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8 Days Out -- Florida Memo

To:       People who can’t stand Mondays.  Everyone else stop reading.

From:   Steve Schale

Re:       8 days out

It finally cooled off in Florida, but the voting got hot.  As of this morning: 2,726,392

This breaks down:

Republicans: 1,151,593 (42.3)

Democrats: 1,092,547 (40.1)

NPA/Minor: 482,252 (17.7)

Republican edge is 59,046 (+2.2%)


Yesterday, we were at 2,580,347, with the GOP holding an edge of 70,415 votes (+2.7%).

On Saturday, it was 2,316,413, with the GOP edge at 74,334 (+2.2)

 Democrats made up all the ground they lost late last weekend, winning the weekend vote by roughly 15,500, or just under 4%.  Most of that came yesterday, when Democrats won the day by 11K votes. My home team had a very good weekend.

 Before my Democratic friends on twitter get too excited, there wasn’t much in the way of vote by vote by mail ballots, so unless the 118K or so more Democrats than Republicans who hold an absentee ballot #BringItToThePostOffice, the GOP lead will likely bounce back a bit tomorrow morning when the weekend absentees get added into the mix. 

For comparison, in 2014, right at 2.2 million voters had voted, Republicans had about a 140,000-ballot lead at this point – and led by around 6.4%.  In 2018, the GOP lead was about 9K votes at this point out of 4 million votes.  It was basically tied.

Republicans lead for one reason, and one reason only: Democratic return rates for vote by mail are lagging Republican rates – by seven points in terms of the rate of return. Right now, statewide the return rate is about 49% -- though given what is currently sitting in the mailboxes at Supervisors offices, there is no question more than 50% of Floridians who requested a ballot have mailed it back.  Again, those numbers update in the morning.

Republicans have now returned 54.4% of all their requested ballots, Democrats 47.6%, and NPA’s 42.5.  Statewide, the return rate is 36%. 

In total, just over 3.42 million ballots have been requested – again far more than 2014, and more than 2016. 

Here is what is remaining:

Democratic unreturned ballots: 722,498

Republican unreturned ballots: 604,885

NPA unreturned ballots: 412,736

The electorate is continuing to trend more diverse.  Not including Sunday’s data, which will make these numbers even more diverse, the electorate looks like this (again thru Saturday):  73% White, 10.5% Black, 11.7% Hispanic.  Compare this to Thursday last week, when the electorate was 75% White, 11.5% Hispanic, and 8.5% Black, though as in-person early voting, the electorate is trending more diverse.  Keep in mind, vote-by-mail in Florida tends to be far more white than the final electorate. 

That being said, when looking at the ethnicity of who is left to vote, it is clear that Black turnout is rounding into shape – if just the people who voted in 2014 show up to vote between now and Election Day, the Black (reminder, Black voters in Florida include African American, Caribbean, and some Hispanic) vote will land at about 12.5%.  And again, that is if no one new shows up.  I suspect the Black share will end up right around the Black share of total voter registration, which is just over 13.

If there is a concern I have about turnout from my party perspective – where as the Black share of the electorate has been trending up, Hispanic has been pretty flat.  Outside of Cuban Republicans, Hispanics tend to vote later, and more on Election Day, but this is something to watch this week and into next weekend.

Looking at the electorate that has voted, and the electorate left to vote, there is good news and bad news for my home team.

In terms of non-2014 votes, slightly more than 30% of the electorate did not vote in 2014.   Those voters are younger (30% under 50 – and 17% under 35 compared to 22% under 50 and 8% under 35 for all early voters), more Democratic (Dems are +4%), and more diverse – particularly more Hispanic. 

In terms of people who 2014 voters who have not voted, there are about 200,000 more Republicans. Dems make some of that up if the trends with lower propensity voters keep up, but not all of it.  In other words, after you read this memo, if you are for Nelson and Gillum, go turn out some voters.

In terms of the vote by media market, it is starting to look like Florida.  The two markets most impacted by the storm: Panama City and Tallahassee, are still down.  Miami, as a share of the electorate, continues to grow – and while this will likely flatline or drop a bit as some other areas even out, it is well ahead of where it was at this point in 2014 and 2016.   Orlando, arguably the most important market this cycle, continues to be very competitive – and robust in terms of turn out.  Fort Myers, after blowing up in early vote by mail, is coming back to earth.  Tampa looks like Tampa.

I looked at 2018 versus 2014 by county margins, there are a lot of high points for my home team:

This data reads this way 2014 margin -- 2018 margin; (2014 share -- 2018 share)

Broward: 36,893 -- 74,654 (57-27 -- 58-24)

Dade: -31 -- 22,153 (41-41 -- 44-35)

Orange: 4,611 -- 23,619 (43-39 -- 49-33)

Hillsborough: -1,584 -- 9,556 (40-42 -- 44-39)

DUUUVAL: -8,310 -- 472 (38-50 -- 44-43)

Alachua (UF): 3,989 -- 11,255 (53-33 -- 58-28)


And in the swing counties:

Seminole: -9,032 -- -3,728 (32-50 -- 37-43)

Pinellas: -7,921 -- -1,855 (37-43 -- 40-41)

St. Lucie: 748 -- 2,853 (41-39 -- 44-38)

What is interesting, and again is good news – even in many of the bigger GOP counties where they have a higher margin today than four years ago, Democratic turnout is keeping it in check.  For example:

In Lee (Fort Myers), Sumter (Villages), Collier (Naples), St. Johns, Clay (near Jax), while the GOP margin is higher than it was four years ago, the partisan share of vote difference is closer for the Democrats.  Take the aforementioned St. Johns County, one of the most Republican counties in the state.  Republicans have a 3,758 bigger vote margin, but the model has gone from 63-23 R in 2014 to 58-28 in 2018.   Winning Florida for my side is all about those little shifts.

One last little data point, then off to work.  Right now, statewide turnout is about 20.5%.  Among Republicans, it is 24.6%, and among Democrats its 22.1% (NPA is at 13%).  Republican turnout rates are higher in 61 of 67 counties.  I point this out because while I do believe that there is a lot of data from the weekend that looks good, Democrats keep in mind that Republicans are blowing out turnout as well.  More people are voting overall – and there are probably at least 4.5 million more people to vote – and if only the most certain show up, which they will, the GOP will have a solid advantage in turnout. 

I feel better about where my side is today than I did last week, but I don’t feel great.  This still feels closer than the polls, and while I absolutely believe NPA voters will decide it – as they typically do in Florida, how close things are from a partisan perspective dictates by how much our side has to win the NPA vote. 

And while it may be a bye week for my hapless Jaguars, it is far from a bye week for those of you all who want to bring it home.

One last note:  Last week, my side lost one of its brightest rising stars.  Tyrone Gayle was a kid from Jacksonville – we went to the same high school (though he was much younger) and took his charge to be a change agent seriously.  In his short 30 years on this planet, he touched more people than most of us could in a lifetime.   He battled stage 4 cancer for more than two years, and while most of us bitch about having a cold, Tyrone went through treatment while still during a Presidential campaign, never losing his spirit.    A colleague of him said: “Tyrone could fly, but that was never enough for him – he wanted us all to fly with him, so he elevated every person he touched, lifted each and every one of us.  His body failed him last night, but his spirit soars on, flying above us, forever lifting us up.”

While I can’t say we were all that close, he was my friend & fellow hopelessly optimistic Jaguars fan -- and more importantly, I was just an admirer and fan of his, a fellow EHS and Duval kid who did good, and one whose limitless potential was sadly cut short.  F Cancer.  #GayleNation

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