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Thursday
Oct302014

Thursday Gov Race Update

Today's update is short.

Topline:

Democrats won both early voting and vote by mail to cut the overall GOP lead to 137K, or roughly 5.9%. On this day of the campaign in 2010, the GOP margin was 15.7% or 262k votes. In other words, the Republican raw vote advantage is approximately 125k votes less than at this point in the 2010 election.

That 125k margin is approximately twice Governor Scott's margin of victory in 2010. In other words, if 2010 was held today, Alex Sink would likely have won at roughly the same margin that elected Governor Scott in 2010.

The margin is also significantly below the 11.9% advantage that the GOP had going into 2010, which equated to roughly 271,000 votes. In that election, the GOP had a total 5% advantage after all votes were cast. We today are modeling towards a much more balanced electorate.

One other interesting point:

Democrats are voting at a much higher proportion to their 2010 levels compared to Republicans.

To date: Democrats are 61 percent over their 2010 vote totals, while GOP is at roughly 23% over their comparable vote totals in 2010. Also, nearly twice as many NPA voters have cast ballots compared to this point in 2010, and with virtually every public poll showing Gov Crist doing well with NPA voters, this trend is good news.

Until tomorrow. Go Noles!!

As always, if you have questions, please let me know.

Wednesday
Oct292014

Wednesday 10-29 Gov Race Update



To: Friends of the Campaign, Members of the Press, My Mother Judi Taylor who Favorites all my Memos on Facebook, People searching "Fred Taylor Hall of Fame" on the 'Internets', my friends Mac and Travis, and Greg Blair

From: Steve Schale

Re: Sleep is for the Weak - 6 days to go

Topline Results:

Tuesday's early voting continues the trend we have seen since Day 1 of early voting, the gap between Republicans and Democrats continues to drop, now standing at 6.4%. This gap compares to 16.6% on this day of the election in 2010.

The GOP advantage stands at 140K, which is 100K votes lower than the margin that the GOP held at this point in the election in 2010.

Another way of looking at it, after yesterday, roughly 2.2 million have voted. The 2010 election reached this level on day 3 of the election, on which day the GOP held a 12.6% advantage. In real votes, the GOP held a 275K vote advantage, compared to 140K today.

To put both of these in perspective, Rick Scott won the election in 2010 by just over 1 percent, or 61,500 votes.

Looking at a Vote Model

To dig a little deeper into the vote margins, I continue to believe that we are tracking towards an election where Republicans will have a 1.5 to 2 point advantage among registered voters after everything is counted -- compared to 5% in 2010. As Marc Caputo reported a few days ago, this would be an election where neither party would have a real advantage.

Even if the two parties essentially tie in all remaining votes, the final vote tally would be just under +2.5% Republican in terms of the people who vote.

So how does Crist win in this scenario? Its pretty simple: If Crist receives roughly 2% more of the Democratic vote than Scott wins of the GOP vote, and wins the NPA by a few points, Crist would win a narrow election. And again, it is important to keep in mind that at this point, +2.5% GOP appears to be a worst case scenario at this point.

Other Observations

Not all of the data reports timely, but it appears that Democrats won vote the day yesterday, driven by more Dems voting by mail than GOP.

The top five counties where Democrats have improved the vote margin over the Republicans are all places where Democrats win, showing that our base turnout effort is very strong. These include: Osceola (+16.4), Dade (+15.3), Palm (+14.5), Broward (+14.1) and St. Lucie (+13.7).

For example, in Dade County, Dems are up from 52,000 in 2010 to nearly 87,000 today and Broward from 47,000 to 88,500.

The gains are not limited to just Democratic counties. Traditionally Republican counties in the Tampa media market also show real gains for the Democrats, like Sarasota, where Democrats have cut the gap by nearly 13%, Hernando by nearly 13% and Pasco by 12%.

One county worth mentioning is Manatee, where a small but spirited local Democratic operation there has turned out 111% more Democratic voters than voted at this point in 2010, closing the gap by 11%. These changes matter, as they go right to the core of those counties where Republicans need big margins to win statewide. We are expanding our support in base counties, and cutting into their support in counties they win.

Responding to a Question from Scott Campaign. Answer: 600,000

Finally, I wanted to take a moment to answer a question posed to me via a blind copy email to members of the Florida Press Corps, by Greg Blair, the Communications Director for Governor Rick Scott. Asked Greg to me: "Would you say that having to tell your donors that it’s okay you’re losing every single day has had a negative impact on your fundraising late in the campaign? And as your fundraising lags, how much money are you able to put behind that Clinton ad you’re touting so much?

Since October 4th, the Crist for Governor Campaign has out-raised the Scott for Governor campaign by $600,000. This is largely due to a growing optimism among Crist supporters that the combination of good public polling and early voting numbers provides Governor Crist with an excellent chance to win. Now in fairness, our candidate can't stroke him a $TBA million check to run 10,000 negative ads this week, but nonetheless, we are doing well.

I hope by answering this question that Greg and his friends in the press corps can help me get a very simple answer out of my memo writer partner in crime Tim, will he join me in endorsing in a bipartisan manner Fred Taylor's bid for the Hall of Fame? It may be a silly question, but no more silly than the GOP's constant suggestion that this race is just like 2012.

A quick thanks

My ability to crank out these daily missives is made possible primarily due to the help of one person, Ben King. Ben is one of the smartest data guys that you have never heard of. Every morning and evening, I pepper Ben with questions and instead of writing back "Old Man -- Go Home," he replies back with spreadsheet after spreadsheet of data. I owe him more bourbon than even my Republican operative buddies Kirk Pepper and Kevin Sweeny could consume in a lifetime for his hours of work. So Ben, thank you for your help and more importantly your friendship.

I will admit these memos are silly. But we write them because if we don't, the media will say we are hiding and not responding. So I will be billing the Florida press for my future carpal tunnel surgery.

But it boils down to this: all that matters are the votes. This race is nothing but close. I do believe Crist is ahead -- as I am sure anyone who saw the Rick Scott campaign Giuliani ad would agree -- or their increased TV buy from yesterday, and I am confident that we will win.

But Democrats need to go vote, like right now.

We vote, we win. It is that simple. I for one, will be canvassing this weekend.

Until tomorrow's memo volley.




Tuesday
Oct282014

Tuesday 10-28 Gov Race Update

Friends - For the press on our call today, this is basically a recap.  For everyone else, these are my notes from yesterday's voting.  I apologize for getting this out later than I wanted.  Steve

Toplines:
 
The trend line continues to look good for the Democrats.  The delta between Republicans and Democrats is 7.1, down from 7.6 yesterday and 13 a week ago on Monday.  By comparison, the GOP advantage in 2010 was 17.1 on this day in the campaign.

In terms of real votes, the Republican edge is 78K votes less than it was in 2010. This is important because in 2010, Rick Scott won by just 61,500.

Also, if you compare the election at the same number of votes, just shy of 2,000,000 (which happened just 4 days out in 2010), Republicans held a 13.8% advantage, which equates to 276,000 votes.  In clearer terms, the GOP advantage in the vote margin was roughly 135,000 better at the same number of votes in 2010 than it is today.  

 
Sporadic Voters are Voting & Number of NPA is Growing

The electorate is expanding.  To date, roughly 29 percent of the Democratic vote did not participate in 2010 -- with the vast majority of those as voters who were registered in 2010.  For the GOP, the number is 20%.  
The big news:  NPA voters are really showing up.  40% of NPA voters did not vote in 2010.  In fact, the NPA share of the vote is up from just under 14 at this point in 2010 to 17% today.  This is coming straight from the GOP as their share of the electorate decreases since 2010.
Also, Democrats have a roughly 30,000 vote advantage among the expansion universe of voters.
 
Some of the GOP spin is just plane silly

The last Republican memo suggested that Democrats had to go into Election Day with a huge lead in order to win the election, like in 2008 and 2012.  With all due respect to my memo writing compatriots over there, this is nonsensical.  This ranks up there with their other suggestion today: that we aren't really running the Clinton ad (we are). 

All we have to do is look at history for Governor Scott.  It took a historical tsunami, in which Republicans had a 12 point & 275K vote edge going into Election Day, for Scott to win.  There will not be more Democrats voting this year than Republicans, but for Crist to win, that isn't necessary.


Right now, if the GOP and Democrats simply tie among partisans from now through the last vote being cast on Election Day, their advantage would be about 2.5 points.  Again, it was 5 in 2010, and that was the model required for Governor Scott to win a 61,000 vote lead. 
 
Don't Expect Much Change During This Week

In 2010, the GOP picked up added about 50,000 to their margin during the weekdays of Week 1.  Given yesterday's near parity, its unlikely they will gain anywhere near that margin, though it would be very surprising if their margins don’t tick up a bit Tue-Thurs.  For comparison, they gained about 15,000 votes during weekdays of in Week 2.  

 
Democrats Go Vote. Now. 

Even the most partisan Republicans are now admitting this race is at toss-up, a major change from even 2-3 weeks ago.   But there is one sure way for Democrats to lose this race:  not voting. 

So get out and vote.  
Seven days until sleep.

Monday
Oct272014

Monday 10-27 Governor's Race Update

To: Press, Friends, Interested and Disinterested Parties, Residents of "Exclusive" Southwood Tallahassee and Canes Fans who once wrote for the Palm Beach Post

From: Steve Schale

Date: October 27, 2014

The numbers for the day: 7.5, 10,000, 66,398 & 61,500

7.5: This is the Republican advantage in votes cast compared to 2010. This is down from 8.2% yesterday and compares to 17.7% at this point in the race in 2010.

10,000: The number of Rick Scott ads purchased for the last week of the campaign, which also equal the number of reasons that Charlie Crist is leading this race.

66,398: The difference in real votes between the GOP advantage in 2010 and today, meaning the GOP lead is 66,398 votes fewer today than it was at this point in 2010.

61,500: The total number of votes, rounded slightly, that Rick Scott won the Governor's race by in 2010.

Topline:

Democrats won the first weekend of early voting, and the first Sunday by just under 7,800, or 15%. In 2010, Republicans won the first weekend of early voting by a small percentage.

As a result, in two days, the Republican advantage over Democrats dropped from 9.1% to 7.5%. Republicans began early voting with a 13 point advantage, meaning the advantage has dropped from 5.5% in a week. In 2010, their advantage held fairly steady during the first week of early voting.

In addition, if we simply compare the election at roughly the same number of votes, Democrats have basically cut the Republican advantage in 2010 in half. To date, roughly 1.825 million Floridians have voted, and with a the 7.5% GOP edge. In 2010, as of October 28th (Day 5 of that election), 1.8 million Floridians had voted, with the GOP holding a 14.9% advantage among all voters.

Digging into Numbers

Democrats continue to be outpacing their 2010 totals in 54 of 67 counties, and are running particularly well in the three southern counties. In terms of percentage improvement over 2010, the Democratic base counties of Dade, Broward and Palm Beach continue to lead the way.

Democrats in Dade are running 15 points better compared to the GOP today in Dade than we did in 2010, and 14 points better in both Broward and Palm Beach. In fact, in the latter two counties, Democrats have turned out roughly twice as many voters at this point in the election than we did in 2010, while in Dade, the number is about 76% more than 2010.

In addition, we are doing very well in key I-4 media markets. Compared to our margin against the GOP in 2010, Democrats are up 19% in Osceola, 15% in Sarasota, 14% in Pasco and 12% in both Orange and Seminole County. And again, those numbers are the change in the margins between the two parties -- real gains.

Even in hyper conservative Lee County, the largest county in the Governor's home media market, Dems have cut the GOP lead from 41% at this point in 2010 to 29%.

In fact, if you add up all 13 counties where Republicans are outpacing their 2010 margins, the total number of votes they've picked up versus the Democrats is just 1,518 votes.

In total, Democrats have exceeded their 2010 votes to this point by 75%, compared to 38% for the GOP.

Random Commentary

It is important to remember that Governor Scott was elected by roughly 61,500 votes in 2010, spending well over $100 million, in the best election cycle for Republicans -- not in a decade, or a generation, or even a century -- but since Reconstruction. That was their margin of victory in a year that wasn't a wave, but instead a tsunami.

I don't think that anyone but the most partisan GOP operative would suggest that Scott enters Week 1 anything but vulnerable. The 80,000 ish ads they have run, mostly negative, has moved Scott from 42% at the start of the year to, wait for it...42, and there is no reason to think that 10,000 more will do something that the first 80,000 didn't.

Democratic turnout is definitely better than 2010 -- and the gap continues to close. The trend line suggests an election where Republicans will have a turnout advantage in the range of 1.5 to 2, but certainly not anywhere near the 5 point advantage in 2010.

To get to the 5 point advantage in 2010, the GOP had a 12 point advantage in all votes cast going into the election that year. Today it is 7.5%.

Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald suggested last night that it wasn't turning out to be a GOP or a Dem year, and that I would agree with. But one thing I know for certain, Rick Scott has to have a GOP year to win. I firmly believe anything resembling a push in terms of partisan advantage benefits Governor Crist.

And lastly, it is important to always remember Florida's changing electorate.
Florida's electorate will be several points more diverse in 2014 than 2010, and not because of any specific turnout efforts. No, Florida actual voters will be more diverse than 2010 because Florida is more diverse. The pie is different. Even if you assume the wave year of 2010 repeating itself in turnout, Rick Scott's margin of victory would be cut by 50-75% just because of demographics. And we know that it is not 2010. Not even close.

Democrats should not rest easy by any sense of the imagination. This race is razor tight. We are uncomfortably ahead -- but we are ahead. And don't believe me, believe Rick Scott's contribution and 10,000 TV ads this week.

But it is far from over. So if you are on my side, stop reading this email and go grab a clip board and talk to voters. I've pulled a couple of shifts this year and I stay pretty busy! We can all find 2-3 hours to go talk to real voters.

And if you are on their side, go to the beach, it is a stunningly beautiful day.

Until the next volley of emails --

Saturday
Oct252014

Saturday morning 10-25 Press Notes On Early Votes

Press and Friends and Press who are Friends:

This morning update is short, typing this quickly in the parking lot of Paynes Prairie State Park, where I saw a bear on my run. It's easy to forget just how beautiful this state is that we get to call home

The high point:

Friday's returns show the continued trend towards the Democrats. After Friday's voting, Democrats have now closed the GOP advantage in voters to 9.1 percent. This is down from 13 on Monday and compares to 18.5 on the same day of the campaign in 2010, meaning the gap today is less than 1/2 of what it was at this point in 2010. Palm Beach County data is not in this figure, so the 9.1 number might yet drop.

Couple of other notes:

Early and Absentee ballot voting in Broward continues to be very strong. Democrats have now doubled their 2010 total at this point in the election, and have an advantage of 28 points over the GOP, as compared to 15 at this point in the election. And to stress how turnout is going, the current Democratic advantage over the GOP of just over 29,000 votes is nearly equal to the number of Democrats (30,000) who had voted at this point in 2014.

In fact, compared to this point in the election in 2010, the Dems have improved their margin compared to the GOP by more than 10 points in 16 counties, and have improved their standing in 55 counties out of 67 total.

Moreover, the 12 counties where Republicans have improved over 2010 equal less than 1.4% of all votes cast to date statewide.

I also wanted to highlight the three counties around Orlando: Orange, Seminole and Osceola County. Two of these counties, Orange and Osceola, were in the top 7 worst turnout counties in the state in 2010.

However, in this election, sporadic voters are turning out there. And those sporadic voters are looking more like the new voting coalition in Central Florida. Not only are 46% of the non-traditional off year voters non-white, but Democrats are leading among these voters by more than 18 points.

I am going to attempt to provide you with an update on the Saturday early voting tomorrow, but no promises.

One last thing, the Republican memos on this race are exclusively comparing 2014 with 2012. What is somewhat comical about this point is for most of the last two years, they have made the point, rightly, that Democrats can never compare a Presidential turnout year to an Gubernatorial one, which is entirely accurate. This is also why comparing pre-election models in off year to a Presidential year is also simply comparing apples to oranges - though part of me appreciates the fond memories of that win.

The reason why they do it is simple: Rick Scott won by 61,000 votes in the single most Republican year in the state's history. To win at that margin required a GOP advantage of 5 points among registered voters, which in itself required a 12 point advantage among people who voted before Election Day. Given that the margin is already at 9.1, and dropping, it is no wonder they don't want to compare this election to the last statewide they won.

In the meantime, enjoy the weekend and enjoy the fact that the Gators will not lose this weekend. Guess this means they are bowl eligible another week.

And Florida GOP, well played on the bear. That must have taken some work

Steve

Friday
Oct242014

Friday 10-24 Update 

For the ease of answering the questions I get daily, I am going to provide a daily update -- or at least most days -- or at least try to. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

For the fourth consecutive day, Democrats significantly cut into the GOP advantage in votes cast. After starting the week down by some 13 points, today the margin is 9.6. By comparison, it was 18% at this point in 2010.

More importantly, votes are coming in faster than they did in 2010, so when we compare a similar number of votes cast: 1.45 million votes (Happened on Oct 26, 2010), the GOP had a 17 point advantage, and a roughly 240K vote lead in votes cast. Today, the margin is 130K, and 9.6 points.

One other key point, the GOP advantage in 2010 basically held steady over the first few days of early voting. We've seen the margin drop 4 points in 4 days.

Also, Dem participation as a share of the electorate is up 3 points from this point in the election in 2010. NPA participation is also up 3 points. GOP is down 6 from this day in 2010.

To this point - Dems are leading among 'sporadic voters' and over a quarter of Democratic voters did not vote in 2010, compared to 17% of Republican voters. Well over 30% of NPA voters are sporadic. In other words, the expansion of the electorate is helping the Democrats. In 2010, the opposite was occurring.

It is important to remember this key fact: Republicans had a 12 point advantage going into Election Day in 2010. Rick Scott won by a point, or 61,500 votes. Today it is 9.6.

And it is Florida, meaning it is just gonna be close.

Steve

PS - If you are on twitter, I release data during the day as I find things interesting. My twitter account is @steveschale

Thursday
Oct232014

12 Days Out And Too Tired To Think of a Pithy Title

With three days in the early voting books, lets take a quick look at where we are today in the Florida Governor's race.

I apologize for not writing these daily like the Scott campaign. I continue to be amazed that they have enough time to write daily memos. I barely have time to steal a candy bar from the secret stash of some field organizer in the office.

First, thank goodness the debates are over, and for me the winner was clear: The Omni in Jacksonville was definitely nicer than the Sheraton Suites in Plantation.

And Rick Scott, according to Quinnipiac, is still at 42, same place he was 60-70 million ago. However, given my past reviews on this blog of Quinnipiac, I will stipulate that quite frankly the race could also be tied at 78-78, because you know, Quinnipiac. The averages continue to show Crist with a small lead.

Back to the numbers. Democrats are outpacing their 2010 performance by 8.6 points.

The GOP advantage among voters who have cast a ballot is 10.4%. in 2010, that margin was 19%.

That remains the single most important fact.

Here are a few more:

In the 10 counties where the Democrats have the largest gains since 2010, 9 of them are in the critical I-4 media markets, or SE Florida. They include lean-right 'swingy' places like Pasco and Sarasota in Governor Crist's backyard Tampa media market, but also key Democratic vote rich places like Broward and Dade.

Take Broward County alone, nearly twice as many Democrats have voted in 2014 than voted in 2010 at this point in the election, and the Democrats advantage has grown from 12 at this point in 2010 to 26.

However to me, the most interesting little story is Osceola County.

Osceola is home to a growing Puerto Rican population, and was the lowest voter turnout county in Florida in 2010. One of the main reasons Sink lost was depressed Hispanic turnout, particularly in the Orlando area.

Well, Osceola tells a different story this year.

Roughly 9400 voters who have voted in Osceola County so far, with 40% of these voters falling into a 'sporadic' voter universe -- i.e., they did not vote in 2010.

Not surprisingly, the voters who voted in 2010 who have already voted, Republicans have a 5 point advantage.

Of the sporadic voters, Democrats have a 25 point advantage. And of the sporadic voters, 52% of are people of color, including 37% self-identified Hispanics.

Add this all up, and the difference at this point in the election between 2010 and 2014 is stark. In 2010, the GOP held a 13 point advantage at this point in the election. Today, the Dems hold a 7 point.

All in all, sporadic voters make up something close to 32% of all the Democrats who have voted, while the number is closer to 20% for Republicans..

Because of this voter expansion, Democrats are beating their 2010 performance at this stage of the election in all but 15 counties, and with the exception of Duval, the other 14 counties added up make up a smaller number of voters than have voted already in Martin County.

Lastly, it is important to keep in mind that in 2010, the GOP went into Election Day with a 11.9% advantage. When Election Day was added in, that landed at a 5 point GOP advantage among all voters. And Scott won by 1 point - 61,000 votes.

To get to that pre-Election Day Advantage, the GOP went into the election with an 18.4% advantage in Absentee Ballots, and a 4.3% Advantage in Early Vote.

Today, the GOP advantage in Absentee is 12 points (21 at this point in 2010). Early Vote is a push (12 at this point in 2010).

The trend lines support a model where the Republican advantage is not 5 again -- the margin needed to provide a Rick Scott 61,000 vote margin, but instead supports a model that looks a lot more like +2 or less Republican, a margin that would have supported a Sink win in 2010.

There is a long ways to go. Democrats need to vote. The Scott campaign, infused with cash from a new campaign supporter, Rick Scott, will continue to run like 17 gazillion negative ads a day. And 12 days is a lifetime in politics.

But all things being equal, everything in the data to date, and every trend line suggests one thing: Governor Crist will have a much friendlier election environment than Alex Sink did in 2010.

And my offer to buy Tim Saler a beer is a standing offer. It would take less time than writing memos, and because I believe in honor among thieves.

And finally, because many of you asked why I was so certain in the last memo that Fred Taylor should be in the Hall of Fame. It's all numbers: you run 11,500 yards in a career, with an average carry of 4.6 yards, rush for 66 touchdowns, and rank 15th on the all time rushing list, you should automatically be in. Period. I would hope Tim and I could at least agree on that.

#FredTaylor #GoJags

Friday
Oct172014

Fandemonium - An Update in the Race for Florida Governor 2014

To: Crist Supporters, Journalists, Assorted Pundits, the Spambots that hit my blog, the Bipartisan members of Kevin is Evil Fantasy Nascar League, and the people in Rick Scottworld who will be asked to respond to this memo, namely Tim and Ryan.

From: Steve Schale

Date: October 17, 2014

Yesterday, my memo writing counterpart at the Scott campaign, Tim Saler, issued a new piece in the wake of #FangateGoneGlobal regarding the state of the 2014 election from his perspective. While it would be easier for Tim and I to hammer this out over beers at Tucker Dukes in Tallahassee, I do admire both the certainty from which he writes his memos about the outcome of the election, as well as the volume.

Given the flakiness of Florida’s electoral world, I for one, am certain of nothing, except that Fred Taylor should be in the Hall of Fame – and that Governor Scott really doesn’t like fans.

But knowing that so many in Florida are fans of these dueling memos, I figured today was a cool day to refresh the memo I wrote from last week, given that the race has truly heated up over the last two weeks.

Under the “More things change” file: after Scott fans the TV airwaves, he remains stuck.

Governor Scott has set a new Week 3 general election record in Florida, spending $6.4 million this week in television ads. This is on top of the $5 million he spent last week. He’ll probably spend more than $7 million next week, and more than $8-10 million in Week 1.

Even with his staggering spending now topping $52 million – just on television (not including internet ads), he’s still receiving an average of 42 percent of the vote in the public polls (this includes no post-#fangate polls). 

That’s the same 42 percent he was receiving in September, the same 42 percent he was receiving in the spring before he became Florida television station owners’ Man of the Year. And the same 42 percent he was receiving on January 2, 2014.

That is the definition of stuck.

Despite the current Governor’s hyper television spending, voters are narrowly fans of Crist.

As noted in the last memo, in August, Scott held an average lead in the public polls of just under 3 points.

In September, that dropped to dead even. In the eleven public polls released during the month of October, Crist now holds an average lead of 1 point. Narrow yes, but a lead nonetheless.

In fact, for the first time since May, both Real Clear Politics and the Huffington Post pollster averages (both use different polls in their averages) have Crist with a narrow lead.

Democratic absentee ballot requests hit the 1 million mark

Yesterday, the number of Democrats requesting an absentee ballot hit the 1 million mark. The total Republican advantage in requests is under 70,000, with the two parties separated by less than 3 percent.

By comparison at this point in the campaign in 2010, GOP ballot requests outnumbered Democratic requests by over 200,000, leading to a 12 percent request advantage.

In fact, Democratic requests since Labor Day outnumber GOP requests, with the Crist field and digital operation generating nearly 200,000 new requests since Labor Day – almost exclusively from voters who did not vote in 2010.

Absentee returns confirm one thing for sure: It is not 2010

One of the constant narratives from Florida Republicans, particularly those in the camp who have been preaching the inevitability of Scott cruising to re-election, was their sure belief that 2014 = 2010. But as ballots come in, it is clear that this is not 2010.

Sure, Republicans are leading among voters who voted in the best election for their party since the beginning of time in Florida. But here is what they don’t tell you.

Only 73 percent of people who have returned an absentee ballot voted in 2010. The other 27 percent – they didn’t vote in 2010. They are the so-called “irregular” or “Presidential” voters.

Let’s repeat that: Of the ballots cast to date – by the voters who are seemingly most interested in voting, 27 percent of the ballots have been cast by voters who did not vote in 2010. And Democrats have an edge, with 32 percent of their votes coming from voters who did not participate in 2010, compared to 20 percent of Republicans.

Republicans have long held an advantage in terms of absentee ballot voters. In fact, among the nearly 1.5 million voters currently holding an absentee ballot in their hands who voted in 2010, the GOP holds about an 180,000 voter advantage. They have more voters who always vote by absentee - so they will win among people who always vote by absentee.

But more importantly, the comparison of where we were then (2010) versus now. In 2010 – on today’s day in the campaign, Republicans held an 18.5 percent advantage among returned ballots. Today it is less than 13.5 percent – and is trending Democratic. We’ve dropped the gap from 20% to 13.5% in just 10 days, and again, that is with reports that there are many ballots in three south Florida counties that have yet to be processed.

Again, the GOP advantage among people voting to date is almost exclusively from voters who voted in three of the last three races. However, the difference between their 18.5% advantage on this day in the campaign in 2010 and the 13.5% advantage today is due to the increase in returned ballots from non-2010 voters.

Sure Republicans will win absentees. They always do. But the margin will be tighter.

And keep in mind, Scott won by 61,000 votes in 2010.

The Missing Rubio Factor

There is one other key reason why this isn’t 2010: Marco Rubio is in Washington, and not on the ballot.

I doubt all but the most partisan of Scott supporters would suggest the Florida wave in 2010 was caused by Rick Scott. In fact, Rick Scott received fewer voters than any other statewide Republican in 2010, falling behind Adam Putnam, Jeff Atwater, Pam Bondi and Marco Rubio.

But the last of these is the most significant. Rubio’s candidacy drove tea party enthusiasm, and as can be seen in election results, the two of them were tied at the hip electorally in 2010. In fact, only 26,000 votes separated Marco Rubio’s vote total from Rick Scott’s – and in all but two media markets in Florida, the margin was less than 11,000.

Scott was able to run a campaign against Washington and ride Marco Rubio and the federalized nature of the race in 2010. Today - like Charlie Crist was at the beginning of the Leadership Florida debate - Scott is on the ballot alone. And again, keep in mind, Governor Scott won by 61,000 votes in 2010.

Revisiting Demographics

As stated in the last memo, in 2010, roughly 70 percent of all registered voters were white, leading to an electorate that was roughly 75% white on Election Day.

However, the growth in the electorate since 2010 has almost exclusively been made up of people of color.

Since 2010, the number of registered voters in Florida has grown by roughly 590,000, with 71% of the growth coming from Hispanic, African American or Caribbean American voters, and another 10% coming from other ethnic groups. Only 19% of the growth has been among white voters.

So what does this really mean?

If nothing else changes from 2010, and all ethnic subgroups vote in the same turnout percentages as 2010, over 60 percent of new Florida voters would be black (24% of new voters) or Hispanic (39%). In other words, even in the worst case scenario turnout – which no one truly believes is likely – the Scott 61,000 vote margin of victory from 2010 is all but wiped out, just on demographics alone. And again, that assumes the Crist operation doesn’t turn out a single unlikely voter.

But what we know is that Crist is turning out unlikely voters – over 25% of the electorate so far – and those voters are favoring the Democrats.

Turnout

The Crist campaign, with 120 staffers and 38 offices, is far more poised than the Democratic Party was in 2010 to turn out the votes necessary to win.

But in addition to the Crist operation, outside groups are investing in field in ways never before seen on the Democratic side of the aisle in a Governor’s race. In fact, according to published reports, NextGen Climate has spent over $10 million in Florida, with the majority being spent in the field – an operation that has been built by two-time Obama field czar Jackie Lee.

18 Days to Go

The campaign is far from over, but as Tim pointed out about facts being stubborn things, here are two that are real: fifty plus million dollars can’t move Governor Scott off of 42 percent, and Charlie Crist is leading this race. It is not a big lead, and Democrats need to stay focused on one thing: turning out voters. No Democrat should get complacent. People need to vote and turn out their friends.

Going back to the only thing I am certain of, that Fred Taylor should be in the Hall of Fame, this race is all about the blocking and tackling now. It’s the final drive of the Fourth Quarter and the old QB Charlie Crist has the ball and the lead. First downs are now all that separate him from the Governor’s Mansion.

And if it is getting hot over at Scott HQ, I know where they can get a fan or two.

Or a beer, which would be more productive than trading memos.

Until the next Saler memo, Go Noles! Beat Notre Dame!

Thursday
Oct022014

The Florida Governor's Race Today

Sharing a memo I wrote today on the state of the Florida Governor's race.

 

To:         Interested Parties, Political Friends and Enemies (joking) Alike, and all who are just Florida Junkies

From:     Steve Schale

Re:         State of the Florida Governor’s Race

 

We heard for months that Governor Scott was putting away Charlie Crist.

We heard that Charlie Crist couldn’t withstand Governor Scott’s attacks.

We heard that Charlie Crist couldn’t raise the money to compete.

We heard that Charlie Crist had collapsed and couldn't recover.

We heard that Governor Scott would win by 5 – 6 – 7 points.  That he was a sure bet.  That it was over.

So where does the race stand on October 2, 2014?

Governor Scott has spent over $41 million on television yet he’s stuck at 42 percent. 

The media blitz was supposed to kill of Crist, yet according to the Miami Herald, new polls show the trend “favoring” Crist, including the Real Clear Politics Average which shows Crist with an average 1.4 point lead.

 

Charlie Crist clearly has the momentum and Governor Rick Scott is stuck.

Rick Scott’s campaign and his allies have now spent north of $41 million on television, compared to roughly $19 million by the Crist campaign and the Florida Democratic Party, and the race is tied.  Not just essentially tied, but actually tied. 

According to the Huffington Post pollster track, the average of the public polling conducted during the month of September shows a dead even race.  This is a change from August, when Scott held a 2.8 point advantage in the public polling conducted during the month.

In August, the website listed Scott as a strong favorite for re-election. Today, they call it a 50-50 race.  This is a very real shift towards Crist.

The Real Clear Politics Average more accurately measures this shift.  Today, Crist has a 1.4 point advantage lead among recent public polling, a change from a Governor Scott 2 point lead earlier in September

And most importantly, just like the Huffington Post Pollster average, Governor Scott is stuck at 42 in the Real Clear Politics Average, the same place he was in April, when his TV blitz began in earnest.

Moreover, the reality on the ground is not lining up with the GOP narrative of a 2010 GOP enthusiasm wave. 

In the one true metric available, absentee ballot requests, Democrats have significantly closed the gap.  In 2010, Republicans at this point in the election held a 12 point advantage in absentee ballot requests (48 R -36 D), today that gap is two points (41 R – 39 D).   The growth in these requests comes largely from non-Gubernatorial year voters

Furthermore, the Crist ground operation is far superior to the 2010 effort, in part because Governor Crist is committed to investing in the effort to chase those absentee ballots and turn out voters.  To date, there are 35 Crist offices open, in addition to local Democratic Party offices, housing over 120 staffers, who with a volunteer army driven by the campaign’s over 60,000 contributions, has reached out to more than 1.4 million Florida voters.

And the Electorate Will Look Different

One of the main reasons why the GOP so badly misread the electorate in 2012 was they failed to recognize the changing nature of the election.  And just like 2012 was different than 2008, 2014 is different than 2010.

In 2010, roughly 70 percent of all registered voters were white, leading to an electorate that was roughly 75% white on Election Day. However, the growth in the electorate since 2010 has almost exclusively been made up of voters of ethnic descent.  Since 2010, the number of registered voters in Florida has grown by roughly 590,000, with 71% of the growth coming from Hispanic, African American or Caribbean American voters, and another 10% coming from other ethnic groups.  Only 19% of the growth has been among white voters.

This means one thing:  even if the turnout is as bad for Democrats as it was in 2010 (which it won’t be) it won’t be as bad of an outcome, as the election will be more diverse than it was in 2010.  And a more diverse electorate benefits Governor Crist.

So what does all this mean?

We were told that Crist would crumble under the weight of Governor Scott’s attacks.  Well, that didn’t happen.

We were told that Governor Scott had put the race away.  Well, clearly that didn’t happen.

But here is what we do know:

Governor Scott started the year receiving an average of 42 percent of the vote in the public polling.  After nine months and $41 million on television, he is still receiving 42 percent in the public polling.  He is an incumbent stuck.

Simply, if $41 million didn’t bury Charlie Crist, why does anyone think the next $25 million will?

To date, none of the GOP predictions on the race have held true, and what we have is a dog fight, with an incumbent Governor who is stuck in the polls after out-spending his opponent 2:1, the same Governor who won in 2010 in perfect storm conditions that do not apply to this year.

Undoubtedly, it is going to be an exceptionally close race, as I've argued all along.  Florida's last three major top of the ticket fights were all decided by less than 3 points, and there is nothing to demonstrate that this will be different.

Yes it is close, but what we have today is a race that is breaking towards Governor Crist.

Monday
May052014

Reshaping the Electorate

I've been really blessed in my career.  For a kid from a small town in Florida, by way of a small town in Illinois, I've enjoyed several "how the heck did that just happen" moments.  And without question, one of my more favorite memories was working the Presidential debate spin room at Lynn University, "on background" to make the case that Florida would go for President Obama, even when a number of misinformed pundits were suggesting the President wasn't even really competing there.

My argument was simple.  We had a superior organization, but arguably just as important, the state's demographic trends meant the electorate would be made up of even more Hispanics, as well as African Americans and Caribbean Americans than 2008.  This was definitely a sentiment that was outside the conventional wisdom, which somehow fell to the belief that the proportion of the electorate made up by ethnic minorities would be lower in 2012 than 2008.  In fact, this conventional wisdom led to some downright crazy statements about Florida including the traditional "they aren't really trying here" to the absurd: "Romney will win Florida by seven."  

In the end, demographics shaped the outcome.  Ethnic minorities made up as much as 33% of 2012 voters, at least 3, if not 4 points higher than 2008 and the rest is history: President Obama won a narrow victory here, becoming the first Democrat since FDR to carry the state in successive elections.  

While the turnout models in non-Presidential years in Florida are always different, ethnic minorities in 2014 will make up a larger share of the electorate than 2010.  But how much more?  And is it enough to alone change the outcome?  That is the purpose of this piece.

Let's start by looking back at 2010.  In what was arguably the best year for Republican year in Florida history, exit polls show the electorate broke down like this: 74 percent white, 11 percent black (both African American and Caribbean American), and 12 percent Hispanic.   Going into that election, voter registration lined up this way:  69 percent white, 13 percent black and 12.5 percent Hispanic.   All of those things added up to a 61,000 vote victory by Governor Scott.  In other words, the electorate was significantly more white than voter registration.

Before we go further, you might be asking yourself -- how is it that the electorate was made up of more ethnic minorities in 2012 than their proportion of registered voters, when participation among black and Hispanic voters is traditionally lower?  Two things:  turnout among these groups was higher in 2012 -- and in the case of Hispanics, there is a segment of the population who will register to vote as white, but self-ID to a pollster as Hispanic.  This is part of why polling this subgroup in Florida is tricky.

Back to the data -- so what has happened with these population trends since then?  For the sake of this exercise, and in an attempt to compare apples to apples, I will look at the data going back to the close of the registration books for the 2010 primary, roughly the 1st of August 2010.  

Here are a couple of interesting points:

  • Despite the fact that some 2 million people have registered to vote since August 2010, the actual number of active voters is roughly 500,000 more than 2008.  This is due to mortality and non-voters being moved to 'inactive' status.
  • Since 2010, 20 percent of all new registered voters are self-identified Hispanic, 15 percent are black (African American or Caribbean) and another 9 percent are other.  This is likely a mix of people, including the state's fast growing Asian population and some mixed ethnicities.  The remaining 56 percent are self-identified white -- though keep in mind, some Hispanics, particularly those whose families have been here multiple generations, self-identify as white.
  • This leads to an electorate that today is roughly 66 percent white, 13.5 percent black and 14 percent Hispanic and with a larger proportion of Asian and other ethic populations. 

So how are these new voters registering?

  • 97 percent of black voters (African American/Caribbean American) are registering either Democratic (73%) or NPA (24%).  Only 3 percent of new black voters are registering GOP.
  • Only 22 percent of new white voters registered Democratic.  The plurality of new white voters registered NPA (40%), with the GOP close behind (38%).
  • On flip side, only 16 percent of new Hispanic voters registered Republican.  Like whites, the plurality of Hispanics registered NPA (45%), with 39 percent joining the Democratic Party.

As a result, the ethnic make up of the political parties looks like this.  The below percentages are the share of each group within the political party:

                Black Hispanic White

Democratic 28.4% 14.0% 52.4%

Republican   1.3% 11.2%  83.7%

NPA           7.5%  18.9%  63.4%

Total         13.4% 14.2%  66.4%

 

The other way to look at it is partisan registration by ethnicity:

                       Democratic Republican NPA

White (66.4%)     30.6%      45.0%      24.4%

Hispanic (14.2%)  38.0%      28.1%      33.9%

Black (13.4%)      82.1%      3.5%       14.6%

Other (6%)         34.5%      22.0%      43.5%


It breaks down this way: political reporters, observers, pundits, players, etc., are all looking for that silver bullet to call the Governor's race.  Will it be Scott's money advantage, will medical marijuana turn out voters, will the Affordable Care Act rally Republicans -- or Democrats, will base Democrats stay home, will Tea Partiers show up, will the Libertarian candidate take votes from Scott, Crist or just be a protest candidate,  will the Jaguars take a QB in the first round, how far can Jameis Winston throw a crab leg, it Tony Stewart continues to struggle, what happens to turnout from transplanted Indiana race fans, what does the LG pick mean, etc., etc., etc.  Story after story will be written about how each of these is the absolute critical piece to one candidate's success or failure. 

Truth is from my perspective, all of it and none of it matter. Florida is a marginal state.  We aren't a marginal state because we are a swing state, in the way of an Iowa, which has a lot of swing voters.   No, we are a swing state because we are this amazing collection of subgroups, that when added together, add up to be a competitive electorate.  The number of people in this state who are true swing voters is not huge -- though for people who argue that Democrats win by simply turning out their vote, I point you to 2004.  Florida is both a persuasion and a turnout state.

So that is a long way of saying, yes, the demographics matter. Let's say Charlie Crist takes Scott's marginal win among Hispanics in 2010 and makes it a 53-46 Crist win.  Should Hispanics make up 13% of the electorate, that change from 2010 to 2014 will add up to essentially another point on election day for Crist. For blacks, if Crist can get turnout from 11 to 12 percent of all voters, again, that means nearly an entire point accrues to Crist's total.  Bluntly, all of these stats simply mean that the Democrat needs a smaller percentage of the white vote to win.  

And remember, Scott won by barely over a point, so it is all about margins. The changing demographics simply mean that window for him is just that much narrower.