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Steve Schale: Notes on the 10th day of early voting in Florida

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

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

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

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

So, beginning today with a point of personal privilege. After hitting send on this memo, I am headed to Jacksonville for President Obama’s rally. Eight years ago today, then-Sen. Barack Obama was in Jacksonville, for his last rally in Florida, and his first of the final day. It was also the day he lost his grandmother.

After the rally, I sat down with the soon-to-be president to explain where we were in the early vote.

As I tried to explain it in my overly data-centric way (we are ahead by more than John Kerry lost by, etc.), he finally asked me what I meant, to which I said, “it means we’ve won.”

He left Jacksonville with a little smile, and I went back to Tampa completely freaking out that I just essentially guaranteed him that we had won, thinking ‘holy crap, if somehow we lose this thing, he’ll always remember me as that jerk in Florida who said we had won.”

So, thank God we won.

It is hard to believe it’s been eight years. For a guy who grew up in a small town in rural Illinois and a small town in North Florida, it has been both the ride, and the professional blessing of a lifetime.

Basically, I spend most days wondering how I’ve gotten to do these things.

But why Jacksonville? Forgive me for making this point daily, but Florida is all about managing margins. For Dems to win, we must run up very big margins in a handful of places, then hang on. For GOP to win, they run up strong margins in more counties. Thus, both sides want to take away one of the other’s strengths.

The GOP, for example, in the last few presidentials, has worked to erode Democratic support in Palm Beach. For Dems, the most obvious place to do the same is Duval, because of the county’s large African-American population.

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

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

Basically, Wednesday was a day Florida got its vote on.

And while there has seemed to be a collective surprise that Florida has gotten close, a note that the three polls today were C+1, C+2, C+3. There were 31 million votes over the last four presidentials, and 70K separate the two parties.

Yes, it is gonna be close. How close? Well, I’ll tell you a little secret: one of the models I ran in early October had the race come back to a tie. Not a tie like “48-48,” an actual, vote-specific tie.

So with that, here is where we stand:

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

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

Total Ballots cast: 4,687,113
Total Vote-By-Mail: 2,273,978 (46.7 percent)
Total Early Vote: 2,593,135 (53.3 percent)
Republicans: 1,948,126 (40.0 percent)
Democrats: 1,936,240 (39.8 percent)
NPA: 769,241 (20.2 percent)

Total Margin: GOP +0.22 percent.

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

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

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

Hillsborough

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

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

Metro Orlando

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

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

No place is starker than Osceola County, a place Bush won by five in 2004, but Obama won by 24 just eight years later. That, my friends, is what Puerto Rican growth is doing to politics.

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

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

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

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

South Florida

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

You can see the NPA surge below.

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

Duuuuuuval

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

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

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

Additional notes

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

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

I wanted to look at turnout another way, though. As of the voter-specific data I have available (ending Tuesday — this runs a day behind), about 34 percent of the state has voted. But when you look at it from an ethnic perspective, it looks like this: about 36 percent whites, 30 percent Hispanics and 30 percent Black voters.

Now, when you keep in mind that the vote-by-mail electorate is quite white, one would expect the white turnout to be way out front, then come back to the rest of the state. This is basically what is happening.

So, let’s revisit briefly this black turnout piece from yesterday. If you think about the state as a pie, each ethnicity takes up a piece. Between 2012 and 2016, the white piece got smaller; the black piece stayed about the same, and the Hispanic and other pieces all grew. Also, when you think back to 2012, Black voters exceeded their voter registration share.

That is not normal, thus when people talk about black turnout being down, it is important to remember there are two reasons: 1. Barack Obama was a historic figure and isn’t on the ballot, and 2. Hispanics own more of the pie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barack Obama making one more swing through Central Florida

And, he’s back.

President Barack Obama will make his second Central Florida appearance in the closing days of the election campaign with a rally in Kissimmee for Hillary Clinton Sunday afternoon.

Interstate 4 is seeing more power players than Pennsylvania Avenue lately.

Obama was last in the Orlando area last Friday. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was in the area Saturday, and again on Tuesday. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was in the area early last week and again on Wednesday. Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence was around on Monday. Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine will be in the area Friday. It’s about time. It’s been a month since Central Floridians last saw him. It’s also been a month since Vice President Joe Biden has hit the Orlando area, but there’s still time.

Obama’s appearance is being billed as a get-out-the-vote rally.

He will appear at Osceola County Stadium — future home of the Florida Fire Frogs minor league baseball team — for a 1:30 p.m. rally. The doors will open at noon. People interested in going need to request reservations through the Hillary For America website.

 

 

Democratic-leaning For Our Future sees bright spot with get-out-the-vote effort in Florida

Republicans may have a slight advantage in voter turnout so far through mail-voting and early voting, but a coalition of get-out-the-vote groups led by For Our Future said a deep-dive look at the numbers has them encouraged.

In particular, progressive campaigners are hyping their greater success in getting sporadic voters — those who probably can’t be counted on to vote — to vote. The issue is whether the across-the-board increases in early voting in Florida means new and additional voters, or simply voters who would vote regardless, and they’ve voted early this year.

The coalition also pointed to an increase in Hispanic voters voting early, suggesting this likely Democratic bloc will have an impact favoring Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and U.S. Senate candidate U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy over Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

And they discounted reports that relatively small numbers of African-American voters are voting — the most loyal Democratic bloc. Jerry Green, Florida outreach director for Vote Vets, insisted black voters still largely wait until Election Day to vote, so their absence from early voting ranks doesn’t concern Democrats.

“Right now there’s just over a 15,000-vote difference. But when you look at sporadic voters, 30 percent of our voters are sporadic voters, versus 24.8 percent for the GOP. When you look at three-of-three, the people who have voted in the last three presidential elections, 56 percent of GOP voters are voters that are going to show up, compared with 47 percent of Democratic voters who are true and tried. Those voters are going to turn out and vote,” said Ashley Walker, senior statewide campaign advisor at For Our Future. “So I feel good that we are turning out more sporadic voters than they are.”

She said Democratic canvassers already have knocked on two million doors in Florida.

Angel Darcourt, Florida field director for the AFL-CIO’s Working America, said particular emphasis was on canvassing in the Orlando area.

“We’re holding tens of thousands face-to-face conversations around Orlando to reach the working-class voters in the I-4 corridor we know will decide this election,” Darcourt said.

GOP officials will be discussing their take on the early voting numbers later Tuesday.

Barack Obama: ‘This is the moment where America has to take a stand’

At the University of Central Florida Friday night, a triumphant-sounding Barack Obama made a bold declaration to voters — in this election, no less than the direction of America was at stake.

The president, no doubt buoyed by resurgent popularity and comforted by the realization that the end is near, proclaimed fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton a worthy bearer of his progressive legacy.

“This is the moment where America has to take a stand and decide what it is what we believe in and who we are,” Obama told 9,000 people inside the CFE Arena, and a reported 7,000 more outside.

“And we’re not going to believe in fear. Instead, we’re going to lift up hope. If you want hope instead of fear, then you will elect Hillary Clinton as president of the United States!”

That stand, in Obama’s words, is for a more progressive America.

In his 42-minute speech, Obama acknowledged he didn’t accomplish everything he wanted, and that he made some mistakes.

But he did boast a list of accomplishments: 20 million more people on health insurance, reducing dependence on foreign oil, recognizing global warming and fighting to reduce carbon emissions. He also promoted his expansion of Civil Rights, preservation of abortion rights, the fight for women’s rights, reduced unemployment, increased wages, and the creation of a country where “You can marry the person you love.”

“Across the board, by almost every measure,” he said, “we are significantly better off now than we were eight years ago.”

“All the progress we’ve made over the last eight years goes out the window if we don’t win this election,” he added.

Obama seldom mentioned Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump‘s name — calling him “that other guy” — but repeatedly compared him with Clinton, characterizing the Democratic candidate as prepared and optimistic, while Trump was unprepared and fear mongering.

At one point, Obama praised Clinton as a meticulous hard-worker, who knows issues in depth, accusing Trump of “just making stuff up.”

“You don’t want at the slacker as your president,” he said. “You want somebody that knows what they’re talking about.”

Using his speech in front of a college student-dominated crowd, Obama pushed for the election of Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy over Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

Obama criticized Rubio for taking many of the conservative stands that he said would end many of his progressive initiatives, including a vote to defund Planned Parenthood, opposing abortion, walking away from comprehensive immigration reform and “the Latino community;” and not believing in climate change.

That led the crowd, which often cheered Obama with defining, high screams — as if at a 1964 Beatles concert — to chant, “Patrick, Patrick, Patrick.”

But the chant never gained momentum and died off pretty quickly.

When Obama took a brief swipe at Trump’s comments about and alleged behavior toward women, a man in the back of the arena climbed over the railing of the upper deck, positioned himself on folded-back risers, and began shouting: “Bill Clinton is a rapist!”

It went on for several minutes before an Orange County deputy sheriff managed to talk him back over the railing and escorted him out.

Obama described an optimistic and diverse America, saying, “That’s the America I love.

“That’s why through all the ups and downs I haven’t been worried about this country,” he continued.

“Because, I’ve seen the heart and soul of the American people, and it is good, and it is decent, and it is strong, and it is resilient, and there is only one candidate in this race who I believe can continue the progress that we’ve made, and I know that because she’s been working all her life to make America better. And that’s the next president of the United States, Hillary Clinton.”

Broward ballot battle over Amendment 2 makes Norm Kent a Democratic hero

norm-kent-2Norm Kent — criminal defense attorney in Broward County, publisher of the South Florida Gay News, and past chairman of NORML — may be the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton, Patrick Murphy, and Democrats throughout Broward.

At noon Thursday, Judge Lisa Phillips will hear Kent’s suit against Broward Supervisor of Elections and bastion of governmental incompetence, Brenda Snipes, brought on behalf of two registered voters in the county.

At issue is the widely reported absence of Amendment 2, “Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Medical Conditions,” from the vote-by-mail ballots of certain voters, and its absence from at least one early vote ballot.

Now you might be thinking, “what possible good for Democrats could come from election problems in the largest Democratic county in Florida?”

If Kent can successfully convince the court of his case’s merits, the answer is “lots.”

First, regardless of what happens today, my guess is that the most recent instances of nincompoopism emanating from Snipes’ office have ALREADY been a boon to Democrats’ prospects.

Consider this scenario: you’re an absentee voter, and like many such voters, your ballot has been sitting in your mail pile by the front door since it came last week. But then the evening news runs a story on ballots potentially missing Amendment 2.

What do you do? You go grab that ballot out of the stack of bills, negative campaign direct mail pieces, and car warranty offers … and you make sure Amendment 2 is there.

And now that you’ve opened your ballot and have it in front of you, you find a pen and a stamp, and you fill the damn thing out and stick it in the mail.

Ever see or hear about those campaign communications that don’t advocate for or against a candidate but shame or embarrass the voter into casting a ballot? “Your neighbors have voted, why haven’t you?” That sort of thing.

What’s going on in Broward County, and the attention it’s received thus far, should already be percolating a similar effect among Broward absentee voters.

The problems so far seem relatively minimal in scope, but likewise appear to be greater than what Snipes’ offices have presented them to be. And it also seems clear Snipes can’t say for certain what the actual scope is — because she doesn’t know.

So what is Kent proposing as a remedy?

Despite his vast and storied history as an activist bomb-thrower, his solutions seem reasonable and prudent on their face. He requests a clear remedial solution for absentee voters who have or had one of the misprinted ballots in question. Kent is asking the court the compel the SOE to educate and put on alert both SOE staff and Broward County voters as to the potential absence of Amendment 2, imploring their vigilance in making sure the issue is present on ballots.

At its most basic, what Kent seeks for Broward County voters — and by extension, Democrats writ large, since their numbers in the county are so dominant — is to have the SOE step up in a public way to reassure and educate the electorate on the essential integrity of the elections.

Putting aside that the SOE should already be doing so with both their conduct and public communications, think about what that means in a blue stronghold like Broward.

To atone for its screw ups, the SOE may wind up having to engage in what could have the effect of being a GOTV campaign countywide. Obviously, such a campaign would get out the votes of ALL Broward voters, but MOST Broward voters are voting D down the line.

And in a year where the presidential campaign is expected to turn voters out in record numbers, the conversation about medical marijuana as a turnout mechanism for Democrats (an existential fear for Republicans two years ago) has mostly fallen by the wayside.

But young, cynical, Bernie SandersRon PaulGary JohnsonJill Stein-type voters, who might, seeing polls for Amendment 2 in the 70s, otherwise stay home, will now have additional motivation to ensure they get to vote for medical marijuana.

And just as turning out a random Broward County voter means you’re likely turning out a Democratic voter, so too does turning out a random, unlikely medical marijuana voter.

Forty percent of Rick Scott voters voted for medical marijuana in 2014, so it’s not an entirely partisan proposition, but virtually every poll shows Democrats and Independents are overwhelmingly for this amendment.

So, if you’re a watcher of turnout in Florida, pay close attention today.

An old pothead with a fedora and a propensity toward righteous indignation could strike a major blow for the cause. Kent will be encouraging a massively blue county to open those absentee ballots languishing by the front door, lighting a fire (no pun intended) under Democrats — and naturally paranoid pot smokers — to get off their butts and vote.

And Hillary Clinton will get the benefits of perhaps 70-80 percent of those votes.

As a visibly intoxicated (but coherent nonetheless) John Morgan once said, “if you pieces of s*** don’t get out and vote … then f*** it all. We’re gonna lose.”

If Norm Kent’s day in court goes as planned, you may see similar messages coming out of the SOE’s office.

Minus the signature and John Morgan’s profane color, of course.

Report: Democrats criticize John Mica over support of Donald Trump’s new hotel

Rep. John Mica was had to fend off Democratic attacks about his involvement in the redevelopment of a historic Washington D.C. landmark.

According to Morning Consult, Mica got a shout-out from Ivanka Trump Wednesday during the grand opening of Donald Trump’s new luxury hotel. Ivanka Trump, according to the report, “touted Mica’s support in the redevelopment of the Old Post Office Pavilion, a 315-foot clock tower that had fallen on tough times.”

The comments were seized upon by House Democrats, who are spending big to try to unseat Mica.  In a statement to Morning Consult, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said “Mica pulled out all the stops to help Donald Trump with his luxury D.C. hotel project.”

And Stephanie Murphy, his Democratic opponent, told Morning Consult she would expect the Trump family to thank Mica “for everything he did to make them richer.”

Mica defended his support of the restoration project, telling Morning Consult the building was losing taxpayers millions of dollars. He said he “did everything” he could to make sure the property “would turn into a revenue producer for taxpayers.”

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.

Steve

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.”

 

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