Join the Email List


One Week To Go!!!!!!

To: People like me who need a life

From: Steve Schale

Re: Freedom is Near

*Note, this was written quickly. Forgive my English language failures

*7 days until the election

*11 days until FSU basketball tips off.

*115 days until Daytona 500

*1455 days until my 7 day out memo in 2020.

Before I begin, a note to Democrats (Republicans, skip a graph or two)

Have you voted.

If yes, skip the bold section.

If no, seriously, WTF are you waiting for? Too cool to early vote? Well, be that way. You are banned from this memo until you vote.

OK, America, we’ve made it this far. It has been 504 days since Trump announced for President. We only have seven more to go. Embrace your inner Joe Biden: “Come on, we are America. We can do this”

I got a ton of calls, emails, tweets, and notes by pigeon carrier asking me to sum up yesterday’s five-page memo.

So here it is: It is close. Shocker. It is Florida. It is always close.

How close?

So here is where we stand:

Yesterday, we had our four millionth vote, and we saw the Big 3 counties in SE Florida top one million votes. We also saw in-person early vote almost overtake vote-by-mail. That will happen today.

Republicans won vote-by-mail by a 8K vote plurality, and Dems won EV by 1K. In total, 345,875 people voted yesterday. One other note, NPA participation is definitely increasing, a trend which started over the weekend.

I do need to note that not all of the data on the state site lines up with data on local SOE sites. The differences aren’t huge – though because one of the places where it looks like the data isn’t totally updated is Broward, this could change these numbers throughout the day:

Total Ballots cast: 4,077.521

Total Vote By Mail: 2,054,519 (50.4%)

Total Early Vote: 2,023,002 (49.6%)

Republicans: 1,648,603 (40.4%)

Democrats: 1,632,677 (40.0%)

NPA: 769,241 (19.6%)

Total Margin: GOP +0.39%

The brilliant Tim Russert is running around heaven with that little white board, saying “I told you so, Florida, Florida, Florida,” though I suspect he’s added a hashtag – because he’s Tim Russert.

Right now, I think about 43-44 percent of the likely electorate has voted.

And there are still 1,273.396 vote-by-mail ballots sitting out there, and yes, Democrats have more outstanding mail in ballots than Republicans. Unreturned vote-by-mail ballots look like this: 41D-35R-24NPA, meaning 79,658 Democrats apparently think watching cat videos is more important than putting a stamp on their ballot.


Back to the benchmarks. In advance, I apologize for the thinner look at the county data below. I had to hit the road early this morning and the state updated the site late.


Democrats had a good, but not great day. The early voting margin was about 1,000 over the GOP, but the GOP narrowly won the vote-by-mail vote (GOP +43). The NPA number here, like everywhere, is increasing. 23% of the total vote in today was NPA, leading the overall NPA share to rise to 20%. Democrats still maintain about a 6.5% lead over Republicans, or about 16,500 voters.

And Hillsborough Democrats, there are 7,718 more Democrats with a ballots on their couch than Republicans, but the Republicans won the vote-by-mail day. #JustSayin


Democrats won the day, another which saw increased NPA participation. The day went 40-35-25 to the Dems, claiming a 4K vote plurality. About 83,000 ballots were processed today.

In the “this probably means more for 2020” file, Democrats won the day in Polk, after winning in-person early voting for the 8th day in a row.

South Florida

According to the ballots on the state site, Democrats won the day by about 20,000 votes, but I would caution that it doesn’t look as though the Broward VBM totals are fully updated, so this will grow

While I didn’t love the totals for the day, the margins for Democrats in Dade continue to improve, winning the day 45-28-27, which is several points better than the Dem’s registration advantage, and once again Broward NPA’s outpaced Broward Republicans.


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.

And again, special note to Duval Democrats: You don’t have to lose days to the GOP. There are 1,730 more Democratic vote-by-mail ballots sitting on entry-way tables. Go talk to your neighbors.

Additional notes:

The electorate continues to get more diverse. Through the Sunday vote, Hispanics are now 13.5% of the votes so far, with Black voters (African American and Caribbean) at 11. White is down to 70, and has trended down from nearly 80% when in-person early voting started. I have no doubt at this point that the electorate in 2016 will end up more diverse than 2012.

I also don’t expect the Black share of vote to match 2012. That was a historic moment. But I do expect the Black share of vote to approach its registration share (13.9%). In my models, which have her winning, I expect it to land at 13%, so anything north of this is positive.

On the flip-side, Hispanics, particularly low propensity Democratic and NPA Hispanics, are turning out. So far, 50% of Hispanic Democrats, and 55% of Hispanic NPAs who have voted are low propensity voters, which I define as voters who either have no voting history, or have voted in just one of the last three elections. And keep in mind, Hispanic registration grew by 121K voters in just the ten weeks after August 1.

Democrats now have a low propensity voter advantage of 65,000.

Moreover, there is something in Dade that I have been wondering about. Right now, 153K Hispanics have voted, many of whom are people who surely fall into Rubio’s turnout universe. But how many will vote for Rubio, but Clinton? In other words, as Rubio is turning out Miami Republicans, for his own campaign, is he also inadvertently helping Clinton. In a lot of polling I’ve seen in South Florida, there are areas where the difference between the Rubio and Clinton margins are as much as 20 points. How many of those are Miami Hispanic Republicans? I suspect it is more than a few.

Another interesting point that a very smart observer mentioned to me yesterday: more traditional Election Day Republicans are voting early than Election Day Democrats. According to the file I use, about 620,000 people who have voted early already are voters who in 2012 voted on Election Day. In other words, in the absurd terms of today’s politics – these are early voters that the parties are “cannibalizing” from their own Election Day turnout.

Republicans have been making the case that Democrats have closed the VBM gaps by cannibalizing their own vote, but here is an interesting finding: Republicans are actually doing it more to themselves. Right now, about 34,000 more 2012 Election Day Republicans have early than Democrats.

In other words, the GOP lead right now is based on cannibalizing their own supposed Election Day advantage.

On flip side, Democrats please don’t get all giddy. There are plenty of worrisome things in the data, not the least of which is the ridiculous number of vote-by-mail ballots are out there, and there are slightly more 2012 voting Republicans yet to vote than Democrats. In other words, to stay with the theme, take nothing for granted. And again, there are almost 80,000 more Democratic VBM ballots gathering dust in homes around the state – but a large chunk of those are low propensity voters – volunteer to go chase those. Whether or not Trump wins Florida is largely on you.

One last thing, looking at media market vote shares.

For the day, Orlando really stretched it out, coming in as 23% of the state’s votes for the day. Jacksonville also had a good day, with nearly 10% of all the ballots coming in. West Palm continues to be under where it should be, and Miami looked almost exactly as it should.

Overall, Fort Myers continues to come back to reality, but so does North Florida, which is up to 17% of all votes processed. Orlando and Miami continue to exceed their traditional vote shares, which is likely a result of some of this Hispanic surge.

Lastly, tomorrow morning I have an early meeting, and a drive back to Tallahassee. I honestly don’t know if I will get a full memo out before late in the day. I will definitely tweet out some data, and try to get some notes out early, but forgive me, this #FloridaMan volunteer has some real work to do tomorrow.


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.  :-)


Florida, Day 10, and it is FSU/Clemson

To:    FSU Fans, and the rest of America

From: Steve Schale

Re:     10 Days Out, and Clemson comes to Doak

*1 days since Gus Bradley should have been fired

*10 days until the election

*14 days until FSU basketball tips off.

I apologize for the delay today.  Before I wrote the first memo, I had a life planned for the last two weeks of the election.  While that has all changed, I did get up and run a half-marathon today.  After getting up at 4:30 AM and running 13 miles in the heat and south Georgia hills, yes, I am going to tell you that.

Tonight is also FSU/Clemson.  If your team needs a head coach, the guy sitting three seats over and a row down is a football genius.  If you don't believe me, just come sit by me tonight and he will tell you.

On to the story.

Florida now has over 3.25 million votes.  With the increased voter registration, I am adjusting my raw vote turnout projections, but even still, I think about 35% of all voters likely to vote have already cast a ballot.

We are also heading into the weekend.  Traditionally, Democrats do better with in-person early voting on weekends.

Friday looked like the rest of the week, with Democrats leading among in-person early voting, and Republicans leading with vote-by-mail, though the GOP did have a good day on VBM

Day five of in person early voting looked like this: 

Vote By Mail:    128,058 (+1K from yesterday) votes, GOP won (43-36-21), or just under 10K votes

In Person Early Vote: 265,310 votes (up about 1,500 from yesterday), Dems won (40-39-21) or just under 1K votes

393,368 votes were counted, and GOP won the day by about 9,000.

This brings us into total votes 3,258,034 with leading GOP up about 0.6%.

One other big picture number: There are now almost 70,000 more Democrats in Florida with a vote by mail ballot that they have not returned.  Data does show that Democrats have been returning theirs as quick, if not quicker than Republicans, but had a higher number of post-October 1 requests. Because Democrats actually have 5,000 more overall requests, the GOP VBM numbers should level out.  Even at current lower Dem return rates, the GOP advantage should reduce by about 20,000 by election day, given the Dems larger number of outstanding ballots.

That being said:


Looking at the usual benchmarks. I am going to do a deeper dive on Monday after we see the weekend, so this will be quicker.


Friday was like the previous three days. Democrats won both the early vote and the vote by mail tabulations, and now carry a 13,300 vote lead (+6.4%), pushed again by strong in-person early voting.  Over two thirds of the votes on Thursday came from in-person early voting, which is a good sign for Dems. And Dems are up about 600 votes on Saturday through 1 pm

And again, why Hillsborough? Hillsborough has correctly picked 19 of the last 20 Presidents.


JMart, Dems won in-person early voting in Imperial Polk County for the fifth day in a row!

Heading into weekend, here is I-4 (north to south)

Volusia: 92,850 total votes (42R-38D-20NPA)

Seminole 80,280 (44R-36D-20NPA)

Orange 180,804 (48D-31R-21NPA)

Osceola 50,673 (48D-29R-23NPA)

Polk 89,599 (42R-39D-19NPA)

Hillsborough 214,259 (43D-37R-20NPA)

Pinellas 193,042 (39.6D, 39.4R, 21NPA)

South Florida

Turnout in South Florida was solid again today.  Between in person early and vote by mail, more than 107K people voted.

From North to South:

Palm Beach 180,804 (49D-29R-22NPA)

Broward: 268,767 votes (58D-23R-19NPA)

Miami 361,679 (45D-32R-23NPA


Republicans had a very good VBM day, but Dems edged out another EV win. 

Duval: 125,152 votes (44R-42D-16NPA)

Complete aside, President Obama comes to Jacksonville on Thursday, eight years to the date after his last rally in Florida in 2008, on November 3rd.

Final Voter Registration:

The state just released the final voter reg numbers.

We go into the election with about 12.8 million voters.

By comparison, there were 11.9 million in 2012.

Right now, I am thinking turnout will be right around 2012 levels, so that would be just over 9.2 million votes.  I might revise this next week as we get further into early votes.

Since August, Democrats increased their voter registration advantage by just under 70,000.  The Democrats go into the election with just over a 327,000 voter advantage.

The state is now 38D-35R-27NPA

Democrats top growth counties since August:

Miami Dade (+26,343)
Broward (+18,456)
Orange (+15,545)
Hillsborough (+8,618)
Osceola (+5,046) - Near Orlando

Republican top growth counties:

Bay (+1,836) - Panama City
Okaloosa (+1,586) - Panhandle
Santa Rosa (+1,436) - Panhandle
Marion (+1,387) - between Gainesville and Orlando
Pasco (+1,342) -- north of Tampa

By ethnicity:

Black (African American & Caribbean): 13.4%
Hispanic: 15.7%
White: 64.2%
Other: 6.7%

*Keep in mind, Hispanic in Florida is underrepresented by these statistics, as it is both a self-identification.  Surveys suggest in 2012, real Hispanic was closer to 16% of voters.

One last thing, the voters who joined the rolls since August are very diverse.

Of the growth in registration, it looked like this:

White: 44.7% (+220,493)

Hispanic 24.7% (+121,771)

Black 14.7% (+72,538)

Others: 15.8% (77,591)

Tomorrow’s memo will probably be late morning, unless FSU gets blown out and I get home early, in which case it will be mid-morning, or unless they beat Clemson, which means It might come on Wednesday.  


Florida - Day 11. Florida Votes, and the Jaguars Suck

To:     Fans of Florida Voting

From: Steve Schale, Exhausted and Disgusted Jaguars Fan

Re:     11 Days Out


 *0 days until Gus Bradley is fired, God willing.

*11 days until the election

*15 days until FSU basketball tips off.

On Thursday, another poll showed Clinton with a 4-point lead.  This means that since Bloomberg declared Trump leading Florida, four polls have come out showing Clinton leading by 3 or 4 points.  By the way, don’t ask the Jaguars’ Head Coach what a lead is, he wouldn’t know.

This means 23 of the last 26 polls show Clinton leading, 2 show it tied, and one showed Trump ahead.

So on to early voting.  Sometime this morning, the 3 millionth ballot of the 2016 election will be cast in Florida.  We will also today cross another big milestone:  It is quite likely that we will finish this day with over 1/3rd of all likely 2012 votes from Florida having been cast. 

Also, somethings there are right now two things consistent in Florida:  mid-week performance in early voting, and Jaguars football.  Thursday was just like Tuesday and Wednesday – solid, with little change in the overall picture.  And the Jags, well they just suck.

Day four of in person early voting brought a solid day for turnout. 

Here are the totals:

Vote By Mail:    127,298 votes, GOP won (42-37-21), or just under 6K votes

In Person Early Vote: 263,964 votes, Dems won (40-39-21) or just over 3K votes*

In total:

391,222 votes were counted, and GOP won the day by about 2,600*

*Note: There is a discrepancy between the state elections site and Broward’s local site that would get this pretty close to a wash for the day.  So I wouldn’t be surprised if yesterday’s total changes during the day.

This brings us into total votes 2,864,666 with leading GOP up just over 14K votes. (+0.5%)

One other big picture number: There are almost 60,000 more Democrats in Florida with a vote by mail ballot that they have not returned.  In total, about 57.3% of Republican VBM ballot requests have been returned, compared to 52.6% of Democrats.


Right now, it is likely that 31-32% of all the votes that will be cast this election in Florida are in the door.

Looking at the usual benchmarks:


Another pretty typical day in Hillsborough.  We won both the early vote and the vote by mail tabulations, and now carry a 12,500 vote lead (+6.8%).  In person early vote is really driving this, with Democrats leading it by almost 9 points.  Two thirds of the votes on Thursday came from in-person early voting.   And keep in mind, Hillsborough has correctly picked 19 of the last 20 Presidents.


Yesterday played out to form, with Democrats winning in-person early voting in every county along the interstate, except for Seminole.

And yes, JMart, that means Dems won in-person early voting in Imperial Polk County for the fourth day in a row!

On other hand, Democrats and Republicans split the vote by mail returns, with Dems winning Hillsborough, Orange, and Osceola; and GOP winning Pinellas, Polk, Seminole and Volusia.

In total for the day, 108,000 votes were cast in the I-4 counties, with D’s winning 41-38-21. 

The I-4 counties have contributed nearly 800,000 ballots, or about 28% of all ballots cast in Florida, with Democrats holding a 42.4-37.5% (+38,000) lead.

Couple of notes:

Republicans had a better than average day in Orange County, losing the county by 14 points.  However, Dems continue to hold an 18-point edge in early votes.

I’ve had several special requests for Pinellas, which is almost entirely a vote by mail county, and which also has exceptionally close partisan voter registration.  Yesterday, the GOP narrowly won the day (+500 votes), but Democrats still lead the county (+300).

South Florida

Turnout in South Florida was solid again today.  Between in person early and vote by mail, more than 45,000 people voted in Dade County, and 41,000 voted in Broward County. In total, well over 100,000 votes came in through the big 3 South Florida counties.

Broward:  Democrats now lead by 69,900 votes, or 58-23% lead.  In person early vote surpassed vote by mail returns today, which is good news for Democrats, as Democrats currently lead in-person early vote by 60-21. With eleven days of voting, plus election day, this is a good place to be.

Dade:  Democrats increased their lead in Dade to just under 40,000 votes, after a 46-31-23 D-R-NPA day.  Remember, Dade has an exceptionally high percentage of Dem-leaning NPA voters, so while the county should end up being close to Broward in final vote margin, you won’t see it as acutely in the daily partisan differences.  In-person early is really driving the Dems in the right direction, with the fourth consecutive day of 30K plus votes, and Dems winning those votes by nearly 20%.

And Palm Beach, where Dems won the day 47-30, and continue to lead 50-29, after nearly 19,000 more people voted.


First, my Jaguars are abysmal.  The only thing more offensive than the bile-colored uniforms they wore on TV is the quality of play.  If Shad Khan doesn’t fire Gus Bradley this week, I would strongly suggest to Hillary Clinton to promise to sign an executive order removing him as Head Coach.  She will win the county hands-down.

Personally, I do love the Duval numbers.  Democrats won the day, albeit narrowly, while the GOP continues to hold a narrow lead – and a narrow lead won’t do it for Trump There are only so many places where Trump can really grow from the Romney numbers, and Duval is one of them. So far, he isn’t doing it.

Some other points:

Be sure you are following my buddy Dan Smith (Election Smith) from the University of Florida.  He has some great numbers. 

He’s brought up the point that the electorate needs to get more diverse for Clinton, which is a point I agree with.  I will note, however, that VBM tends to be exceptionally white, so traditionally the electorate gets more diverse as the election gets closer. For example, going into in-person early voting, the electorate was about 80% white, and it is down to about 72%.  I suspect after the first weekend, we will see a big jump in diversity.

Dems continue to lead among the first time and low propensity voters – about 40,000 more Dems in this category have come out to vote so far.  Again, I suspect the weekend will be good to this stat.

Here is an interesting look at the electorate.  I ran a comparison of what the composition of the electorate looks like currently by county, and compared it to voter registration, and here are the counties where Democrats are most over-performing,

Alachua (Dems registration is +19, votes are +30 – net +11)

Palm Beach (net +6.5%)

Broward (net +6%)

Sarasota (net +5.7%)

Orange (net 4.7%)

The biggest one of note, Alachua, is also home to East Florida Seminary.

Two last things on my global view of the election.

I don’t think people should expect Democrats to have a “big” lead going into Eday – in part because of the nature of the electorate.  In both 2008 and 2012, the Dems had a much larger voter registration advantage than 2016.  In part, this is because we had a lot of white Democrats, many of whom last voted for either Carter or Kennedy.  They finally switched in pretty big numbers, so we are left with a coalition that is far more predictable and diverse.   Also, both Black (African American and Caribbean) and Hispanic voters are registering NPA in higher numbers, which is much about society going away from institutions as anything.  So just keep this in mind.

Secondly, my working assumption is that HRC had a 1-1.5 advantage in Florida, based simply on demographics.  I still believe this.  Add in Trump’s struggles with college-educated whites, and you see a lot of polling at 3-4, which feels about right.  Nothing in the data we’ve seen so far is surprising, and I still think we are headed that way.   But let’s revisit over the weekend.

And lastly, thank you for all the kind notes this week. This is my favorite time of year, and I appreciate the notes.

Tomorrow I am running a half marathon in the morning, so I will tweet out some data, and get the memo out later in the day. 

And God willing, the Jaguars will have a head coach.

And pro tip:  Pick Kevin Harvick this week in your fantasy leagues.


Wednesday Two Weeks Out in America's Paradise

To:     Fellow Data Nerds

From: Steve Schale, #FloridaMan

Re:     Day 3 of Early Voting

*12 days until the election

*16 days until FSU basketball tips off.

Before we dive into the data, can I have a side conversation with the reporters reading this?

Now, I get it, the national race for President is over, and there is a need to keep this race interesting.  But the attention to that Bloomberg Poll yesterday was really kind of nuts.  Hillary Clinton has led or been tied in the 14 most recent polls before that one, two of which came out yesterday that received virtually no coverage.  So let’s keep all these polls in perspective.

Back to everyone.

Let’s talk about polling really quick. 

In 2012, the storyline was Obama couldn’t win Florida.  In fact, Obama only led 4 of the last 15 polls before this day in the election.  It was fair skepticism.

But in this case, HRC has led 14 of the last 15.  I don’t think anyone can argue that she is in a strong position to win.

No one knows better to me how tough this state can be, and no one is going to blow anyone out here.  But she is ahead.  It is a fact.   Now she has to turn out the vote.

One last thing on that Bloomberg poll.  They have the electorate at +3 Republican. 42-39.  I don’t even know even the most optimistic GOP operative who agrees with that model. 

Today, among votes in, it is 41-41-18.  If you take the Bloomberg Poll and do nothing but weigh the party breaks to 41-41-18, guess what, it shows Clinton with a 3-point lead – which is essentially what the average has been for a few weeks.

Oh, and University of North Florida this morning has it +4 HRC.

OK, rant over. Back to early voting.

Just shy of 2.5 million Floridians have voted.  This is roughly 27-28% of what total turnout will be.  In other words, more than a quarter of the likely Florida electorate has voted.

278,701 Floridians voted early, and Democrats won the day by about 4,000.  Total in person was about 15,000 less than Tuesday.

166,962 Floridians returned a VBM ballots, and GOP on them by about 10,000.

So out of about 2.5 million votes, the GOP has a 10,000 vote lead, which plays out to about 0.47%

I get asked often how this compares to 2012.  It really doesn’t in an apple to apples form.  Early voting in 2012 started on this coming Saturday, so we were only looking at VBM in 2012 on this day.  The GOP had a pretty significant lead, and we did not overtake them in total votes until Sunday.

In 2008, the early voting calendar was similar to this one, though the GOP went in with a much larger VBM lead.  If memory serves me right, it was the weekend when Democrats overtook the GOP. 

Wednesday was the second day that was largely a wash.  For what it is worth, I think today will be as well. 

Also, from now on, I am going to report combined EV/VBM numbers.  Where one or the other from the day is noteworthy, I’ll comment.

Here are the usual benchmarks. I will also explain below why these are the areas that I find interesting.

Hillsborough – Hillsborough is the only county that voted for Bush twice and Obama twice. It has also correctly picked 19 of the last 20 Presidents.  For those unfamiliar with Florida, it where Tampa is located.  The county is very “Midwestern” so tends to have more swing voters

Yesterday, Democrats carried the day by about 5 points, thanks to a 10-point advantage in VBM ballots.  Democrats maintain a 7-point (44-37) edge in total ballots cast, which is in line with our registration edge.

I-4 – The I-4 counties yesterday looked a lot like the I-4 should look, except for the third straight day, Democrats won in person early vote in Polk County, a county that last voted for Democratic President in 1976.  I suspect that is being driven by some of the new Puerto Rican growth.   Democrats won in-person early voting everywhere but Volusia (Daytona) and Seminole, Republicans won VBM returns everywhere but Orange, Osceola and Hillsborough.

Some county totals (again these numbers will be lower than yesterday because they include both VBM and EV)

Orange:  46-32 D for the day.  49-31 D overall

Osceola: 48-28 D for the day.  49-29 D overall

Volusia:   42-36 R for the day. 42-38 R overall

South Florida.

The three southeast Florida counties are the home to the Democratic base.  All had robust in person voting for the third consecutive day. For example, Broward was right at 30,000 in person early votes for the third day in a row, and overall the Miami media market made up almost 21% of all the votes yesterday (it is about 19% of typical statewide vote).

Also, remember in Dade county, voter registration is 42-28-30 D-R-I, so the partisan edges will seem smaller than many would expect.

Palm Beach continues to look good (though I’d like higher turnout):  48-30 for day, 51-30 overall (+28K).  (Obama won by 17 points)

Broward:  57-23 D for the day, and 58-24 D overall (+66K)

Dade:  45-31 D for the day, and 45-33 D overall (+33K)

And I continue to feel very good about Duval, even though GOP had a good day in VBM returns, Democrats once again won the in person early vote.  This is a county that Obama was able to significantly reduce the huge Bush margins of 2000 and 2004 (61K votes in 2004!)

Duval:  44-43 R for the day, 44-41 R overall (+1,000)


At a more granular level, here are few interesting factoids.

From stand point of regional breaks, some interesting things pop up:

It you are a Republican, you will like the fact that the Fort Myers market is really turning out.  It is about 9.5% of votes so far, when it shouldn’t really be much higher than 7%.  What is interesting, both Republicans and Democrats in the market are turning out a very high percentage of unlikely voters.

 On flip side, the North Florida media markets are coming in at a lower share of the state than it is typically.  In fairness, two caveats:  many North Florida counties did not take advantage of the optional early voting periods, and many tend to have higher election day turnouts. That being said, for all the talk of a surprise Trump enthusiasm, if it existed, we would be seeing it here – and we are not.

If you are a Democrat, the good news is after a few days of in person early voting, Orlando and Miami are coming in at roughly their 2012 vote shares.  At same time, West Palm Beach is a little under where I’d like it.

Tampa is also overrepresented in early vote and vote by mail, but that is pretty typical at this point.  It is about 25.8% of voters so far, will probably land right about 24%

Democrats are turning out their highest shares of “unlikely voters” in Fort Myers (33% of Dems low propensity), Miami (29%) and Orlando (29%).  Republicans in Fort Myers (27%), Miami (23%) and Pensacola (23%).   Overall, about 27% of Dems are “low propensity” and 22% of Republicans.  This number has been consistent over last few days.

Early vote is more diverse than vote by mail.  Early vote so far is about 67% white, compared to 73% of VBM.  Hispanic is a little low right now, but that tends to break later.  Right now, African American is 15% of in person early voting.  This is quite encouraging for my side.  These numbers are through Tuesday.  I won’t have Wednesday until later.

Again, I don’t expect much to change over next few days, but by the weekend, I suspect (and hope) we will have some separation. 


Day 2 in Florida Early Voting

To:       Reporters, Friends, and Twitter Trolls

From:  #FloridaMan Steve Schale

Re:      Day Two of Early Voting 

* Written before coffee, so please forgive any clear lack of English language skills.

Like most Americans, who are also White Sox fans, I am struggling to decide which is better, stubbing my toe (Cubs) or bumping my head (Indians), so let's look at something more desirable than this World Series: The 2016 Campaign for President.

If Day One was a solid A for Florida Democrats, Day two was more like my college experience, a nice pederstrian B.

Day two saw just shy of 294,000 vote in person early, which combined means 585,000 have voted in person early so far - and over 2 million people have voted total.  This is roughly 22 percent of what we can expect turnout to be this year.   After just two days, in person early vote accounts for nearly 30% of all the ballots cast to date.

Democrats won day two of early voting by about 6,600 votes (numbers change some during day).

Democrats were down about 10K, and Republicans up about 7K, and Republicans have a narrow 5,700 vote lead in vote by mail/early vote combined (0.2%).  So go vote Democrats!

And for my friend Mac Stipanovich, about 53K NPA voted early yesterday - up from Monday, and they made up about 18% of all voters.

Out of the 2 million votes so far, it is roughly 41R-41D-18NPA.  Personally, I like where that is headed.Here are a few of the highlights:


Hillsborough County -- the only county in Florida to vote for Obama twice and Bush twice, saw over 18,000 in person votes for the second straight day, and Democrats increase their early vote lead to more than 4,000 votes, and their total early/VBM lead to over 10,000 votes.  Democratic share of total early/VBM votes is about 7.3%.  

I-4 Corridor:  Democrats won every county that is on I-4, except Seminole County (we can't expect to win a county so Republican that you have to go back to Truman to find a Democrat who carried it every day).  Overall for the day, Democrats won 45-35.

Base Democratic Counties:

The five major Democratic counties, Broward, Dade, Palm Beach, Osceola and Orange all basically matched their day one turnout.  Robust remains the best way to describe turnout

Here are a few counties:

Broward: (60D-21R), +11,987 for day 2. 

Dade: (48D-29R) +6,600 for day 2.

Orange: (50D-29R) +3,665 for day 2

And lastly, my favorite place right now, Republican Duval County.  Over the last two elections, Barack Obama was able to keep the Duval margins manageable, averaging losses of about 10,000 votes.  By comparison, Bush won the county by 61,000 in 2004, a number that Trump would need to get closer to if he was going to win Florida.

Well right now, Republicans are doing about as well in Duval as the Jaguars.  Democrats won the second consecutive day of in person early voting, and now only trail Republicans in total VBM/EV by about 440 votes.  Even more ominous:  it only took two days for total in person early voting to overtake two weeks of vote by mail returns.  

Couple of final points:

Between VBM returns and EV, Day 2 was pretty much a wash.  I don't know that much significant will change until the first weekend.  By comparison, in 2008, which also had 15 days of EV (in 2012, first day of EV was on a Saturday), D's well ahead of pace.  D's also ahead of where we were on this day of the election in 2012.

I don't have access this early to some of the breakdowns based on ethnicity and voting behavior, and

I will send around some data later (or watch my twitter), but here were a few things from day one:

Black voters (in Florida, that is both African American and Caribbean) made up about 15% of all first day early voters. 

Hispanic voters were about 13%, and non-Hispanic white about 67%.

Based on these numbers, I would project we are headed towards an electorate that is more diverse than 2012.

Also, here is one more for you: among first day of early voting Democratic and NPA Hispanics, 44% were either first time voters, or only voting in their second ever general election.  In other words, these voters are expanding the electorate.

Overall, after day one (again I will update these later), of the roughly 1.6 million ballots cast, 79% of Republican votes came from the most likely of voters, compared to 73% of Democratic votes.  In other words, a larger share of the Democratic turnout has been from new voters, and infrequent voters.  

Notably, we are seeing an even larger share of the Democratic vote in Dade County coming from first time and infrequent voters.  This suggests the Democratic coalition is coming together nicely.

I will continue to update data throughout the day, as I find things interesting.  If you have questions, please email or call me.  I am doing my best to get through calls, and will try to get back to you as soon as possible.

Unless you are an internet troll.  In that case, call another Florida hack! 



Early Voting in Florida, Day One

Dear Friends and Casual Twitter Followers:

It is Florida election memo time! I know you all are excited.

14 days left. If Jaguars fans can survive the Gus Bradley era, America can do 14 day of this.

Also of note: 18 days until FSU basketball tips off.

So here are some notes on the first day of in-person early voting:

Frankly for the fans of the home team, it is all good news.

Democrats entered the day down after about 2 weeks of vote by mail returns (and about 1.2 million ballots) about 20,000 votes. This 1.7% GOP advantage compares to a GOP advantage of 5% in 2012.

Then early voting happened.

First, not all counties have reported yet (17 yet to report, most are small), but when all said and done, over 300,000 will have voted on day one. Just to put into scale, 1.2 million voted by mail in the first two weeks.

When you add in the mail ballots from yesterday, 22% of all the ballots cast in Florida were cast in person yesterday. That is a remarkable number.

In total, Democrats reduced the Republican advantage of 1.7% going into yesterday to around 0.5% after day one (still counties reporting, so this number will move around).

Here are some interesting places on day one:

Won Duval County by 1,700 votes. Duval hasn't voted for a Democrat for President since Carter, and is one of those places where Trump really needs to run up the score. Dems also won the day in Polk County, an I-4 county that also hasn't voted for a Democrat since Carter.

Won Volusia County by several hundred, again a place that Trump was hoping to build on the gains of Romney in 2012.

And in bellwether county Hillsborough, the only place in Florida to vote for Bush twice and Obama twice, Democrats won by almost 3,000 votes, or roughly 14 points (49-35). By comparison, Democrats have a 7 point advantage in registration.

In fact, Democrats won every county along I-4, plus Pinellas -- including both Republican strongholds Polk and Seminole. The total I-4 vote was 48-33D. Seminole County hasn't voted Democrat in a Presidential election since Truman.

Base turnout was also very encouraging.

In Orange County, Democrats won a robust day 53-27%

In Broward County, Democrats won a record day 63-20%

In Palm Beach, a county which improved for Romney in 2012, Dems won 53-27%

In Alachua, where the University of Florida is, it was 65-22% Dems.

And in Dade County, 10,000 more voters showed up on the first day of early voting than 2012. Of the 35,000 who cast a ballot, Democrats won the day 53-27%.

Finally, with the help of a friend yesterday, I looked into the question of whether Democrats were simply "canibalizing" their traditional vote by encouraging its traditional voters to vote early in person and by mail.

Two points: First, even if that's all they did, Clinton would almost surely win Florida. Republicans need to expand the electorate to win.

But, that isn't what is happening. Over 28% of Democratic vote by mail returnees as of yesterday were either first time voters, or rare voters (voted in 1 of last 3), compared to 20% for Republicans. Other way of looking at it: 80% of GOP vote by mail returns are from the most likely voters, compared to 72% of Democrats. That is voter expansion.

I am going to try to do a little note each day. Try is the operative word.

As always, if you have any questions, give me a holler.


Dear Trump Press: Welcome to My House

Dear Traveling Trump Press Corps:

Well, the sputtering, crashing, and long since derailed Trump Train is headed to my town, Tallahassee.

I for one will admit it, I can not believe how badly he and his shop are at campaigning. Take all of the personal flaws of Trump aside, I really believed he would rise to the occasion of running a campaign at least somewhat worthy of the office he seeks.

Back in 2008, when one of my staff would do something mindnumblingly amateur, rather than yell at them, I would walk up, give them a little pep talk about decision-making process, and leave a sticky note saying: "FYI, We are running for President," just to remind them of the stakes. I feel like the GOP should send one of these to Trump daily.

Over the general election, he's spent some time in some pretty bizarre places in Florida for a candidate who is making absolutely no attempt to appeal outside of his base. It is one thing to go into the other side's turf when you are trying to reach their voters, but he's not, yet he's still spent time in places like Miami Beach, and Kissimmee, two places about as Democratic as any.

Well come Tuesday, add a third: Tallahassee.

The old saying about Florida is to go south, you go north. Well while Tallahassee is much more "southern" than the rest of Florida, just like all southern states, Tallahassee is that liberal college town that drives the rest of the conservative areas crazy.

It is also the place where the college footballing team that has beaten #FloridaMan Chuck Todd's Miami squad seven straight years resides, but I digress.

It is also a place where many great national reporters have spent time. In fact, the recent past President Carol Lee and the incoming President of the WHCA Margaret Talev did a stint here, as did Mike Bender, who I think still has a house here if you need a couch to surf. In fact, I think having Tallahassee experience is a job requirement at the Wall Street Journal. Politico's Marc Caputo also lived here for a while, but we don't talk about that as much.

Just how Democratic is Leon County? The last time we voted for Republican for President was 1988, but before you Republicans get all excited about that, Bush won 66 of 67 counties. It was such a landslide that Broward voted Republican. That isn't gonna happen.

Looking at more recent history:

Leon County has voted Democratic in the last six elections.

In the last four, the Republican candidate has won 41% of the two party vote in Leon County, but when you add minor party candidates, no Republican has cracked 40%

The total Democratic margin of victory over that time is 125,000 votes. Only four counties in Florida have delivered a bigger margin for the Democratic nominee over that time: Orange, Palm Beach, Broward, and Dade.

Further, if you look at the nine Florida counties that have voted for every Democratic nominee for President since 2000, two of them border Leon County.

And even when you add all of the rural areas in the media market, the market over all has voted for the Democratic candidate each of the last four times (and I think it is each of the last six). A region that voted for John Kerry isn't voting for Donald Trump.

But alas, for those media who are on the Trump traveling train, I am happy you are here. For those of you not on the charter, I hope you also enjoyed visiting our northern airport terminal, Atlanta International. As they say about Tallahassee, you can't die and go to heaven or hell without a layover in Atlanta - and probably with a delay.

And here are a couple of thoughts:

Both Grasslands and Proof Brewing are open on Tuesday. If you need a beer after the rally, both make a fine product. If you are looking for good local craft beer on Monday, try Growler Country. They aren't selling ambiance, but unlike the Trump rally, they have amazingly good beer.

In fact speaking of beer, while at the rally location, on Saturday, the site was home to a big craft beer festival. Yes, that was a happier time.

Momo's Pizza sells pizza as big as your head if you are looking to protect yourself from rally-goers. There is better pizza in town, but their stuff is still good, and frankly, you have to see it to believe it. It was also ranked one of top college town pizza joints in the country. They also make a really good craft beer.

Right across the street from the rally is a great little farm to table place called Backwoods Crossing. Since you've seen the speech a billion times, head over for dinner. You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday afternoon, head over to Mo Betta BBQ. It is more food truck than restaurant, but you will enjoy it.

If drinking multiple bottles of wine is more your coping style, Clusters and Hops has a great wine store and restaurant. It is my favorite place in town, and it is close to Hotel Duval, where all you Marriott points chasers will probably stay. My good friend, and well known #NeverTrumper Rick Wilson also has a nice wine collection, but sadly he is out of town. And trust me, there is no one, an I mean no one, more disappointed to miss this one than Rick.

If you are at the Doubletree, Aloft, or Governor's Inn, Ave has a nice dinner (or uber to Clusters).

Downtown are also two excellent locally-owned coffee shops: Goodies and Brewed Awakening. And there is a great pho place downtown, yes you read that right, great pho in Tallahassee: Fat Noodle.

Want to go for a run? Hit up Cascades Park and run the new pedestrian bridge towards FAMU and FSU, not only is it a beautiful run, it is one of the few flat places in town. We are the southernmost reaches of the Appalachian Mountains, so our hills are quite a shock to those more accustomed to running around the National Mall.

If you want more ideas, call Rick. I know you all have his number.

Otherwise, have fun. It is a great old southern town, with really nice people -- and people who are overwhelmingly going to vote for Clinton!

15 more days. America can do anything for 15 days, right?


Your Tallahassee Sherpa, Steve


18 days out -- Are Dems gonna Dem? 

Yesterday, in Orlando, I watched my friend and respected journalist Ron Fournier describe this election to a room of about 1,000 influential health care leaders as a "shitstorm" -- and it seemed pitch perfect. As a total aside, I've typed that word so many times this year, my phone no longer corrects it.

Thank God this awful excuse for a national election is quickly hurling towards a close. Here in Florida, about 1 million votes are in -- well over 10% of all likely voters. At this point, we know this: unless something else crazy happens, Clinton will win Florida, maybe by as much as 4-5 points. As my friends know well, I am not one for certain predictions, but this one I feel really good about.

After that, we honestly don't know anything. And the thing that has driven every conversation I've had for 3 days: Is this going to be the cycle that Democrats absolutely misses the opportunity.

Another journalist friend of mine, Gary Fineout, once said to me that Democrats are so bad at taking advantage of opportunities that we literally miss opportunities to miss opportunities. And prior to 2008, my brother in politics Dan Gelber said to me as I took the reigns of Florida Obamaland, "your job is to keep the movement going in the right direction, and not do what we always do, which is get in its way."

More succinctly, my first boss Doug Wiles, who spent 27 years in the military, used to observe that our problem was simple: when we went to battle, our troops would rather line up in a circle, instead of in a straight line, when firing their weapons.

So how does that apply in 2016?

Let's take a quick look:

In the US Senate, Patrick Murphy, with little more than some tweets of encouragement from national Democrats, has put his race on the verge of defeating a man who many, including me, thought would be the GOP nominee for President.

In the Congress, Democrats could move the 17-10 GOP advantage to 14-13 GOP (+3).

In the State Senate, while 16 seats is a solid year, they are actually in play in enough races to get to 19.

In the State House, they should pick up 3-6 seats, though there are as many as 22 races that you'd have to say today are in play.

But for all that being said, this could just as likely happen:

Rubio has the edge right now to win, particularly given the DSCC decision to not play here.

Congress could come back 17-10.

Senate could flatline and come back 26-14.

House could leave a lot of seats on the table.

Now this isn't a piece bashing the Florida Democratic Party. While I have some fairly strong views on the role of the party, when it comes down to this kind of blocking and tackling 18 days out, there is a point at which they can only do so much. Patrick Murphy has carried this race on his own shoulders withoutthe help of national Democrats.

I have a lot of smart friends on the other side, and they are going to make smart decisions on defense. No Democrat can think that our team will win seats because the Republicans will give up.

But the Democrats have a good team too. Smart operatives like Beth Matuga and Josh Weierbach in the Senate, and Dan Newman and Steve Jackson in the House have more competitive races than money from their traditional backers. And I've been in those underfunded efforts, and their conversations aren't "where can we invest to win?" but instead are "which winnable seats do we have to walk away from?"

In other words, they aren't in a place to make good decisions.

In fairness, some of this wasn't truly predictable. Four weeks ago, it looked like Florida would be a dog fight, meaning that we'd be looking at a traditional battleground. And many of us, me included, overestimated Trump's ability to up his game and run a campaign that was worthy of the office he was seeking.

But then the video happened, and the tax issues, and the train wreck of debates. All of the sudden, Florida doesn't look so close anymore.

And these things magnify down ballot. While a 3-5 point shift may not sound like a ton, districts that have higher proportions of Hispanics, or whom are home to larger populations of college educated white women will feel that shift magnified. Moreover, redistricting has left a lot of seats held by Republicans that are just outside the range of being a true "swing seat" -- but definitely become one with a small shift in the electorate -- just as this happened to my party in 2010 and 2014.

For the sake of America, God willing this shitshow of an election is a once in a lifetime occurrence (though I don't think so -- more on this later), but for my party, it is also turning into an unprecedented opportunity.

I had this problem in 2006, but it was largely solvable: I went and begged my traditional donors for money. In 2006, and again in 2008, the party had largely centralized operations. Everyone had one playbook. And you know what, look at the scoreboard - it generally worked. But the world on my side of the aisle, partially due to Citizens United, just doesn't function like that anymore.

I am not in this business anymore. Other than the Presidential election in 2012 and Congresswoman Graham in 2014, I haven't made my income from partisan politics since 2010. And trust me, my life is much happier as a result.

Typically, the way cycles go is they conclude, and everyone looks to take credit, or blame everyone else. It is one of the things I just got tired of. I'd much rather do politics on my own terms, helping as a volunteer the people that I like, playing "observer" and spending my time working on other causes.

But I also means in 2016 that I don't have a dog in the fight, nor do I have a lane, or a wall, or a client.

So Democrats, consider this a warning flare.

It may be a decade and it may be never that you see an opportunity like this. Winning in politics is not just matter of timing and opportunity -- you have both -- it is also a matter of being prepared for the moment. Secretary Clinton's operation is very capable - and they are winning -- and their organizational heft is going to provide a lot of ground cover for candidates. There are also the resources out there, between all the SuperPACs, traditional donors, donor alliances, and candidates, to take advantage of it. And I really don't want to spend my November reading stories where groups are pointing fingers at the others, or answering reporter questions in 2019 if Democrats regretted not spending a few more bucks to beat Rubio. The opportunities at this point is very clear, and in Marco's case, the outcome is as well.

In 19 days, we will all know what happened, and if this is just another in a history of Democratic missed opportunities.



Florida is gonna Florida, 2016 Version


Dear:     Reporters covering Florida, Other Observers, and the Nation of Twitter.

From:    Steve, #FloridaMan and Disgruntled Jags Fan.

Re:        BREAKING, 2016 version: Florida is gonna be close

For much of the window between 2000 and 2012, the conversation about Florida, driven at times by Nate Silver himself was “is it really a swing state?” This year, the new narrative is “why isn’t Clinton crushing it in Florida.”  Both then, and now, those statements were and are absurd.

Let’s settle one thing, for good.  Until further notice, Florida is an exceptionally competitive swing state. In fact, it is the most competitive.

When you look at the last four Presidential elections in Florida, Republicans won two, and the Democrats won two.

Over those four elections, roughly 30.5 million voters have had a Presidential vote counted, and the difference between Republicans and Democrats?  Try 71,000 votes.  That is a margin of 0.24%. 

No other state in the country was closer.

To take it further, the last three major statewides: the 2010 Governor’s race, the 2012 Presidential, and the 2014 Governor’s race, the margin of victory respectably was 1.1, 0.9, and 1. 

Just look at today’s NYT poll, the first poll using the actual file of registered voters.  What was the margin? One point.

Florida is just wired to be close.  And 2016 will be no different.  Here are a few reasons why.

The Electorate is Closely Divided – And Both Sides Are United

There are 12 million voters, and Republicans and Democrats are separated by just over 2% points.  Among the most likely voters, it is even tighter.  So in other words, we basically start at a push.

Florida used to be a state where, particularly on the Democratic side, partisan loyalty was not a given.  But over the last decade, voters have generally migrated to the “correct” party for their voting behavior.  According to exit polls, in 2008, both D’s and R’s won 87% of their own partisans, in 2012, it was 90 and 92 respectively and in 2014 Governor’s race, 92 and 89%.  In today’s New York Times poll, they were at 88 and my side at 86, so in other words, at this point, particularly with the anger of partisans towards the other nominee, once undecideds go to their camps, both candidates will start with about 90% of their own likely voters.

Moreover, like most places, independents aren’t all that independent – and look a lot like the partisans.  In 08, Obama won them by 7. In 12, by 1.  Story is the same in Governor’s races: Scott won them by 2 in 2010, and Crist by 2 in 2014.  In the New York Times poll today, he was +4.

So let’s do a little math:  If the electorate is 40 Dem, 39 Rep, and 21 NPA, and both sides get 90% of partisans, and Trump wins NPA by same as Obama 08 (7%), well he’d win by the massive margin of 0.5%, or just about 40,000 votes.  If Clinton wins NPA by Obama 12 (1%), she’d win by a point.

And if Trump carries them by 4, the margin in the NYT race, under my model, we are living 2000 again.  That’s Florida. Everything is about the margins.

Regional Performance is Relatively Stable

So the consensus is Florida is always changing.  Well it is, but even so, the “states” of Florida perform very consistently. 

For the sake of space, let’s look at Florida in three regions.  I-10 (5 North Florida markets), I-4 and SW Florida (Orlando, Tampa, and Ft Myers), and SE Florida (Miami and West Palm).

If you compare 2000 and 2012, despite the massive changes in the electorate, the vote share in these regions is absurdly similar. 

In North Florida, both Gore and Obama 2012 received 40.4% of the 2-way vote.  On our best day, in 2008, we got to 42.  On our worst, 2004, we got 38.5%.  Hillary Clinton will almost certainly win between 38-40%.

Along the I-4 corridor – adding Fort Myers, Gore won 47.4%, and Obama 12 won 48%.  Our best day got to 49.6%, and our worst, 44.8%.

And in SE Florida, same story:  Gore was 59.8%, while Obama 12 was 60.8%.  In 08, we were 60.5%, and in 2004, we dropped to 57.7%.

In other words, even as the state margin ranged from Obama +3 in 2008 to Bush +5 in 2004, there just was very small movement within regions.

Let’s project forward to 2016.  If you assume HRC gets the best share in each “region” of the state, her upper end is 51.6%, her lower end is 47.5%.  In other words, forget what the polls say, based on the history of the last four elections, we are talking about a state that might have, tops, 5-6% of real swing vote.

And note- I understand that this is more than a 2-way race, but it doesn't change the conclusion - Florida is close.  

But Steve, Hispanics…

Those of you all who know me understand my affection for people who live in the 202 or 212 area code lecturing us about our state.  Just last week, during a trip to DC, one of the smart ones tried to tell me that she should win here by 6-8 points, because, you know, Hispanics.

Demographics are big, and they are Clinton’s edge, just as they were the driving factor in Obama’s 2012 win.  But when I mean big - it means the demographics are a huge advantage to my team this year and going forward, not that she’s going to win Florida by six or that we are on the verge of being a perpetual blue state.

If you take the exit polls as truth, Obama won 61% of the Hispanic vote in 2012, after winning 57% in 2008.  Keeping in mind that in terms of nation of origin, Florida’s Hispanics look nothing like Colorado, Nevada or New Mexico’s Hispanics, let’s say she just crushes it – wins 70%.  Given the higher floor among Hispanics in Florida due to the large Cuban Republican population, it is hard to imagine her above +40 among these voters.  And again, +40 would be Historic, given that in 2004, exit polls said Bush won Hispanics by 12 over Kerry!

Let’s start at scratch.  We won by .9%.  So let’s say she wins the same share of white, and black (African American and Caribbean) voters – and the latter turn out at their 2012 share, but wins Hispanics by 40 points, instead of 22- she’d win by 4-5 points.    The only way it becomes a blowout is if Clinton can really take back ground with whites, but so far, there’s been no evidence of it happening.

But what if she gets the same share of the white vote as Crist, 36% - so instead of losing whites by 24 (Obama), she loses them by 26?  Her lead slips to 3.  And if that number drops to 35, so we are talking about 28-point Trump win among whites?  Her lead goes to 1.

In other words, you can see how capitalizing on Hispanics moves the needle for her, but in no way does it move the state into some kind of slam dunk, or safe seat kind of place.


So what does it all mean?  And what should you watch for?

First, what we are seeing is Florida is being Florida.  She has a self-correcting political equilibrium that causes the state to find its competitive center.

Of Florida’s 67 counties, 60 of them have voted for one party or the other in each of the elections from 2000 to 2012.   Only one of Florida’s 67 counties, Hillsborough, split it 2-2, voting twice for Bush and twice for Obama. 

In fact, I can predict with almost total certainty that Democrats will win 11 counties in 2016, Republicans will win 54, and there are only two where I am uncertain – and neither candidate will win either of these two counties by more than 500-1000 votes.

In a nutshell, the more things change here, the more they stay the same.

I do believe Clinton has a narrow edge for two reasons

Demographics:  The state is getting more diverse, and while that doesn’t guarantee her a win, it does give her a cushion.  Based on growth alone, Obama’s 0.9% win in 2012 is probably worth closer to 1.2-1.5% in 2016, simply based on demographic trends.  She has a cushion to bleed a little among whites, and still win.

Organization.  This is where the Clinton operation will reap its investment. By registering voters, and turning out more of the lower propensity Black and Hispanic voters, her campaign can capitalize on the demographic advantages.  Organizations are like kickers in football – they aren’t vital in blowouts, but you better have a good one in a close game, and they are building an organization designed to win a close election.

Here are a few places to keep an eye on.  I’ll update this closer to election day so you can look for keys on Election night.

Hillsborough:  As Beth Reinhard called it, Hillsborough is the “molten core of the political universe,” and while it is trending a bit bluer these days, it is really must win for both sides.  If she is winning by a few points here, she’s almost surely winning.  When you add in neighboring Pinellas, you have between 11.5% and 12% of the statewide vote in one tight, very much swing area.

Dade and Orange:  This is where she can really move bigger margins than 2012.   Enthusiasm is hard to measure in polls or talking to man on the street, but her organization in these two places will be stout.

Duval:  In 2008 and 2012, we took away one of the GOP’s strongholds, cutting their 61,000 vote margin in 2004 to roughly 10,000 in the two Obama wins.  For Trump to win, he’s got to retake that ground.  If she can hold his margins down here, it is pretty much over.

Volusia: Once a blue county, it is now a lean GOP county.  How much it leans towards Trump will be an indicator for if he’s expanding his white vote share.

So yes, Florida is close.  It has been close since 1992, and it will be close in 2016, 2020, and 2024.  And Trump has to win it, as the last President to go to the White House without Florida was Calvin Coolidge.  So pull up a lawn chair, grab a six pack from your local brewery (#DrinkLocal), and settle in.

What is not a close call is whether the Jaguars should fire Gus Bradley, today.  But more on that in a future memo.

I hope this has been helpful.  As always, please feel free to call or email if you have any questions.