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Almost 4 million votes in and 8 days to go

To:     Everyone ready for this election to be over

From:  Steve Schale

Re:   The second to last Monday of 2016 election


*8 days until the election

*12 days until FSU basketball tips off.

*96 days until Tallahassee Marathon

*1232 days until the Florida Presidential Preference Primary

Before I begin, a quick side bar with Florida Democrats:

If you are reading this and haven’t voted, close your laptop or turn off your phone, and go vote.  If you don’t know where to vote, go to:  Go do that now.  

I'll wait here until you are back.

Now that you have voted, back to the memo:


I think it is important to start by restating one of my favorite factoids about Florida.

If you add up all the people who have voted for President in Florida in the 2000,2004,2008, and 2012 elections, this is what you get:

Republicans: 15,086,968

Democrats: 15.015,920

Difference:  71.048

That is a margin of 0.24%.  Under Florida law, we’d be looking at a lengthy recount.  That’s how close we are. 

If you are curious about this, I wrote a lengthy blog piece entitled “Florida is Gonna Florida” a few weeks ago.  You can read it here:

This weekend, Democrats won by about 15,000 votes out of 473,612 ballots cast.  The spread was roughly 41D-38R-21NPA.  I am not going to lie – I wish the weekend was bigger for Democrats, but given the number of people who had already voted, and how Dems have cut into the VBM advantage, I am honestly not sure what I had expected.  

So with that, let’s see where we are seven days of in-person early voting, and election day to go, about 40% of voters who will vote this year have voted. 

Total Ballots cast:   3,731,646

Total Vote By Mail:  1,963,274 (52.7%)

Total Early Vote:  1,768,372 (47.3%)

And by party:

Republicans:  1,509.467 (40.45%)

Democrats:  1,500,937 (40.22%)

NPA:  721,249 (19.33%)

Total Margin:  GOP +0.23% (Margin look familiar)

In other words, Florida is currently pulling a Florida.

By the time you watch Jake Tapper or Chuck Todd this afternoon, the odds are pretty high that the 4 millionth ballot will be cast.  There is also a chance in-person early voting will overtake vote-by-mail.  More likely tomorrow, but it could happen today.

To give some sense of what the last week might look like, we started Monday with about 1.2million Vote-By-Mail ballots, so since Monday, we’ve seen about 2.5 million additional votes.  Given that there are 1,345,257 vote-by-mail ballots still sitting on kitchen tables, I assume we will be between 6.5 and 7 million votes in prior to election day. This would put the election at 70% complete before the first poll opens at 7:00 AM on November 8th.

Really quick, the outstanding mail in ballots are roughly 40D-35R-25NPA, with Democrats having 71,388 more sitting on coffee tables than do Republicans.


After one week, we can state for a fact one thing:  this is an election that could come down to small handful of votes. Every vote is going to count, so if you want your side to carry Florida, get to work. 

It also means at the rate of early voting, we will have a very good sense of where Florida is by 7:30-8:00PM on election night whether someone is going to win by two points, or whether we are going to be watching people look at ballots with magnifying glasses.  I’ve seen the latter and am praying for the former.


Democrats come out of the weekend with a roughly 16K partisan advantage, or about 6.5%.  For the Dems, this was boosted by a weekend where they won in-person early vote by 12 points.  In total, about 240,000 voters have cast ballots so far.  If week 2 of early voting repeats week 1, Hillsborough will have about 70% of its vote in before Election Day, and Democrats will have 28-30K, which pretty much parallels the party’s voter registration advantage.


Democrats won the weekend on the I-4 counties by about 9,000 votes (42-34-24) out of 110,000 cast, thanks to a +12.5% in-person early voting advantage.   The big thing this weekend:  a sizable jump in NPA participation: 24% of all votes this weekend coming from NPA.  Orange and Seminole Counties had really significant jumps in NPA participation – the former is almost surely good news for Democrats, and the latter may be too.  I won’t know until later today when I can see actual voter data.

Polk County has now gone seven days of in-person advantage for Democrats. Republicans still hold the overall advantage, but with the Puerto Rican trends there, I suspect by 2020, we are talking about Imperial Polk County as a battleground county – and if you are from Florida, this can be a little hard to wrap your head around. I look forward to the JMart deep dive/tour of BBQ locations in Polk sometime in the late summer of 2020. 

Over 1 million votes have been cast from the I-4 counties, with Democrats holding a 43-37 lead (just under 50K votes)

Overall, after one full weekend of early voting, here is how the I-4 counties look.

Volusia:  Weekend: 39-38-23 Dems – Overall: 41-38-21 GOP (R+3,773)

Seminole: Weekend 40-35-25 GOP – Overall: 43-36-21 GOP (R+6,767)

Orange:  Weekend 48-28-24 Dems – Overall: 48-21-21 DEM (D+36,165)

Osceola: Weekend 48-27-25 Dems – Overall: 48-29-23 DEM (D+11,264)

Polk: 40-40-20 Dems – Overall: 42-39-19 GOP (R+2,346)

Hillsborough: 43-34-23 Dems – Overall: 43-37-29 DEM (D+15,670)

Pinellas 39-37-23 GOP – Overall: 40-39-21 GOP (R+688)

South Florida

Overall this weekend, just shy of 150,000 people voted in the big 3 southern counties.  Overall, South Florida accounts for 954,495 votes, or about 26% of all ballots cast, but this weekend accounted for 31% of the votes cast on Saturday and Sunday. 

In total, Democrats won the weekend 49-27-25, winning a roughly 35,000 vote advantage.  They finish the weekend with South Florida plurality of over 200,000 votes.

Miami-Dade looked slightly more Democratic this weekend, which given the definitive advantage that the GOP has with vote-by-mail, this should be the start of more of a trend.  Broward and Palm Beach counties both had solid margins, but honestly, if I was running the HRC campaign, I would have liked to have seen bigger numbers.  I do understand it rained there, but alas, there are only 8 more days of voting. 

Also, reminder, Dade is very Dem-leaning NPA heavy, so the party margins there will always look lower than they likely are in reality. 

We also saw a big overall NPA jump here, which should benefit the Democrats.  Broward actually had more NPA vote than Republicans, and Dade saw the largest percentage jump of NPA participation of any county in Florida.

Here is where the counties stand:

Palm Beach: Weekend: 47-27-24 DEM -- Overall: 49-29-22 DEM (+41,620)

Broward:  Weekend: 57-21-22 DEM -- Overall: 57-23-20 DEM (+112,775)

Miami-Dade: Weekend: 43-29-28 DEM -- Overall: 45-31-24 DEM (+53,518)


The key news:  The Jaguars didn’t lose on Sunday. So what if they didn’t play, but they still didn’t get a loss.

Democrats narrowly won the weekend, carrying a 260 vote plurality out of this weekend’s vote-by-mail and in-person early voting. 

This cuts the Republican advantage to 2,600, or about 1.7%.  The President will be here on Thursday, which should help drive some early voting turnout for the Democrats.

Total votes in so far, just under 156k. 

I still believe that Jacksonville has not seen the kind of turnout that Trump would need to return Duval to the kind of margins that Bush saw in 2000 and 2004, and the market is about 1% share less of the statewide vote than it should be, but let’s see how this week goes.

And Gus Bradley is still the head coach. 

Additional notes:

The electorate is still very white, though it trending in the right direction.  Black voters (African American and Caribbean) make up about 11%, Hispanics about 13%, and Whites about 71%.   To give some sense of movement, the electorate was close to 80% White when in-person early vote.  In-person early vote has been about 15% Black and 13% Hispanic.  This is good for Democrats, but could be better.

Democrats did have a good few days towards the end of the week with low-propensity voters. 29% of their vote now comes from less likely voters, compared to about 23% for Republicans, giving Dems about a 60,000 vote advantage here. 

On flip side, one of challenge Democrats will face:  While they hold a significant advantage in terms of number of available vote-by-mail votes (people still with ballots), almost half of their available VBM votes come from unlikely voters.    There is a real opportunity for Democrats to close the VBM gap – and in doing so, close the overall gap – and take a partisan lead, but need to go chase those ballots. 


In terms of media market distributions, the state is starting to look like it should.  Fort Myers has come back to earth; last week it was almost 11% of all ballots cast, and now it is about 8.5%.  By election day, that should land roughly 6.7%.

Miami and Orlando continue to over perform projections, with the Miami DMA now at 20.6% of all votes, where honestly, I would have taken in the mid 19s.  Orlando is now at 21.2%, which is high (I expected just at 20), but this seems to be a mixed bag, as Republican turnout is strong in the exurban counties around Orlando. Palm Beach has picked up a bit, but is still a little low. 

And as for the secret Trump vote, I-10 is catching up, but still struggling.  Those markets now account for 16.4% of the total statewide vote, under the 19-20 where it should land.

Lastly, as for the millennial “issues” – Alachua continues to well exceed its Democratic partisan registration advantage, now holding roughly a 30-point lead in ballots cast. 

Week Out Observations:

Back in the spring, I wrote a long blog about how Trump could win Florida.  The reaction was rather swift, and frequently highly critical from my side.  Well, he can definitely win Florida.

Do I think he will?  No, I still think the state has a built in edge for Clinton, based largely on the demographics.  I also think her turnout operation is much better.   But nothing is a given, and can he win? Yes.  If you don't want that, then get to work.

However, as I’ve warned a number of national Democrats and told many in the media, I don’t think the Trump operation is as nonexistent as some on my side wanted to believe.  The GOP Chairman Blaise Ingoglia here is a friend, and a smart guy.  Take Trump out of it – their party has been doing this, and doing it well for 20 plus years, they aren’t going to lay down.  Back in my true hack days, they were an adversary who I truly respected, and honestly, learned from.  Democrats who take their turnout operation for granted do so at their own peril.

One other factor:  There are a ton of really important down ballot races.  Add to the many Congressional races, every seat in the State House and State Senate are on the ballot.  In other words, a lot of people are turning out voters.

Democratic voter registration advantage is about 200K less than it was in 2012, and about 350K less than it was in 2008.  This in part explains why Republicans are still “ahead” at this point.  But it is important to note that a lot of that decrease comes from voters who switched parties – most of whom hadn’t voted for a Democrat since Carter or Kennedy, and the overall electorate is much more friendly to Democrats.  This electorate could be as much as 7 points more diverse than 2008, which is the reason I think she has a small built-in edge.

But it only works if people vote. Right now, the GOP is ahead of where I thought they would be – albeit not by a lot.  It doesn’t mean Trump or Clinton is winning – nope, it means it is a dog fight for turnout.  So if you want your candidate to win, go to the local field office and get to work.

I voted yesterday.  :-)

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