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11 more days Florida. We got this.

To:       The Blake Bortles Fan Club

From:   Steve Schale

Re:       11 days out

Tonight is the opening exhibition game for FSU basketball, so yes, we are closing in on the November 6th opening game against Florida, which means the election is almost here. 

As of this morning,  2,037,805 Floridians have voted, which is about 1.2 million fewer than the number of times Blake Bortles has turned the ball over in 2018.

Yesterday, the GOP won both the VBM returns, as well as the in-person early vote, carrying about an 8,000-ballot advantage out of the day. In total, 286,330 people voted yesterday, which makes up 2.2% of all Florida registered voters.  That is pretty astounding for a midterm. 

This breaks down:

Republicans:  869,745 (42.68%)

Democrats:  808,288 (39.7%)

NPA/Minor: 359,772 (17.6%)

Total GOP edge: 61,457 (+3.02%)

Yesterday, we were at 1,751,475, with the GOP holding an edge of 53,168 votes (+3.03%)

Yesterday, we were at 1,448.251, with the GOP holding an edge of 52,850 votes (+3.65%).

Relative to 2014, a couple of interesting points.   At this point in 2014, about 1.75 million ballots were in.  Yesterday, we were about 150K total votes ahead of 2014, and today that number is close to 300K.

For a straight apples to apples comparison, in 2014, about 14.7% of registered voters had voted so far.  Today it is about 15.4%

11 days out in 2014 also marked another point.  The GOP held a 144K vote advantage at this point, which equated to a margin advantage of 8.23%.  It also marked the high-water mark for Republicans – from this point on in 2014, the GOP margin fell, finishing at about 90K.    If the past is prologue, the partisan balance going into election day would be almost even.   Everything else for the last 5-7 days has been consistent with the last midterm, so this will be interesting to watch over the next few days.

If you go back to 2010, the GOP advantage on this day was about 240K votes out of about 1.45m votes.  

In 2016, at this point, 2,864,666 had voted, with leading GOP up just over 14K votes. (+0.5%)

I will say this – I am not sure yet that we are headed for super crazy turnout, as some have suggested.   We are running ahead of 2014, but that advantage isn’t huge.  There are slightly more infrequent voters than we saw at this point, but not a huge difference.  I started this exercise thinking turnout would be about 54%, and I think I’m still there, though I want to see what the weekend looks like.

This morning I looked at this question of cannibalization – is one party or the other getting an edge simply because people who normally vote on election day are voting early.   This is also a chance to look at people who are non-traditional midterm voters.

So here is how it looks:

About 55% of the vote so far comes from people who voted before the election in 2014.  This is overwhelmingly Republican – GOP with about a 13% lead with these voters, or roughly 85K votes

About 30% of the electorate did not vote in 2014.  The Democrats hold a lead here of just over 4%, or about 30K votes.

The remainder is “cannibalized” vote – or people who voted at the polls in 2014 but have cast a ballot before the election this time.  This vote is very close – though about 7K more Republicans fall into this category.

The electorate keeps trending more diverse.  Yesterday it was 75% white, today it is 74% white, with black voters (African American and Caribbean) making up nearly 10% of the vote.   If the final number is under 70%, the math for Democrats gets a lot easier.  At this trajectory, it should be well below 70.

In other words, the Democrats have cut the gap significantly since 2014 without taking away more of their election day vote than the Republicans.   The other good news for my team – Democrats are leading turnout among the non-2014 voters. 

Back to just absentees:

In total, just over 3.38 million ballots have been requested – passing the total number requested in 2016.   Some 1.9 million ballots remain unprocessed,

Two million ballots remain in the back seats of cars and stuck between the couch cushions, and 115K more of them belong to Democrats – going backwards from yesterday’s margin of113K.

In terms of absentees, Democratic return rates continue to lag Republicans.  The statewide return rate is 43.7% (was 40.2% yesterday).  Republicans have now returned 48,6%% of all requested ballots, Democrats 42.2%, and NPA’s 37.7%.  Republicans will pass the 50% mark for returning ballots today.

I’ve been asked a lot about the people who requested a ballot but voted another way – and is this why the delta in unreturned ballots is so large.

Right now, about 40,000 people received a ballot, but chose to vote in-person early.  There are about 6,000 more Democrats in this camp than Republicans.  This is a long way of saying:  Democrats, return your freaking ballots.

I think things are tracking in a good place for my party, but I don’t want to sugar coat it:  There is very real work to be done.  There are almost 4 million votes who voted in 2014 who have not voted yet, and Republicans hold about a 250,000-vote advantage.   My side needs to keep driving up that advantage among infrequent midterm voters.  The good news for Democrats:  that pool is rather large.   

As I’ve said all week, there isn’t a lot changing day to day this week.  Miami continues to look stronger than I expected by this point, which is a positive thing for Democrats, though the actual turnout rate for Democrats in Miami-Dade is lagging Republicans by 5%.  Orlando continues to be very competitive, which again is a good sign.  Palm Beach is looking better.   For Republicans, the Fort Myers market continues to be juiced.  I am honestly not sure why the President is headed there – they don’t have a turnout issue there – there are other places I think they could use him. 

Don’t expect significant change tomorrow.  Monday and Friday tend to be better for Democrats in the in-person early vote, but I suspect tomorrow’s numbers will look close to today, then Sunday, we will get a look at what happened on the first full day of statewide early voting.  Just hopefully, the Jaguars won’t be unwatchable again as I write that note.

Until tomorrow, happy Friday everyone. 

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