Steve Schale, Author at Florida Politics

Steve Schale

Steve Schale: Florida, persuasion or turnout, or both?

In the never-ending quest to simplify Florida, one of the ongoing debates about winning the state is whether Florida is a state won by winning persuadable voters, or whether it is all about turning out one’s base.

I remember when I started with Barack Obama, I got a ton of advice — most of it unsolicited (much was helpful), though a significant portion went something like this:

“Steve, nothing matters but I-4 … Steve, if you don’t maximize the Jewish vote, you can’t win … Steve, the field is dumb, it is an air war state … Steve, TV is dumb, it is a field war state … Steve, you have to do better with absentees … Steve, don’t waste money trying to convince Democrats to vote by mail … Steve, you have to watch your floor in North Florida, or you can’t win … Steve, you have to take Obama to Condo X, or you won’t win … Steve, you have to pay for bus benches in Miami, or you can’t win.”

You get the point.

Here is the secret — all of it matters. Florida is neither a persuasion state or a turnout state. It is, in my honest opinion, both. It doesn’t matter if it is a presidential cycle or a midterm year, Florida is a state about managing margins, everywhere.

Avid readers of my blog (thank you to all three of you) have read me refer to Florida as a self-correcting scale. The bases of both parties do a nice job of balancing — or canceling themselves out, almost regardless of population or demographic shifts.

Before we go any further — it is important to note that this phenomenon is almost exclusively a result of my party losing vote share among non-Hispanic whites. If we were winning non-Hispanic whites at a level anywhere near Obama 2008, based on the demographic shifts in Florida, we would be a leaning to likely Democratic state.

At the same time — if Florida wasn’t experiencing demographic changes — and the Republicans weren’t losing share among voters of color — particularly Hispanics, we would be a predictably Republican state. Functionally, if either party can broaden their own coalition, Florida quickly gets less competitive.

But these two factors have largely canceled each other out — hence the self-correcting scale.

Let’s review quickly how Democrats and Republicans win Florida.

Because I am a Democrat, let’s start there. Democrats earn their votes in a handful of counties, specifically: Leon, Gadsden, Alachua, Hillsborough, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Broward, and Dade.

Winning Democratic candidates typically do a few other things: win Pinellas, win St. Lucie, win a few North Florida counties like Jefferson, maintain reasonable margins counties like in Duval, Sarasota, Volusia, and Seminole. They also maintain a reasonable floor in North Florida, suburban/exurban counties around I-4 and the Fort Myers media market.

For Republicans, their math is a little different — they win a lot more counties but by relatively smaller counties. Their win comes from winning in places like Pinellas and St. Lucie as well as running up the score in places like Duval, the suburban and exurban counties around I-4, and in southwest Florida.

I’ve written extensively about this dynamic in presidential cycles. You can read my primer on Florida here, or my 2016 debrief here and here, but in short, I would argue there was a lot of misreading of the Obama wins in Florida.

Yes, they were driven by significantly increasing the margins in the Democratic base counties over John Kerry and growing them in 2012. But here’s the thing — that alone wouldn’t have won the state. In both 08 and 12, Obama generally kept the margins in check in the GOP counties — and he won the few battleground counties that exist in Florida.

Take Obama 12 and Hillary Clinton 16 — both races decided by a roughly 1 percent margin. For all the chatter about a “less than enthusiastic” Democratic base, Clinton won the base Democratic counties by more than Obama did.

Her problem wasn’t turnout. Her problem was Trump winning the few battleground counties and setting records in both share of the vote and actual vote margins in those places where they must run up the score to win, and where we need to keep it in check.

I can read your mind — “That’s interesting Steve, but this is a midterm cycle, and you know it is different.”

Yes, it is — and no it isn’t.

Yes, it’s different because the electorate is smaller, and at least in the last two cycles, been more Republican (a fact impacted by two consecutive midterm waves for the GOP), which was a change from 06, where turnout marginally leaned Democratic (and Dems won 2 statewide races).

But there are a lot of similarities between the presidential and midterm cycles. Both Republicans and Democrats still need to carry their margins in the same counties as they do in presidential cycles. While the vote totals are different in individual regions and counties are different, the functional roadmaps for winning isn’t.

Rick Scott won two elections by a point. However, the shape of those wins was quite different, and in those differences lies the path to how the Democrats can win in 2018.

In 2010, the Democratic struggles were a creature of three real problems: Hispanic drop-off from 2008, lower participation among white Democrats particularly in Central Florida, and a wave of GOP and GOP-leaning NPA voters who saw voting for the GOP as a way to send a message to President Obama.

From a math standpoint, this led to lower than necessary margins in South and Central Florida base counties. But here is the thing, Scott ran up some very large margins in parts of the state, Alex Sink kept him in check in many others. In fact, she kept him in check by more than enough in many GOP counties to have a winning coalition if the Democratic counties had performed well. But they didn’t.

The lesson of Sink: Florida isn’t alone a persuasion state.

Charlie Crist’s math in 2014 was quite different. Crist ran on a far more progressive platform than Sink, with a fairly robust turnout operation — certainly not the size of Obama, but the largest in midterm cycle history for Florida Democrats, and as a result succeeded to run up the score in the base Democratic counties, winning the three South Florida counties by almost 100,000 more votes than Sink. He also did well enough in the “Crist counties” — the stretch from Pasco through Sarasota, where his brand is most established, winning those counties by almost 2.5 percent, where Sink lost them by a half of a point.

But the floor fell out for him in North Florida. Despite North Florida shrinking as a percentage of the electorate from 2010 (20 percent) to 2014 (19 percent), Crist lost the region by 8 percent more than Sink did, netting Scott’s margin roughly 107,000 more votes, more than wiping out the gains Crist made in the base Democratic counties (97,000 votes).

One other way of looking at it, Crist won the base Democratic counties by 92,000 more votes than Sink did. He lost everything else by 95,000 more votes than Sink. The lesson of Crist, as was also the lesson of Clinton: Florida isn’t alone a turnout state.

If Clinton has her margins in the base counties, plus Obama’s elsewhere, she wins by a point or two.

If Sink had her math, plus Crist’s margins in the base counties, he wins by about a point. If Crist has his margins, plus Sink’s margins only in North Florida, he wins by almost a point.

2018 will be different yet.

The Democratic nominee will benefit from an electorate that is more diverse, meaning the base county margins should rise, and I think there is a lot of room for growth in the Orlando urban core. However, at the same time, they will be unlikely to be able to count on some the margins Crist won in his corner of the state and will have to contend with areas where the GOP population is growing.

The questions aren’t as simple as how do we turnout more voters, but also have to include questions like how do we keep Duval looking more like it did for Obama, Clinton, and Sink than it did for Scott in 14 or Rubio?

For Republicans, they must deal with the fact demographics are changing in a way that helps the Democrats, and that 2018, unlike 2010 and 2014, will almost surely not be a very good Republican year, as we’ve seen in each of the competitive special and off-cycle elections this year.

I believe that in Scott/Nelson, as well as in the Governor’s race, Florida starts this year somewhere around 47-47 — maybe even 48-48, and we will be fighting over the path to that remaining 150,000 votes or so that a winning candidate will need.

Some of those votes are found by increasing turnout, others won and lost in the persuasion fight. The candidate who wins in 2018 won’t find those votes by getting just one of those things right, they will succeed in building the right answer to a puzzle.

That is just how Florida works these days.

Steve Schale: Orlando revisited

Back in 2012, I wrote a fairly deep dive about metro-Orlando, titled Orlando Rising, to look at what was happening in the Orlando urban counties, and how both Hispanic and African-American growth rates were radically changing the area’s politics.

Six years later, I wanted to take another look, but this time with a broader lens — not just metro-Orlando, which tends to get all the media focus, but on the media market as a whole, because, as I think this piece will show, what is happening in the Orlando media market right now is very much the story of what is happening in American politics. Bear with me, there will be a lot of data in this piece, and hopefully by the end, you will see what I mean.

Before we begin, for those of you who are regular readers of my blog, you’ve probably seen me refer to Florida’s political math as a self-correcting scale. For all the state’s dynamism in population growth and demographic changes, the state’s politics almost seem to play by Newton’s Third Rule of Motion, that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, or in political terms, for every trend that benefits one party, a seemingly opposite, and a remarkably equal trend benefits the other.

This is why, despite changes in the electorate and changes in national mood, the last four major contested statewide elections — the 2010 and 2014 Governor’s races, and the 2012 and 2016 Presidential, were all decided by a point, and why there is no reason to believe the 2018 Governor’s race, and the 2018 Senate race between Gov. Rick Scott and incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson — and eventually the 2020 Presidential race won’t follow suit.

In some ways, no place is more emblematic of this than Orlando. It is the fastest-growing major media market in the state, and home to one of the fastest-changing populations. Between 2006 and 2016, the market added over 600,000 additional voters to the rolls, of which 49 percent were either African-American or Hispanic, with another 5 percent coming from growth among Asian voters. Drive around metro Orlando and you can see this change with your own eyes, as the city is growing into a diverse, global metropolitan center.

Yet for all of this, Donald Trump won the Orlando media market by virtually the same percentage margin as George Bush did in 2000. That point is worth repeating: despite the vast demographic changes happening in Central Florida, Trump’s 2.9 percent margin over Clinton in 2016 in the Orlando media market was basically the same as Bush’s 3.3 percent margin over Al Gore in 2000.

How is that possible? Well, let’s start back in that fateful election.

In 2000, Bush won the urban core of the market by about 2 points, and the surrounding counties by about 4.5 percent — a difference of about 2.5 percent. For my purposes, I describe the urban core as the counties of Orange, Osceola and Seminole, and the surrounding counties (going west to east then south): Marion, Sumter, Lake, Flagler, Volusia, and Brevard Counties. In 2004, Bush did a little better in the surrounding counties, winning them by about a 6.5 percent larger margin than he won the urban counties, but still, voting behavior across the entire market was pretty consistent.

Fast forward to 2016, and we saw an entirely different map, with the urban counties and surrounding counties functioning as differently as two base states; Hillary Clinton winning the urban counties by 18 percent, and Trump winning the surrounding counties by 21 percent. Two Americas, right in one nine-county region.

Let’s break this down a little further, starting in the urban core.

Of the 2.7 million voters in the nine-county media market, 48 percent of them live in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties. For those unfamiliar with the region, Orange is home to Orlando, with Osceola located to the south and west, and Seminole to the east. Osceola for many years was a mostly rural county, and now is home to some of the fastest-growing Puerto Rican communities in America. On the other hand, Seminole is largely a bedroom community, traditionally very Republican, which is trending more Democratic as the county gets more diverse. The urban core (which economically includes Lake County) is the 32nd-largest economy in the country, bigger than both the countries of Morocco and Kuwait.

Change here has been rapid, and significant politically.

On the rapid side: the number of people who voted in the 2016 Presidential election was nearly double what it was in 2000. Between 2006 (when the state standardized the reporting of voter registration by racial and ethnic background) and 2016, the voter rolls grew by 303,000, with 78 percent of that growth coming from people of color. On the political significance side, these three counties went from giving Bush a roughly 9,000 and 34,000 vote margin respectively in 2000 and 2004, to giving Clinton a 166,000 vote margin in 2016. Another 40,000 voters have been added to the rolls since 2016, and the ratios remain the same.

Driving this change: voters of color, particularly Puerto Ricans. And this is the story that gets written about all the time, the idea that this trend, and this trend alone — particularly in the wake of President Trump’s complete botching of post-Maria cleanup in Puerto Rico, and the fallout both in terms of migration and politics, will drive Florida blue.

And yes, if demographic change, particularly among Puerto Ricans, was the only factor at play, Florida would be a solidly Democratic state. To this point, if you take just the urban Orlando counties, then add Dade and Broward counties, Clinton won these 5 counties by 500,000 more votes than Gore did in the tied election of 2000, with more than 40 percent of that change happening in Central Florida. If nothing else in Florida changed, she would have won the state by roughly five points.

But alas, looking at only the change in urban Orlando doesn’t tell the whole story.

Again, the Orlando media market is comprised of nine counties, the three described above, and six others, which wrap around the north and eastern sides of the urban core. While there are some rural areas in these six counties, they are more “exurban” in nature. The counties to the north: Lake, Marion, Sumter, and Flagler, are home to large retiree populations, anchored in the northwest corner of media market by a community known as “The Villages.” To the east, Volusia and Brevard have a rust belt, blue-collar feel to them. For many years, Volusia, home to NASCAR, was considered a base Democratic county, and Brevard, home to the Space Coast, is the area Sen. Nelson served in the U.S. House of Representatives.

While alone, none of these counties can compete politically or from a population standpoint with the Orlando urban core, taken as a whole, these six counties are home to more voters than the urban counties, and since 2006, in terms of voters, they are growing at roughly the same rate as the urban core of the media market.

Going back to that idea of Florida — or in this case, the Orlando DMA being a self-correcting scale

Between 2006 and 2016, the voter rolls in the urban counties grew by roughly 315,000 voters, while the rolls in the surrounding counties grew by just over 303,000. As the urban counties grew more diverse, adding about 120,000 more African-American and Hispanic voters than the suburban counties, the suburban counties added 130,000 more non-Hispanic white voters than the urban counties. Thus, given the nation’s current political voting behavior — the more diverse and Democratic-trending electorate in the urban counties voted overwhelmingly for Clinton, while the fast-growing, and GOP-trending white population in the surrounding counties turned out a similar margin for Trump.

The difference between Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, and Trump in 2016 was the margins in those surrounding counties. Whereas Clinton lost those Orlando exurban counties by over 211,000 votes, Obama kept the margin to roughly 115,000 in 2012, and just over 67,000 in 2008. Both Nelson and Scott have traditionally done well in this market, so whether Orlando looks more like 2012 or 2016 will go a long way to deciding not only their race, but also the Governor’s race. And if my party can figure out how to claw back a few points of white support on a regular basis, both this market, and Florida start to look a lot more “blue.”

And I know what question is coming next: But Steve, you are forgetting the Puerto Rican migrants from Maria will swamp the GOP in Orlando and everywhere in 2018. If you are curious, here is the piece I wrote about this in October, but the answer then, as it is now, is yes, the growth of Puerto Ricans will impact Central Florida politics, but no, it won’t change the state alone.

Since the 2016 election, the voter rolls in the Orlando market have grown by about 55,000, and while in fairness, they have grown the most in the urban core, at this point, it would be a stretch to say that more than 15,000 to 18,000 of that growth is from Hurricane Maria — numbers which at this point, are somewhat balanced out by white growth in the surrounding counties.

In fairness, I suspect the average Maria migrant, having upended their life, is focused on everything other than registering to vote (which is a good reminder that big gains in voter registration don’t happen organically), so the number will surely grow, but unlikely anywhere near where some of the outside experts predicted back in October.

The challenge with covering the political mechanics of Florida is complicated, but it is also close, and the latter particularly always drives a spate of stories trying to determine the silver bullet that will drive the state in one party’s direction or the other. But there are no silver bullets, or as my friend Kevin Sweeny often likes to say, the secret is, well, there is no secret.

The Sunshine State is just work, never easy on either side of the path to 50 percent. And arguably, no place exemplifies this more than the Orlando media market. In Florida, the more things change, the more things stay the same.

Steve Schale: Dear Dems, one 2018 project — Caribbean voters

In my earliest days on the Barack Obama campaign in 2008, one of our first statewide polls showed a weakness with Black voters, at least compared to other states.

It wasn’t necessarily that John McCain was doing better than elsewhere, just that there were more voters on the sidelines. It didn’t take long to figure out the initial weakness was among Caribbean voters, which over time, we were able to address.

A couple of days ago, an old Obamaland friend who was a big part of those 2008 Caribbean conversations, texted me a quick question about the Haitian vote in Florida, and specifically if there was any truth to the chatter, and/or anecdotal evidence that Hillary Clinton underperformed among Haitians.

I had sensed some of the same but honestly hadn’t taken a look at the data yet.

Before starting, it is important to consider there are three significant challenges when thinking about the Haitian, and in a larger sense, Caribbean Black vote in Florida.

First, unlike the vast majority of other states, the Black vote in Florida is not monolithically African-American. Here, a significant share is either Caribbean and/or Hispanic.

The same challenge exists when analyzing the Hispanic vote. On other battleground states, Hispanics tend to be nearly universally Mexican, while here in Florida, both Hispanic and Black voters come from a large mosaic of nationalities.

Secondly, along these same lines, Florida’s voter registration data is woefully overly-generic about the population. When it comes to Caribbean and African-American voters, the voter registration form provides actually just three options: Black, Multiracial or Other. Therefore, it is impossible to solely pull out voters of Caribbean descent. There are some analytic tools, but that is generally built on a model, and as such, isn’t exact (nor available to the public as a whole).

Third, and finally, the census data isn’t a ton better.

The generic census form does not drill down for information on “Black or African-American” residents (it does with certain Hispanics and Asian populations). There are census tools that dig into a nation of origin, but again are sampled and not individual specific.

So, in answering my friend’s query, I came up with what was a (granted, inexact) performance model, yet one I think provides some insight — and in this case, caution for Democrats — or at least cause for more research.

The model: Florida House District 108, the home of “Little Haiti.”

The question — how did Clinton/Donald Trump play both in this district and specifically in the Little Haiti precincts, versus Obama/Romney? For the sake of adding more data, I also looked at Rick Scott in 2010 and 2014.

Understanding the limitations laid out above, here is what the data says.

Obama won the district in 2012 by 90-10, and Clinton won it 87-11 (Interestingly, this shift matches the 2-point margin shift from Obama to Clinton). Also, voter turnout in the seat at large was about the same, at least among Black voters (70 percent in 2012, 70.5 percent in 2016).

On the surface, these are not insignificant changes, but in no way, are the kind of massive shifts we saw in places like Pasco County, north of Tampa, where the change among Republican support was almost 10 points.

But looking deeper, there is more than the story.

First, there were actually 6,000 fewer registered voters in the district in 16 than 12, which a combination of two things: purges of “inactive voters” and at a certain level, some voters not being interested enough to care to keep registration up to date.

As a result, Clinton got 6,000 fewer votes than Obama in the district — while Trump got about the same as Mitt Romney. In other words, Clinton carried the district by 6,000 fewer votes than Obama’s 2012 margin.

The total shift in the vote margin statewide was roughly 180K votes — so just over 3 percent of the full shift from Obama to Trump happened just in this one state House seat — a seat that by comparison only made up 0.6 percent of the entire statewide vote in the presidential election.

Secondly, it gets even more interesting in just the Little Haiti precincts.

So, inside House District 108, during the Obama re-election, voters in the Little Haiti precincts made up just over 17 percent of registered voters, and in the election, just over 16 percent of the actual 2012 voters.

Looking at it another way, turnout among all Black voters in the district was roughly 70 percent in 2012, but within the Little Haiti precincts, was about 63 percent.

My guy won Little Haiti by 92 percent (96-4). Clinton won it by 85 percent (91-6 percent). Honestly, this data point actually surprised me. My hunch going in was Trump might have done better in these precincts than he did districtwide (10 percent).

But here is where the huge red flag shows up. Little Haiti residents in 2016 actually made up a bigger share of registered voters than 2016 — almost 19 percent but saw their share of the district’s actual vote drop to 16 percent. Why? Black turnout was right at 71 percent in the district in 2016, but inside Little Haiti, it fell to 58 percent.

As a result, Clinton carried these 10 precincts by 1,300 votes less than Obama did, or roughly 0.7 percent of the total shift from Obama to Trump — 10 precincts that by the way, make up less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the 2016 statewide vote. Why? Simply, Little Haiti voter participation was 13 percent lower than Black turnout districtwide.

While Trump got better margins than Romney did four years earlier, but it had almost nothing to do with more support for him, and almost everything to do with lower participation from people who in 2012 voted for Barack Obama.

It is interesting when comparing Democratic performance in Little Haiti between 2010 and 2014, Charlie Crist did better than Alex Sink, both regarding turnout and performance.

But I suspect, just as we saw overall Black turnout prove to be robust in 14, a lot of that was a factor of voters showing up to protect President Obama. Interestingly enough, Rick Scott put a lot more emphasis on Caribbean voters in 2014 than 2010 so it would be useful to look outside of this one neighborhood to see if the 2014 results hold up elsewhere.

Moreover, Crist’s 2014 strength in Little Haiti doesn’t mean, as 2016 shows, that one can expect 2018 to be the same without work.

Granted, there are lots of reasons to be cautious about reading much of anything into a 10-precinct sample of one state House seat in a state like Florida. However, I do think there is enough to take a longer look at this, overlaying census data with precinct maps throughout South Florida, and comparing the presidential election in precincts with a significant Caribbean population.

My hunch is we would see a lot of the same.

 

Steve Schale: Notes on the final Sunday of early voting in Florida

To: America

From: Steve Schale, A Tired Florida Man

Re: 2nd to last Memo

2 days until E-Day

4 days until I am home for a nice long time.

6 days until FSU basketball tips off.

That’s all I care about now.

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

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

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

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

Total Ballots cast: 6,152,099

Total Vote By Mail: 2,536,167 (42.2%)

Total Early Vote: 3,615,932 (57.8%)

Democrats: 2,435,493 (39.58%)

Republicans: 2,403,171 (39.06%)

NPA: 1,201,715 (21.35%)

Total Margin: DEM +0.59%

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

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

After Sat: 21.35%

After Fri: 20.55%

After Thurs: 20.2%

After Wed: 19.8%

After Sunday: 19.3%

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

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

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

Hillsborough

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

Yesterday: 41.2 Dem – 30.7 GOP – 28.1 NPA.

Total: 42.1 Dem – 35.8 GOP – 22.1 NPA

I-4

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

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

To date: 41.1 D – 35.9 R – 23 NPA

Yesterday: 40.5 D -31.3 R – 28.2 NPA

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

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

Just to recap the counties on I-4 –

Volusia (Daytona) – should lean a little red this year.

All votes: 39.7 R, 37.2 D, 23.1 NPA

R + 4,235

Seminole – suburban Orlando, more white/republican.

All votes: 42.6 R, 35.1D, 23.3 NPA

R +10,234

Orange (Orlando)

All votes: 46 D, 30 R, 24 NPA

D +59,800

Osceola – very Hispanic. President Obama there today.

All votes: 47.5 D, 26.7 R, 25.9 NPA

D + 20,217

Imperial Polk – between Tampa/Orlando – lean R

All votes: 40.1 R, 39 D, 20.9 NPA

R +1,827

Hillsborough – twice for Bush, twice for Obama

All votes: 42.1 D, 35.8 R, 22.1 NPA

D +24,608

Pinellas – lean D county on Gulf, west of Tampa

All votes: 38.8 R, 38.5 D, 22.7 NPA

R +840

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

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

South Florida

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

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

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

Palm Beach

All votes: 46 D, 39 R, 24 NPA

D +66,510

Broward

All votes: 55.7 D, 22.1 R, 22.2 NPA

D +188,499

Miami-Dade

All votes, 44 D, 29.8 R, 26.2 NPA

D +100,291

Duuuuuuval

The Obama effect:

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

They are now ahead.

#ThanksObama

Additional notes:

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

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

More later.

Steve Schale: Notes on the 11th day of early voting in Florida

*3 days until E-Day

*5 days until I am home for a nice long time.

*7 days until FSU basketball tips off.

*105 days until pitchers and catchers

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

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

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

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

Total Ballots cast:   5,731,761

Total Vote By Mail:  2,370,567 (45%)

Total Early Vote:  2,897.183 (55%)

Democrats:  2,268,663 (39.58%)

Republicans: 2,261,383 (39.45)

NPA: 1,201,715 (20.97%)

Total Margin:  GOP +0.13%

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

Hillsborough:

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

Yesterday: 39.2 Dem – 33.5 GOP – 27.3 NPA.

Total: 42.1 Dem – 36.1 GOP – 21.8 NPA

I-4

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

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

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

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

South Florida

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

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

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

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

Duuuuuuval

The Obama effect:

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

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

Additional notes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best to all.

Steve Schale: Notes on the 11th day of early voting in Florida

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 final 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 ol’ bloodstream to jump in for a day.

We’ve also reached the part of the campaign that is tough for the people who are in them, on both sides. Once you get to Friday, the die is mostly cast.

You’ve made your final moves, and other than ordering some robocalls or adjusting canvass operations, you just must 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 zombielike 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 three or four hour’s 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 their job was simple: just do your job. And if you do, you will change the course of history.

So with that, here’s where we stand:

Yesterday, we blew past the 5 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 percent)
Total Early Vote: 2,897,183 (55 percent)

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

Total Margin: GOP +0.03 percent

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 percent 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 percent number will become more like 67-68 percent, but still, at that rate, we are going to have a pretty good sense where Florida is headed darn early 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 percent, 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 percent of all Hillsborough voters were NPA. Throughout all early voting, NPA = 21 percent, so this is an uptick.

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 where Republicans in 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 1,500 voter lead in the county (Dems have about the same lead in voter registration).

Metro Orlando and the 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 percent. As I wrote about yesterday, this is primarily driven by Puerto Ricans voting in substantial numbers.

One thing also noteworthy from yesterday, the two places with the highest Puerto Rican populations, Orange and Osceola counties, both outperformed 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 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 percent of all statewide votes. Yesterday it was 10.3 percent. And Miami-Dade should land somewhere around 10.5 percent of all votes.

Yesterday it was 12.1 percent.

What is driving that? NPAs.

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

The story in Palm Beach isn’t the same, and if I were 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 front-runners 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 percent. 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 percent 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.

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 the real Hispanic vote is larger than the registration.

So, while Hispanics might make up 14.2 percent 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 percent of early voters are either first-time Florida voters, or haven’t voted in any of the last three elections. Across party lines, 24 percent of all the Hispanic votes today come from these first-time voters.

Among Hispanic Republicans, it is 14 percent, among Democrats, it goes up to 26 percent, and among Hispanic NPAs, a whopping 32 percent 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 percent of Hispanic Democrats and 60 percent 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. So far, 32 percent of Democratic voters are low propensity voters, compared to 26 percent of the GOP voters. But among NPA, the number rises to 48 percent. That’s right, 48 percent of NPAs who have voted so far are low propensity — and 25 percent of those are Hispanic.

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

One last thing on these NPA voters, right now, the overall electorate is 68.6 percent white, but among NPAs, that number drops to 65 percent. 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. Many 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 should 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 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 an 80-90K vote lead over the GOP today — even though that lead would have been meaningless.

One last key stat from Wednesday: African-American 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 percent and growing.

A couple of last observations. Right now, Republicans should be feeling good about turnout in Southwest 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 high, including the counties mentioned earlier in Southeast Florida and around Orlando. North Florida is getting better for Republicans, but still is 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 reasons 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 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 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 Saturday for Friday, publish some notes Sunday from Saturday, and write a longer read 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 also will 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.

Steve Schale: Notes on the second day of early voting in Florida

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

Like most Americans who also are 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.

Day 2 of in-person early voting in Florida brought more of the same from Day 1. And again, there really isn’t a single indicator any rational observer (note, not Donald Trump) would argue is anything but good news for the Democrats.

First, Day 2 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 percent of all the ballots cast to date.

Democrats won Day 2 of early voting by about 6,600 votes (numbers change some during the 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 percent). 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 percent of all voters.

Out of the 2 million votes so far, the percentages are roughly 41R-41D-18 NPA. Personally, I like where that is headed.

Here are a few 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. Democrats increased their early vote lead to more than 4,000 votes, and their total early/vote-by-mail lead to over 10,000 votes. The Democratic lead for total early/VBM votes is about 7.3 percent.

I-4 Corridor — Democrats won every county on Interstate 4, except Seminole County (we can’t expect to win a county so Republican you have to go back to Truman to find a Democrat who carried it). 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 1 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 Trump will need to get closer to if he’s 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.

A 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 are well ahead of pace. D’s also are 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 1:

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

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

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

Also, here’s one more for you: among first day of early-voting Democratic and NPA Hispanics, 44 percent 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 1 (again I will update these later), of the roughly 1.6 million ballots cast, 79 percent of Republican votes came from the most likely of voters, compared to 73 percent 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!

Steve Schale: Dear Donald Trump press corps: Welcome to my house

Dear Traveling Trump Press Corps:

Well, the sputtering, crashing, and long-since derailed Trump Train is headed to my town, Tallahassee.

I, for one, will admit it, I cannot believe how badly he and his shop are at campaigning. Take all of the personal flaws of Donald Trump aside; I really believed he would rise to the occasion of running a campaign at least somewhat worthy of the office he seeks.

Back in 2008, when one of my staff would do something mind-numbingly amateur, rather than yell at them, I would walk up, give them a little pep talk about decision-making process, and leave a sticky note saying: “FYI, We are running for President,” just to remind them of the stakes.

I feel like the GOP should send one of these to Trump daily.

Over the general election, he’s spent some time in some pretty bizarre places in Florida for a candidate who is making absolutely no attempt to appeal outside of his base.

It is one thing to go into the other side’s turf when you are trying to reach their voters, but he’s not. Yet he’s still spent time in places like Miami Beach and Kissimmee, two places about as Democratic as any in Florida.

Well, come Tuesday, add a third: Tallahassee.

The old saying about Florida is to go south, you go north.

Well, while Tallahassee is much more “Southern” than the rest of Florida, just like all Southern states, Tallahassee is that liberal college town that drives the rest of the conservative areas crazy.

It is also the place where the college footballing team that has beaten #FloridaMan Chuck Todd‘s Miami squad seven straight years resides, but I digress.

It is also a place where many great national reporters have spent time. In fact, the recent past president Carol Lee and the incoming president of the WHCA Margaret Talev did a stint here, as did Mike Bender, who I think still has a house here if you need a couch to surf. In fact, I think having Tallahassee experience is a job requirement at The Wall Street Journal. POLITICO’s Marc Caputo also lived here for a while, but we don’t talk about that as much.

Just how Democratic is Leon County?

The last time we voted for Republican for president was 1988, but before you Republicans get all excited about that, Bush won 66 of 67 counties. It was such a landslide that even Broward voted Republican.

That isn’t gonna happen.

Looking at more recent history:

Leon County has voted Democratic in the last six elections.

In the last four, the Republican candidate has won 41 percent of the two-party vote in Leon County, but when you add minor party candidates, no Republican has cracked 40 percent.

The total Democratic margin of victory over that time is 125,000 votes. Only four counties in Florida have delivered a bigger margin for the Democratic nominee over that time: Orange, Palm Beach, Broward, and Dade.

Further, if you look at the nine Florida counties that have voted for every Democratic nominee for president since 2000, two of them border Leon County.

And even when you add all of the rural areas in the media market, the market overall has voted for the Democratic candidate each of the last four times (and I think it is each of the last six). A region that voted for John Kerry isn’t voting for Trump.

But alas, for those media who are on the Trump traveling train, I am happy you are here. For those of you not on the charter, I hope you also enjoyed visiting our northern airport terminal, Atlanta International. As they say about Tallahassee, you can’t die and go to heaven or hell without a layover in Atlanta — and probably with a delay.

And here are a couple of thoughts:

Both GrassLands Brewing Co. and Proof Brewing are open Tuesday. If you need a beer after the rally, both make a fine product. If you are looking for good local craft beer Monday, try Growler Country. They aren’t selling ambience, but unlike the Trump rally, they have amazingly good beer.

In fact, speaking of beer, on Saturday the rally location was home to a big craft beer festival. Yes, that was a happier time.

Momo’s Pizza sells pizza as big as your head, if you are looking to protect yourself from rally-goers. There is better pizza in town, but their stuff is still good, and frankly, you have to see it to believe it.

It was also ranked one of top college town pizza joints in the country. They also make a really good craft beer.

Right across the street from the rally is a great little farm-to-table place called Backwoods Crossing. Since you’ve seen the speech a billion times, head over for dinner. You won’t be disappointed.

Tuesday afternoon, head over to Mo Betta BBQ. It is more food truck than restaurant, but you will enjoy it.

If drinking multiple bottles of wine is more your coping style, Clusters and Hops has a great wine store and restaurant. It is my favorite place in town, and it is close to Hotel Duval, where all you Marriott points chasers will probably stay. My good friend, and well-known #NeverTrumper Rick Wilson also has a nice wine collection, but sadly, he is out of town. And trust me, there is no one, and I mean no one, more disappointed to miss this one than Rick.

If you are at the Doubletree, Aloft, or Governor’s Inn, Avenue Eat & Drink has a nice dinner (or Uber to Clusters).

Downtown, there also are two excellent locally owned coffee shops: Goodies and Brewd Awakening. And there is a great pho place downtown. Yes, you read that right, great pho in Tallahassee: Fat Noodle.

Want to go for a run? Hit up Cascades Park and run the new pedestrian bridge toward FAMU and FSU. Not only is it a beautiful run, it is one of the few flat places in town. We are the southernmost reaches of the Appalachian Mountains, so our hills are quite a shock to those more accustomed to running around the National Mall.

If you want more ideas, call Rick. I know you all have his number.

Otherwise, have fun. It is a great old Southern town, with really nice people — and people who are overwhelmingly going to vote for Hillary Clinton!

Fifteen more days. America can do anything for 15 days, right?

Sincerely,

Your Tallahassee Sherpa,

Steve

Steve Schale: I have ‘real issues’ with Q polling in Florida

Just a couple of observations on this Quinnipiac University poll today.

I continue to have real issues with the way that Q does its polling, particularly in Florida.

But here’s easier argument why you should take ALL of their numbers in Florida with a grain of salt: they were wildly inaccurate throughout the 2012 cycle, and based on their first two polls: Hillary Clinton +8, and Donald Trump +3, one can reasonably assume they haven’t fixed whatever issues they had from four years ago, where I am not sure they could have accurately counted the final score of Florida/Florida State (it was 27-2 FSU if you have forgotten).

For what is worth, I was pretty vocal on their Clinton +8 poll a few weeks back as well — much to the dismay of some in my own party.

In 2012, the Q poll was a total dumpster fire in Florida. In May, Q held a press call and basically declared the state for Mitt Romney, showing us -6. Then the next four polls were Barack Obama +4, Obama +6, Obama +9 and Obama +1, while at the same time, the race remained exceptionally constant. Over the same time, the Real Clear Politics average in Florida went from Obama -1.4 to Obama -1.7.

In 2008, they weren’t much better. They had about 12-point swing between May and September.

For as much of a mess as Florida can be, it is a remarkably consistent state.

There just isn’t 10-12 points of movement here. The movement that is here comes from slight shifts in turnout (is black 13 percent or 14 percent of the electorate), how big is the Hispanic margin (Obama won by 14 in 2008 & 21 in 2012 — as the state gets less Cuban), and what happens among a couple of subgroups of whites (Obama won in 2012 with 37 percent white).

But the little bit of movement that will occur among these groups over the cycle adds up to a handful of points, not 11 points in three weeks, this race didn’t.

I am not a Democratic apologist on this. I was one of the first Ds to really raise the flag that this could be a lot closer than folks on my side want it to be. Keep in mind, the last four statewides in Florida (POTUS and gov) have had the following results: D+3, R+1, D+1, R+1, so the state is just wired to be close. Close — and consistent.

In fact, no state in the union has been closer over the last six Presidentials, with Democrats winning the state in 1996, 2008 and 2012, and the GOP the other three (I will continue to dispute one of them!). Over those six elections, a total of just over 41 million ballots have been cast, with the Democrats holding a 130,664 vote advantage (47.8-47.5).

To put it another way, under state law, we’d be in a mandatory recount of 41 million votes — and if you narrow down to just 2000-2012 elections, of the 30,458,980 ballots cast, the partisan difference is just 71,058 votes.

In terms of the average margins, no battleground state has been closer than Florida over the last four or six elections.

So keep those numbers mind; Florida is close and will be close.

But the shifts in the Q poll are more due to the variances in the way Q polls Florida, not that the state is subject to big swings.

___

Steve Schale is a Florida-based political, communications and government-relations strategist. He can be reached at steven.schale@gmail.com.

Steve Schale: The five questions Marco Rubio must ask himself

To my media friends, both banned by Trump and not:

Clearly over the course of the last week, Marco Rubio‘s approach to continuing his political career has changed.  But is this a good idea?

Objectively, I really don’t think so.

Many of you know, I have been around for all of Rubio’s career, and genuinely like him and a lot of his team. And while I doubt any of them will ask my opinion, since I know most of them read my blog — here are the five questions I would suggest that Rubio ask himself over the weekend.

You can read my piece on my website — and I have posted it below.

Steve

Five Questions Rubio Should Ask Himself

As it looks more and more possible Marco Rubio will reverse himself and run for re-election, the Florida political universe is bracing for another earthquake.

But does it make sense for him to run? Surely he is under immense pressure from the GOP to do so, but let’s remember, all politics is personal. Forget what the national party wants him to do — what should Rubio do?

I believe, as I will argue below, for Rubio this decision is all risk — with little reward. This isn’t a decision to be made lightly, so if he were to ask, here are the questions I would give him to work through this weekend:

Do you want to be a Senator?

In the constant analysis of political decisions, too often the most important question is left out. Why do you want to go back? Maybe Rubio went back to the Senate after the campaign and realized he actually enjoys it, or maybe the Orlando tragedy drove a change of heart. If that is the case, give yourself a point for running. But if you are running out of a sense of party loyalty, or just a fear of being out of the national conversation, then think twice.

When do you want to run again and do you think Trump wins?

At this point, I would be shocked if Rubio doesn’t seek the presidency again, and honestly, he should. For all the obits on the 2016 election, one of the under-written observations is how conventional the primary system was in this sense: the winners of early states were the last candidates standing, just like every other cycle in the primary era. He didn’t lose because he had a bad debate performance, he lost because they were way too cautious in how they approached the early states. Had he gone all-in in Iowa, the outcome might have been different. So no reason he can’t run again.

But does he see himself running right away again? He is a young guy, and certainly could wait. Twelve years separated Ronald Reagan‘s first run and his eventual election. Bob Dole was 16 years between his run and winning the nomination, but obviously lost the presidency. Other than that, there aren’t a lot of examples of successful pols who waited a decade or more.

So if he is leaning toward going through the national meat grinder at the next opportunity, the next question is Donald Trump. If he thinks Trump is going to win, going to the Senate and keeping an eye on 2024 makes sense. If he thinks he is going to lose and he plans on challenging Hillary Clinton, then there is no reason to run for re-election. Just take a few-year break and crank up the machine again.

Do you want the hassle of another primary?

Carlos Beruff‘s people are trying to argue they have claimed Rubio’s space, and that he should be scared to run against them. This is utterly ridiculous. Rubio would beat Beruff, and would be a far superior nominee to him, but it doesn’t mean after spending a year under the bright klieg lights and national TV cameras that he wants to spend the next four months driving two-lane roads to talk to rooms of 50-100 partisans.

How confident are you versus Patrick Murphy?

Functionally, Rubio has to win. While Richard Nixon proved you can run and lose — and run again for president, that is a harder lift in the modern political world. First, Rubio has more competition on the R side than Nixon had. Secondly, the media is far less forgiving. It’s the reason why I’ve never believed Rubio would run for governor, because for all of the reward, the risk is exceptionally high. He needs to win.

Here is the challenge: because Republicans have done such a good job of nationalizing elections, the number of swing voters, particularly between the races at the top of the ticket in presidential years, is pretty narrow. Look at the last three: (Bill Nelson got 50 in 2000, Al Gore got 49; Kathy Castor got 49 in 2004, John Kerry got 47; Nelson got 55 in 12, Barack Obama got 50). In other words, let’s say Clinton beats Trump by George W. Bush vs. Kerry margins: 5 points — are there enough swing voters who will vote Clinton and Rubio? I’m not convinced. Rubio could run a good campaign, and still lose.

Is all of it worth the risk?

Rubio has been in office, or running for office, for every bit of the last 18 years of his life. I am sure a part of this, even subconsciously, is the fear that if he is out of sight, he is out of mind. And sure, that is a risk. But is it worth the risk of losing?

Republicans are smart to put a lot of pressure on making the decision to run. The party’s strongest general election candidates appear to be struggling, and the GOP’s dream of an Alan Grayson nomination is quickly wilting as Patrick Murphy builds a strong campaign and Grayson can’t keep his campaign out of the ditch. So in an election cycle where the Democrats have an excellent chance to take back the U.S. Senate, Florida could well be the key vote. So, yes, Rubio would be doing his party a huge solid by getting in.

But for Rubio, this is far from a sure thing. His statewide numbers make him look vulnerable, and his top of the ticket makes a dumpster fire look good. Trump at this point appears to be building no real campaign, so Rubio will be on his own, communicating, and building a statewide turnout operation — and he will spend the next five months answering for Trump’s nutty comments and policy ideas. And let’s remember, Rubio only won 49 percent of the statewide vote in the single best year for Republicans in a century, so it isn’t like he’s a Florida political juggernaut. 2016 will be a far better year for Democrats than 2010.

It’s this simple: if he wins and Clinton is president, he gets to go to D.C. and take bad votes for two years, and then be an absentee senator running for president. And if he loses? Well, then he gets to watch the whole thing from the sidelines for the foreseeable future.

If Rubio wants to be a senator, or just has a need to be in the public spotlight, he should run. But if his goal is to be president, which I suspect has been his goal since running for the West Miami Commission in 1998, he should resist the temptation and trust what was clearly his plan up until a few weeks ago.

But then again, he isn’t asking me!

___

Steve Schale is a Florida-based political, communications and government relations strategist. He can reached at steven.schale@gmail.com.

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