November 02, 2010

Sink votes and predicts: North Florida may be the key

IMG_4373 Democratic candidate for governor Alex Sink started her day at her Thonotosassa home, 30 minutes outside Tampa, with a house full of friends and family. She stopped to tape one last robo call to encourage people to get out and vote. Sink, her husband, Bill McBride, her son, Bert McBride, Sink's sister, Dottie Sykes, and Dottie's husband, Charlie Sykes, then traveled down their dirt road, past the orange groves and newly-built subdivisions, to the First Baptist Church, five minutes from Sink's home.

"We need good turnout,'' Sink told reporters after she voted. "That's what we're paying attentino to all day today. We have enormous numbers of volunteers on the phones calling people, helping people get ot the polls if that's what they need. I'm just very encouraged."

IMG_4362 After the polls close in the western Panhandle, Sink said she'll be paying close attention to the voting results in that region. She said that while she needs a strong turnout in South Florida and the I-4 corridor, "I am particularly going to be looking at the North Florida and more rural counties. I believe Rod Smith and I are picking up a fair number of the more Republican voters in those counties. That could be the difference."

Photos: Sink and husband Bill McBride and son, Bert McBride, after voting. At home in her kitchen with, left to right: Charlie Sykes, Freya Bettison, Dottie Sykes, Alex Sink, Liz Brown.

Rick Scott votes in Naples: "I feel really good"

Rick Scott and his wife Ann dodged raindrops Tuesday morning as they cast their ballots at Precinct 477 at St. Ann's Catholic Church in Naples.

"This is a gaggle," Scott said as reporters and photographers encircled him outside the church.

"We're going to have a big day. I feel really good. We're going to have a big win tonight," Scott said. "Hopefully it will be early."

Scott said he woke up at 4:30 a.m. but fell back to sleep. He said he expects a strong turnout and a happy celebration at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina hotel, where the party is being moved outdoors to accommodate an anticipated large crowd.

Scott or Alex Sink will be the 45th governor in the state's history.

-- Steve Bousquet, Times/Herald

Rick Scott's pre-Election Day lead: 100,000 votes

The polls will open in less than a half hour, and already Democrat Alex Sink has to play catchup. Republican Rick Scott and his party outdid themselves in getting out the early and absentee vote, getting nearly 1.1 million Republican ballots cast before today. About 815,000 Democrats cast early and absentee ballots.

Total GOP lead: 271,000 votes. But not all those went to Scott (just like not all Dem ballots went to Sink). And then there's the matter of the nearly 320,000 indpendents/no-party-affiliation voters.

So what's the lead? We averaged the last three poll results and applied the percentages to each candidate. So Sink got about 82, 12 and 48 percent of the Democrat, Republican and independent votes, respectively. Scott got 10, 80 and 38 percent of the Democrat, Republican and independent votes, respectively. Apply those to the ballots cast and Scott is up 112,000, or 5 percentage points.

Note: the formula about doesn't apportion all the ballots cast to Sink and Scott because, together, the polls show they don't get 100 percent of the vote due to undecided voters and those who opt for a third-party candidate. That leaves about 200,000 more ballots cast that could be up for grabs.

Also, early/absentee votes will likely account for about 42 percent of the total votes cast this election. So there's lots of voting to be done today. Still, the pressure's on Sink to scrap on and turn out her vote. Scott has to hang on as he turns out his.

More here

November 01, 2010

Are undecided voters going to Google?

On the eve of the Election, Florida voters are doing their homework -- at least they're doing their searches.

Google reports an uptick in searches for election-related information, as well as increased views of political videos on YouTube. Here are some interesting factoids:

  • Searches for gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink have hit their highest point since the August 24 primary. Searches for Rick Scott are at their second-highest point of the yera since the primary. (Source)
  • In Florida’s Senate race, searches for Marco Rubio are at their highest point of the year. Searches for Charlie Crist and Kendrick Meek are at their second-highest points of the year. (Source)
  • In October, searches for information about immigration peaked on Oct. 26, but searches for information about health care started falling the previous day. (Source)
  • This month, Miami-area searches for “tea party” peaked on Oct. 21. (Source)
  • The most-viewed YouTube video in the U.S. Senate race is Marco Rubio’s A Generational Choice.
  • The most-viewed YouTube video in Florida’s gubernatorial race is Rick Scott’s Obama’s Mosque.


On election eve, Marco Rubio says he's no star

The day before his expected U.S. Senate victory, Republican Marco Rubio tried to play down his status as a national star leading a GOP wave of support into Tuesday’s election.

"This morning, I had to take out the trash because the truck was coming," he said at a Hialeah Republican campaign office Monday afternoon. "So nothing has changed at home."

Rubio said he was unaware that his photo graces the cover of Time magazine –- "Was that a jinx? Not like Sports Illustrated, is it?" -– and scoffed at the concept of political celebrities. "I don’t think there are stars in politics," he said. "American politics is not like that. American politics is about regular people."

But the scene only cemented Rubio’s standing as his party’s golden boy, with a crush of television crews and reporters mobbing him as he was greeted with applause by a couple dozen volunteers in an office festooned with a banner reading, "Hialeah is Marco Country."

Rubio drank Cuban coffee prepared by an 83-year-old supporter, posed for photos and said he would likely spend the rest of the day fielding radio and TV interviews. "We’re excited about what we think is going to happen," he said.

"What I’m proudest of in this campaign is that our message today is indistinguishable from the one we launched 21 months ago when I was 35 points down in the polls," he added, saying he was grateful for the early underdog status that forced his campaign to focus on his ideas and message. "I’m glad that’s how we started, and I’m really glad that’s how we’re going to finish it."

Allen West, Ron Klein down to the wire

Democrat incumbent Rep. Ron Klein has run television ads accusing his Republican opponent of harboring a "sinister side,'' of being "too extreme, too dangerous.'' And he has highlighted Allen West's personal financial troubles, including a string of liens from his homeowners association.

But the attacks have done little to slow West's momentum, and political experts suggest the too-close-to-call race in Florida's 22nd Congressional District reflects the nation's mood circa November 2010: anxious and angry.

"Voters haven't been swayed by the enormous personal baggage that would disqualify a candidate like West in another year,'' said David Wasserman, House political editor for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, which rates the Klein-West battle a toss-up.

A West win, he said, would show that "voters are in more of a mood to send a message to President Obama and a Democratic Congress than they were in a mood to look at a candidate's personal background.'' Full story here.

Joe Garcia, David Rivera turn to their bases

More than 100 miles from their homes, Republican David Rivera and Democrat Joe Garcia waded for votes over the weekend in what seems like an unlikely locale for a Miami congressional election: the annual, "world famous'' swamp buggy races in Naples.

It seemed the appropriate setting for what has been an ugly battle for Florida's 25th Congressional District -- a race largely played out in television attack ads.

But Garcia, a former Obama administration official, and Rivera, a four-term state representative, spent the final days of early voting appealing in person to their political bases -- groups that will be crucial in determining who replaces Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart in Washington. Full story here.

To close, Alex Sink brings back immigration

Overheard on Spanish-language radio during drive-time Monday morning: a jaw-dropping ad where Democrat Alex Sink attacks Republican Rick Scott on immigration, the touchy issue that introduced him to many Hispanic voters in Florida during the GOP primary.

The spot begins with a man in a car, chatting with his young daughter. He gets pulled over -- for speeding, his daughter says. Apologetically, he gives the police officer his driver's license and registration. In English, the cop asks for citizenship papers. The daughter translates. The man says he doesn't have them. The officer says he's going to have to detain him. The daughter's voice gets increasingly agitated. Then comes the kicker: The officer asks the girl for her proof of citizenship, too.

"But I was born here!" she wails.

Scary music ensues, along with a voice warning voters that Scott would support an Arizona-style immigration policy in Florida.

Sink is not the only Democrat bringing up immigration in a last-minute push for Hispanic support. Congressional hopeful Joe Garcia has a radio ad touting his backing of the U.S. Dream Act.

But the fear-inducing tone of Sink's spot is striking, even in the last-minute flood of campaign ads. Tuesday will tell if it's too little, too late.

Q Poll: Alex Sink leads Rick Scott by a nose, 1 point

Quinnipiac University just released its day-before-the-election poll that shows Democrat Alex Sink and Republican Rick Scott are locked in a virtual tie. Sink gets 44 percent, Scott gets 43 percent, other candidates garner 4 percent and 9 percent will vote for Mr. Undecided/Mrs. Don't Know. Error margin: 3.2 percent for the 925 likely voter survey conducted from Oct. 25-31.

Sink remains slightly better-liked, with 43 percent of voters having a favorable opinion and 40 percent an unfavorable one. Scott remains upside-down: 50 percent view him negatively; 39 percent positively. Sink is also favored by independents (47-34) and draws slightly more Republican votes (10 percent) than Scott (5 percent).

The poll also finds 9 percent of voters say they might change their minds. That's probably doubtful. If there's any change of heart, it could involve not going to the polls. And that would likely hurt Sink. Despite the closeness of the race, Sink remains behind right now, with Republicans vastly outperforming Democrats in votes cast by early and absentee ballots. If Sink fails to inspire rank-and-file Democrats tomorrow, call him Gov. Rick Scott.

The Q Poll suggests Scott has some momentum on his side. Last week, Q poll found Sink led by 4.

The race for U.S. Senate is essentially over, the poll finds. Marco Rubio (45 percent) has a commanding lead over Gov. Charlie Crist (31 percent) and Rep. Kendrick Meek (18) percent.


October 31, 2010

Alex Sink feeds the followers with "souls to the polls" push in Jacksonville

IMG_4205 When the doors opened at the early voting site in Jacksonville's Elections Center at the Gateway Shopping Mall, the line of voters was 40 deep. An hour later, 80 people were waiting in line, many of them still in their church clothes, now sweaty from the heat.

It was part of the Democrat Party's coordinated campaign effort to bring out the African American vote on the final day of early voting. In Duval, the effort included phone calls and pulpit prayers.

Democrat Alex Sink took a whirlwind tour of four black churches Sunday morning, joined by Congresswoman Corrine Brown. Brown enticed voters with a chicken dinner at her campaign headquarters across the street from an early voting site in the heart of Jacksonville's North Side. "You've got to vote first,'' Brown said.

Inside, state Sen. Tony Hill dished up platters of barbeque chicken, baked beans, cole slaw and bisquits. "We're going to exceed expectations,'' he predicted of the African American vote.

Sink spoke at each of the churches and acknowledged the bruising election fight. "My faith tells me not to pray for victory, because god will decide that, but to pray for strength,'' she told her audiences, then asked for their prayers.IMG_4208_1

Photo: Sen. Tony Hill dishes up chicken dinners to voters at U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown's Jacksonville headquarters.