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Tuesday
Jul252017

The Florida Special Election You Should Be Watching

This piece is more designed for my readers who don't live and breathe Florida politics: there is a State Senate election on September 26th you should be paying attention to, a race that could be an interesting test of how the GOP's institutional advantages measure up to Trump's policies, favorability, Democratic enthusiasm, and demographic trendlines. Honestly, it is a race providing a real opportunity for both parties.

First, it is important to remember State Senate seats in Florida are not much smaller than Congressional districts, and this one, when fully engaged in the state's most expensive media market, will see the spending tab run well into the millions.  In a typical election cycle, spending in Florida's top State Senate races will outpace most Congressional races down here.

So a little about the district -- this is Senate District 40.  Located in Dade County, SD 40 is almost 75% Hispanic by census, and depending on the election, typically falls in the mid-60's Hispanic among actual voters.  There is also a significant Black population, which in Dade is both African American and Caribbean American.  On its surface to an outsider, it looks like a Democratic lay-up.  But keep in mind, a substantial proportion of Hispanics in Dade are Cuban, which means one key thing:  a much more Republican orientation than Hispanic-dominated urban districts outside of Florida (or frankly, outside of SE Florida).   

Hillary Clinton easily dispatched Donald Trump in this district, carrying it by 16 points (56-40).  Like a lot of Dade County districts, some of my Democratic friends look at those Clinton numbers and say, "well that is our seat."  But the Clinton number is highly deceptive, and doesn't tell the full story.  For example, Marco Rubio carried the district by 4 points (51-47), and among the precincts this district shares with the highly competitive Congressional District 26 - roughly 2/3rds of registered voters in SD 40 are also in CD 26 - Carlos Curbelo carried the district by 13 points.  To show just how volatile this district can be -- in those same CD 26 precincts, Hillary Clinton beat Trump by 18 points, a marginal swing of 31 points.  

In the fall, Republicans carried this seat by ten points, as then State Representative Frank Artiles defeated then State Senator Dwight Bullard in an entirely new seat created by the court-mandated redistricting in 2015/16.  If you talk to Florida observers, you will get a lot of reasons why Bullard lost by this margin, but one interesting point in the data, the percentages that Bullard received are almost identical to the percentages that CD 26 Democratic nominee Joe Garcia received in the precincts that they shared.  In fact, in 75 or the 92 identical precincts between the seats, the two Democrats saw their share deviate by less than 3%. In other words, it is fair to say that the Bullard/Garcia numbers are the Democratic floor in SD 40.

Along the same lines, the Rubio race might be a better view of the GOP ceiling in the race than either of the races above.  Rubio/Murphy was more of a truly "contested" race - particularly when compared to the aforementioned State Senate and Congressional campaigns.  And in all honesty, Murphy still wasn't running at the same levels as Rubio, who by and large, runs as a Miami hometown hero.  The fact Rubio only won by four in this seat truly shows how much has changed in Miami Dade County over the last decade.

This seat was destined to be a battleground seat in 2018, but the incumbent Frank Artiles was forced to resign this spring (like most Florida political messes, it is quite a story -- you can google the details if you wish), setting up this 2017 showdown.

Tuesday's primary left us with a general election between Republican State Representative Jose Felix 'Pepi' Diaz, and Democratic businesswoman Annette Taddeo.  Both have interesting Trump-era stories -- Diaz was on The Apprentice, and Taddeo, a 2016 Congressional candidate, was a victim of the Russian hacking.   In full disclosure, both are friends:  Taddeo was Crist's LG nominee (I was an adviser to Crist), and Diaz and I are both active in a non-partisan international political exchange organization.

In their primary, Republicans chose right.  Diaz is a well-liked and earnest legislator, who is generally considered to be a moderate in his party. For example, he took on many in his own party to lead the fight in Tallahassee to remove a Florida statue of a Confederate General from the US Capitol, and he led an effort to expand children's health care for immigrants.  Diaz fits the mold of the type of Republican who can and do succeed in districts like this in South Florida. 

The Democrats also chose the stronger of their two candidates.  Taddeo, is an energetic and engaging candidate, who has truly lived the American Dream immigrant story -- coming to America in her teens, learning English, putting herself in college, and building a very successful small business.  She's been on the ballot several times, running for Congress as a Hispanic Democrat in Dade long before that was the politically smart thing to do, but in doing so has built a strong network among Democratic donors and activists. 

In my humble view, this race comes down to basically two competing factors/questions:

1.  Money and Organization.  Can the Democrats compete with the GOP's financial and organizational advantages?   As long time readers know, I have been frustrated by my party's lack of work to build a sustaining bench in Dade.  One of the reasons why the GOP has been able to stem the tide down ballot in Miami Dade is the literal talent pipeline and turnout operation that they've built.  To this point, 3,000 more Republicans than Democrats voted in Tuesday's primary.  This is essentially a home game for the GOP, and there is a reason why the oddsmakers give home teams an edge.  Along the same lines, I don't think Taddeo can survive being outspent 2 or 3 to 1 -- so whether grassroots and institutional Democrats step up to help close the money gap will go a long ways to determining if the party can overcome the other factors.

1a. Trump...Trump...Trump.  The counter balance to point one is the question of Trump, and that question itself has many layers.  Does Trump drive base Democratic grassroots money and vote?  Does Trump's immigration decisions drive non-Cubans out to send a message -- and/or, does Trump's decision to stop Americans from recreationally traveling to Cuba drive enthusiasm with exile-era Cubans.  NPA voters in this district tend to be more Democratic than in the rest of Florida -- do they show up, and if they do, does Trump drive their vote?  How Trump impacts the race isn't a clear cut question.

Sure there are others - Can the Dems pick apart Diaz voting record effectively enough to disqualify him as a moderate?  Is there Taddeo fatigue from her previous runs?  How does the national Trumpcare debate impact the macro-level politics, or more specifically, the micro-politics of a district with high enrollment in the exchanges?  And the big intangible: What crazy thing will happen in DC between now and late September, and what if anything will it mean?  We all know something will happen, as surely it is the only thing we can bank on!

This is going to be a fun race to watch. Like all these special elections, it can be hard to draw too many conclusions from the outcome.  That being said, Dems have to prove they can win seats like this if there is a hope of winning a majority in the Senate anytime in the near future.   Moreover, should the Dems win, they would have reason to be optimistic that more and more of these traditionally Miami Republican Hispanic districts both in the legislature and in Congress; and on the flipside if the GOP holds on, there is reason to believe there is still a very clear road map for moderate Republicans to carve out the necessary coalition to win these trending Democratic districts.  This is why you will see both sides go all out.

Florida Senate District 40.  September 26, 2017. Put it on your radar.

Tuesday
Jun202017

One big lesson from GA 06.

Pretty close to exactly 12 years ago, I took the reins of the political operation of the Florida House Democratic Caucus. During my three years there, we picked up nine Republican districts, including two swing seat Special Elections, including a special in a ruby-red type district like Georgia 06.

We made the decision to play in this race for one after passing on a few other specials. Why? We had exactly the right candidate -- and we had exactly the right GOP opponent.

It was in late 2007, and GOP State Representative Bob Allen had just resigned, the details of which I will leave to The Google. His district, in Brevard County, wasn't exactly home team territory, but like GA06, had one or two markers that at least piqued my attention.

The Republicans had a four-way primary, and in the process nominated arguably the worst possible candidate. one the Orlando Sentinel called "woefully unprepared" who "lacks even the basic knowledge of how Florida's tax structure or its school system works." Needless to say, that ad wrote itself.

On the other side, we had basically the unicorn candidate, a well-regarded City Commissioner from the district's population center, Tony Sasso. Sasso was a pure progressive on environmental issues, which gave him base bonafides, but was libertarian on enough issues to win over some right-leaning swing voters, and reasonable enough as a Commissioner to give moderate voters comfort. He was a well-liked known commodity.

Even with this perfect storm -- the perfect candidate on our side, the perfect opponent, and the perfect set-up for the race (again, you can google it), we had to claw our way to a very narrow win.

For those of you who know me well, you know my basic political sandbox: Candidates matter. There were probably 25,000 other Democrats in that state house seat that would have lost, and with all respect to my friend Tony, we probably would have lost had the GOP just nominated a decent candidate.

So what does this have to do with GA 06?

Keep in mind, over 70 Republicans in Congress come from seats better than this one, meaning GA 06 is the kind of place where everything has to be perfect. In fact, there is only one Democratic Member of Congress in a seat more Republican than Georgia 06, and not a single Republican in one similar for the other side.

For Florida readers, here are two markers: At R+8, GA 06 is more Republican than Dennis Ross and Mike Biliraks' district, and more Republican than Ted Deutch's seat is Democratic. In terms of partisan voting, it is about equally as partisan as Debbie Wasserman Schultz's seat. In other words, to win, literally everything has to be perfect - and even then it's often not enough.

And it wasn't.

Taking nothing away from the campaign - I knew a lot of really smart people who did good work, and for the good of the cause, I think the party had to make some kind of an effort there (30 million was well beyond the point of diminishing returns), the basic match-up was uphill. Jon Ossoff, while an impressive young man, started out hardly more than a generic Democrat. The first time I spoke to one of my very smart Atlanta friends about Ossoff, she peppered her praise with a fair number of "but" to describe his weaknesses. Back when I was a candidate recruiter, I went out of my way to walk away from candidates whose qualities had to be modified by the word "but", especially in seats like this.

Karen Handel, on paper, was a proven commodity. Take ideology and everything else off the test, and she wins the bio test. I don't know if a more proven candidate, either some kind of prominent business leader, or prior elected, would have done better, but my gut says the odds are pretty decent. I was definitely in camp that our best shot here was in the big primary.

Even in districts like this, the road to 45-47%, with enough money and a good enough candidate, can be smooth. But the road from there to 50+1 can be like climbing Everest without oxygen -- sure it can be done, but it requires a really amazing climber and a fair amount of luck. Gwen Graham getting over the top in Florida 02 in 2014 (R+5 seat) when several others had come just short is a good example of this.

I don't think Democrats should get too down on this one, or Republicans get too excited. Districts like this show that the map in 2018 is likely to be fairly broad. Take away the money spent in the seat, and I think most Dems would rightfully feel very good about it. As we saw in South Carolina tonight, there are a lot of places that are more interesting than they normally are.

Which gets back to the lesson. One of the biggest forgotten lessons of 2006 is the importance of recruitment. My side will never have the money to go toe-to-toe with Republicans everywhere. We have to have the "better" candidate in a lot of places to win, particularly due to gerrymandering whch means we have to win more seats on GOP turf than they do on ours. At the Congressional level, the DCCC in 2006 fielded a rock-star slate of candidates. At the legislative cycle, in a year when we picked up seven GOP-held seats and held two Democratic open seats, we had the "better" candidate in almost every instance. We also recruited broadly, trying to find the best candidates we could in as many plausible seats as possible, to compete broadly, to give ourselves lots of options - and when the wave happened, the map blew wide open. Had we not put the work in on the recruitment side -- occasionally in places where a Democratic candidate had already filed, at best we would have gone plus 2 or 3, even with the wave. At same time, if we had more money, our +7 year might have been +10 or more.

Ossoff clearly has a bright future, and would have won in a lot of places last night. But in many ways, his was a candidacy created from whole cloth, and funding and turnout operations alone won't get just anyone across the line - especially somewhere like GA08. Even in this hyper partisan environment, campaigns aren't simply plug and play operations -- they are choices.

When folks ask me what the national and state party should be doing, my answer is simple: Two things, recruit high quality candidates, and register voters. And if Democrats expect to have success in November 2018, that is the work that must be done between now and then.





 

Monday
May222017

Dear Dems: One 2018 project - Caribbean voters.

In my earliest days on the Obama campaign in 2008, one of our first statewide polls showed a weakness with Black voters, at least compared to other states. It wasn't necessarily that McCain was doing better than elsewhere, just that there were more voters on the sidelines. It didn't take long to figure out the initial weakness was among Caribbean voters, which over time, we were able to address.

A couple of days ago, an old Obamaland friend who was a big part of those 2008 Caribbean conversations, texted me a quick question about the Haitian vote in Florida, and specifically if there was any truth to the chatter, and/or anecdotal evidence that Clinton under performed among Haitians. I had sensed some of the same, but honestly hadn't taken a look at the data yet.

Before starting, it is important to consider there are three significant challenges when thinking about the Haitian, and in a larger sense, Caribbean Black vote in Florida.

First, unlike the vast majority of other states, the Black vote in Florida is not monolithically African American. Here, a significant share is either Caribbean and/or Hispanic. The same challenge exists when analyzing the Hispanic vote. On other battleground states, Hispanics ten to be nearly universally Mexican, while here in Florida,both Hispanic and Black voters come from a large mosaic of nationalities.

Secondly, along these same lines, Florida's voter registration data is woefully overly-generic about the population. When it comes to Caribbean and African American voters, the voter registration form provides really just three options: Black, Multi-racial, or Other. Therefore, it is impossible to solely pull out voters of Caribbean descent. There are some analytic tools, but that is generally built on a model, and as such, isn't exact (nor available to the public at large).

Third, and finally, the census data, isn't a ton better. The generic census form does not drill down for information on "Black or African American" residents (it does with certain Hispanics, and Asian populations). There are census tools that dig into nation of origin, but again are sampled and not individual specific.

So in answering my friend's query, I came up with what was a granted, an inexact performance model, yet one I think provides some insight -- and in this case, caution for Democrats -- or at least cause for more research. The model: Florida House District 108, the home of "Little Haiti." The question -- how did Clinton/Trump play both in this district and specifically in the Little Haiti precincts, versus Obama/Romney? For sake of adding more data, I also looked at Rick Scott in 2010 and 2014. Understanding the limitations I laid out above, here is what the data says.

Obama won the district in 2012 by 90-10, and Clinton won it 87-11 (interestingly - this shift matches the 2 point margin shift from Obama to Clinton). Also, voter turnout in the seat at large was about the same, at least among Black voters (70% in 2012, 70.5% in 2016). On the surface, these are not insignificant changes, but in no way are the kind of massive shifts we saw in places like Pasco County, north of Tampa, where the shift among Republican support was almost 10 points.

But looking deeper, there is more than the story. First, there were actually 6,000 fewer registered voters in the district in 16 than 12, which a combination of two things: purges of "inactive voters" and at a certain level, some voters not being interested enough to care to keep registration up to date. As a result, Clinton got 6,000 fewer votes than Obama in the district -- while Trump got about the same as Romney. In other words, Clinton carried the district by 6,000 fewer votes than Obama's 2012 margin. The total shift in the vote margin statewide was roughly 180K votes -- so just over 3% of the total shift from Obama to Trump
happened just in this one state house seat - a seat that by comparison only made up 0.6% of the entire statewide vote in the Presidential election.

Secondly, it gets even more interesting in just the Little Haiti precincts.

So inside House District 108, during the Obama re-election, voters in the Little Haiti precincts made up just over 17% of registered voters, and in the election, just over 16% of the actual 2012 voters. Looking at it another way, turnout among all Black voters in the district was roughly 70% in 2012, but within the Little Haiti precincts, was about 63%.

My guy won Little Haiti by 92% (96-4). Clinton won it by 85% (91-6%). Honestly, this data point actually surprised me. My hunch going in was Trump might have done better in these precincts than he did districtwide (10%). But here is where the huge red flag shows up. Little Haiti residents in 2016 actually made up a bigger share of registered voters than 2016 -- almost 19%, but saw their share of the district's actual vote drop to 16%. Why? Black turnout was right at 71% in the district in 2016, but inside Little Haiti, it fell to 58%.

As a result, Clinton carried these 10 precincts by 1,300 votes less than Obama did, or roughly 0.7% of the total shift from Obama to Trump -- ten precincts that by the way, make up less than one-tenth of one percent of the 2016 statewide vote. Why? Simply, Little Haiti voter participation was 13% lower than Black turnout districtwide. While Trump got better margins than Romney did four years earlier, but it had almost nothing to do with more support for him, and almost everything to do with lower participation from people who in 2012 voted for Barack Obama.

It is interesting when comparing Democratic performance in Little Haiti between 2010 and 2014, Crist did better than Sink, both in terms of turnout and performance. But I suspect, just as we saw overall Black turnout prove to be robust in 14, a lot of that was a factor of voters showing up to protect President Obama. Interestingly enough, Scott put a lot more emphasis on Caribbean voters in 2014 than 2010, so it would be useful to look outside of this one neighborhood to see if the 2014 results hold up elsewhere. Moreover, Crist's 2014 strength in Little Haiti doesn't mean, as 2016 shows, that one can expect 2018 to be the same without work.

Granted, there are lots of reasons to be cautious about reading much of anything into a ten precinct sample of one State House seat in a state like Florida, but I do think there is enough to take a longer look at this, overlaying census data with precinct maps throughout South Florida, and comparing the Presidential election in precincts with significant Caribbean population. My hunch is we would see a lot of the same.

Monday
Jan022017

The Florida Democratic Party

As the FDP gets ready to pick a new Chair, I have a few thoughts.

This isn't going to be a "what should the party do" blog. If you care what my thoughts are, I offered them a couple years ago to the outgoing Chair's 2015 "what should the party do now" committee, and you can read them here. Hell, I wrote a memo in 2005 that probably is still useful, if I could find it.

In a nutshell, if I was Democratic king for a day, the state party would be an organization that focused on just three things: maintaining a robust voter file, down ballot candidate recruitment & support, and statewide voter registration/organizing. Until they raise a lot more money, that's it. End of that blog.

That being said, throughout the Holiday party circuit, I was asked my opinion on who should be the state party chair. My response, with all due respect those running: I don't have one. I haven't spoken to any of the candidates, nor do I have a vote, or do work for the party. It isn't my fight -- and I am quite glad to be out of that game.

I am grateful there are people who want to run state parties, because it is an utterly thankless job. You get to wake up every single day, calling people who don't want to take your call for money, and taking calls/answering emails/reading blogs from people who think you are horrible at your job.  Doesn't that sound fun?

And even when you do a good job, people still think you failed.  Case in point, my friend Blaise Ingoglia, who Chairs the Florida Republican Party, is in a fight for his job after a winning election cycle.  In 2006, after we picked up a record number of state house seats, most of my emails were from angry activists who thought we should have done more. The very nature of the job -- and of politics itself, make "success" as a state party chair virtually unattainable.  I honestly have no idea why people want the job. 

But back to the FDP.

The Chair race has devolved into the usual: a fight between party activists over personalities. This is the nature of these things. On its best day, these races are adult-versions of high school elections. On their worst, they are pure circular firing squads. 

To me, what is less important than who occupies the Chair, is that the people running, the activists voting, and those observing, understand what that job is, and isn't.

I worked at the state party for almost four years. I am really proud of our record there: we picked up nine seats in the state house, one in the senate, picked up four seatsin the Congress, elected a statewide democrat to the cabinet, re-elected a US Senator, and elected a President.

Except in those cases, we actually didn't. We did good work there, and I am proud of it, but candidates and campaigns win races. Parties build organization, and provide support, and hopefully make smart decisions with the limited money they have. That is their role.

In 2006, I spent just about 2.1 million on directly supporting candidates for the Florida House of Representatives. That isn't a lot now -- and it wasn't a lot then. I used to have Democratic members of he Florida House suggest that we had a budget of 8-10-12 million, and we were making all kinds of people rich (all while, like most young party hacks, I was sleeping on people's couches on the road). When i went to work for Senator Obama in 2008, my buddy and former boss Dan Gelber said to me "Schale, you've been playing with toy trains, now you will get an actual train."

The Florida Democratic Party isn't a behemoth cash cow, raising a ton of money to line the pockets of well connected consultants. No, most of the time, it is an office with a handful of truly dedicated staff grinding every day to make payroll every month. And that is the work of most state parties -- on both sides of the aisle. Big donors don't line up to give money to the FDP -- they give money to candidates and causes. Small donors do the same. A friend of mine once called his donations to the party "political charity." In this Presidential campaign, the amount of money they two state parties actually had under their control to impact the outcome was a fraction of what the two sides spent here. So have perspective on the party's impact.

Nor does the FDP set the policy agenda -- nor should it. In Florida, Democratic state policy these days is set by legislators, and when we have Gubernatorial candidates, their message will also help drive it. Same on the GOP side. And it should be -- these are people either selected by, or running for, the votes of actual Democrats. I honestly wouldn't be upset if the next party chair only rarely opined on a policy issue.

Every Chair who I've known has come into that job with one big set of goals, and quickly realized their goals were completely unachievable. The party chair in my days, Karen Thurman, spent most of her tenure just cleaning up the party from a decade of financial bad decisions. There was never time to do all the things everyone said she should do, because for two years, she was hoping the light bill check wouldn't bounce.

So here is my suggestion for all who are voting. And honestly, I would say it applies to both parties.

This isn't a race about who has the best ideology, or who supported who in the primary. it is about basic management.

You are hiring a CEO. Find someone who is realistic about the job, capable of putting together the resources, and laser focused on the things they can actually control, namely candidate recruitment and organizing. There is nothing symbolic about who holds the job -- no regular voter actually casts a vote based on who sits in the party chair, or has any idea who chairs their state party.

As President Barack Obama told his staff at the 2013 inauguration: "America only works when you make it work..you have the power to move this country and, as a consequence, the world." 

So it boils down to this: if you want the party to do more, pick up a shovel. God knows political parties and candidates don't need more opinions, they need more doers. I banged on doors in 2016, did you? And if you don't like the party, go find a candidate or issue to support, or pick up Bob Graham and Chris Hand's new book on ways you can be more civically engaged. Just do something. 

I've got some thoughts on the bigger question of where the national movement goes from here that I'll publish on this blog sometime in the next few weeks.  

 

Friday
Dec022016

Florida Early Vote, a retrospective

It is time for one last big data piece on Florida 2016.

For about 18 hours a day over 2+ weeks, I found myself living and breathing early voting data. So now that all the data has been reported from counties, I wanted to take a look back at some assumptions, and compare them to the actual voting data.

Before I begin, there are five things to keep in mind:

1. Every time I talk in percentages, those percentages are relative to the two-party, ie Trump v Clinton numbers. I have no use or interest in playing the "what if" questions around third-party votes, so the data in here is just the two party vote. For what it is worth, this is pretty standard for my blogs.

2. I compiled this data over the entire month of November, often by pestering counties to provide data they don't have on their website. Some of the data came before the final, final certified versions, so there might be exceptionally slight variances - like tens of votes in a county - from the state final counts. However, there is nothing that happened so significant to change any findings.

3. When I talk about early voting, that is both in-person and vote by mail combined, unless I specify otherwise.

4. For the sake of interpreting the data, everything that wasn't an in-person or traditional vote by mail ballot was allocated to Election Day. So this means that there are likely provisionals from in-person early, and vbm, as well as late military ballots in Election Day. I don't think the impact of this is significant, but I'm flagging it regardless.

5. We know how people voted on Election day, but we do not know yet who voted on Election Day. In terms of firm lessons and takeaways, some of that will have to wait.

And since I was wrong about the final outcome, before we get started, here were some of my macro-assumptions going into Election Day.

When early voting started, I thought Presidential turnout would fall about 9.2 million votes. Because of early vote turnout, and based on who was left to vote on Election Day - namely voters who voted on Election Day in 2012, I modified that projection to 9.5 million late during the second week of early voting, and assuming that 3% of those would vote for someone else, this meant slightly over 9.2 million would vote for either Trump or Clinton.

I was assuming going into Election Day, we were at about 67-68% of our total turnout, and while the Democrats had a 96,000 lead among registered voters heading into Election Day, I was operating from a place that her lead was between 3-4%, largely due to the overwhelmingly diverse nature of the NPA vote, which would put her raw vote lead between 180-250K votes.

This meant Trump had to win Election Day, on the low-end by about 5.8% to upper end of 8%, just to break even. Both of these numbers are above Romney's Election Day win in 2012 (I can't remember McCain, but I suspect it is above McCain as well).

Here are two other things baked into my assumptions: Republicans had about 100,000 more "certain" voters left to vote, though when you looked at just 2012 voters, the number was about 40K.

So worse-case scenario, Democratic turnout struggled and only the certain voters turn-out. the R versus D lands about even for the entire election, and the early vote strength combined with a a more diverse NPA vote would carry the day. I think my final memo pegged her winning Florida by about 1.5%, which was about 130K votes, meaning on the more optimistic view of Clinton's early vote lead, Trump could still win Election Day by more than Romney, and she'd still win.

Since Trump is a golfer, I described his challenge on Election Day in golf terms: a 250 yard shot over water.

So here are the toplines:

9.42 million Floridians cast a ballot for President. For what it is worth, 9.58 million Floridians cast a ballot, though it was only 9.3 million in the Senate race.

9,122,861 Floridians voted for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Trump's margin was about 113K votes, or roughly 1.2% out of the two-party voters.

69.3% of the vote was cast before Election Day.

Of the VBM/early vote, Clinton won by just over 247K votes -- roughly a 4 point edge (she won both VBM and early vote)

On election day, Trump won by 360K, or a roughly 13 point margin over Clinton.

Toplines versus basic assumptions:

Turnout on Election Day was slightly lower than I expected, by about 80-100K votes. Given that my projection was based largely on the number of 2012 voters who had yet to vote, it was almost certainly lower because some share of 2012 Election Day Democrats didn't show up, and, more than likely, another share voted for Trump. This is the big question I will be looking at when the state updates the final 2016 voter file.

Clinton's nearly 250K vote lead was actually at the upper-end of my projections. Honestly, this surprised me. I suspected some of my optimism in the numbers leading up to the election was misplaced, and honestly thought as I put numbers into Excel, that we'd see she had gone into Election Day with a narrower lead. However, almost everything was landing right on target for her to win. As I get more into this, and look at some of the benchmarks I tracked throughout, you can see the pattern for my optimism going into Election Day.

However, Trump just crushed Election Day. There is no other way to look at it. And as I discussed in the first look back at the numbers, it really happened in just a handful of places: namely the Tampa and Orlando media markets. For example, his two-party vote share was 8.39% higher on Election Day (56.44) than Early Vote. (48.05), but in Tampa it was up 8.92% (51.5% EV, 60.42 ED), and Orlando was up 9.08% (48.8% EV, 57.88% ED). Less than 3 million voted for Bush or Clinton on Election Day, yet he won the day by 360K votes.

How big is that? Bush won Florida in 2004 by landslide for Florida proportions: 380K votes -- out of 7.6 million cast. Trump's Election Day margin almost matched it.

Benchmarks

For most of early voting, I tracked a variety of benchmarks, namely Hillsborough (the only county that voted for Bush and Obama both times), the I-4 corridor counties, South Florida and #Duuuval county. So for the sake of this exercise, let's start there:

Hillsborough:

Clinton went into Election Day with about a 29K partisan advantage among early voters, or a partisan lead of about 6.8%.

When the votes were cast, she carried the early voting period almost 44,000 votes, or almost 11% of the two-party vote. Trump won election day by just under 2 points, or right at 3,000 votes, so when all was done, Clinton carried the county by 41,000 votes. The final percentage margin, 6.8% was almost the same as Obama, and her raw vote win was about 5,000 votes larger.

The county was a little below where it should have been for turnout. Hillsborough is typically about 6.% f the statewide vote, but it landed at 6.3%, largely because its Election Day share was down -- only 29% of Hillsborough votes came on Election Day.

Long and short of it, Hillsborough could have been a little better, but that number is right at what a win for Democrats looks like.

I-4 Corridor

Hillary Clinton won the I-4 counties by almost 162K votes, but here the Trump surge on Election Day is very evident. She won these counties by almost 200,000 votes in the early/vbm phase, yet Trump won Election Day by almost 35,000 votes. Overall, Clinton won the early phase with 56.3% of the two-party vote, though only won 47.3% of the Elecion Day vote -- a surge which exceeded his statewide average.

When you look at the Volusia and Polk numbers, you can see the seeds of how Trump won on Election Day. Compared to the state, both saw their Election Day turnout levels exceed Early Vote -- with 34% of the Volusia vote coming on Election Day, and over 40% for Polk. Once fairly Democratic Volusia has been the canary in the coal mine for a free cycles - there is a reason I've highlighted it in blogs for years. If I was going to do qualitative research into 2016, I'd start with focus groups in Volusia.

Pinellas is a slightly different kind of animal, but his Election Day performance is probably indicative of late deciders breaking almost exclusively for Trump. Had the FBI Director not chosen to insert himself into the campaign with a week to ago, I suspect Clinton would have carried Pinellas (albeit very narrowly).

In total, 24.1% of the statewide vote came from these counties, of which 70.6% of the vote came before Election Day. Another way to look at it: while only 29.4% of the total vote from these counties came in on Election Day, 33.4% of Trumps' vote total from these counties came in on Election Day. I suspect when Election Day voter data comes out, we will see a cratering of minority participation.


Volusia (Daytona)
Final early vote party spread: 39.6 R, 37.1 D, 23.3 NPA R + 4,302
Actual early vote spread: Trump +8.88% (+14,754 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Trump +22.28% (+19,162 votes)
Final results: Trump +33,916 (54.3-41.4%). In 12, Romney was +2700 (+1.15%)

Seminole – suburban Orlando
Final early vote party spread: 41.0 R, 35.0D, 24.0 NPA R +10,316
Actual Early Vote spread: Clinton +1.84% (+2,989 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Trump +12.36% (+6,518 votes)
Final results: Trump +3,529 votes (48.1-46.5%). In 12, Romney was +13,500 (+6.5%)

Orange (Orlando)
Final early party spread: 45.8 D, 29.5 R, 24.7 NPA D +67,155
Actual Early Vote spread: Clinton +29.71% (+116,949 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Clinton +13.49% (+17.729 votes)
Final spread: Clinton +134,678 votes (59.7%-35.4%). In 2012, Obama was +85,000 (+18.2%)

Osceola – heavy Hispanic suburban Orlando.
Final early vote party spread : 47.1 D, 26.2 R, 26.7 NPA D + 22,625
Actual Early Vote spread: Clinton +29.71% (+30,645 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Clinton+13.98% (+4,512 votes)
Final results: Clinton: +35,157 votes (60.4-30.6%). In 2012, Obama was roughly +27K (+24.4%)

Imperial Polk – between Tampa/Orlando
Final Early Vote Party Spread: 39.6 R, 39 D, 21.4 NPA R +1,085
Actual Early Vote Spread: Trump +7.55% (+12,424 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Trump +25.01% (+27,573 votes)
Final results: Trump +13.94% (+39,997 votes). In 2012, Romney was +19K votes (+6.8%)

Hillsborough (See Above)

Pinellas (Clearwater/St. Pete)
Final early vote party spread: 38.5 R, 38.2 D, 23.3 NPA D +752
Actual early vote spread: Clinton +4.58% (+14,460 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Trump +12.72% (+19,960 votes)
Final results: Trump +1.1% (+5,500 votes). In 2012, Obama won by about 26K votes (+5.5%)

South Florida

Going into Election Day, there was almost nothing that I didn't feel good about in South Florida, and here is why: 87.7% of the entire 2012 election turnout voted early in Dade. In Broward, it was a respectable 81%. In fact, 11.9% of all early votes came in from Dade (should be 10.3%), and Broward was at 9.65% (should have been 8.75%).

And then Election Day happened. The issue here was different than I-4. Trump's share of the two-party vote in Broward and Dade went from 32% to 38.7%, a growth of 6.7%, which while significant, is lower than his statewide average increase of 8.4%. What happened on Election Day is people didn't vote. Statewide, 30.7% of the vote came on Election Day -- in Broward and Dade, it was 23.2%. Another way of looking ai: these two counties made up 21.5% of early vote, and only 14.7 of Election Day

That being said, these two counties both exceeded their projected share of the statewide vote, as well as set records for vote margins. Democrats can not blame losing on Broward and Dade not doing their jobs.

On the flip side, I was concerned about Palm Beach County the entire early vote period. Even in my last memo, I called Palm Beach a "red flag" largely due to lagging turnout. While the Democratic margins were good, Palm Beach was only 5.9% of the statewide early vote, and it should have been 7%. Well it turned out on Election Day -- 41.1% of the total Palm Beach County vote came in on Election Day, making up 9.5% of the total statewide vote, the biggest single jump in the state. And it was a Trump vote that showed up: after running up a 95K vote lead in the early vote, Clinton won Election Day by just over 7K.

When it boils down to it, Clinton won the county by about the same vote margin as Obama in 2012 (which was down from 08), but her vote share was down. Frankly going forward, Palm Beach is a place where Democrats need to up their game.

Palm Beach
Final early vote party spread: 47.3 D, 28.4 R, 24.3 NPA D +74,728
Actual early vote spread: Clinton +24.9% (+94,888 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Clinton +2.78 (+7,383 votes)
Final results: Clinton +15.1% (+102,271 votes). In 2012, Obama won by just over 102K (+17%).

Broward
Final early vote party spread: 55.4 D, 21.7 R, 22.9 NPA D +212,077
Actual early vote spread: Clinton +41.7% (+254,391 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Clinton +18.6 (+37,978 votes)
Final results: Clinton +34.9% (+292,369 votes). In 2012, Obama won by 264K votes (+34.9%)

Miami-Dade
Final early vote party spread: 43.9 D, 29.2 R, 26.9 NPA D +114,767
Actual early vote spread: Clinton +34.4% (+234,758 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Clinton +26.7% (+55,389 votes)
Final results: Clinton +29.4% (+290,147 votes). In 2012, Obama won by 208.5K votes (+23.6%)

#DUUUUVAL

Clinton had one job in Duval, keep it manageable. If you had given the Clinton campaign the option of spotting Trump a 20,000 vote win in Duval in exchange for both campaigns walking away, I would have urged them to take it. After all, this is a county where Bush in 04 won by 61,000 votes, and given that Trump exceeded the Bush 04 margins in most counties, running up a big number here was a real possibility.

But she did her job here, plus some. In keeping Trump's Duval margins under 6,000 votes, she had the best showing in Duval for a Presidential Democratic candidate since Jimmy Carter, and she held Trump well below the Rubio numbers, who won the county by 70,000 votes. If #NeverTrump succeeded anywhere, it was in Duval.

Final early vote party spread: 42.5D, 41.1 R, 16.4 NPA D +4,279
Actual early vote spread: Clinton +1.9% (+5.439 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Trump +8.9% (+11,407 votes)
Final results: Trump +1.4% (+5,968 votes). In 2012, Romney won by 15K votes (+3.6%)

Final Thoughts

There isn't much more to say -- Clinton had the race where it needed to be, and Trump won it on Election Day.

First, one quick note on the votes before Election Day. Democrats had about 1.5% edge in the voters who had voted either in-person early or a vote by mail ballot, yet she won the early voting period by almost 4%. This was likely do to her over-performing with NPAs, given that non-white voters made up 37% of NPA voters (comapred to 33% of partisans).

I suspect what we will see when the Election Day voter data comes out that white NPA participation was quite high, balancing out the racial make-up of the NPA voter to look more like the electorate at-large.

So where did Trump really win it? The data from the early vote/Election Day totals confirms my first glance: This was a win primarily in suburban/exurban I-4.

Here's why.

Start with my favorite analogy, Florida as a scale. The GOP media market buckets (Pensacola, Panama City, Jacksonville and Fort Myers) and the Dem buckets (Tallahassee, Gainesville, West Palm and Miami) largely balance themselves out, and I-4 tilts it one way or the other. This year, in their core markets, Republicans did much better on Election Day than the Democrats, winning them by 188K votes, compared to the Democrats only winning theirs by 70K, carrying a margin of roughly 120K votes out of their core markets.

However, Democrats went into Election Day with a bigger margin, having crushed the Republicans in early vote, by almost 260K votes. In fact, Clinton's 141K final margin over Trump in the core partisan markets was a few thousand votes higher than Obama in 2012.

Then we get to I-4, and this time, we look at it not as just as the counties on I-4, but every county in the two media markets. Going into Election Day, I-4 was pretty balanced, with Trump holding a 11K vote lead. But on Election Day, Trump won by 242K votes. In other words, 95.5% of Trump's total margin in the Tampa and Orlando media markets came on Election Day. In total, Trump won 59% of the two-party vote in the Tampa and Orlando media markets on Election Day.

And of those 242K votes, 200K of that margin came from the non-urban counties in the media market, in other words. Just on Election Day.

And while it is true that Republicans always do better on Election Day, his Election Day "improvement" particularly in the Tampa media markets far exceeded Romney.

For example, in Pasco, his vote share was 7.69% higher on Election Day than in Early Vote, where as Romney was 2.59% higher, or 5.1% greater than Romney. In Polk, he was also 5.1% higher, Seminole 5.1%, Sarasota 5.4%, and Pinellas 7.2%. We saw similar things in the outlying counties in the Palm Beach market, where in St. Lucie, his vote share was 11.1% higher on Election Day, a 5.2% increase on Romney, and in Martin County, where his Election Day improvement was 6.3% higher than Romney.

I could keep writing on this, but until we get actual voter data from Election Day back, there isn't much else to add. I will do a piece on my thoughts on where the Democrats should go from here sometime in the next few weeks, but as I mentioned in my last piece, the Trump loss, at least regionally, looks a lot like the Bush win in 04 -- and there is a road map for how to reverse it (see Obama).

And again, I don't think it is as simple as Republicans had more voters left to vote, because best case scenario, that number was only about 100,000 more voters. No, this almost surely a cratering of Democratic turnout, all Election Day deciders going to Trump, and an Election Day surge contributing to the comeback.

The combination of two unliked candidates, Trump's success at driving the narrative into the ground, and all of the late-breaking issues going to Trump, it ended up being the perfect storm on November 8th, or in Trump's case, the perfect 3-wood over water to that green 250 yards away.

And I lied in the first sentence -- I'll be back once we have the full voter file with Election Day voters. Until then, Happy Holidays, unless you are a Jags fan,,because we will surely all get a Gus Bradley extension for Christmas.

Monday
Nov142016

Florida 2016 in the rearview mirror

Give any Florida strategist with statewide experience the following data points: by 7:15pm, the Democratic candidate has a 10 point lead in Hillsborough, a 100K vote lead in Orange, a 200K vote lead in both Dade and Broward early voting, and is ahead in Duval, and everyone would think the same thing: that Democratic candidate is going to win. Certainly that is what I thought, and what everyone, R and D, who texted me around that time thought too.

Back in October, I had looked at several different models. Most of them played out with a narrow Clinton win, one of them came back a tie (not in percentages - an actual raw vote tie), and in one of them, where I assumed in most counties that Trump would earn the higher of Romney or Bush04 vote share, and in that one, Trump won by a point. I sent it to a few friends on both sides, who generally dismissed it. Going into Election Day, pretty much everything was lining up with one of the models that had her headed to about 1.5-2 point win.

I have a plan every Election Night: check Pasco early vote, then hit refresh until Hillsborough, Pinellas, Duval, Orange, Dade and Broward report, followed by a swing through I-4 suburban and exurban counties. Sure the initial Pasco and Pinellas numbers didn't look too good, but they looked survivable, especially considering pretty much everything else was at or above my target. Then I went and looked at Volusia...Hernando...Brevard...Sarasota...Polk...then back to Pasco. The last of my models was more than playing out. I slammed down the rest of my beer, and called a buddy in Brooklyn to report the bad news. It was done. CNN could have called it at 8:00 EST, she wasn't winning Florida. In fact, looking back at my texts, I told a guy at CNN around 8:15 EST that it was done.

Despite my optimism going into Election Day, in my gut, I knew this could happen. As many folks have heard me say over the last few years, while I am a big believer -- and still am -- that demographic trends work in the Democratic Party's favor, all of this hinges on the Democratic candidate maintaining a reasonable floor with white voters. Frankly, it was a big part of why I was a big proponent of the Vice President running. As I told CNN's "The Lead" in late August 2015 about Biden: "I live in the swing state of Florida. If you look at the way Democrats have struggled with working class, working white voters primarily...he gives us a chance to talk to some voters in the general election that we've struggled with the last few cycles."

President Obama had some reach with these voters, or at least enough for us to win. In 2008, we knew we had to hit 40 with whites, in 2012, we needed to get close to it. For Secretary Clinton, it meant maintaining President Obama's numbers with whites from 2012. As you will see in a few minutes, she clearly didn't -- not only here, but throughout the country.

So let's start with a couple of Florida factoids:

*2016 marked the 4th straight statewide election (two Governors, two Presidentials), where the victor's margin of victory was roughly a point.

*And just to drive home the point of Florida's competitiveness -- when you go back to 1992, the year where Florida became a true battleground state, there have been more than 50 million votes cast for President, and Republicans and Democrats are separated by 12,000 votes. No, that isn't a typo -- 12,000 votes, or right at 0.02%.

*Trump set the new high water mark for Republican vote share in 40 of Florida's 67 counties.

So what happened?

I often will describe Florida as a scale. Take the GOP markets (North Florida markets + Fort Myers) and in a neutral year, it will balance out the Dem markets (Miami and West Palm), and more or less, the race balances of the fulcrum of I-4. Because of the Democratic trends in Miami-Dade, the math has changed a bit: Democrats can now count on bigger margins out of their markets than the GOP can out of theirs, and thus can still win even if they lose I-4 by a little bit. This was the Obama 2012 path: the President carried a margin of about 550K votes out of his base markets, Romney was about 410K out of his, and even though Romney narrowly carried both I-4 markets, it wasn't enough.

Which is a good way to frame the "Things that didn't cost Hillary Florida" section:

Base turnout: Both Broward and Dade county had higher turnout rates, and the Miami media market had a higher margin for Clinton than Obama. And even with Palm Beach coming in a little short, she won her two base markets by about 75K more votes than Obama 2012, and won a slighly higher share of the vote. Broward and Dade alone combines for a 580K vote margin, and honestly, I think around 600K is pretty close to maxing out.

The Panhandle: True, Trump did win the "I-10 corridor" by more votes than Romney, but it wasn't significant. His 345K vote margin as slighly better than Romney's 308K, and pretty much in line with Bush 04's 338K North Florida vote majority. And frankly, Clinton succeeded in the major North Florida objective: keep #Duuuval County close. Trump's 6,000 vote plurality in Duval County was the best Democratic performance in a Presidential election since Carter won Duval in 1976.

Hispanics: It is true that Hispanics under-performed out west, but here in Florida, she did considerably better than Obama in the exit polls -- polls that are reflective in the record margins she posted in the heavily Hispanic areas of Miami-Dade, Broward, Orange, and Osceola.

SW Florida: This was the GOP talking point during early vote: SW Florida was blowing up for Trump. And they were right, it did. But SW Florida typically has exceptionally high turnout, and high GOP margins, and in the end, Trump's total was only about 40K votes bigger than Romney.

In fact, if you add up the 8 "partisan" markets, which make up 55% of the statewide vote, the 2016 election was basically a repeat of 2012. Trump's margin was less than 2,000 votes better than Romney.

It was rural Florida: Trump did very well in rural Florida, but so did Romney. If you take all the counties with less than 250,000 residents, he increased Romney's vote share by 125,000 votes -- enough to make up the Obama 2012 margin -- except, Clinton increased Obama's margin in the counties with more than 750,000 residents by over 100,000 votes. In other words, rural and suburban cancel eachother out. What doesn't cancel out -- midsize suburban/exurban counties, places with 250,000-750,000 residents -- Trump won them by 200,000 more votes than Romney

One more reason: HRC 'cannibalized' her vote early, in other words, had all the typical Democrats vote early, and lost because there were just simply that many more Republicans left to vote. Here is why this one is tricky.

First, Republicans have a lot more "reliable voters" in that, they have fewer voters that drop-off in the midterm elections. Democrats have more "potential voters" - in other words, unreliable or first-time voters. During early voting, GOP had over 200K more "three of three" voters -- in other words, people who voted in 2014, 2012, and 2010 who voted early than Democrats, but the Dems had a lot more infrequent voters. And yes, the Dems had more "2012 voters" who voted early, but they also just had more 2012 voters.

Going into Election day, GOP still had more than 100K "three of three" voters to vote, which alone wasn't enough to get him to the kind of win he had. However, if you looked at just people who voted in 2012, the GOP edge was just 40K. In other words, had the 2012 voters all voted, the Dem early voting margin would have remained. We don't yet know who exactly voted on election day, but what we do know is the GOP really surged, and Dems didn't.

In fact, in ten of the eleven counties where Trump most increased the vote margins from Romney, his vote share (not margin) was at least 6.3% higher on election day than during early voting -- and in six of the eleven, the increase was at least 8.2%. For example, Trump won 53.8% of the Polk County early vote, but won 62.6% of the election day vote -- an increase in his share of 8.8%. In other words, in some of these counties, Trump was winning Election Day by 15 points more than he won Early voting.

And this didn't just happen in counties where Trump won. Even base Democratic counties saw this Trump surge. Take Broward County, where Trump won less than 30% of the early votes, he won over 40% on Election Day, or Orange County, where she won early voting by more than 30 points and racked up an almost 120K vote lead, only to watch Trump cut her Election Day only margin to 17K votes. In my last memo, I described what I thought Trump's Election Day challenge was in golf terms -- a 250 yard shot over water. Turns out, he did have that shot. Simply, he crushed her on Election Day.

So, where did he beat her? Simple: I-4, and more specifically, the 15 counties that make up suburban and exurban I-4.

Quick recap: The I-4 corridor is roughly defined as the Tampa and Orlando media markets. If you are a Democrat, win here, and you win. If you are a Republican, win big here, and you win. Given that the rest of the state in 2016 generally looked like 2012, Trump needed to win big here.

But that wasn't necessarily easy. The urban core in the Orlando market (Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties), is getting more Democratic quickly. In fact, in these three counties alone, Hillary Clinton extended President Obama's 2012 margins by over 65,000 votes. So, not only does Trump have to win the I-4 markets by 75,000 votes more than Romney did in 2012 just to win, he needs to find 65,000 more to make up for urban Orlando.

Well he did, and more. Trump won the I-4 markets by more than 250K votes. Where Romney won the two-party vote share on I-4 by 2 points, Trump won it by 6 -- including winning the Tampa market by 9 points.

But it was even more granular than this. If you break up the markets into two buckets: urban counties (Hillsborough, Pinellas, Orange, Osceola and Seminole), and non-urban counties, the Trump path to victory -- and the challenge for Democrats, becomes even more clear.

Despite losing Pinellas County -- and Trump's significant gains there, Hillary Clinton won "urban I-4" by some 200K votes, which was more than Obama in 2008 or Obama in 2012. These counties account for about 48% of the votes on the I-4 corridor.

In the other 15, which make up the other 52% the region's votes, Donald Trump won by 450K votes. By comparison, Romney won these counties by 220K votes, and McCain by 130K. In other words, pretty much the entire rest of the state's election balanced out just like 2012, except one glaring place: suburban/exurban I-4. If you look back at 2004, you will see a fairly similar dynamic.

Here are a few examples:

Pasco
2008: McCain +7,687
2012: Romney +14,164
2016: Trump +51,899

Volusia
2008: Obama +13,857
2012: Romney +2,742
2016: Trump: +33,970

Hernando
2008: McCain +3,135
2012: Romney +7,108
2016: Trump: 26,860

I could go on like this for awhile

Overall, Trump won the Orlando market by slightly more than Romney, which is pretty remarkable given Clinton's strength in the core of Orlando. The Tampa market was solidly Trump. winning the two party vote share by 9 points. The rule of Tampa picking Presidents was once again true.

What is interesting is this is also the place where we saw the closest thing to a GOP turnout surge. Of these 15 counties, all but three of them saw turnout rates above 2012, with most seeing their turnout rates up 3-5 points. Whlle these counties are economically quite different, they are almost universally less diverse than the state at-large. We won't know exactly who voted on Election Day for a few more weeks, but I would bet we will see some increase in infrequent white voters of all parties to help drive those margins.

Overall, turnout was a bit all over the place this year. The I-10 markets were a smaller share of the vote than 2012, and Orlando was much higher. But within markets, you can see the exurban/suburban thing play out. That being said, Democrats can't blame this on turnout.

I also think there is an element here of Clinton losing the turnout fight in these places. These were the communities that were not getting a ton of field support (note, I didn't say none), but were places that Americans for Prosperity were heavily invested in behalf of Rubio. I've worried for some time that the "Trump has no ground game" narrative could slowly seep towards complacency, and we might have seen the proof of this in these areas. I wrote about this in a piece on May, when I suggested Trump could win the same way Scott won. Well, it happened.

So what comes next? Well, I will write more on that subject coming soon, but for some of us old guys, we will recognize the 2016 map as very similar to the 2004 map. In the two cycles that followed, Democrats won two statewide races, plus the Presidency, and picked up numerous seats in the Congress and Legislature? How? By reaching back into these communities and restarting the conversation. In Florida, the basic rule winning is managing margins, particularly in suburban and exurban I-4. In 04, Bush did it and won. In 08 and 12, Obama won that battle. In 16, Trump did.

And again, this isn't just a Florida deal -- what happened here isn't isolated. But I will make this one point -- one I've made a lot over the last few years: if Democrats in Florida can win around 40% of the white vote -- which is less than what Obama won in 2008, they will win almost every statewide race going forward. Demographics can be destiny -- but it isn't automatically.

Lastly, to the organizers on both sides -- stay in the fight. If you were for Trump, go be a part of the solution. President Obama told his 2008 organizers to go make their own solutions -- you should too. For the Clinton organizers, get up off the mat. There are more fights ahead and more chances to contribute.

Tuesday
Nov082016

We made it America.

To: Anyone who has been reading my memos, Putin included.
From: Steve Schale
Re: We survived, and genuine thanks from me.

First, thank you all for following along for the last two weeks. This memo isn't going to be a big data dump. For those, you can go back and read the other 12 versions of this thing.

But I want to start with a couple of numbers. First: 67. 67% was the percentage of the electorate was white in 2012 -- which by the way was down from 71 in 2008. My foundational assumption was if the electorate was more diverse than 2012, the basic coalition that got President Obama over the line in 2012 would hold. We finish early voting at 65.7 white, 15.3 hispanic, and 13.1 black, with the black number closing in on the 2012 share, and the white number down.

The other thing working into play here is the explosion of turnout in Central Florida and Miami. If you reweighted the 2012 election by the current 2016 share of vote by market, Obama would have beaten Romney by almost twice the 2012 margin, or 1.5%. Under same scenario, if you apply the 2012 margins by county to the 2016 turnout, you end up with a nearly 2 point Clinton win. And none of this factors in the likelihood that race will drive larger margins in some areas -- and smaller Republican ones in others.

So as I think about this race, I try to get my head around what both candidates have going for them.

First the factors that Clinton should feel good about:

The electorate is more diverse than 2012.

The Orlando area (Orange and Osceola) and Miami area (Broward and Dade) are turning out a full 3 points higher as a share of the state (29.3% than projected (26.15%).

While Republicans talked about Trump's ability to turn-out low propensity voters, it is Clinton who has turned out 250,000 more low propensity voters.

NPA voters, making up the largest share they've ever made up in a Florida Presidential election, are 4 points more diverse than the electoate at-large, including a 20% Hispanic share.

Voters who do not fit into one of the three main demographic categories are over 50% low propensity, and combined, are 77% Democratic or NPA.

North Florida, a Trump stronghold, is well under its performance targets, yet #Duuuval County, a GOP stronghold, is actually starting Election Day with a 4K voter Democratic edge. Again, this is why the President came to Duval. For Dems, it was never about winning there, but it is all about stopping the tide.

Factors Trump Should Feel Good About

The Fort Myers media market is over-performing its projected market share by about 1%

Democrats have a smaller raw voter lead going into Election Day. While I think there are structural reasons for this, it is still reality.

There are more Republicans who voted in both 2008 and 2012 left to vote than Democrats (though among just 2012 voters, it's basically a tie).

So what does this mean?

Those are not equal ledgers, and pretty much everything that Hillary Clinton wanted to have happen to position herself to win Florida has happened.

I was asked yesterday about a journalist, "So Schale, what would you be worried about if you were in her campaign?"

Truthfully, not a lot. I am normally superstitious about turnout, so of course you worry about that. But at the same time, I also recognize that for Trump to win, he has to have a ridiculously good day. I suspect that when early voting is counted, that she will have won the early vote by 3-4 points, and if early voting is, let's say 2/3rds of all the votes, it means Trump has to win tomorrow by 6-8 points. I don't think 6-8 points is out there today for him.

If you look at the 3.2 million voters who in 2012 who haven't voted yet, even if they all vote, Miami and Orlando still remain well above both their 2012 share and their projected share, and I-10 (Trump Country) still falls below 2012. Also, Fort Myers comes back to life, finishing where it should, about 6.6% of the electorate.

So in other words, even if all those 2012 voters come out -- voters that lean a little Republican, the electorate is still regionally balanced better for Clinton than Obama, is more diverse than it was for Obama, and has an NPA voter pool that is more diverse than it was for Obama -- or in any state where Trump is winning NPAs. Can Trump win today? Sure. Is it likely? Not really.

In other words, what should I be concerned about?

My good friend Tom Eldon, a longtime FL pollster and fellow oenophile, asked me today "On scale of 1-10, how are you feeling?" If I was a 7 going into 2012 (just ask every reporter who heard me make my pitch for why Obama would win a state no one thought he would), and a 10 in 2008, Tom agreed he was also a 9 (sorry to out you bro).

Really it is this simple: If the Clinton operation hits its marks tonight, she's going to win. It's going to be fairly close, probably in the 1.5% margin range. It's hard to nail down exactly because I don't have access to campaign polling (real polling, not public polls).

What To Look for?

Data is going to come in very fast today after 7.

Two scenarios: because so much vote is early & will be reported early, if she's going to win by say 2 or more, I think it will be fairly apparent early. Under a point, it will be late.

Brian Corley in Pasco County usually reports first, VBM-ABS just after 7pm. Pinellas is early as well, and often Orange and Duval come not long after. In those counties, you are looking at 60-75% of the vote coming in at one time. If it is relatively close in Duval and Pasco, and she's leading in Pinellas, and Orange is looking +20, she's probably going to win, but it will take time for race to play out. If Orange is bigger than that or if she starts out tied or with a lead in Duval, it could be faster.

Dade will also come, probably around 7:30 (though being Dade, it might be 7:30 on Thursday). As I told a reporter tonight, I have no clue what to expect. She could be up 25, or she might be up 40, but I suspect it will be big. Former is probably a winning number, latter would be tough to beat. Broward should be about the same time. I suspect a margin north of 200K in the early voting.

Around 8pm, the Panhandle will come in. Romney won the Panama City and Pensacola media markets by about 180K votes. So to be super generous, spot Trump 250K in the Central Time Zone. Unless there is something really odd with the reporting - like Dade or Palm Beach report nothing before 8, if she is up in the 300K margin, it will be hard for Trump to overcome. If it is 400 at that point, you can go home.

But we will know pretty early if it is a short night or a long night. But either way, I think it is a steep challenge for Trump. Since he is a golfer - I'll put it this way: I think he's basically facing a 250 yard carry over water, into a little wind, and that's a shot he probably doesn't have in his bag. God knows I don't have that shot anymore.

Remember, you have to track these on individual county sites until 8. State won't report data until polls close in the CST zone.

What is interesting about Florida is that the margins in counties consistent over time. Outside of a handful of places, we have a decent sense of where it will land. For Trump to win, ths basically has to happen: in 64 counties, he has to get the highest share of any Republican between 2000 and 2012, and he has to keep Clinton's margins in Osceola, Orange, and Dade in the low 20s. He has major problems with the former, namely semi-large places like Sarasota, Polk and Duval, which so no signs of being anywhere near their GOP highs. And with the latter, I don't see how Clinton doesn't stretch Obama's margins in all three of those counties.

So with that, I think she wins. In fact, I am pretty confident. I don't think it's a huge margin, but no win in FL Presidential or Gubernatorial races these days is huge.

Lastly, I hate Election Day as a staffer. Other than trying to get your side on TV or ordering robo calls, there isn't really anything you can do other than trust your operation, and hanging out in the boiler room all day is about the most horrible thing you can do. I spend most of Eday calling fellow hacks of both parties. I've always found it a strangely congenial day between warriors, mainly because we are all doing the same thing, pretty much sitting around.

Today, I take out my Turkish group, and we are going to go see some campaigning, before heading to Tampa to watch the results. I will be providing some thoughts on early returns on Twitter, so pay attention.

Finally, and I mean this with all sincerity, I truly appreciate everyone who took the timto read my musings. When I wrote the first one last Tuesday, I did not plan on doing this daily, but it kind of took off. For me, writing is how I think things out, and so over the last two weeks, I've used these memos, not only to provide some data, but also to work through some of the emerging questions about this race. I also hoped to provide some context to the map, from the eyes of someone who has been trying to read defenses for a solid decade on the field of play.

I'd also like to thank my wife for putting up with me not paying attention to anything other than my spreadsheets for two weeks, my friends who have dealt with me constantly responding to emails and texts, and those who have found my voice mail full. I also want to thank my friend Dan Smith at UF for letting me bounce some theories and data off him, as well as other hack friends, including more than one Republican that I won't name to protect the innocent, for being good checks on what I was writing. I don't have staff, and for 99% of the time, I was doing all my own data work, so forgive me if I didn't respond to you on phone, email or twitter. I've been drinking straight from the proverbial fire hose since about 2pm on day one of in-person voting. As I've told many reporters, my respect for how they manage the flow of information has substantially risen - and thanks to all of you for your feedback over the last two weeks.

I've enjoyed having a life for most this cycle, but it was fun to be in the game for a few weeks. But mostly, having not slept more than 5 hours in 2 weeks, or eaten more than 2-3 proper meals, I'm ready for it to end. It's time to put this shibacle of an election behind & hopefully start reducing the acrimony on both sides of the American debate.

So until 2020 -- if I am crazy enough to do this again, Happy Election Day, that singular day when we get to renew the greatest experiment in self-governing man has ever known.

Monday
Nov072016

1 more day. We can do this

To: The tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to be free of 2016

From: Steve Schale, Florida Sherpa

Re: It is almost drinkin' time

I usually do a timeline here, but since I cant even imagine life in a post-2016 election cycle world, I am simply going to say, Thank God America, we have damn near made it. Like the weed that I can't get to stop growing up the side of my back yard fence, admit it, you thought this would never end. But it is going to. Yes. Tomorrow, we will have a winner. Just hang in there one more day.

On Sunday, I took my Turkish crew to the St. Mark AME Church for a Souls to the Polls service with Val Demings and Kamia Brown, after which we visited an early voting site nearby. The lines at noon were already quite long, so it came as no surprise that Orange County (Orlando) set a turnout record. And so did Osceola, and Hillsborough, Broward, Palm Beach, Duval, Leon, Pinellas, and yes, Miami Dade.

In fact, Miami Dade had more people vote today than 33 counties have had vote in this entire election. They more than 760K people who voted in early voting is equal to almost 88% of the entire vote cast in the 2012 election. If Election Day turnout is just half of what it was in 2012, more than 1 million people will vote in Dade. I had it estimated at 900K, as did most people I spoke with.

In total, almost 260k people voted yesterday in the 15 counties that cast ballots. To put that in context, most days last week of in-person early voting barely eclipsed the total from 15 counties. Frankly, the turnout was stunning.

There will be some VBM ballots which will show up tomorrow at elections offices, but the below numbers are pretty much what we will see heading into E-Day.

So let me try to make some sense out of this.

Total Ballots cast: 6,419,154

Total Vote By Mail: 2,549,633 (41.5%)

Total Early Vote: 3,869,521 (58.5%)

Democrats: 2,558.072 (39.85%)

Republicans: 2,470,823 (38.49%)

NPA: 1,390,259 (21.66%)

Total Margin: DEM +1.36%

How big is the final weekend for Dems?

Friday: Dems +0.13 (+7K)

Saturday: Dems +0.59 (+32K)

Sunday: Dems +1.36 (+87K)

To repeat from yesterday, my go-to model for this cycle has been 40D-39R-21NPA. NPA’s are going to outpace it, but I still think +1 DEM is pretty safe.

And when you add Sunday, here is how the NPA tracked over the last week

After Sunday: 21.66%

After Sat: 21.35%

After Fri: 20.55%

After Thurs: 20.2%

After Wed: 19.8%

After Sunday: 19.3%

Right now, I think about 67% percent of the likely electorate has voted. Late last week, I predicted 70%, but to be fair, I had it at 9.2m turnout late last week. At that turnout, EV ended up at 69.7%, so that prediction was almost OK. 9.5 million is where I do think it lands – that is roughly 08 level turnout (exact 08 would be 9.55m). Given the sheer numbers of low propensity voters, it could go beyond that, but honestly, I would be surprised (albeit pleasantly).

So let’s dive in to the usual benchmarks

Hillsborough:

Hillsborough had a record day, with Dems leading the day by a 3500 voter plurality. NPA voters made up 30% of the voters yesterday, which is pretty remarkable, out placing NPA registration at 28.

All in all, the Dems will go into Eday with a 7 point voter registration advantage, which is slightly more Republican than the county’s voter registration statistics. D’s maintain an 8 point voter registration advantage in the county. Keep in mind, the reason I use Hillsborough is it is the recent benchmark, as the only county won by Bush twice and Obama twice.

And Hillsborough is doing a nice job of playing its role as the state benchmark. It should be about 6.5% of all statewide votes, and that is pretty much where it is in early voting (6.51%)

Yesterday: 41.7 Dem – 28.3 GOP – 30.0 NPA.

Total: 42.1 Dem – 35.3 GOP – 22.6 NPA

Dem +28,092

I-4

Almost as many people voted as Saturday, even though Volusia had no early voting, and the Dems won the day by over 13,00. But again, the big news is NPA, which made up 30% of all the voters along the highway, out-pacing Republicans.

Again it was metro-Orlando driving the NPA surge, with Seminole, Osceola, and Orange all over 30% NPA, with Osceola topping out at 33%. In fact, yesterday’s record day in both Osceola and Orange (I don’t have historic Seminole data), saw Dem + NPA = over 75% of the vote. The Obama effect again.

To date: 42.1 D - 35.4 R – 23.4 NPA

Yesterday: 41.6 D -28.4 R – 30.0 NPA

In total 1.74 million votes were cast in the 7 counties along this interstate. To put this in perspective, I-4 county early voting in 2016 was bigger than Iowa in 2012.

These counties are now exceeding my projection of the state’s share by 0.8%, coming in at 27.16% of the state through yesterday, compared to my projection of 26.38%. But as I mentioned yesterday, this is not a disparity created equally along the interstate. In terms of ranking, Orange and Osceola are the fourth and fifth most “over-performing” counties in the state. On the flip side, the 5th most under-performing: Polk, which typically is a lean-GOP county, and frankly, is the kind of place I expected to see a “secret-Trump vote” surge. It might happen Tuesday, but I’m not convinced.

Also, my phone will blow up if I don’t mention that Pinellas flipped to the Dem column yesterday. It is still exceptionally tight and my gut says Trump does better than Romney.

Just to recap the counties on I-4 –

Volusia (Daytona) – should lean a little red this year (NO EV ON SUN)

All votes: 39.7 R, 37.2 D, 23.1 NPA

R + 4,235

Seminole – suburban Orlando, more white/republican. As a note, the SOE here, Mike Ertel here is a great guy, and today is hosting my Turkish delegation to walk through how votes are tabulated. Given how busy he is, I truly am grateful.

All votes: 41.3 R, 35.1D, 23.8 NPA

R +10,186

Orange (Orlando)

All votes: 46 D, 29.5 R, 24.5 NPA

D +65,553


Osceola – very Hispanic. President Obama was there

All votes: 47.3 D, 26.3 R, 26.4 NPA

D + 21,986

Imperial Polk – between Tampa/Orlando – lean R

All votes: 39.7 R, 39 D, 21.3 NPA

R +1,023

Hillsborough – twice for Bush, twice for Obama

Total: 42.1 Dem – 35.3 GOP – 22.6 NPA

Dem +28,092

Pinellas – lean D county on Gulf, west of Tampa

All votes: 38.6 R, 38.4 D, 23.0 NPA

D +358

Last look at I-4, by looking at the media markets, Republicans continue to hold a slight edge. To win Florida, Trump needs to grow slightly from Romney in both Tampa, and Orlando.

I noticed something over the last few days that is interesting: early in the voting period, the Tampa market was way out-performing the state, and now it is under-performing. Why is that? Hillsborough is roughly where it should be, but Pasco, Polk and Pinellas are well behind. Combined, those three counties are about a point below where they should perform as a share of the state. Will that be made up Tuesday? I don’t know, but I do think for Trump to do well, he needs pretty solid margins and volume from particularly Pasco and Polk.

Honestly in these two markets, Clinton appears to be right on path to meet her goals.

South Florida

It was like Miami had LeBron back yesterday, joined by Jordan in his prime.

Over 100,000 people voted in just Broward and Dade yesterday. In other words, 40% of yesterday came from the two biggest Democratic counties in Florida. Anyone care to write the “lack of enthusiasm” story today.

The numbers speak for themselves. 87.7% of the entire 2012 election turnout has already voted in Dade. That just doesn’t happen. And Broward is at a respectable 81%.

Dade is at 11.9% of all votes cast so far (should be 10.3%), and Broward is at 9.55%, where I had it pegged at 8.75%. The media market is a full two points bigger than it should be. If the Miami market finishes at 21.8% of all votes, this thing is cooked, and we will know it before 8:00 (assuming Miami decides to count all these ballots)

The red flag for Dems: Palm Beach. It is at 62% of its 2012 total, and it is also the county most “under-performing.” It should be about 7% of the state vote, but today it is about 5.9%. Of all the data points right now, this is the only one that concerns me. While Miami is more than making up for it, for HRC, win path is much easier with a more robust Palm Beach.

Palm Beach

All votes: 47.4 D, 28.5 R, 24.1 NPA

D +71,994

Broward

All votes: 55.5 D, 21.7 R, 22.8 NPA

D +206,981

Miami-Dade

All votes, 44.1 D, 29.3 R, 26.6 NPA

D +112,220

Duuuuuuval

The Obama effect:

D’s were down 3,000 when he got there.

They finish early voting up 4,248

#ThanksObama

Will Dems win Duval? Hell no. Will Trump win it by the Bush 04 margins he needs to make up from the Dade County wave? Absolutely not.

Additional Thoughts.

My basic view on this cycle, going back over a year, is that diversity would create the mechanism for Democrats to overcome other issues in the campaign, whether they be candidate or structurally-based.

Many folks doubted that 2016 would be more diverse. I had these same fights in 2012, as the Romney campaign tried to make the case that 2008 wasn't replicable, not understanding that nothing had to be replicated, because the pie of Florida voters had changed. Almost any 2012 reporter can attest I was a broken record on this -- demographics are changing and people aren't reading the state right.

Last week was deja vu, as early voting looked slow for the Dems, though signs of this Hispanic surge started to emerge, I had the same conversations with many of the same people.

One of the challenges Democrats have in Florida dealing with these process-driven stories about turnout is one of optics. Even when VBM is competitive between the parties, as it was this year, it is dominated by older white voters. This leads to the inevitable "X" group won't vote story, typcially backed up by a few quotes from people who have no invovlement in the actual campaign. We saw this it this year again.

But two things emerged last week. One, this low propensity Hispanic thing became a thing. While Trump folks argued that Trump would turn out low propensity voters, we'd see slight edges for Democrats in this category. What became clear over days last week, this was a Hispanic deal, and as week 2 of early voting took hold, so did this surge. As of Saturday, Democrats had an egde of more than 175K low propensity voters.

Secondly, we began to see the edging upward of NPA voters. I had projected NPA at 21% of the electorate, but it will probably land closer to 23. And it is really diverse, running an average of four points more diverse than the electorate as a whole.

So you end up with this scenario -- a fairly close partisan break, but below that, you saw surging Hispanic, surging NPA, and growing proof that the electorate would be more diverse than it was in 2012. Then we also learn that a large chunk of the GOP advantage was built with voters who were registered Dems in 2012 (though almost certainly not Dem Voters), as well as the GOP having cannibalized more of its own Election Day vote, and I began to realize this was looking better each day.

On that diversity issue, just since last week, the percentage of the electorate that's white has gone from 71 then over the last few days from 68.6 to 68.0, to 67.4, to 66.8. Since Thursday, there has been no day when the electorate has been more than 61% white. This is the Clinton recipe for winning.

So when I get asked -- all the freaking time -- about the fact the R versus D number is lower for the Dems than 2012, I answer, sure. And last week, I did worry about it, but this week, what has become clear is that structurally, we live in a state with more NPA, and more old conservative Dems who have switched parties, which drive down the total. But, we also live in a state that is getting more diverse, more quickly, and based on the 2012 experience, that is far more important in my eyes.

And the R versus D thing still isn't really out of whack. My most frequent model has the state going 40D, 39R, 21NPA, which I figured would land at 66 white. We are going to land more like 39D, 38R, 23NPA, and with that NPA driven by Hispanics (20% of NPA voters), this really looks like a Clinton coalition. In fact, most people, Republican and Democratic, I talked to in Florida were projecting D +1, so despte the talking points from the DNC, we are right on track.

I am going to write a wrap tomorrow for E-Day, but two questions I get a lot.

What am I worried about for HRC?

Really, almost nothing. I've mentioned the Palm Beach thing a few times, but right now, the diversity mix is rounding nicely into shape, and our best counties are way out-performing the state. Right now, she needs the organization on the ground to get this done on Tuesday

Could there be a Trump surge on Tuesday? It is possible, because the counties most under-performing right now are Trump counties. His problem, most of them are very small, part of what Jonathan Martin called the Gingrich Counties (where Newt beat Romney)-- those rural places in-between all the big counties.

All in all, the I-10 markets are way below where they should be, maybe as much as 3% below where its share should be. If that comes in tomorrow, it will tighten the race considerably.

Tomorrow's memo will also lay out some things you watch for. If she wins by 3, we will know pretty well, probably before the Panhandle returns come back after 8. If it is close, prepare for a long night.

One last thing -- and this is just for the FL HRC organizers out there.

You all got this. This thing is right there. You've spent 6 months training for this moment. This is what you built for. Do your job today and tomorrow, stay focused on your goals, and you can say you made history.

Sunday
Nov062016

The Shibacle is Almost Over

To: America

From: Steve Schale, A Tired Florida Man
Re: 2nd to last Memo

2 days until E-Day
4 days until I am home for a nice long time.
6 days until FSU basketball tips off.
That's all I care about now.

It is Sunday. We are so close to the end of this shibacle that let’s all be extra careful not to do anything to break it.

Today marks Souls to the Polls. I am celebrating this day by taking a group of Turkish political party leaders to St. Mark AME Church in Orlando with my buddy, State Representative Elect Kamia Brown. President Obama is in Osceola County today, a place that he held a rally in 2008 with then President Bill Clinton, and Fake Former President Matt Santos. I believe it may have been the first political rally in Florida with three Presidents on stage, that is, outside of a meeting of Condo Presidents in Broward.

Speaking of Broward, Hillary Clinton was there on Saturday, helping turn out more vote. Broward had another solid day, with almost 36K in-person votes.

All in all, just over 420K Floridians voted yesterday, it was the best net day of the cycle for Democrats.

Total Ballots cast: 6,152,099

Total Vote By Mail: 2,536,167 (42.2%)
Total Early Vote: 3,615,932 (57.8%)

Democrats: 2,435,493 (39.58%)
Republicans: 2,403,171 (39.06%)
NPA: 1,201,715 (21.35%)

Total Margin: DEM +0.59%

For the record, my go-to model for this cycle has been 40D-39R-21NPA. NPA’s are going to outpace it, but I do think +1 DEM is pretty safe.

One of the biggest things to note is how fast the NPA share has grown

After Sat: 21.35%
After Fri: 20.55%
After Thurs: 20.2%
After Wed: 19.8%
After Sunday: 19.3%

So far, through Friday, the electorate is 67.4% white, but among NPAs, it is 63.5% white. Among all voters, through Friday, it is 14.5% Hispanic, but among NPA’s, it is 20.2%

Right now, I think about 65% percent of the likely electorate has voted. At the higher turnout rate, I think we will be between 66-67% of likely voters having voted through Sunday. Another way of looking at this – our early vote as of yesterday is 91 more people than voted in all of Pennsylvania in the 2012 election. EV Florida with 2 days to go would be the 5th largest voting state in America.

Sunday voting in Florida is optional by county, and while most counties said no, all the major big counties said yes. It should be an opportunity for the Democrats to add to their margin.

:

Hillsborough followed up a record day by falling 300 votes short of setting another record. It was also the strongest day for Democrats since the beginning of the in-person early voting, netting a 3,000 vote plurality heading into Soul’s to the Polls. Again, NPA voters really drove the day, with almost as many NPA voters (8,237) voting as Republicans (9,026). Dems now hold a 25K vote lead.

Yesterday: 41.2 Dem – 30.7 GOP – 28.1 NPA.

Total: 42.1 Dem – 35.8 GOP – 22.1 NPA

I-4

Over 110,000 people voted yesterday, and the Dems won the day by over 10,000. But again, the big news is NPA, which made up 28% of all the voters along the highway.

To give you an idea of how the NPA surge looked yesterday, here are the I-4 counties with all votes counted, and just yesterday:

To date: 41.1 D - 35.9 R – 23 NPA

Yesterday: 40.5 D -31.3 R – 28.2 NPA

The other thing in here that is good news for the Democrats, while the I-4 corridor is almost exactly where it should be in terms of projected vote: 26.71% of the state through yesterday, compared to my projection of 26.38%, it isn’t distributed equally. Places over-performing: Osceola and Orange. Under-performing? Polk and Volusia. That almost look like the opposite of a secret-Trump vote surge.

In fact, yesterday, Osceola saw almost 32% come from NPA, and Orange almost 30%. I don’t have the time today to run the demographics on that, but I honestly don’t think I need to, because by this point, readers of this deal know who lives there.

Just to recap the counties on I-4 –

Volusia (Daytona) – should lean a little red this year.
All votes: 39.7 R, 37.2 D, 23.1 NPA
R + 4,235

Seminole – suburban Orlando, more white/republican.
All votes: 42.6 R, 35.1D, 23.3 NPA
R +10,234

Orange (Orlando)
All votes: 46 D, 30 R, 24 NPA
D +59,800

Osceola – very Hispanic. President Obama there today.
All votes: 47.5 D, 26.7 R, 25.9 NPA
D + 20,217

Imperial Polk – between Tampa/Orlando – lean R
All votes: 40.1 R, 39 D, 20.9 NPA
R +1,827

Hillsborough – twice for Bush, twice for Obama
All votes: 42.1 D, 35.8 R, 22.1 NPA
D +24,608

Pinellas – lean D county on Gulf, west of Tampa
All votes: 38.8 R, 38.5 D, 22.7 NPA
R +840

Last look at I-4, by looking at the media markets, Republicans hold a slight edge in both the Orlando and Tampa media markets. To win Florida, Trump needs to grow slightly from Romney in both Tampa, and Orlando. Given the conservative strength in places like Lake and Brevard, there was an opportunity to do that. So far, at least on the partisanship, the Orlando DMA is leaning pretty much a draw. That is a win for Clinton.

In Tampa, Republicans have a slight registration advantage, but nothing outside the normal. The counties outside of urban Tampa have strong GOP registration advantage, though particularly as you go to places like Sarasota, don’t vote as Republican as they register. As Obama proved in 2012, you don’t have to win the Tampa DMA to win Florida, you just have to keep it close to a tie. Based on the +3 GOP registration edge, with 22% NPA, I think she’s probably right there.

South Florida

I’ve run out of words to describe Miami. Mr. 305 himself might use the term “en fuego” to describe it.

Yesterday, 50K more people voted there, meaning 708K have voted there through yesterday, compared to 879K who voted there in the entire 2012 election. Yesterday almost matched Friday’s record, but compared to the rest of the state, it was even bigger. 12% of all voters came from Dade yesterday, and it was 42.5 Dem, 33.2 NPA, 24.4 GOP. That NPA number is going to be all Caribbean and Hispanic voters. I honestly at this point don’t know what to think about final turnout in Dade. It is going to be well over a million votes at this point, which if HRC wins by just same margin as Obama, will net +237K votes to her margin. If she increases the margin to say 65-35, which isn’t inconceivable at all, it goes to 300K. If that happens, she’s not going to lose Florida.

Broward had another really great day, and Palm Beach continues to get better. Right now, I think she easily wins Broward and Dade by 500K combined votes, which in the back of my head has been the magic number.

Palm Beach
All votes: 46 D, 39 R, 24 NPA
D +66,510

Broward
All votes: 55.7 D, 22.1 R, 22.2 NPA
D +188,499

Miami-Dade
All votes, 44 D, 29.8 R, 26.2 NPA
D +100,291

Duuuuuuval

The Obama effect:

D’s were down 3,000 when he got there.

They are now ahead.

#ThanksObama

Additional notes:

I don’t have yesterday’s diversity numbers, but based on voting patterns, there is no question in my mind we will go into Election Day under the 2012 standard of 67% white. The electorate is now under 67.6% white (67 In 2012), with Black and Hispanic voters continuing to grow in share of the electorate. Friday was 61 white to 39 non-whites. There is no question in my mind that the electorate will be more diverse than 2012.

Miami and Orlando continue to over-perform. Fort Myers is the bright spot for Republicans. There are still another 3.4m or so likely votes, but I'm sure of one thing, the folks in Brooklyn have to be feeling better than the folks in Trump Tower.

More later.

Saturday
Nov052016

It is Saturday - GO WATCH FOOTBALL

To: Whoever Reads This Stuff on a Saturday
From: Steve Schale, Florida Man
Re: GO WATCH FOOTBALL!

3 days until E-Day

*5 days until I am home for a nice long time
*7 days until FSU basketball tips off.
*105 days until pitchers and catchers

Think about it. Next week at this time, you won’t be reading memos from some dude in Florida. You will be relaxing in your home. Just visualize that for a second.

This memo will be shorter. As I mentioned yesterday, I have the honor of hosting a group of Turkish political types in Orlando for the election. We are actually going to see the President’s rally tomorrow. Between driving to Orlando this morning and spending time with the delegates, I’ve just not had much time to write. Hope to do more tomorrow.

In meantime, two things: yesterday was really robust, and as a result, and after consulting with Dan Smith from the University of Florida, I am upping my estimate from 9.2 million to 9.5 million. This puts it basically at 08 turnout levels.

On a day that saw 464,000 voters with almost 26% of the votes come in from NPAs, Democrats won the day by about 9K votes, winning narrowly both VBM and EV.

Total Ballots cast: 5,731,761
Total Vote By Mail: 2,370,567 (45%)
Total Early Vote: 2,897.183 (55%)

Democrats: 2,268,663 (39.58%)
Republicans: 2,261,383 (39.45)
NPA: 1,201,715 (20.97%)

Total Margin: DEM +0.13%

Right now, I think about 60% percent of the likely electorate has voted. At the higher turnout rate, I think we will be between 66-67% of likely voters having voted through Sunday. Another way of looking at this – our early vote as of yesterday is 91 more people than voted in all of Pennsylvania in the 2012 election. EV Florida with 2 days to go would be the 5th largest voting state in America.

Hillsborough:

Hillsborough had a record day. Over 29K voters, with 27.3% of them registered NPA. Democrats won a plurality of about 1,600, one of their best days of the cycle

Yesterday: 39.2 Dem – 33.5 GOP – 27.3 NPA.

Total: 42.1 Dem – 36.1 GOP – 21.8 NPA

I-4

Turnout was quite robust on the I-4 yesterday. More than 123,000 voters, with again, really big NPA turnout. More than 34K were NPA, equaling 27.8% of the voters.

In total, Dems won the day by about 6800 voters, or roughly 38.9-33.4%.

One thing that is interesting over the last few days is just the scale of turnout in both Orange and Osceola County. I projected that Orange would be just under 6% of all FL voters this year, and yesterday, it was 7% of all early voting. For Osceola, I have it about 1.4% of the state, and it was 1.65%. Really robust turnout. In fact, every county except Pinellas was above its state projection, though I suspect that has more to do with the VBM nature of the county – and residents voting earlier.

One other way to put Orange County in perspective: Orange County Florida is now at 73% of its entire 2012 POTUS turnout. Roughly 467K 2012 votes. Over 343K have voted so far in 2016

South Florida

I told one of the smartest national guys I know about Miami, and his response was “insane.” Then 12 hours later he texted me again and said “I still can’t believe those Miami numbers.”

To put Miami in perspective, in 658K have voted there through yesterday, compared to 879K who voted there in the entire 2012 election. Yesterday was the biggest day of early voting in the county’s history. A county I expect to be at best, 10.5% of statewide votes is well over 11.15% of the state, and yesterday was almost 12% of all voters. And right now the 44D-30R-26NPA split should play out pretty favorably for the Democrats.

There has been commentary about Broward being down. However, in my model, it is actually up. Why? Broward always lags the state, so any improvement over its typical lagging is a positive. Dems have a 174k lead in Broward, which is right now is over 9% of the statewide vote, slightly ahead of my projection. Yesterday, it was over 10% of all votes cast. In other words, in the biggest two Dem counties, which should account for about 19% of the statewide vote, yesterday they provided almost 22% of statewide votes.

I picked on Palm Beach yesterday, but Friday was better. I still have it lagging the state, though overall, these three counties are preforming at a higher share of the vote than projected.

Duuuuuuval

The Obama effect:

GOP led Dems by over 3,000 voters before he came to town. Yesterday it was cut to 1,500. As I write this, it is under 300.


And that was his goal. Take away a Trump big win. To quote Rick Scott, “it’s working.”

Additional notes:

The electorate continues to get more diverse. The electorate is now under 67.6% white (67 In 2012), with Black and Hispanic voters continuing to grow in share of the electorate. Yesterday was 61 white to 39 non-whites. There is no question in my mind that the electorate will be more diverse than 2012.

African American turnout hit a 2016 record yesterday, beating the record set each of the two previous days, and Hispanic was 17% of all voters. That is how HRC wins Florida.

I restate this because of the attention to the R versus D delta, and comparisons to 2012. Right now, the most important thing is diversity in my opinion. So many voters have moved to NPA that the Dem party advantage is much lower. This is compounded by the number of North Florida Dems who finally switched.

Yesterday, 73% of Dems and NPA Hispanics were “low propensity.” In total 50% of all Dem voters were low propensity. GOP is turning them out as well, but at a lower rate, 40% yesterday. In real numbers, that is nearly a 25,000 gulf.

I also want to restate something verbatim I wrote yesterday, mainly for my friends at CNN who keep reporting the topline numbers with no context. So here goes:

Between 2012 and 2016, a significant number of white Democrats switched parties. A large number of them came from places where the odds of them voting for any Democrat in recent history was very low, and certainly not one for President. For those not from here, you have to remember that large parts of the state are still very “southern” and as such, has retained some of that Southern Democrat identity, even though many of those voters have long stopped voting for Dems for President. The Obama second term and the rise of Trump – plus the fact that Republicans are winning more local offices, gave them the nudge to shed the label and “re-categorize themselves” into the party where they really belong.

So I asked some data people a question: is there a chance that part of the GOP lead is built with people who four years ago, were Democrat early voters – even if they were Dems in name only. The answer is yes. Almost 50,000 2016 Republican early voters were Democratic early voters in 2012. In other words, if none of those voters had switched, Dems would have a roughly 100K vote lead over the GOP today – even though that lead would have been meaningless.

I do believe this thing is tracking towards a Clinton victory. We get an electorate that is 65-66% white, and turnout closer to 2008 than 2012, and that is how the coalition is built.

It is also a good reminder that Florida is getting more diverse. By 2020, we will be talking about electorates that are 63-64% white, and by 2024, just above 60. The state is changing that rapidly.

I hope to do more tomorrow, and again, I apologize for the delay today. But as much as I love Florida, I love the volunteer work I do for the American Council of Young Political Leaders even more, and I am off to show our Turkish friends the country we call home – starting with an Orlando Magic game tonight.

Best to all