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Wednesday Two Weeks Out in America's Paradise

To:     Fellow Data Nerds

From: Steve Schale, #FloridaMan

Re:     Day 3 of Early Voting

*12 days until the election

*16 days until FSU basketball tips off.

Before we dive into the data, can I have a side conversation with the reporters reading this?

Now, I get it, the national race for President is over, and there is a need to keep this race interesting.  But the attention to that Bloomberg Poll yesterday was really kind of nuts.  Hillary Clinton has led or been tied in the 14 most recent polls before that one, two of which came out yesterday that received virtually no coverage.  So let’s keep all these polls in perspective.

Back to everyone.

Let’s talk about polling really quick. 

In 2012, the storyline was Obama couldn’t win Florida.  In fact, Obama only led 4 of the last 15 polls before this day in the election.  It was fair skepticism.

But in this case, HRC has led 14 of the last 15.  I don’t think anyone can argue that she is in a strong position to win.

No one knows better to me how tough this state can be, and no one is going to blow anyone out here.  But she is ahead.  It is a fact.   Now she has to turn out the vote.

One last thing on that Bloomberg poll.  They have the electorate at +3 Republican. 42-39.  I don’t even know even the most optimistic GOP operative who agrees with that model. 

Today, among votes in, it is 41-41-18.  If you take the Bloomberg Poll and do nothing but weigh the party breaks to 41-41-18, guess what, it shows Clinton with a 3-point lead – which is essentially what the average has been for a few weeks.

Oh, and University of North Florida this morning has it +4 HRC.

OK, rant over. Back to early voting.

Just shy of 2.5 million Floridians have voted.  This is roughly 27-28% of what total turnout will be.  In other words, more than a quarter of the likely Florida electorate has voted.

278,701 Floridians voted early, and Democrats won the day by about 4,000.  Total in person was about 15,000 less than Tuesday.

166,962 Floridians returned a VBM ballots, and GOP on them by about 10,000.

So out of about 2.5 million votes, the GOP has a 10,000 vote lead, which plays out to about 0.47%

I get asked often how this compares to 2012.  It really doesn’t in an apple to apples form.  Early voting in 2012 started on this coming Saturday, so we were only looking at VBM in 2012 on this day.  The GOP had a pretty significant lead, and we did not overtake them in total votes until Sunday.

In 2008, the early voting calendar was similar to this one, though the GOP went in with a much larger VBM lead.  If memory serves me right, it was the weekend when Democrats overtook the GOP. 

Wednesday was the second day that was largely a wash.  For what it is worth, I think today will be as well. 

Also, from now on, I am going to report combined EV/VBM numbers.  Where one or the other from the day is noteworthy, I’ll comment.

Here are the usual benchmarks. I will also explain below why these are the areas that I find interesting.

Hillsborough – Hillsborough is the only county that voted for Bush twice and Obama twice. It has also correctly picked 19 of the last 20 Presidents.  For those unfamiliar with Florida, it where Tampa is located.  The county is very “Midwestern” so tends to have more swing voters

Yesterday, Democrats carried the day by about 5 points, thanks to a 10-point advantage in VBM ballots.  Democrats maintain a 7-point (44-37) edge in total ballots cast, which is in line with our registration edge.

I-4 – The I-4 counties yesterday looked a lot like the I-4 should look, except for the third straight day, Democrats won in person early vote in Polk County, a county that last voted for Democratic President in 1976.  I suspect that is being driven by some of the new Puerto Rican growth.   Democrats won in-person early voting everywhere but Volusia (Daytona) and Seminole, Republicans won VBM returns everywhere but Orange, Osceola and Hillsborough.

Some county totals (again these numbers will be lower than yesterday because they include both VBM and EV)

Orange:  46-32 D for the day.  49-31 D overall

Osceola: 48-28 D for the day.  49-29 D overall

Volusia:   42-36 R for the day. 42-38 R overall

South Florida.

The three southeast Florida counties are the home to the Democratic base.  All had robust in person voting for the third consecutive day. For example, Broward was right at 30,000 in person early votes for the third day in a row, and overall the Miami media market made up almost 21% of all the votes yesterday (it is about 19% of typical statewide vote).

Also, remember in Dade county, voter registration is 42-28-30 D-R-I, so the partisan edges will seem smaller than many would expect.

Palm Beach continues to look good (though I’d like higher turnout):  48-30 for day, 51-30 overall (+28K).  (Obama won by 17 points)

Broward:  57-23 D for the day, and 58-24 D overall (+66K)

Dade:  45-31 D for the day, and 45-33 D overall (+33K)

And I continue to feel very good about Duval, even though GOP had a good day in VBM returns, Democrats once again won the in person early vote.  This is a county that Obama was able to significantly reduce the huge Bush margins of 2000 and 2004 (61K votes in 2004!)

Duval:  44-43 R for the day, 44-41 R overall (+1,000)


At a more granular level, here are few interesting factoids.

From stand point of regional breaks, some interesting things pop up:

It you are a Republican, you will like the fact that the Fort Myers market is really turning out.  It is about 9.5% of votes so far, when it shouldn’t really be much higher than 7%.  What is interesting, both Republicans and Democrats in the market are turning out a very high percentage of unlikely voters.

 On flip side, the North Florida media markets are coming in at a lower share of the state than it is typically.  In fairness, two caveats:  many North Florida counties did not take advantage of the optional early voting periods, and many tend to have higher election day turnouts. That being said, for all the talk of a surprise Trump enthusiasm, if it existed, we would be seeing it here – and we are not.

If you are a Democrat, the good news is after a few days of in person early voting, Orlando and Miami are coming in at roughly their 2012 vote shares.  At same time, West Palm Beach is a little under where I’d like it.

Tampa is also overrepresented in early vote and vote by mail, but that is pretty typical at this point.  It is about 25.8% of voters so far, will probably land right about 24%

Democrats are turning out their highest shares of “unlikely voters” in Fort Myers (33% of Dems low propensity), Miami (29%) and Orlando (29%).  Republicans in Fort Myers (27%), Miami (23%) and Pensacola (23%).   Overall, about 27% of Dems are “low propensity” and 22% of Republicans.  This number has been consistent over last few days.

Early vote is more diverse than vote by mail.  Early vote so far is about 67% white, compared to 73% of VBM.  Hispanic is a little low right now, but that tends to break later.  Right now, African American is 15% of in person early voting.  This is quite encouraging for my side.  These numbers are through Tuesday.  I won’t have Wednesday until later.

Again, I don’t expect much to change over next few days, but by the weekend, I suspect (and hope) we will have some separation. 

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