To: Curious Americans and President Putin
From: Steve Schale
Re: No More Wednesdays!!
*6 days until the election
*10 days until FSU basketball tips off.
*24 days until I start Clark Griswolding my house.
*114 days until Daytona 500
Before I begin, a note to Democrats:
RETURN YOUR FREAKING VBM BALLOTS, PLEASE.
So here is the best news you will read all day: We have woken up on a Wednesday for the very last time of the 2016 Presidential election. And no, don t tweet at me about 269 scenarios or recounts, in doing so you are just tempting fate. Seven days from this moment, you will likely be hungover, and I will be back to tweeting about NASCAR and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Also, I got a lot of twitter feedback about my memo yesterday about Democrats needing to buy stamps to mail back their ballot. Sure, some places don t require it BUT THAT WASN'T THE POINT. Mail back your freaking ballots people.
So one more thing I keep getting asked, so, Steve, what is the secret to winning Florida? I am going to let you in on a little secret, to quote one of my favorite GOP operatives, Kevin Sweeny: "the secret is, there is no secret." Florida is a collection of lots of pockets of voters. It is all about managing the margins in those places, expanding the electorate where it helps you, and playing defense. This is not the kind of place where you can say definitively, if X happens, candidate Y will win or lose. It is more like building a mosaic with many different colored tiles.
I'll address the issue that popped up yesterday with African American turnout later, but keep the above in mind when we get to it.
And please don't ask me about the guy on MSNBC who said HRC is up 28% with GOP and up 8% statewide. She isn't. I do think she is slightly ahead, but not like that guy said. And no, I don't want to argue his methodology, or why he might be right. He isn't. Cool?
So where are we today, besides close?
Well we say almost 400K votes, thanks to a slight pick-up of both vote by mail returns & in-person voting. We also saw in-person overtake VBM as we push towards the 4.5m vote mark & almost to 50% of likely turnout. I think we are roughly 48% to goal turnout. Overall, the day was a push, with Republicans winning VBM by 2K, and Dems winning the in-person early by a few hundred votes.
Total Ballots cast: 4,466,624
Total Vote By Mail: 2,168,750(48.4%)
Total Early Vote: 2,297,874 (51.6%)
Republicans: 1,798,954 (40.3%)
Democrats: 1,781,498 (39.9%)
NPA: 886,172 (19.8%)
Total Margin: GOP +0.39%
And there are still 1,173,799 vote-by-mail ballots sitting out there, and yes, Democrats have more outstanding mail in ballots than Republicans. Unreturned vote-by-mail ballots remains the same as yesterday, looking like this: 41D-35R-24NPA, meaning 82,541 more Democrats have ballots sliding between the couch cushions.
Back to benchmarks
For Democrats, Tuesday looked like Monday, narrowly winning vote-by-mail and having a solid plurality day with in-person-early vote. As will be a trend on the I-4, NPA is up here too, at almost 25% of the vote for the day, as Democrats still maintain a just over 6% lead over Republicans, or about 17,200 voters.
For the day: 25,513 total votes (39.2-36.2-24.6 D-R-NPA).
Overall, it was a decent, not great day, as Democrats won the plurality of votes, narrowly losing Pinellas, Polk and Seminole, but winning elsewhere. In the counties that were a loss, the margins were exceptionally narrow. For example, the Dems plurality margin in Osceola was bigger than the loss in the three counties combined. Good reminder that margins in Florida really matter. Dems did win Polk's in-person early voting again
Orange County did have a very solid day, driven by large NPA participation. In fact, no county on the I-4 corridor saw less than 23% NPA share for the day, and places like Osceola saw the number in the mid 27s. There isn't one easy take-away from this, though in the core of the Orlando media market, this is almost surely Hispanic surge.
Another solid day in South Florida, as Broward, Palm Beach, and Dade all saw bigger days than yesterday, all powered by NPA voters. In Dade, NPAs were 29% of the vote, Broward 24%, and Palm Beach 25%. As a result, the Dem share margin was lower than yesterday, but I suspect that in real votes, the HRC number grew here. Dems increased their Broward lead to over 130K votes, and Palm Beach is now pushing 50K.
I will have a deeper dive into this and I-4 tomorrow.
Republicans won the day by 95 votes, but because Democrats on won the in-person early vote by about 250 votes, meaning they cut the overall GOP advantage from 1.7% to 1.5%, out of 168K votes.
As a reminder, Bush in 2004 won Duval by 17 points, or about 61,000 votes. In Obama's two wins, the margin averaged around 10,000 votes. I would happily spot the GOP a 20,000 vote win and walk away, but right now, I don t see any path to him to get back to that 17-point Bush margin. And since there are very few places where he can change the traditional Florida battleground math, right now, Democrats are in pretty good place.
Much was made about the Politico story about black turnout in Florida. I'm not going to use my space to push back or spout talking points, rather to provide context.
Comparing turnout to 2012 or 2008 is like comparing something to the 96 Bulls. Some things are special, like the historical election of the first black President & his re-election. As a result in 2012, the share of African American & Caribbean voters actually exceeded their voter registration share. That's not normal, and shouldn't be expected.
What I do expect is two things: black vote in Florida to approach its share of registration (13.9) and total diversity to be higher than 12. Both of those things make a HRC win path much cleaner.
When in person early vote began, which is always far more white & far older than the population at large, black voters made up 7-8% of turnout. That number has steadily climbed to 11.7%, as black voters make up around 15% of in-person early voters. It probably is now 12, though I won't know until the afternoon. Frankly at 12, we can win, but as in-person early overtakes vote by mail, that number should grow to 13. In fact, if just the remaining likely black voters vote, we get right around that number, and HRC has been turning out low propensity voters.
So yes, it's an issue that the campaign should worry about, and yes, it's one that deserves attention, but no, all is not lost.
Secondly, Hispanics are absolutely surging. Almost 14% of the electorate, more than half of Hispanic Dems (51%) and Hispanic NPA (57%) are low propensity, which has led the Dems to a 90k voter lead with unlikely voters. Now 31% of Dem voters are low propensity, compared to 24% of Republicans. It's higher than both with NPAs.
Two other observations today.
I've been thinking about the "why Dems aren't ahead" question, and I think the answer may be more structural than obvious. Over the last four years, Democrats have lost about 400k white Dems, many to party switching, and a large number in North Florida. I'm going to explore this question more, but I have a hunch those 12 leads people keep talking about week built, in part, with voters who are not Dems anymore, and probably in the end didn't vote for Obama.
Also, just to reiterate a point from yesterday, more 2012 Election Day GOP have voted early than 2012 EDay Dems, by about 35k voters. Take those out & Dems have been leading since early last week.
However, what that means is Dems have more 2012 voters yet to vote, meaning at same time, the old rule about GOP crushing Election Day may not apply.
I still think we are headed towards an electorate that's 34-35% non-white. It was 33% in 12, and 29% in 08. Voter reg is 36% non-white. Anything more diverse than 12 is a net positive for Clinton.
I'm back home this afternoon, so tomorrow will dig deeper into these questions, as well as how turnout is looking in some key areas.
Thanks again for reading these. I do truly appreciate your time