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Barack Obama to encourage voting at UCF speech Friday

President Barack Obama will give a speech for Hillary Clinton at the University of Central Florida on Friday, pushing for more people to get out and vote.

The 5 p.m. speech will be at the CFE Arena at UCF, with doors opening at 3 p.m.

People who wish to attend will have to get reservations through the Hillary For America website.

With more people voting in this election than any in history, Obama will urge Florida voters to take advantage of in-person early voting, stated a release from the Hillary For America campaign.

This will be Obama’s first visit to Orlando since late June when he and Vice President Joe Biden came together to pay respects following the June 12 Pulse nightclub massacre. That visit did not include a public speech, though Obama and Biden both made brief remarks.

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

Dear friends and casual Twitter followers:

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

Fourteen days left. If Jaguars fans can survive the Gus Bradley era, America can do 14 days 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 fans of the home team, it’s all good news.

Democrats entered the day down after about two weeks of vote-by-mail returns by about 20,000 votes. This 1.7 percent Republican Party advantage compares to a GOP advantage of 5 percent 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 1. 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 percent 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 percent going into yesterday to around 0.5 percent after Day 1 (still counties reporting, so this number will move around).

Here are some interesting places on Day 1:

Won Duval County by 1,700 votes. Duval hasn’t voted for a Democrat for president since Jimmy Carter, and is one of those places where Donald 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 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 George W. Bush twice and Barack Obama twice, Democrats won by almost 3,000 votes, or roughly 14 points (49-35). By comparison, Democrats have a seven-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 48-33 D. Seminole County hadn’t voted Democrat in a presidential election since Harry Truman.

Base turnout was also very encouraging.

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

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

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

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

Finally, with the help of a friend yesterday, I looked into the question of whether Democrats were simply “cannibalizing” 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, Hillary Clinton would almost surely win Florida. Republicans need to expand the electorate to win.

But, that isn’t what is happening. Over 28 percent of Democratic vote-by-mail returnees as of yesterday were either first-time voters, or rare voters (voted in one of last three), compared to 20 percent for Republicans. Another way of looking at it: 80 percent of Republican Party vote-by-mail returns are from most-likely voters, compared to 72 percent 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.


In which Ryan Tyson deep-dives into the vote-by-mail numbers

The race to Election Day has entered its final sprint.

More than 1.2 million vote-by-mail ballots have already been returned to elections officials across Florida. Early voting kicked off Monday in dozens of Florida counties.

It’s too early to know what those ballots hold, but that doesn’t mean the ballots can’t offer some insight into the 2016 election. In a briefing memo over the weekend, Ryan Tyson, the vice president of political operations at Associated Industries of Florida, outlined some of the trends campaign watchers are seeing so far this election cycle.

Vote early

Millions of Floridians are expected to cast their ballot ahead of Election Day. Tyson said his team anticipates about 29 percent of total votes, or about 2.4 million votes cast, will be by mail this election. Tyson said he anticipates about 27 percent or more of the overall electorate will vote early.

While Republicans have typically had an edge over Democrats in vote-by-mail returns, Tyson said Democrats have increased their share of ballots returned by 185,000, while Republicans have only grown by 165,000.

Elections records show Republicans have returned 503,632 ballots, compared to 483,019 ballots returned by Democrats. Independent voters returned 219,698 ballots.

Boost in turnout

With just 16 days until Election Day, voters returned 451,322 more ballots than at the same point in 2012. But Tyson warned a boost in vote-by-mail returns doesn’t necessarily mean higher turnout.

“Contrary to popular belief, we don’t anticipate that it’s an indicator of higher-than-usual turnout,” wrote Tyson. “Rather, we would suggest the growth in the popularity of VBM is due to both parties’ continuing effort to move their early or Election Day voters forward.”

According to Tyson’s memo, 27 percent of both party’s returns were cast in person — either early or on Election Day — in 2012. The analysis showed 57 percent of Republicans voted by mail in 2012, while 54 percent of Democrats voted by mail in 2012.

“To us … it seems the clearest indicator of true strategic growth in the utilization of VBM is amongst low-propensity voters and voters who had vote history in 2012,” he wrote. “In both categories, the Democrats are ever-so-slightly outpacing the Republicans.”

Vote-by-mail profile

Here’s what we know about the vote-by-mail electorate: They’re older, white, and from Southwest Florida.

According to Tyson’s memo, 82 percent of the vote-by-mail electorate is over the age of 50, “with 56 percent being over 65.” Millennials, or voters between the ages of 18 and 34, account for just 7 percent of vote-by-mail voters.

New registrants, defined by Tyson as people who have registered to vote since 2012, account for 12 percent of the returned ballots. About 81 percent of the current returns are considered “likely” voters.

Three-quarters (76 percent) of the current electorate is white, while Hispanic voters make up 11 percent of the electorate. Eight percent of those people casting ballots are African-American.

As for where the ballots are coming from, Tyson wrote that “as is usual in this phase of the election, Tampa and Fort Myers are disproportionately represented.”

One-third (33 percent) of the ballots have been returned from the Tampa media market, while 12 percent have come from the Fort Myers media market. Those markets will ultimately be about 24 percent and 6 percent, respectively, of the final geographic make-up of the electorate.

Independent voter profile

About 217,000 independent voters returned their ballots as of Saturday. For the most party, those voters reflect the overall profile of the vote-by-mail electorate.

According to Tyson’s memo, 74 percent of independent voters — described as no-major-party voters in his report — are white, and 76 percent are over the age of 50. Tyson reported 50 percent of independent voters returning ballots are over the age of 65.

About 61,000 independent voters have no voter history from 2012. Tyson said about 48 percent of those voters are whites over the age of 50, while 16 percent are Hispanic.

“This memo is merely intended to dive into the electorate as it exists today, 16 days from the General,” wrote Tyson. “With one full week of early voting in, we anticipate this memo will look a lot different next week as the electorate tends to get younger and less white during the second phase of voting.”

Barack Obama endorses Val Demings, Stephanie Murphy

President Barack Obama has endorsed the congressional candidacies of Democrats Val Demings and Stephanie Murphy, their campaigns announced Monday.

Murphy, of Winter Park, is running against Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. John Mica, also of Winter Park in Florida’s 7th Congressional District. Demings, a former Orlando police chief, is running against Republican nominee Thuy Lowe of Sorrento in Florida’s 10th Congressional District.

Neither endorsement is a surprise, since Murphy, Demings and Obama are all Democrats, and Obama’s approval and popularity ratings have seen a remarkable bounce this year.

“Chief Demings will be the kind of progressive leader we need to build on all of the progress we’ve made over the last eight years to create a stronger, safer, fairer country for our children,” Obama stated in a news release issued by Demings campaign. “Chief Demings is a fighter for Florida’s working families, and will fight for a level playing field so that everyone has a shot at the American dream. In Congress, I know that Chief Demings will stand up and fight to raise the minimum wage, end the influence of secret money in politics, address the climate change crisis, and enact reforms to end the cycle of senseless gun violence in our country. Orlando families can count on Val Demings to continue to stand up for them, too.”

In Murphy’s campaign press release, Obama stated, “In Congress, I know Stephanie Murphy will put Central Florida families first, and fight to build on all of the progress we’ve made over the last eight years to create a stronger, safer, fairer country for our children. In the wake of the Pulse tragedy, I have been struck by the resilience of the greater Orlando community and how they have come together to reject hate and fear, and to fight to end the cycle of senseless gun violence in our country. Stephanie Murphy embodies those values and will work with both parties toward the commonsense gun safety reform we need, and will be a champion for Central Florida’s working families in Congress.”

Demings and Murphy responded with right-back-atcha kudos.

“Words cannot express how grateful I am to receive the endorsement of Barack Obama,” Demings stated. “For nearly 8 years it’s been an honor and a privilege to watch him take care of our nation as the Commander-In-Chief. Obama led our nation out of a recession, and put economic policies in place that are lifting up working families. Under his leadership, millions of people who couldn’t afford health care, now have access to quality health care. It is because of programs Barack Obama started, like “My Brother’s Keeper,” that some of our nation’s most at-risk youth will be able to go on to the college of their choice. In Congress, I will continue the fight to protect American families, continue to unite our communities, and continue to move our nation forward.”

“I am incredibly honored to be endorsed by Barack Obama, and I am so grateful for the steady hand in which he has guided our nation throughout his two terms in office,” Murphy stated. “Eight years ago our country was on the brink of economic disaster, and thanks to Obama, we have made incredible progress. But there is more work to be done. We must work in a bipartisan manner to strengthen our middle class, raise wages for American families, pass commonsense gun safety reform, and usher in a new prosperity for all Americans. I thank Barack Obama for his support of my campaign, and I look forward to working together with both parties to bring change, security, and equality to our nation.”


Buddy Dyer, Phillip Levine, Bob Buckhorn, others on Mayors for Hillary bus tour

What a party bus this will be. A Democratic Party bus, filled with mayors from Florida including Orlando’s Buddy Dyer, Miami Beach’s Phillip Levine, Tampa’s Bob Buckhorn, and St. Petersburg’s Rick Kriseman, has begun a cross-state tour to campaign for Hillary Clinton.

Hillary for America announced Thursday that those four and 19 other mayors and former mayors — some from out-of-state cities like Detroit, Philadelphia and Dallas — are participating in the tour with at least four stops to promote Clinton’s economic plan and urge people to vote early.

The activity actually began Wednesday night with a kick-off debate watch party in Miami, and will roll Friday to Orlando and Gainesville, and Saturday to Tallahassee, with other stops yet to be scheduled or announced.

In addition to Levine — widely discussed as a 2018 gubernatorial candidate — Dyer, Buckhorn and Kriseman, the Florida mayors include Wayne Messam of Miramar, Oliver Gilbert of Miami Gardens, Lauren Poe of Gainesville; Andrew Gillum of Tallahassee, Thomas Masters of Riviera Beach, and former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown.

From out of state, Florida will meet William Bell of Birmingham, Alabama, Jacqueline Goodall of Forest Heights, Maryland, Sly James of Kansas City, Lovely Warren of Rochester New York, Malcolm Clark of Mt. Vernon, New York, Steve Benjamin of Columbia, South Carolina, Bill Bell of Durham, North Carolina, and former mayors Michael Nutter of Philadelphia, Mark Mallory of Cincinnati, Mike Coleman of Columbus, Ohio, Wellington Webb of Denver, Dennis Archer of Detroit, and Ron Kirk of Dallas.

Viviana Janer, Nancy Rosado, Zoé Colón urge Puerto Rican women to vote ‘for our future’

Osceola County Commission Chairwoman Viviana Janer and two activist Puerto Rican women from Central Florida announced an effort Tuesday to convince the region’s Puerto Rican women to come out to vote against Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio Tuesday.

At a press conference in Kissimmee, Chairwoman Janer, Somos Orlando [We Are Orlando] co-founder Nancy Rosado, and Que Vote Me Gente [My People Will Vote] campaign activist Zoé Colón decried what they called the “bigoted and divisive campaign” of Trump and, by extension, Rubio, and said they believe the Puerto Rican community will have the power to impact the election.

They said they will encourage the area’s Puerto Rican community to vote for Democrats Hillary Clinton and U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy.

“Puerto Ricans helped formed the fabric of this nation, whether fighting on the battlefield for our freedoms or standing up here at home for our civil rights. This election we will honor the sacrifices and battles of our community by uniting at the ballot box against hate, xenophobia, and fear,” Janer said.

Rosado took Rubio to task for announcing in June that the June 12 massacre at the popular Orlando gay nightclub Pulse, on Latino Night, led him to seek re-election.

“Donald Trump and Marco Rubio think that saying they ‘love Hispanics’ or having a Latino last name is enough to get our votes, even as they actively fight against us,” Rosado said. “The Puerto Rican and LGBTQ community in Orlando refuses to stand by any candidate who would use the deaths of our brothers and sisters for their own political gain the way Marco did when he announced his re-election campaign.”

Colón noted there are an estimated 400,000 Puerto Ricans living in Osceola and Orange Counties.

“Our vote will deliver more economic opportunities here in Central Florida for a fast growing diaspora and relief for our families and loved ones back in Puerto Rico. We are a million strong in Florida and we will not give up our power this election — we will vote for our future,” she said.



Democrats take slight lead in vote-by-mail ballots

It’s a small lead — 27 ballots — but Democrats are now in front in the number of returned vote-by-mail ballots.

With more than a half-million ballots turned in, the Division of Elections website Monday showed registered Democrats had submitted 210,734 ballots to Republicans’ 210,707.

Other party and no-party voters have returned another 91,648 ballots to their local supervisors of elections.

Monday’s update drew cheers from the Democratic faithful, including Tallahassee PR man Kevin Cate.

“Here’s your enthusiasm gap,” he tweeted, referring to the new numbers.

“Wow,” added former campaign consultant Geoff Puryear. “To anyone who has done field in Florida, this is a huge development.”

Lawmakers recently changed the name of such ballots to “vote-by-mail” ballots from the traditional “absentee” ballots.

In a related development, a federal judge late Sunday ordered the state of Florida to give thousands of voters a chance to make sure their vote-by-mail ballots are counted.

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker ruled county election offices should notify voters if their signature on a vote-by-mail ballot and their voter registration forms don’t match. Voters would then be given a chance to fix the problem by 5 p.m. the day before the election.

Walker also had extended the state’s voter registration deadline one week to 5 p.m. Tuesday, saying Floridians needed extra time in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, which especially disrupted the state’s Atlantic coast communities.

The Associated Press contributed to this post, reprinted with permission

Val Demings furious about being featured in John Mica mailer

Democratic U.S. Congressional candidate Val Demings said Wednesday she was shocked and disappointed to find Republican U.S. Rep. John Mica had used her picture and a quote in a campaign mailer and said she in no way endorses him.

Democrat “Stephanie Murphy is the right choice for the people of District 7. She will be a fresh, strong voice for Central Florida in Washington,” Demings said in a release issued by her campaign Wednesday.

Demings is running in Florida’s 10th Congressional District. Mica and Murphy are running next door in Florida’s 7th Congressional District.

Yet Demings had something nice to say about Mica in June, and that led to a starring role in Mica’s mailer, which went out in CD 7, covering north central and northeast Orange County and Seminole County.

Demings is a former Orlando police chief and in June, at a congressional debate sponsored by Tiger Bay Club of Central Florida, she commended her husband, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings, current Orlando “Police Chief John Mina and Congressman John Mica for really pushing” to get Orlando back onto the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s list of top-priority cities for anti-terrorism funding for law enforcement agencies.

So there she is: in a pink mailer sent out by Mica’s campaign, Demings is featured with Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and former Orlando Sentinel managing editor and former editorial page editor Jane Healy saying nice things about Mica. The front of the mailer has pictures of the trio with the headline: “JOHN MICA Earns Respect of Leading Women We Respect In Both Parties!”

The rear of the mailer has the pictures again, with quotes from them saying nice things about Mica.

Jacobs is a Republican and Healy and Demings are Democrats.

“I’m shocked and disappointed by this mailer. It is no secret public safety has been my top priority for decades,” Demings stated in her news release. “While I applaud the efforts to return funds to fight terrorism in Orange County, in no way do I endorse his campaign for Congress. For Congressman Mica to take my statement on public safety, and use it for political gain is wildly misleading and a disservice to voters.”

There was no immediate response from Mica’s campaign about Demings’ objection.

67% of Floridians support moving to open primaries

A majority of Floridians would support a shift to an open primary system.

About two-thirds (67 percent) of self-identified registered voters believe Florida should move to an open primary system, according to a new USF-Nielsen Sunshine State Survey. The survey found 30 percent of respondents think the state should keep the current system.

Florida has a closed primary system, which means only registered Republicans and Democrats can vote in their party’s primary.

The closed primary system is often felt the hardest in legislative races, where write-in candidates are drafted in the final days of qualifying to close a primary. Write-in candidates closed more than a dozen state House and Senate races in the 2016 primary.

More than 3.2 million Floridians were registered with a minor party or no party affiliation as of Aug. 1. There are more than 4 million registered Republicans and nearly 4.7 million registered Democrats.

The Sunshine State Survey found broad support for a switch to an open primary system across most demographics. The survey found 70 percent of women, 80 percent of millennials and 62 percent of college graduates supported moving to an open primary system.

About 93 percent of respondents said they were registered to vote. According to the survey’s analysis, that number likely over-represents registered voters in the Sunshine State. The survey’s authors noted that, based on U.S. Census Bureau and Division of Elections data, an estimated 80 percent of Florida’s voting-age population is registered to vote.

The survey found the most common reason among those not registered to vote was the person wasn’t eligible. About 23 percent of respondents cited that as a reason.

The survey found 17 percent said they were not interested in politics and voting, while 16 percent of respondents said they weren’t registered because their vote doesn’t matter or won’t make a difference. That’s up significantly from previous years, and the survey notes it could reflect “public exhaustion and disinterest in a particularly acrimonious presidential race.”

The Sunshine State Survey was conducted by The Nielsen Company from Sept. 1-19. The company surveyed 1,248 Floridians, and the survey has a margin of error of 2.7 percent.

Bill Clinton set to attend voter registration events in Florida on Tuesday

The Big Dog is making a big push to register Floridians to vote.

Former President Bill Clinton will make three stops in the Sunshine State Tuesday to encourage Floridians to register to vote ahead of the voter registration deadline. The former president is scheduled to attend public voter registration events in Palm Beach, Lee, and Pinellas counties.

No other information about President Clinton’s events were immediately available.

Tuesday is the final day to register to vote, change party affiliation, or update voter registration information in time for the Nov. 8 election. The Hillary Clinton campaign had asked for an extension because of Hurricane Matthew, but Gov. Rick Scott said last week he wouldn’t extend the deadline.

The Florida Democratic Party on Sunday sued Scott and his top elections’ chief in federal court, asking for a one-week extension.

The former president won’t have the state to himself on Tuesday. Al Gore, who served as President Clinton’s vice president, is scheduled to campaign with Hillary Clinton in Miami on Tuesday afternoon. Gore is expected to discuss climate change.

Donald Trump is also campaigning in Florida. The Republican nominee is scheduled to hold a rally at Aaron Bessant Park in Panama City Beach on Tuesday evening.


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