Steve Schale: #FloridaMan has two more days to vote


As a longtime hack, I always saw “falling back” as a biennial opportunity to get an extra hour of sleep. But that is probably where the upside of going back to standard time ends. If I ever run for President, Make Evenings Light Again will be a key part of my platform.

Florida Man and Florida Woman voted yesterday like there it was BOGO day on flip-flops at the early voting site.

When it is all in (several counties have not reported yet), total in-person early voting will be around 300,000 votes. With the VBM ballots that came in, the day will come close to (but not reach), the last Saturday in 2016. There is no question in my mind that Florida will cast more than 5 million votes before Election Day, and there is no question in my mind that the margin between the two parties will be less than 1 percent, and probably more like 0.5 percent.

Like yesterday, this memo will be shorter for two reasons: I want to get some more volunteering in for GOTV, and I will take a much deeper look at everything in tomorrow’s memo. Also, keep in mind these totals are not perfect — there are about 10 counties, a couple of which are mid-sized, that did not report at 7:30 a.m.

So, here we go: 4,817,062 votes have been cast.

Republicans: 1,964,364

Democrats: 1,936,328

NPA/Minor: 915,370

Republican edge is 28,036 (+0.58 percent)

The GOP voter advantage has floated between the mid-50s and 70 since the start of in-person early voting, but this is the first time we’ve seen it really move. In 2014, Democrats won in-person early voting on the final Sunday by 25K votes, and in 2016, the number was 55K, and I do think the Democrats win the day by enough to take a lead. When the straggling vote by mail ballots come in, given the GOP edge there, the number may pop up close to tied. Welcome to Florida.

The GOP went into Election Day with about a 90K voter edge in 2014 or about 3 percent

The Dems went into Election Day, also with about a 90K voter in 2016, which was about 1.3 percent

Crist won the NPA vote by 6, not enough to overcome the GOP early and EDay advantage.

Trump won the NPA vote by 4, enough combined with a strong EDay advantage to win.

The GOP will almost surely win the turnout battle on EDay — and this isn’t because of anything other than they simply have more certain voters who wait until the final day to vote. So like everything in Florida, this will come down to who wins more crossover, and who wins the NPAs. We are, as I often point out, both a turnout and a persuasion state.

Statewide turnout is now 36.2 percent — in other words, 2.7 percent of Florida registered voters cast a ballot yesterday. Among Republicans, it is 42 percent, among Democrats, it is 39.2 percent, and among NPA, it’s up to 25.1 percent. Yesterday alone, 3.2 percent of all registered Democrats voted.

As we saw in both 2014 and 2016, the NPA share is growing as we get closer to Election Day. On Monday, it was 17.7 percent. Friday it was 18.4 percent. Yesterday it is 18.7 percent. Today it is 19. It will get over 20, and for Gillum who most polling shows is winning the NPAs, this is how you make up a partisan difference — and the bigger the NPA share, the more his advantage there helps. How important was NPA to Trump? If you hold everything else constant, he won the NPA’s by about 90K votes — if they had split the NPA vote, the race would have been in a recount. If she won the NPAs by four? She would have won Florida.

The last two days also show how the electorate is getting more diverse. After Wednesday, the electorate was 71 percent white, and yesterday it is 70 percent, and this morning it was 69. Yesterday, non-Hispanic whites made up 54 percent of voters, with African-American and Caribbean voters making up 19 percent, and Hispanics another 14. The Hispanic number continues to lag a bit, but it is headed in the right direction. Right now, Hispanics are 12.6 percent of registered voters, and I think this ends up in the low 13s, based on trendlines. There is a possibility Black voters will exceed their share of registered voters in the early vote — right now, it is 12.96 percent, and registration is 13.2 percent.

Keep one thing in mind, Hispanics are underrepresented by the registered voters, namely, not all Hispanics self-select Hispanic on their voter-registration, and some have been registered long enough that it was an option in the county where they live. In this election, I don’t think this delta is significant, but just worth nothing.

In-person early vote has exceeded vote by mail, which happened in 2016, but not 14.

51 percent of the vote is in-person early, and Democrats have a 37,585-voter advantage. 49 percent is vote by mail, and the GOP advantage is 65,621

GOP return rates of VBM ballots continues to outpace my team, Republicans have returned 72.7 percent, Democrats 65.5 percent, and NPA 60.1 percent. The statewide return rate is 67.3 percent, which is down from 2014.

Dems have 114K more unreturned … excuse me while I go bang my head against a wall.

OK, I am back.

Two last observations, and then off to work.

One — DUVAL — wow. Setting records every day, voting like Blake Bortles played against the Steelers. I am not going to predict that Gillum and Nelson win DUVAL yet (I might tomorrow), but longtime readers know I am a big fan as a Democrat of playing defense by playing offense in this county, there is a chance that Democrats will go into Election Day with a 10,000-voter advantage. DUVAL is a place that can provide huge GOP margins, but that won’t happen Tuesday.

Right now, the regional distribution of votes looks very good for Democrats. Miami is almost 20 percent (naturally lands 17-18 percent), and Orlando is also up. But it also looks a lot like 2016 did at this point, with a few places that helped my home team higher than normal. What happened on Election Day was a lot of those counties flatlined, and GOP ones took off — that and NPAs and other swing voters broke to Trump.

I will get more into this tomorrow, but for Democrats, this is rounding into nice shape. There is very little doubt in my mind that when we go back and look at actual votes, Nelson and Gillum will start Tuesday ahead of their opponents. How much ahead? We can’t tell from this. Is it going to be enough? Well, that is why if you want them to win, you should now close your laptop, or put the phone down, and go pull a shift. America’s team, the Jaguars has a bye week, so there is no excuse.

As I used to tell our crew in Obamaland — and this really applies to both sides of this race it is now in your hands. Don’t be a Blake Bortles and fumble it away now.

Until then, if you are a journalist in Florida covering an election, watch out, because Florida Man and Florida Woman are coming to vote, and if history says anything, you do not want to get in the way of determined Florida Man or Florida Woman, because you never know when they are packing a small alligator or spatula. So be safe out there.


Steve Schale


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