Tone of SD 40 special election changes as Jose Felix Diaz lead tightens
State Rep. Jose Felix Diaz (Photo: Florida House)

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Over the past few days, the tone of the SD 40 special election has changed, as the early momentum held by Republican Jose Felix Diaz has tilted somewhat toward Democrat Annette Taddeo.

The big weekend Democrats needed appears to have materialized.

As of Monday, one day before the race to replace former Sen. Frank Artiles, 28,351 ballots have been returned by absentee and early voters; those early results appear to suggest that going into Election Day, Diaz will have a lead of only about 500-600 votes, or perhaps 1.5-3 percent.

The Party breakdown of early SD 40 vote is as follows: 11,336 Democrats; 11,827 Republicans and 5,188 no-party affiliation.

Because of Hurricane Irma and its aftermath, Tuesday’s turnout is expected to be much lower than initial estimates of 45 – 55,000. Working models now project a number closer to 32 -39,000. A larger Election Day turnout would seem to favor Taddeo.

As Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida notes, turnout was never expected to be high, especially in light of Irma, which hit Miami’s SD 40 especially hard.

Over the course of the previous week, however, moderate-leaning Democrats have begun to show up, an essential element of a Taddeo victory. This performance should overcome the more conservative ballots coming in earlier in the electoral process, a result of Diaz’s aggressive fieldwork during the primary for Diaz — something that continues to pay dividends with his early lead.

Indeed, his field must remain intact to overcome certain Democrat electoral advantages.

Diaz has a nearly 2-to-1 advantage over Taddeo when it comes to the most conservative versus the most liberal voters, and the only group he’s underperforming in compared to the perennial Democratic candidate are moderates — Taddeo does better with the middle of the road Dems than Diaz does with moderate Republicans.

Earlier estimates on Diaz’s significant lead assumed an 18 percent turnout model, highly unlikely after Gov. Rick Scott’s decision not to delay the election in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

To maintain his lead, and win SD 40, Diaz has two objectives: Deliver conservative voters and push turnout in the northern part of the district which includes unincorporated areas of Miami- Dade County.

One of the last places struggling with significant power outages on the FPL grid is Richmond Heights, a predominantly African American neighborhood that any Democrat would absolutely need to turn out to make a play for SD 40. Taddeo needs turnout in Richmond Heights to be at least 8,000 — the more, the better.

With those voters not yet back to their everyday lives post-Irma, Taddeo needs to keep her 11th-hour momentum into Election Day, barring one of the most perfectly executed get-out-the-vote efforts in Florida Democratic Party history heading into the final stretch.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


  • David

    September 20, 2017 at 10:51 am

    Is there any sourcing for this? Are the early voting totals available from the SoS or anything more concrete?

  • Phil Morton

    September 21, 2017 at 6:10 am

    I’m with David. Where did you get this information?

  • Neil Jones

    September 21, 2017 at 10:11 am

    The variable you journalists keep missing is Independent (NPA) Candidate Christian “He-Man” Schlaerth.
    If He-Man takes just 58% of the NPA vote, 28% of the Dem Vote (same as Bernie in the Dem Primary in this District) and 21% of the GOP vote (because working family republicans don’t trust Diaz for taking so much cash from Big Corps and PACs), then its neck-and-neck between He-Man and Diaz — with Taddeo a very poor third.
    Question: why have the GOP and Dems not released any internal polls for this election? Answer: Because He-Man has been outperforming all expectations.

Comments are closed.


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