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7 posts from November 3, 2012

November 03, 2012

Herald poll: Nelson holds 6-point lead; 49-43 over Mack

UPDATE: Republican Mitt Romney’s coattails do not appear to be long enough to carry U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV into the U.S. Senate, according to a new Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald/Tampa Bay Times poll.

Democrat Bill Nelson, 70, a two-term senator from Orlando, retains a six-point lead in the high profile match-up, as Republican ticket-splitters and independent voters continue to provide the crucial margin Nelson needs to return to Washington.

According to the survey of voters taken Oct. 30 to Nov. 1, Nelson leads Mack 49-43 percent and gets one out of every nine Romney voters — a sign that voters are looking for “someone who can work across the aisle’’ in the closely-divided Senate, said Brad Coker, director of the non-partisan Mason Dixon Polling and Research, which conducted the poll.

“Independents aren’t sold that Republicans have the answers, and they aren’t sold that Democrats have the answers,’’ he said.

The breakdown on the Romney voters: 80 percent vote for Mack, 12 percent vote for Nelson, 4 percent vote for the other Senate candidates and 4 percent are still undecided. Story here.

David James, deputy campaign manager released this statement: 

“The problem with the poll is that it has 5% more Democrats than Republicans. That wasn't even true in 2008 when the cult of Obama was at its height. In a normal election like 2004, Republican turnout was plus 4% which is why this result may be as much as 10% off of the mark.

“Democrats are voting 70% less in early voting to date compared to turnout in 2008.  In the 2008 election, Democrats were only plus 3% in the final returns.

“We expect this election to be more like 2004, and our analysis is based on the eventual turnout being at least plus 3% for Republicans.  If the voting trends seen in the Mason-Dixon poll continue, when based on accurate modeling, Connie Mack will be elected and Mitt Romney will thrash Barack Obama."


About 4 million early FL ballots cast -- and growing. Ds leading Rs by 104,000

About 4 million early votes were cast by Floridians by Saturday morning, the last day of early voting, which looks like it will be a heavy-turnout day.

Democrats have steadily increased their margins, leading Republicans now by about 187,000 early in-person ballots cast as of this morning. Republicans led Democrats by 84,000 absentee ballots cast.

Net Democratic advantage: 104,000, a lead that grows with each day of early voting.

Total number of early voters through Friday: More than 353,000. That's more than 2 million ballots cast in a week.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott has refused to extend early voting into the Sunday before Election Day, an early vote time that he and the GOP Legislature specifically eliminated after President Obama in 2008 turned out massive numbers of Democrats to help beat Republican John McCain. Scott's law also shortened early voting days from 14 to eight and, relative to the extra hours approved by then-Gov. Charlie Crist in 2008, has effectively ensured that urban Democratic counties, such as those in South Florida, have a cumulative 24 fewer hours to vote compared to four years ago.

Turnout this year has hit record highs during early voting, which haven't been glitch-free (for background on turnout issues and other early and absentee ballot data click this Florida Voters link to access past posts).

The number of total early voters is so high that there's a chance almost 50 percent of the electorate will have voted before Election Day (there are 12 million registered voters, but about 75 percent -- or 9 million -- typically show). Right now, about 44 percent of the 9 million likely voters have already cast their ballots.

Our latest poll shows President Obama is losing Florida overall to Mitt Romney, 45-51 percent. But Obama is carrying South Florida. And if South Florida overperforms on Election day (along with urban Democratic-heavy counties like Orange and Hillsborough), he can certainly carry Florida.

The early vote numbers:

Party         EV Total             %
DEM         928,205 46%
REP         740,674 37%
IND         357,750 18%
Total       2,026,629

Absentee votes:

Party          AB Total            %
REP         821,394 44%
DEM         737,620 39%
IND         328,736 17%
Total       1,887,750

Total early votes:

Party    Early Totals             %
DEM       1,665,825 43%
REP       1,562,068 40%
IND         686,486 18%
Total       3,914,379


Sen. Bill Nelson and Obama's campaign sound like they disagree about early vote hurdles in FL

When the GOP Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott cut the number of early voting days in Florida, it clearly targeted one of the Democrats' favorite methods of voting (background here).

Now, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson is joining other Democrats and liberal groups in calling on Scott to extend early voting into Sunday -- a day specifically eliminated by Scott when he signed HB 1355 in 2011.

"Combined with too few polling locations and a lack of adequate parking at many of them, an untold number of Floridians may be deprived of an opportunity to vote," Nelson wrote in a letter he just sent to Scott, mainly referencing reports in The Miami Herald.

It seems President Obama's campaign, however, disagrees.

Here's what Florida manager Ashley Walker told The Tampa Bay Times when asked if "the rules of the game (shortened early voting hours) are working against you?"

Walker: "They're not. They tried to stack up the rules of the game against voter registration. We ran the largest voter registration effort this state has ever seen. They decided to decrease early vote so that they have more of an emphasis on vote-by-mail,and we played on their playing field and cut into their margin. And now each day we're stacking up votes on early voting, and we're turning out more of their sporadic voters than they are."

**Update: The Obama campaign says Walker's comments are being taken out of context when juxtaposed with Nelson's in this case.

Said spokesman Eric Jotkoff: "“There is no disagreement here. Our campaign and Senator Nelson are on the same page. As we have made very clear, we support any efforts to make it easier for eligible Floridians to vote.  There has been record turnout at Early Voting sites across the state showing the huge enthusiasm. Yesterday alone, 343,000 Floridians made their voices heard in this election by going to Early Vote and today all signs point to another day of record turnout.”

 Another aspect worthy of discussion: the press release from Nelson's office saying that he's "seeking to avoid a chaotic Election Day Tuesday."

Continue reading "Sen. Bill Nelson and Obama's campaign sound like they disagree about early vote hurdles in FL" »

Nelson joins call to Scott to extend early voting hours, amid four-hour wait

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson has asked Florida Gov. Rick Scott to extend early voting hours as voters line up in four-hour waits in Miami Dade, Broward and Orange counties.

Nelson, a Democrat, said that Scott's refusal to extend the polling hours threatened to jeopardize "the credibility of Florida's election." 

He and others have asked Scott to use his exective powers to issue an emergency order extending early voting hours at least through Sunday. The governor has rejected earlier calls to extend early voting to help alleviate long lines at the polls. His predecessors, Govs. Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist used their executive authority to extend voting hours during their terms.

Meanwhile, voters are spending hours in line Saturday — the last day for early voting. Some sites are reporting a wait time of about four hours in Miami Dade and Broward counties, while locations in Hillsborough and Duval counties are reporting between 15 minutes to an hour.

Continue reading "Nelson joins call to Scott to extend early voting hours, amid four-hour wait" »

'Soft-money,' big checks fuel lawmakers' personal committees

Florida legislators have padded their personal political committees with more than $20 million in special interest donations this election cycle, using the funds to buy attack ads, help colleagues win races and, occasionally, pay for travel, meals and perks.

More and more, special interest groups are sending five- and six-figure campaign checks to lawmakers through committees as a way to avoid the usual $500 cap on individual donations, a Times/Herald analysis shows.

The Florida Medical Association, for example, contributed $100,000 this cycle to a political committee controlled by incoming Senate President Don Gaetz and others. Disney donated $190,000 to another GOP-controlled group, Protect our Liberty.

And then there's GOP super-donor and Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, who pumped $250,000 into House Speaker-designate Will Weatherford's Committee for a Conservative House.

Decried by critics as slush funds, these "committees of continuous existence," or CCEs, allow powerful lawmakers to amass huge campaign treasure chests and spend the money with broad latitude. Each day, thousands of dollars course through the political system, flowing between CCEs, interest groups, consultants and lawmakers. By the time the money reaches voters in the form of a campaign ad, it can be difficult to know the true source of the funding.

More here

Rep. Frederica Wilson asked Justice Department to look into Miami-Dade early voting

Democratic U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson said Friday she alerted federal authorities to political operatives who are preying on older immigrants in an attempt to manipulate their votes at the North Miami Public Library.

That’s why, she said, the U.S. Justice Department announced Friday that it will monitor early voting in Miami-Dade. Federal investigators are monitoring just two other U.S. counties — Dallas and Harris in Texas.

Wilson, a Miami Gardens Democrat, said her office has received several complaints of people assisting older immigrants into the library, and manipulating them into voting for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Wilson said she also complained that Gov. Rick Scott declined to extend early voting hours in Miami-Dade, despite long lines.

Assisting people in voting booths is allowed, so long as the voter and the assistant fill out affidavits available at the sites. Miami-Dade elections officials did not know how many such affidavits had been completed at the North Miami Public Library.

Justice Department officials did not explain their decision, but said “personnel will monitor polling place activities during early voting in this county. Civil Rights Division attorneys will coordinate federal activities and maintain contact with local election officials.”

More from Charles Rabin here.

NBC FL poll: Obama 49- Romney 47

From NBC, whose poll looks rather different from a Miami Herald poll showing a 6-point Mitt Romney lead:

In the Sunshine State, 63 percent say they have already voted or plan to do so before Election Day, and Obama is winning them, 53 percent to 46 percent. But Romney is ahead among Election Day voters in Florida, 52 percent to 40 percent.

In Ohio, 35 percent say they have already voted or plan to do so, and Obama is leading them, 62 percent to 36 percent. Yet Romney is up among Election Day voters in the Buckeye State, 52 percent to 42 percent.

Strong approval for the president’s handling of Sandy The polls were conducted after Hurricane Sandy slammed into the East Coast, and seven in 10 likely voters in Florida and Ohio approve of the president’s job in handling the hurricane and its aftermath.

“The response was overwhelmingly positive, and that was occurring across party lines,” says Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.

On handling the economy Meanwhile, Romney has a slight advantage over Obama in Florida when it comes to which candidate would better handle the economy – 48 percent pick Romney and 46 percent back Obama.