November 02, 2010

Sink party subdued as music plays 'another one bites the dust'

At the lavish Marriott Waterside on Tampa's marina, the election night crowd for Alex Sink is growing but quiet. Two giant big screen televisions broadcast MSNBC's play-by-play of election results around the country. A DJ pipes in loud rock music. It was "Another One Bites the Dust." It's now "Only in America." The crowd lets out an occasional cheer as the television shows a rare Democratic win. The latest cheer came with the network's call of Mario Cuomo as New York's next governor.

Sink and her family, along with key supporters including state Sen. Arthenia Joyner, Bud and Kitty Chiles and Sen. Alex Villalobos are still watching returns in a hotel room. Drinks are flowing downstairs, and the shrimp and hors d'oeurves are being steadily consumed. But with the early returns of their last best hope of a Democratic statewide victory looking tighter and perhaps less promising than they had hoped, everyone is mellow.


Sink camp watching turnout and concludes: if it's a recount, they'll know by 9:15

Alex Sink's pollster Dave Beattie said the key to the Democrat's win against Rick Scott tonight is Democratic turnout. To that end, the Democratic Party has injected the most resources it has ever devoted to a statewide campaign. They are targeting voters in low turnout areas through phone calls and offering rides to the polls.

Republicans showed up to vote in absentee and early voting in higher number than Democrats, leaving an estimated 3.3 million Republicans left to vote and 4.3 million Democrats still not voting. To overcome the gap, the Sink campaign is hoping for another one or two percent of voters to show up at the polls, matching or exceeding the 47 percent of registered voters who turned out in the 2006 mid-term elections when Gov. Charlie Crist beat Democrat Jim Davis. By contrast, turnout in 2002 when was 51 percent when Gov. Jeb Bush defeated Sink's husband, Bill McBride.

"The higher the turnout the better for us becuase there are so many Democrats who haven't vote,'' Beattie said. "Democrats don't need a record high turnout. They need to match 2006, which was a record low."

Beattie predicted that Sink will do better with Republicans than any Democrat has done in the state since Lawton Chiles drew Republican voters in 1994 and, unlike Democrats across the country, he said she is also appealing to independents.

But Sink is prepared for the nail-biter that has characterized the race for the last two months to continue.

"We're not gritting our teeth bracing for a recount but there are things that could lead that way,'' Sink told reporters at campaign party headquarters Tuesday. She said that her campaign is getting anecdotal reports that Democratic turnout is higher than expected and that Republicans are crossing over in significant numbers to vote for Sink.

Rain in Tampa dampens sign-waving but Sink campaigns at lunch













Alex Sink had an Election Day lunch with her father, Kester Sink, her husband, Bill McBride and sister, Dottie Sykes, at First Choice BBQ in Brandon. Sink and McBride, who consider themselves barbeque aficionados, have been bringing their children here for 19 years and swear that owner Roger's Storr's chopped pork sandwiches is the best they have had anywhere. The family and campaign staff waited in the long lunch line and used it for one more campaign pitch, handling out stickers and introducing Sink. 

Kester, Sink's 87-year-old father, siddled up to a table of middle-aged men eating lunch, some Democrats and some Republicans. While none wanted to give their names because they didn't want to anger their Republican friends, they told him they have been long-time Sink supporters.

A light rain later forced Sink to postpone her plans to wave signs after lunch.

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.


Video: Fearful of a turnout deficit, Sink spends Election Eve urging supporters to 'bring a friend'

The mantra during Democrat Alex Sink's final day of campaigning couldn't have been more consistent: "It's not time to celebrate yet.''

Those were the words Sink delivered to a cheering crowd of supporters in Ybor City, as more than 400 of her sign-waving fans, and the Democrat's full slate of candidates, appeared for an Election Eve rally on her home turf. Two hours later, they were headed for Orlando where former President Bill Clinton will rally with Sink, the gubernatorial candidate, and Democrat Kendrick Meek, the party's nominee for U.S. Senate.

"If you've already voted you're going to go get more of your friends to go out and vote,'' Sink told a packed room of supporters at her campaign's Sarasota headquarters. "That's what it's all about''

With polls showing a very tight race, Sink spent the day campaigning with the party's elders, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and former Sen. Bob Graham.

Dems are predicting election spread: painfully close

Sen. Bill Nelson is telling crowds he predicts Alex Sink will win by 4 to 5 percentage points. Her running mate, Rod Smith, thinks it will be much closer than that. Sink makes no prediction except to ask her crowds to bring more people to the polls to ensure "we have an early night."

The breathtakingly close Florida governor's race has neither side taking anything for granted. Sink's campaign headquarters in each county, along with the Florida Democratic Party, are working round that clock Monday and Tuesday, canvassing neighborhoods, making phone calls, in an aggressive get out the vote effort.

Former Sen. Bob Graham told a 200-person crowd at a packed Gator's Dockside restaurant in Gainesville that "the race is very, very close'' "It’s going to depend on turnout,'' he said. "We know how agitated the other side seems to be." Graham asked everyone to take 10 people to the polls “be sure they vote and they vote Democrat and they vote for Alex Sink to be our next governor.”

Sink, Graham and Nelson stopped at campaign headquarters in Sarasota and Lee counties to make phone calls to voters. She urged supporters to "fire up those emails, send out those text messages."

“Every poll that’s coming out today has this race in a dead heat,'' she said in Fort Myers. "What that means is this race is all about who gets out to vote.”

Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, a Sarasota Democrat and political science professor at New College, admitted that "everybody is a little uneasy about this election because it's a strange year -- even the pollsters say voters are all over the place."

He predicted that the despite the record spending in the governor's race, it will be an "old-fashioned election -- where you have to actually wait until the vote comes out to call it."

Smith teared up when he was greeted by his hometown crowd in Gaineville. "This election is going to go down to 100,000 votes and Gainesville is going to make the difference,” he predicted.

Smith couldn't resist a football analogy in the sports bar, referring to the University of Florida's three-point victory over Georgia last week. “Somebody came up to me and said a poll came out and say you’re just three points ahead. Is that enough? I told them, ask Georgia. Three points is wonderful ahead.”

Another poll shows Sink leading by a hair

Public Policy Polling: The Florida Governor's race is too close to call as the election enters its final two days. Alex Sink leads Rick Scott by just a single point at 48-47. Scott has gained over the last three weeks among conservative leaning voters who don't like him but have decided they don't dislike him enough to let a Democrat win.

If Scott does manage to pull it out he'll probably be the country's most unpopular newly elected Governor. Only 34% of voters in the state have a favorable opinion of him while 54% see him in a negative light. But Republican inclined voters are ultimately putting politics over personality and that's allowed Scott to make gains since our last poll.

Some have wondered, given how closely Scott is polling, if Bill McCollum would have been a shoo in had he been the Republican nominee. He may have had less baggage than McCollum but he doesn't poll any differently, trailing Sink 46-45 in a hypothetical match.

The topline numbers in the Senate race are not all that interesting - Marco Rubio is headed for an easy victory as he has been ever since the primary with 47% to 30% for Charlie Crist and 21% Kendrick Meek.

The most interesting number within the poll, even though it's not translating into extra voters, is Meek's favorability. In early October 35% of voters in the state said they had a positive opinion of Meek to 37% with a negative one. That's shot up now to 42% favorable and 32% unfavorable in just a few weeks time. Voters have responded positively to how Meek has conducted himself through all the speculation about whether he would or would not bring his campaign to a halt.

All the drama over whether Meek would drop out of the race might have been pretty pointless anyway. In a hypothetical head to head match up with Rubio Crist trails by a 48-44 margin. He may very well have lost even if Meek had pulled out.

Crist's political future after what is likely to be a pretty crushing loss tomorrow looks murky. Only 17% of voters in the state say they would definitely support him if he were to seek political office again in the future. That's not a particularly strong base of support and more than twice as many voters as that- 39%- say there's no way they'd vote for Crist in a future campaign. 43% are noncommittal on Crist's future.