-36-21), or just under 10K votes

In Person Early Vote: 265,310 votes (up about 1,500 from yesterday), Dems won (40-39-21) or just under 1K votes

393,368 votes were counted, and GOP won the day by about 9,000.

This brings us into total votes 3,258,034 with leading GOP up about 0.6%.

One other big picture number: There are now almost 70,000 more Democrats in Florida with a vote by mail ballot that they have not returned.  Data does show that Democrats have been returning theirs as quick, if not quicker than Republicans, but had a higher number of post-October 1 requests. Because Democrats actually have 5,000 more overall requests, the GOP VBM numbers should level out.  Even at current lower Dem return rates, the GOP advantage should reduce by about 20,000 by election day, given the Dems larger number of outstanding ballots.

That being said:

SIDE NOTE FROM STEVE TO DEMOCRATS:  I WASN’T KIDDING YESTERDAY –GET THOSE BALLOTS IN! EVERY DAY YOU DON’T.  JUST DO IT NOW.

Looking at the usual benchmarks. I am going to do a deeper dive on Monday after we see the weekend, so this will be quicker.

Hillsborough

Friday was like the previous three days. Democrats won both the early vote and the vote by mail tabulations, and now carry a 13,300 vote lead (+6.4%), pushed again by strong in-person early voting.  Over two thirds of the votes on Thursday came from in-person early voting, which is a good sign for Dems. And Dems are up about 600 votes on Saturday through 1 pm

And again, why Hillsborough? Hillsborough has correctly picked 19 of the last 20 Presidents.

I-4

JMart, Dems won in-person early voting in Imperial Polk County for the fifth day in a row!

Heading into weekend, here is I-4 (north to south)

Volusia: 92,850 total votes (42R-38D-20NPA)

Seminole 80,280 (44R-36D-20NPA)

Orange 180,804 (48D-31R-21NPA)

Osceola 50,673 (48D-29R-23NPA)

Polk 89,599 (42R-39D-19NPA)

Hillsborough 214,259 (43D-37R-20NPA)

Pinellas 193,042 (39.6D, 39.4R, 21NPA)

South Florida

Turnout in South Florida was solid again today.  Between in person early and vote by mail, more than 107K people voted.

From North to South:

Palm Beach 180,804 (49D-29R-22NPA)

Broward: 268,767 votes (58D-23R-19NPA)

Miami 361,679 (45D-32R-23NPA

Duuuuuuval

Republicans had a very good VBM day, but Dems edged out another EV win. 

Duval: 125,152 votes (44R-42D-16NPA)

Complete aside, President Obama comes to Jacksonville on Thursday, eight years to the date after his last rally in Florida in 2008, on November 3rd.

Final Voter Registration:

The state just released the final voter reg numbers.

We go into the election with about 12.8 million voters.

By comparison, there were 11.9 million in 2012.

Right now, I am thinking turnout will be right around 2012 levels, so that would be just over 9.2 million votes.  I might revise this next week as we get further into early votes.


Since August, Democrats increased their voter registration advantage by just under 70,000.  The Democrats go into the election with just over a 327,000 voter advantage.

The state is now 38D-35R-27NPA

Democrats top growth counties since August:

Miami Dade (+26,343)
Broward (+18,456)
Orange (+15,545)
Hillsborough (+8,618)
Osceola (+5,046) - Near Orlando

Republican top growth counties:

Bay (+1,836) - Panama City
Okaloosa (+1,586) - Panhandle
Santa Rosa (+1,436) - Panhandle
Marion (+1,387) - between Gainesville and Orlando
Pasco (+1,342) -- north of Tampa

By ethnicity:

Black (African American & Caribbean): 13.4%
Hispanic: 15.7%
White: 64.2%
Other: 6.7%

*Keep in mind, Hispanic in Florida is underrepresented by these statistics, as it is both a self-identification.  Surveys suggest in 2012, real Hispanic was closer to 16% of voters.

One last thing, the voters who joined the rolls since August are very diverse.

Of the growth in registration, it looked like this:

White: 44.7% (+220,493)

Hispanic 24.7% (+121,771)

Black 14.7% (+72,538)

Others: 15.8% (77,591)

Tomorrow’s memo will probably be late morning, unless FSU gets blown out and I get home early, in which case it will be mid-morning, or unless they beat Clemson, which means It might come on Wednesday.  

Friday
Oct282016

Florida - Day 11. Florida Votes, and the Jaguars Suck

To:     Fans of Florida Voting

From: Steve Schale, Exhausted and Disgusted Jaguars Fan

Re:     11 Days Out

Timeline

 *0 days until Gus Bradley is fired, God willing.

*11 days until the election

*15 days until FSU basketball tips off.

On Thursday, another poll showed Clinton with a 4-point lead.  This means that since Bloomberg declared Trump leading Florida, four polls have come out showing Clinton leading by 3 or 4 points.  By the way, don’t ask the Jaguars’ Head Coach what a lead is, he wouldn’t know.

This means 23 of the last 26 polls show Clinton leading, 2 show it tied, and one showed Trump ahead.

So on to early voting.  Sometime this morning, the 3 millionth ballot of the 2016 election will be cast in Florida.  We will also today cross another big milestone:  It is quite likely that we will finish this day with over 1/3rd of all likely 2012 votes from Florida having been cast. 

Also, somethings there are right now two things consistent in Florida:  mid-week performance in early voting, and Jaguars football.  Thursday was just like Tuesday and Wednesday – solid, with little change in the overall picture.  And the Jags, well they just suck.

Day four of in person early voting brought a solid day for turnout. 

Here are the totals:

Vote By Mail:    127,298 votes, GOP won (42-37-21), or just under 6K votes

In Person Early Vote: 263,964 votes, Dems won (40-39-21) or just over 3K votes*

In total:

391,222 votes were counted, and GOP won the day by about 2,600*

*Note: There is a discrepancy between the state elections site and Broward’s local site that would get this pretty close to a wash for the day.  So I wouldn’t be surprised if yesterday’s total changes during the day.

This brings us into total votes 2,864,666 with leading GOP up just over 14K votes. (+0.5%)

One other big picture number: There are almost 60,000 more Democrats in Florida with a vote by mail ballot that they have not returned.  In total, about 57.3% of Republican VBM ballot requests have been returned, compared to 52.6% of Democrats.

SIDE NOTE FROM STEVE TO DEMOCRATS:  RETURN YOUR DARN BALLOTS!

Right now, it is likely that 31-32% of all the votes that will be cast this election in Florida are in the door.

Looking at the usual benchmarks:

Hillsborough

Another pretty typical day in Hillsborough.  We won both the early vote and the vote by mail tabulations, and now carry a 12,500 vote lead (+6.8%).  In person early vote is really driving this, with Democrats leading it by almost 9 points.  Two thirds of the votes on Thursday came from in-person early voting.   And keep in mind, Hillsborough has correctly picked 19 of the last 20 Presidents.

I-4

Yesterday played out to form, with Democrats winning in-person early voting in every county along the interstate, except for Seminole.

And yes, JMart, that means Dems won in-person early voting in Imperial Polk County for the fourth day in a row!

On other hand, Democrats and Republicans split the vote by mail returns, with Dems winning Hillsborough, Orange, and Osceola; and GOP winning Pinellas, Polk, Seminole and Volusia.

In total for the day, 108,000 votes were cast in the I-4 counties, with D’s winning 41-38-21. 

The I-4 counties have contributed nearly 800,000 ballots, or about 28% of all ballots cast in Florida, with Democrats holding a 42.4-37.5% (+38,000) lead.

Couple of notes:

Republicans had a better than average day in Orange County, losing the county by 14 points.  However, Dems continue to hold an 18-point edge in early votes.

I’ve had several special requests for Pinellas, which is almost entirely a vote by mail county, and which also has exceptionally close partisan voter registration.  Yesterday, the GOP narrowly won the day (+500 votes), but Democrats still lead the county (+300).

South Florida

Turnout in South Florida was solid again today.  Between in person early and vote by mail, more than 45,000 people voted in Dade County, and 41,000 voted in Broward County. In total, well over 100,000 votes came in through the big 3 South Florida counties.

Broward:  Democrats now lead by 69,900 votes, or 58-23% lead.  In person early vote surpassed vote by mail returns today, which is good news for Democrats, as Democrats currently lead in-person early vote by 60-21. With eleven days of voting, plus election day, this is a good place to be.

Dade:  Democrats increased their lead in Dade to just under 40,000 votes, after a 46-31-23 D-R-NPA day.  Remember, Dade has an exceptionally high percentage of Dem-leaning NPA voters, so while the county should end up being close to Broward in final vote margin, you won’t see it as acutely in the daily partisan differences.  In-person early is really driving the Dems in the right direction, with the fourth consecutive day of 30K plus votes, and Dems winning those votes by nearly 20%.

And Palm Beach, where Dems won the day 47-30, and continue to lead 50-29, after nearly 19,000 more people voted.

Duuuuuuval

First, my Jaguars are abysmal.  The only thing more offensive than the bile-colored uniforms they wore on TV is the quality of play.  If Shad Khan doesn’t fire Gus Bradley this week, I would strongly suggest to Hillary Clinton to promise to sign an executive order removing him as Head Coach.  She will win the county hands-down.

Personally, I do love the Duval numbers.  Democrats won the day, albeit narrowly, while the GOP continues to hold a narrow lead – and a narrow lead won’t do it for Trump There are only so many places where Trump can really grow from the Romney numbers, and Duval is one of them. So far, he isn’t doing it.

Some other points:

Be sure you are following my buddy Dan Smith (Election Smith) from the University of Florida.  He has some great numbers. 

He’s brought up the point that the electorate needs to get more diverse for Clinton, which is a point I agree with.  I will note, however, that VBM tends to be exceptionally white, so traditionally the electorate gets more diverse as the election gets closer. For example, going into in-person early voting, the electorate was about 80% white, and it is down to about 72%.  I suspect after the first weekend, we will see a big jump in diversity.

Dems continue to lead among the first time and low propensity voters – about 40,000 more Dems in this category have come out to vote so far.  Again, I suspect the weekend will be good to this stat.

Here is an interesting look at the electorate.  I ran a comparison of what the composition of the electorate looks like currently by county, and compared it to voter registration, and here are the counties where Democrats are most over-performing,

Alachua (Dems registration is +19, votes are +30 – net +11)

Palm Beach (net +6.5%)

Broward (net +6%)

Sarasota (net +5.7%)

Orange (net 4.7%)

The biggest one of note, Alachua, is also home to East Florida Seminary.

Two last things on my global view of the election.

I don’t think people should expect Democrats to have a “big” lead going into Eday – in part because of the nature of the electorate.  In both 2008 and 2012, the Dems had a much larger voter registration advantage than 2016.  In part, this is because we had a lot of white Democrats, many of whom last voted for either Carter or Kennedy.  They finally switched in pretty big numbers, so we are left with a coalition that is far more predictable and diverse.   Also, both Black (African American and Caribbean) and Hispanic voters are registering NPA in higher numbers, which is much about society going away from institutions as anything.  So just keep this in mind.

Secondly, my working assumption is that HRC had a 1-1.5 advantage in Florida, based simply on demographics.  I still believe this.  Add in Trump’s struggles with college-educated whites, and you see a lot of polling at 3-4, which feels about right.  Nothing in the data we’ve seen so far is surprising, and I still think we are headed that way.   But let’s revisit over the weekend.

And lastly, thank you for all the kind notes this week. This is my favorite time of year, and I appreciate the notes.

Tomorrow I am running a half marathon in the morning, so I will tweet out some data, and get the memo out later in the day. 

And God willing, the Jaguars will have a head coach.

And pro tip:  Pick Kevin Harvick this week in your fantasy leagues.

Thursday
Oct272016

Wednesday Two Weeks Out in America's Paradise

To:     Fellow Data Nerds

From: Steve Schale, #FloridaMan

Re:     Day 3 of Early Voting

*12 days until the election

*16 days until FSU basketball tips off.

Before we dive into the data, can I have a side conversation with the reporters reading this?

Now, I get it, the national race for President is over, and there is a need to keep this race interesting.  But the attention to that Bloomberg Poll yesterday was really kind of nuts.  Hillary Clinton has led or been tied in the 14 most recent polls before that one, two of which came out yesterday that received virtually no coverage.  So let’s keep all these polls in perspective.

Back to everyone.

Let’s talk about polling really quick. 

In 2012, the storyline was Obama couldn’t win Florida.  In fact, Obama only led 4 of the last 15 polls before this day in the election.  It was fair skepticism.

But in this case, HRC has led 14 of the last 15.  I don’t think anyone can argue that she is in a strong position to win.

No one knows better to me how tough this state can be, and no one is going to blow anyone out here.  But she is ahead.  It is a fact.   Now she has to turn out the vote.

One last thing on that Bloomberg poll.  They have the electorate at +3 Republican. 42-39.  I don’t even know even the most optimistic GOP operative who agrees with that model. 

Today, among votes in, it is 41-41-18.  If you take the Bloomberg Poll and do nothing but weigh the party breaks to 41-41-18, guess what, it shows Clinton with a 3-point lead – which is essentially what the average has been for a few weeks.

Oh, and University of North Florida this morning has it +4 HRC.

OK, rant over. Back to early voting.

Just shy of 2.5 million Floridians have voted.  This is roughly 27-28% of what total turnout will be.  In other words, more than a quarter of the likely Florida electorate has voted.

278,701 Floridians voted early, and Democrats won the day by about 4,000.  Total in person was about 15,000 less than Tuesday.

166,962 Floridians returned a VBM ballots, and GOP on them by about 10,000.

So out of about 2.5 million votes, the GOP has a 10,000 vote lead, which plays out to about 0.47%

I get asked often how this compares to 2012.  It really doesn’t in an apple to apples form.  Early voting in 2012 started on this coming Saturday, so we were only looking at VBM in 2012 on this day.  The GOP had a pretty significant lead, and we did not overtake them in total votes until Sunday.

In 2008, the early voting calendar was similar to this one, though the GOP went in with a much larger VBM lead.  If memory serves me right, it was the weekend when Democrats overtook the GOP. 

Wednesday was the second day that was largely a wash.  For what it is worth, I think today will be as well. 

Also, from now on, I am going to report combined EV/VBM numbers.  Where one or the other from the day is noteworthy, I’ll comment.

Here are the usual benchmarks. I will also explain below why these are the areas that I find interesting.

Hillsborough – Hillsborough is the only county that voted for Bush twice and Obama twice. It has also correctly picked 19 of the last 20 Presidents.  For those unfamiliar with Florida, it where Tampa is located.  The county is very “Midwestern” so tends to have more swing voters

Yesterday, Democrats carried the day by about 5 points, thanks to a 10-point advantage in VBM ballots.  Democrats maintain a 7-point (44-37) edge in total ballots cast, which is in line with our registration edge.

I-4 – The I-4 counties yesterday looked a lot like the I-4 should look, except for the third straight day, Democrats won in person early vote in Polk County, a county that last voted for Democratic President in 1976.  I suspect that is being driven by some of the new Puerto Rican growth.   Democrats won in-person early voting everywhere but Volusia (Daytona) and Seminole, Republicans won VBM returns everywhere but Orange, Osceola and Hillsborough.

Some county totals (again these numbers will be lower than yesterday because they include both VBM and EV)

Orange:  46-32 D for the day.  49-31 D overall

Osceola: 48-28 D for the day.  49-29 D overall

Volusia:   42-36 R for the day. 42-38 R overall

South Florida.

The three southeast Florida counties are the home to the Democratic base.  All had robust in person voting for the third consecutive day. For example, Broward was right at 30,000 in person early votes for the third day in a row, and overall the Miami media market made up almost 21% of all the votes yesterday (it is about 19% of typical statewide vote).

Also, remember in Dade county, voter registration is 42-28-30 D-R-I, so the partisan edges will seem smaller than many would expect.

Palm Beach continues to look good (though I’d like higher turnout):  48-30 for day, 51-30 overall (+28K).  (Obama won by 17 points)

Broward:  57-23 D for the day, and 58-24 D overall (+66K)

Dade:  45-31 D for the day, and 45-33 D overall (+33K)

And I continue to feel very good about Duval, even though GOP had a good day in VBM returns, Democrats once again won the in person early vote.  This is a county that Obama was able to significantly reduce the huge Bush margins of 2000 and 2004 (61K votes in 2004!)

Duval:  44-43 R for the day, 44-41 R overall (+1,000)

 

At a more granular level, here are few interesting factoids.

From stand point of regional breaks, some interesting things pop up:

It you are a Republican, you will like the fact that the Fort Myers market is really turning out.  It is about 9.5% of votes so far, when it shouldn’t really be much higher than 7%.  What is interesting, both Republicans and Democrats in the market are turning out a very high percentage of unlikely voters.

 On flip side, the North Florida media markets are coming in at a lower share of the state than it is typically.  In fairness, two caveats:  many North Florida counties did not take advantage of the optional early voting periods, and many tend to have higher election day turnouts. That being said, for all the talk of a surprise Trump enthusiasm, if it existed, we would be seeing it here – and we are not.

If you are a Democrat, the good news is after a few days of in person early voting, Orlando and Miami are coming in at roughly their 2012 vote shares.  At same time, West Palm Beach is a little under where I’d like it.

Tampa is also overrepresented in early vote and vote by mail, but that is pretty typical at this point.  It is about 25.8% of voters so far, will probably land right about 24%

Democrats are turning out their highest shares of “unlikely voters” in Fort Myers (33% of Dems low propensity), Miami (29%) and Orlando (29%).  Republicans in Fort Myers (27%), Miami (23%) and Pensacola (23%).   Overall, about 27% of Dems are “low propensity” and 22% of Republicans.  This number has been consistent over last few days.

Early vote is more diverse than vote by mail.  Early vote so far is about 67% white, compared to 73% of VBM.  Hispanic is a little low right now, but that tends to break later.  Right now, African American is 15% of in person early voting.  This is quite encouraging for my side.  These numbers are through Tuesday.  I won’t have Wednesday until later.

Again, I don’t expect much to change over next few days, but by the weekend, I suspect (and hope) we will have some separation. 

Wednesday
Oct262016

Day 2 in Florida Early Voting

To:       Reporters, Friends, and Twitter Trolls

From:  #FloridaMan Steve Schale

Re:      Day Two of Early Voting 

* Written before coffee, so please forgive any clear lack of English language skills.

Like most Americans, who are also White Sox fans, I am struggling to decide which is better, stubbing my toe (Cubs) or bumping my head (Indians), so let's look at something more desirable than this World Series: The 2016 Campaign for President.

If Day One was a solid A for Florida Democrats, Day two was more like my college experience, a nice pederstrian B.

Day two saw just shy of 294,000 vote in person early, which combined means 585,000 have voted in person early so far - and over 2 million people have voted total.  This is roughly 22 percent of what we can expect turnout to be this year.   After just two days, in person early vote accounts for nearly 30% of all the ballots cast to date.

Democrats won day two of early voting by about 6,600 votes (numbers change some during day).

Democrats were down about 10K, and Republicans up about 7K, and Republicans have a narrow 5,700 vote lead in vote by mail/early vote combined (0.2%).  So go vote Democrats!

And for my friend Mac Stipanovich, about 53K NPA voted early yesterday - up from Monday, and they made up about 18% of all voters.

Out of the 2 million votes so far, it is roughly 41R-41D-18NPA.  Personally, I like where that is headed.Here are a few of the highlights:

Bellwethers:

Hillsborough County -- the only county in Florida to vote for Obama twice and Bush twice, saw over 18,000 in person votes for the second straight day, and Democrats increase their early vote lead to more than 4,000 votes, and their total early/VBM lead to over 10,000 votes.  Democratic share of total early/VBM votes is about 7.3%.  

I-4 Corridor:  Democrats won every county that is on I-4, except Seminole County (we can't expect to win a county so Republican that you have to go back to Truman to find a Democrat who carried it every day).  Overall for the day, Democrats won 45-35.

Base Democratic Counties:

The five major Democratic counties, Broward, Dade, Palm Beach, Osceola and Orange all basically matched their day one turnout.  Robust remains the best way to describe turnout

Here are a few counties:

Broward: (60D-21R), +11,987 for day 2. 

Dade: (48D-29R) +6,600 for day 2.

Orange: (50D-29R) +3,665 for day 2

And lastly, my favorite place right now, Republican Duval County.  Over the last two elections, Barack Obama was able to keep the Duval margins manageable, averaging losses of about 10,000 votes.  By comparison, Bush won the county by 61,000 in 2004, a number that Trump would need to get closer to if he was going to win Florida.

Well right now, Republicans are doing about as well in Duval as the Jaguars.  Democrats won the second consecutive day of in person early voting, and now only trail Republicans in total VBM/EV by about 440 votes.  Even more ominous:  it only took two days for total in person early voting to overtake two weeks of vote by mail returns.  

Couple of final points:

Between VBM returns and EV, Day 2 was pretty much a wash.  I don't know that much significant will change until the first weekend.  By comparison, in 2008, which also had 15 days of EV (in 2012, first day of EV was on a Saturday), D's well ahead of pace.  D's also ahead of where we were on this day of the election in 2012.

I don't have access this early to some of the breakdowns based on ethnicity and voting behavior, and

I will send around some data later (or watch my twitter), but here were a few things from day one:

Black voters (in Florida, that is both African American and Caribbean) made up about 15% of all first day early voters. 

Hispanic voters were about 13%, and non-Hispanic white about 67%.

Based on these numbers, I would project we are headed towards an electorate that is more diverse than 2012.

Also, here is one more for you: among first day of early voting Democratic and NPA Hispanics, 44% were either first time voters, or only voting in their second ever general election.  In other words, these voters are expanding the electorate.

Overall, after day one (again I will update these later), of the roughly 1.6 million ballots cast, 79% of Republican votes came from the most likely of voters, compared to 73% of Democratic votes.  In other words, a larger share of the Democratic turnout has been from new voters, and infrequent voters.  

Notably, we are seeing an even larger share of the Democratic vote in Dade County coming from first time and infrequent voters.  This suggests the Democratic coalition is coming together nicely.

I will continue to update data throughout the day, as I find things interesting.  If you have questions, please email or call me.  I am doing my best to get through calls, and will try to get back to you as soon as possible.

Unless you are an internet troll.  In that case, call another Florida hack! 

 

Tuesday
Oct252016

Early Voting in Florida, Day One

Dear Friends and Casual Twitter Followers:

It is Florida election memo time! I know you all are excited.

14 days left. If Jaguars fans can survive the Gus Bradley era, America can do 14 day of this.

Also of note: 18 days until FSU basketball tips off.

So here are some notes on the first day of in-person early voting:

Frankly for the fans of the home team, it is all good news.

Democrats entered the day down after about 2 weeks of vote by mail returns (and about 1.2 million ballots) about 20,000 votes. This 1.7% GOP advantage compares to a GOP advantage of 5% in 2012.

Then early voting happened.

First, not all counties have reported yet (17 yet to report, most are small), but when all said and done, over 300,000 will have voted on day one. Just to put into scale, 1.2 million voted by mail in the first two weeks.

When you add in the mail ballots from yesterday, 22% of all the ballots cast in Florida were cast in person yesterday. That is a remarkable number.

In total, Democrats reduced the Republican advantage of 1.7% going into yesterday to around 0.5% after day one (still counties reporting, so this number will move around).

Here are some interesting places on day one:

Won Duval County by 1,700 votes. Duval hasn't voted for a Democrat for President since Carter, and is one of those places where Trump really needs to run up the score. Dems also won the day in Polk County, an I-4 county that also hasn't voted for a Democrat since Carter.

Won Volusia County by several hundred, again a place that Trump was hoping to build on the gains of Romney in 2012.

And in bellwether county Hillsborough, the only place in Florida to vote for Bush twice and Obama twice, Democrats won by almost 3,000 votes, or roughly 14 points (49-35). By comparison, Democrats have a 7 point advantage in registration.

In fact, Democrats won every county along I-4, plus Pinellas -- including both Republican strongholds Polk and Seminole. The total I-4 vote was 48-33D. Seminole County hasn't voted Democrat in a Presidential election since Truman.

Base turnout was also very encouraging.

In Orange County, Democrats won a robust day 53-27%

In Broward County, Democrats won a record day 63-20%

In Palm Beach, a county which improved for Romney in 2012, Dems won 53-27%

In Alachua, where the University of Florida is, it was 65-22% Dems.

And in Dade County, 10,000 more voters showed up on the first day of early voting than 2012. Of the 35,000 who cast a ballot, Democrats won the day 53-27%.

Finally, with the help of a friend yesterday, I looked into the question of whether Democrats were simply "canibalizing" their traditional vote by encouraging its traditional voters to vote early in person and by mail.

Two points: First, even if that's all they did, Clinton would almost surely win Florida. Republicans need to expand the electorate to win.

But, that isn't what is happening. Over 28% of Democratic vote by mail returnees as of yesterday were either first time voters, or rare voters (voted in 1 of last 3), compared to 20% for Republicans. Other way of looking at it: 80% of GOP vote by mail returns are from the most likely voters, compared to 72% of Democrats. That is voter expansion.

I am going to try to do a little note each day. Try is the operative word.

As always, if you have any questions, give me a holler.