3 Days Out - Florida is Careening to the Finish
Saturday, November 3, 2018 at 11:05AM

To:       Fans of Number 3 (Dale Earnhardt of course)

From:   Steve Schale

Re:       3 days to go!!!

Today we celebrate Dale Earnhardt day, as we stand 3 days from an election cycle, that just like the last lap of Talladega, is coming to a close with cars all over the track, a loose tire landing in the stands, and someone upside down on their roof sliding through the infield.  

Yesterday was the largest in-person early voting day, and the overall largest day (ev+vbm) of the cycle.  Right now, the total stands at roughly 375,000, but when the counties that have not reported yet pop into the system, it should be very close to, if not exceed, 400,000.

And yesterday is an instructive day for showing how Florida works.  Democrats absolutely blew it out in a handful of counties that always go Democratic, and Republicans, while not seeing the same kind of margins, did well in a bunch of counties that they do well in.  The result for the day:  nearly a tie.  I’ll walk through some of that later.

Also, this memo will be shorter for two reasons:  I want to get some volunteering in for GOTV, and I want to spend some time working on my Monday memo, which will lay out where we are at the end of early vote, and the scenarios that can happen on Tuesday.

So, here we go: 4,462,042 total votes

Republicans: 1,835,373

Democrats: 1,778,373

NPA/Minor: 832,198

Republican edge is 56,902 (+1.3%)

To give a sense of just how stable Florida is:  look at Monday: it was 2,726,392 (+2.2%) with the GOP holding an edge of 59,048.  1.7 million votes over 6 days, and t was basically a tie for the week.  That’s just how the place works.

At this point, we are going to go to Election Day with 1.9 to 2 million more votes than voted early in 2014.   As a percentage margin, it is better than 2014, worse than 2016, but above all, I don’t think either comparison really works at this point.

Statewide turnout is now 33.5% - in other words, 2.9% of Florida registered voters cast a ballot yesterday.  Among Republicans, it is 39.2%, among Democrats, it is 36%, and among NPA, it’s up to 22.9%.

As we saw in both 2014 and 2016, the NPA share is growing as we get closer to Election Day.  On Monday, it was 17.7%.  Yesterday it was 18.4%.  Today it is 18.7%.  It will get over 20 when this is all said and done – and as I said yesterday, that is an important point for any candidate whose path to win includes NPAs – the bigger their share, the more that vote means in the final equation.

The last two days also show how the electorate is getting more diverse. After Wednesday, the electorate was 71% white, and today it is 70%, and continuing to track into the upper 60s.  What caused that drop?  In the last two days, the electorate has been 15.5% Black, and 13.7% Hispanic.  It is likely this will continue into the last two days of early voting.  Not surprisingly, the share of people who did not vote in 2014 continues to rise.  

And continuing the trend from earlier in the week;  cannibalization (which probably isn't a real word), or the action of parties moving their Election Day vote into early voting, thus making early voting look more robust than it is.  Right now, over 18% of the electorate are cannibals – ok, it is Florida, so be clear, I mean early voting cannibals.  About 25,000 more Republicans fall into this category, but I don’t think that is overly significant.   But this overall stat is important:  while more than 30% of this electorate is new from 2014, the higher turnout is also being driven by convenience voting, which is why I believe the final turnout will be higher than 2014, but not ‘mini-Presidential” in volume, as some have suggested.

But then again, who knows.  People are voting.  That is good.

One other quick thing, to close the loop on Hurricane Michael:  voting patterns have basically returned to normal there.  They are still a tiny bit behind the state, but at this point, there is no evidence that Michael will have any significant impact on the election.  This is very good news for that community, and for democracy at large.

51% of the electorate to date is vote by mail, and the GOP has a 67,540.  Of the 49% of all ballots in that were cast in-person early, Democrats hold a roughly 10,600 ballot lead.  In person early voting will outpace vote by mail this year. 

In total, just over 3.48 million ballots have been requested – again far more than 2014, and more than 2016.  Republicans have returned 70.5%, Democrats 63.2%, and NPA 58.4%.  The statewide return rate is 65%, which is down from 2014.  But there is still time to return your ballot. 

HINT: Return Your Ballot.

Here is what is remaining:

Democratic unreturned ballots: 515,780

Republican unreturned ballots: 399,366

NPA unreturned ballots: 308,109

And, to everyone on twitter who likes to point out that people may have requested a ballot and voted early, and are like “Schale, stop beating us up, our people are voting” – yes, there are Democrats who are requesting ballots and voting in person.  But guess what, there are Republicans, and there are also NPAs doing it.

In total, roughly 150,000 Floridians have, to steal a term, cannibalized their vote by mail ballot, and yes, a few more Democrats have than Republicans.  So, in the sum, there are still A LOT MORE DEMOCRATS with vote by mail ballots sitting under the dog’s tennis ball, or next to that thing you bought at Target but aren’t sure where you are going to put in your house.

Get your ballot. Take it to an early voting site or take it to the polls on Tuesday.  Just don’t leave it sitting under your gym clothes in the backseat of your car.

Last thing for today, I thought today’s numbers were instructive about how Florida works.  As I’ve written in the past, Florida tends to operate like a scale that corrects itself back to balanced.  For as dynamic as the state is, the politics are stable, and quite dug in, which explains why our elections are so close.  In short, Democratic areas and Republican areas tend to balance themselves out, and the state is won or lost on the margins. 

Over the last 6 days, more than1.7 million ballots have come in, and the difference between the two parties is about 2,000 votes. 

Yesterday, out of nearly 400,000 votes, even though Miami, Broward, Orange, and Palm Beach blew it out, the statewide partisan difference was about 1,600, so my twitter engagers ask: ‘Hey man, how did the Republicans turnout out more voters if 125,000 people voted in the big four Democratic counties,”

Well here is how: Democrats yesterday won 18 counties.  Of those 18 counties, 8 are very small, and the total margin in those 8 was 471 voters.  And honestly, we aren’t winning most of these counties.  In these 18 counties, Democrats margin in turnout advantage was roughly 35,000 voters, of which 80% came from the big four counties:  Broward, Miami, Orange, and Palm Beach.

On the flipside, Republicans won 44 (5 haven’t reported) by just over 33,000, but to add up to the same margin as the Democratic big four, you had to go to their top 17 counties.  In other words, they win a lot more places by decent margins, while we win a few by a ton.

So, they cancel themselves out like this:

Broward (Dems +11,303) = Bay, Lee, St. Johns, Collier, and Brevard

Dade (Dems +8.268) = Nassau, Lake, Sarasota, Sumter, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa

Orange (Dems +4,336) = Pasco, Manatee, Charlotte, and Marion

Again, remember, all of this is on the party margins.  If NPAs break hard one way or another, or if there is significant crossover vote, these margins are all impacted.

But generally, who wins or loses will do so, not by where they win, but why they win or lose by everywhere.  It is the little things at the end that determines who wins close elections.

Two last things.

1.  Dear UCF:  You all want people to think you are state champions or national champions or something, but here is the deal:  you are losing to UF, FIU, and FSU/FAMU in terms of early voting totals on campus.  And you have a lot more students than these others.  So until you stop losing to FIU, please stop telling everyone you "want Bama."

And secondly, yesterday was a tough day in our community, as a shooter walked into a yoga studio, killed two and injured others.  A few months back, it was a video game competition in Jacksonville, before that Stoneman Douglas, before that Pulse, and in between that, a whole lot of other shootings that never made the headlines.  During session, i was proud to help some of the parents and students of Parkland pass a significant, and bipartisan school safety bill, but let's be honest, the solution to this isn't hardening everything, and arming everything and everyone.  The new normal isn't normal, nor can we ever let it become so, because when we do, that is when those who seek to do harm win.  if you are reading this, it is because you care about democracy, and here's the thing, people who truly care about the nation can find solutions -- and everyday people -- just like those kids and parents from Parkland -- can force real change.  So yes, we should pray for the victims and their families, but we can all also do something, from small things like just being kinder to each other and creating space for dialogue, to actually sitting down and figuring out how we can slow this epidemic.  

Some more tomorrow, and a lot more Monday.  Thanks again for reading.

Article originally appeared on Steve Schale -- Veteran Florida Man Politico (http://steveschale.com/).
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