October 30, 2014

SEA (Dem) poll: Rick Scott 46 percent, Charlie Crist 44 percent

@MarcACaputo

Gov. Rick Scott is holding on to a 46-44 percent lead over Charlie Crist, according to a new likely voter poll exlusively shared with The Miami Herald.

Scott’s 2 percentage-point lead is well within survey’s 2.7 percentage-point margin of error – like every other recent major poll in this race – making the contest a tie. The 1,300-respondent poll was conducted by Democratic-leaning polling firm SEA Polling & Strategic Design.

A Quinnipiac University poll this morning found Crist led Scott 43-40 percent, a lead that was also within the margin of error.

The SEA poll, chartered by a coalition of businesses and exclusively shared with The Miami Herald, has been conducted in two waves over the past three days. The first results, of 800 likely voters, were reported yesterday.

While Scott’s margin has held at 2 percentage points, Florida's medical-marijuana constitutional amendment has slightly slipped by 2 points, with 57 percent supporting it and 37 percent opposing.

The amendment needs 60 percent support to pass. It still could pass if the undecideds stay home.

What makes the survey from pollster Tom Eldon stand out is that he’s one of the best in Florida, he’s a Democrat and he doesn’t sugarcoat his numbers. It’s also proof that good pollsters produce good numbers, regardless of party affiliation.

Eldon produced the poll showing Crist running strong in a bellwether seat in Pasco County.

This poll shows Scott is viewed more favorably by the electorate, relatively speaking, than President Obama or Crist.

Scott’s fav-unfav rating: 49-47 percent
Crist’s fav-unfav: 45-51
Obama’s fav-unfav: 48-50 percent.

Basically, no one is liked very much. And, as noted earlier today, all the polling and ballot numbers make this look like a squeaker of a race.

Crist used to be viewed much more favorably. But then Scott in March embarked on a mammoth $70 million TV ad campaign. Much of Scott’s ads have been devoted to trashing Crist, though the Republican has called the Democrat a “mudslinger.”

And, indeed, Crist has thrown mud. But he and his allies have less money for slinging; they’ve spent about $35 million on ads, much of savaging Scott.

Also aiding Scott somewhat is the condition of the state’s economy: 40 percent say it’s heading in the right direction; 31 percent in the wrong direction and 20 percent say it’s mixed. As for Scott’s job performance, 51 percent approve and 44 percent disapprove.

Libertarian Adrian Wyllie is not a factor, getting 4 percent of the vote.

Scott and Crist get about equal amounts of their base voters; with the Republican drawing 86 percent support from Republicans and the Democrat 83 percent from Democrats. Scott and Crist each get 9 percent support from voters of the other party.

Crist is leading Scott 38-33 percent among no-party-affiliation and third-party voters.

Crist’s lead among independents could prove crucial. Quinnipiac, which identifies party ID differently, found Crist leading by an astonishing 18 percentage points – an outlier compared to other polls. Both surveys have different methodologies.

More on polling can be found in the polling tab here.

Fact-checking claims about environment in Florida's race for governor

When billionaire activist Tom Steyer declared that he would use his fortune to attack candidates who didn’t believe in man-made climate change, that set the stage for the environment to play a prominent role in this year’s race for governor in Florida.

Steyer formed a political action committee, NextGen Climate Action Committee, and set his sights on Republican Gov. Rick Scott, in addition to candidates in other states.

Environmental issues have arisen in past campaigns, but what was unique about Florida this year was that a pro-environmental entity had millions to spend on TV ads.

Scott’s rival Democrat Charlie Crist weighed in with his own statements about the environment, including our state’s record on solar energy.

Scott and the Republicans countered with attacks on Crist about Duke Energy and about riding in a private jet. Turn to PolitiFact Florida for a summary of our environmental fact-checks.

Almost 2.4m in FL have voted, GOP lead and margin-rate slightly sliding to Democrats

@MarcACaputo

About 2.4 million Floridians have cast in-person early and absentee ballots as of Thursday morning and, as in the past week, Republicans still hold an advantage over Democrats in ballots cast but the GOP's margins are still slipping a bit, in terms of percentage.

GOP lead over Democrats: 140,123, or 5.9 percent. Yesterday, the spread was 141,363, or 6.4 percent. 

Since in-person early voting began, Republicans have alternately (but barely) increased their overall vote lead but seen their advantage in terms of rate slip. That's in part because Democrats and independents (a shorthand for no-party-affiliation and third-party voters) have begun casting ballots at higher rates.

As noted in prior posts (you can find them here), independents are looming larger and larger in the race. Just this morning, Quinnipiac University released a poll showing Charlie Crist led Gov. Rick Scott by an 18 percentage point margin among independents. That's probably an outlier result. And it needs to be pointed out that Quinnipiac uses self-identification polls in which respondents tell the pollster what their party is; so some of these independents are Democrats and Republicans.

However, another poll released yesterday by SEA Polling and Strategic Design showed Crist winning independents 37-33 percent. And that poll was conducted off a voter list, so those margins can theoretically be compared to the independents who have voted so far. 

Here's what happens if you apply those independent results to the pre-Election Day ballots: Scott's potential 140,000 lead gets cut by by about 12,000 to almost 128,000, an 8.7 percent reduction.

Apply the entire SEA poll's partisan crosstabs to the early ballots, and Scott theoretically leads Crist 47-42 percent (a 133,000 margin).

A word of caution: the above calculations are just a math exercise to give one glimpse into how the race is playing out. We still don't know how people actually voted. This is also based on one poll. All polls have error margins. And all major polls recently find the race basically tied. Unlike Quinnipiac, SEA finds Scott doing slightly better with his own base (Republicans) than Crist is with his (Democrats) and it finds Scott doing slightly better than Crist among crossover voters from his opponent's party. Also, the poll has 6 percent undecided.

Here are the early and absentee ballot numbers as of this morning:

PARTY         EV          %
REP             330,497 41.3%
DEM             333,711 41.7%
IND             136,340 17.0%
TOTAL             800,548  
     
     
PARTY         AB's           %
REP             714,315 46.0%
DEM             569,327 36.6%
IND             269,937 17.4%
TOTAL          1,553,579  
     
     
PARTY      EVAB           %
REP          1,044,812 44.4%
DEM             903,038 38.4%
IND             406,277 17.3%
TOTAL          2,354,127  

NOTE POST HAS BEEN UPDATED (Some prior numbers were wrong at the margins).

Q Poll: Charlie Crist, fueled by independents, leads Rick Scott 43-40 percent overall

@MarcACaputo

Charlie Crist has slightly nudged ahead of Gov. Rick Scott in Quinnipiac University's latest poll that shows the Democrat picks up 43 percent support from likely voters to the incumbent's 40 percent.

That apparent 3 percentage point lead for Crist is essentially a tie because it's within the poll's margin of error, however the poll of 800 likely voters indicates Crist has some momentum on his side.

Last week, Quinnipiac surveyed the governor's race and found it dead even between Crist and Scott, with each getting 42 percent. So the contested has shifted a net 3 percentage points in Crist's favor or a net 5 points compared to Quinnipiac's September survey that showed Scott with a negligible lead.

Boosting Crist: the strong support of self-identified independents, who favor the Democrat over Scott by a spread of 47-29 percent.

“Independent voters are often the difference in swing states like Florida, but the size of former Gov. Charlie Crist’s lead among them is truly remarkable,” Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said in a written statement.

Continue reading "Q Poll: Charlie Crist, fueled by independents, leads Rick Scott 43-40 percent overall" »

October 29, 2014

Has Rick Scott invested in $350 million to combat sea level rise? Not really, concludes PolitiFact Florida

Gov. Rick Scott has drawn criticism from environmentalists for denying in 2011 that man contributes to climate change and now dodging questions with the reply of "I’m not a scientist."

The topic arose during the Oct. 21 CNN debate when moderator Jake Tapper asked Gov. Rick Scott why he was "reluctant to believe the overwhelming majority of scientists who say that man contributes to climate change."

Instead of answering the question directly, Scott claimed that he had already taken action to protect the environment, including addressing sea-level rise.

"We have spent $350 million to deal with sea-level rise down in the Keys, or down in the Miami area. We spent hundreds of millions of dollars to deal with coral reefs," he said.

Scott made a similar claim in the debate at Broward College on Oct. 15.

Scott’s claim, particularly about investing in projects to combat sea-level rise, stood out for us. Under Scott, has the state spent $350 million to deal with sea-level rise in the Miami area and hundreds of millions to protect coral reefs?

Turn to PolitiFact Florida for the answer.

SEA (Dem) poll: Rick Scott 45 percent; Charlie Crist 43 percent

@MarcACaputo

Florida’s race for governor is as tight as ever, with Gov. Rick Scott getting 45 percent support and Democrat Charlie Crist 43 percent from likely voters, according to a new poll from Democratic-leaning polling firm SEA Polling & Strategic Design. 

The Republican’s 2 percentage-point lead is well within the 800 voter survey’s 3.5 percentage-point margin of error – like every other recent major poll in this race.

Like other polls, this one shows that Florida's medical-marijuana constitutional amendment is within a point of passing or failing. It shows Amendment 2 polling at 59-32 percent. The amendment needs 60 percent support to pass. Another way to look at it: opponents need 40 percent to oppose it. If the undecideds stay home, the amendment likely passes.

What makes the survey from pollster Tom Eldon stand out is that he’s one of the best in Florida, he’s a Democrat and he doesn’t sugarcoat his numbers. It’s also proof that good pollsters produce good numbers, regardless of party affiliation.

Eldon produced the poll showing Crist running strong in a bellwether seat in Pasco County.

Contrary to the belief among some in Tallahassee and other political circles, Scott has secured his base. He’s getting 84 percent support from Republicans; while Crist draws 80 percent from Democrats.

Crist is not disproportionately getting crossover voters from the opposite party. In fact, on that count, they’re basically tied. Crist gets 11 percent support from Republicans, Scott gets 10 percent from Democrats.

Crist is leading slightly among independents: 37-33 percent. That could prove crucial.

For comparison, the averages of the partisan crosstabs of 10 polls released earlier this month showed Republicans backing Scott over Crist 72-13 percent; Democrats backing Crist over Scott 74-13 percent and independents favoring Crist over Scott 34-39 percent.

This is all inside-the-error-margin stuff.

No matter how you slice these polls, or this poll from SEA, this race is essentially tied.

And, yes, it’s time to say the smartest and dumbest thing in politics: It’s all about turnout. Republicans are turning out more of their voters in pre-Election Day ballots, but Democrats have more voters.

The poll reflects a Republican turnout advantage of 2 percentage points, showing an electorate of 43 percent GOP; 41 percent Democrat and 16 percent independent.

Change those numbers and the topline numbers change.

For more polls in this race, here's our polling tab.

2.2m ballots cast in FL; GOP lead over Dems still strong, but still slipping slightly

@MarcACaputo

There's a good chance that more than one-third of the likely Florida voters in this year's midterms have already voted now that nearly 2.2 million have cast mail-in absentee and in-person early ballots.

Republicans still hold a sizable lead over Democrats in total pre-Election Day ballots cast: about 141,000, or 6.5 percentage points. (NOTE: post was updated with new AB figures about 142,000, or 6.7 percentage-points more.)

Yesterday morning, the GOP lead by nearly 143,000 or 7.2 percentage points.

With a lead over Republicans in 455,000 registered voters, the GOP's early ballot lead isn't insurmountable. In 2010, for instance, the GOP led by about 277,000 early ballots, or almost 12 percentage points. On Election Day, Republicans cast slightly more ballots then, too, and Alex Sink went on to lose to Gov. Rick Scott by fewer than 62,000 votes. It's a clear sign of how important independents are to Democrats. Right now, most polls show Crist winning independents, who have cast about 17 percent of the early ballots.

Of course, in 2012, the parties were in the opposite posture, with Democrats being ahead in pre-Election Day ballots. President Obama barely carried the state then.

This weekend is the last for early in-person voting. Will Democrats, particularly African-Americans, come out in force and reduce the GOP raw-vote margin significantly? So far, it hasn't happened. And in the end, raw votes matter more than percentages.

A 140,000-vote lead is still pretty big. Even 100,000 is. Yes, not every Republican will vote Scott. Nor will every Democrat vote Crist. Votes will be tallied Election Day. Still, the votes cast by party are a good indication of ground game, and that edge remains with Scott.

Prior posts are here in the Florida Voters section, and here are the numbers:

PARTY            EV          %
REP         286,380 41%
DEM         290,643 42%
IND         116,688 17%
TOTAL         693,711  
     
     
PARTY          AB's           %
REP         688,425 46.2%
DEM         542,799 36.5%
IND         257,312 17.3%
TOTAL       1,488,536  
     
     
PARTY            EVAB            %
REP         974,805 45%
DEM         833,442 38%
IND         374,000 17%
TOTAL       2,182,247  

Anti human-trafficking advocates blast Crist for strip-club contributions

Gov. Rick Scott isn't letting go of the fact that his Democratic opponent accepted $90,000 in campaign contributions from strip club owners.

The campaign released a statement Wednesday from three anti-human trafficking advocates blasting Democrat Charlie Crist.

The three advocates -- Kristi House Executive Director Trudy Novicki; Safe and Free Florida President Frances Lee; and Niki Cross, a human trafficking survivor and founder of S.T.A.A.R. Ministry -- said the problem wasn't so much the money, but what it represents.

"Strip clubs devalue women and are often a place of prostitution, drug use and even human trafficking," they said. "Ending human trafficking in Florida won't just happen because of stricter laws. It will happen when we have a cultural change that has zero-tolerance for any mistreatment, abuse or demeaning of women."

(It is worth noting that the past president of the Kristi House Board of Directors is Miami-Dade GOP Chairman Nelson Diaz. In addition, Cross has been featured in a past Scott press release.)

The two gubernatorial candidates have been battling for support from women as the election draws near.

Last week, Crist fired back with an ad saying Scott vetoed money for rape crisis centers. PolitiFact Florida rated the claim mostly false, concluding that the ad failed "to make it clear that funding for rape crisis centers increased under Scott's watch."

Scott has taken some heat on human trafficking, too. A campaign ad this summer highlighted a Cuban-born grocery store owner who who was convicted on human smuggling charges in St. Maarten four years ago. And the governor and his family trusts once invested in a website tied to sex predators

October 28, 2014

Crist's Mostly False attack on Scott's rape crisis veto

In the homestretch, Charlie Crist is pushing hard for the women’s vote in his battle against Gov. Rick Scott.

Crist has vowed to protect abortion rights and fight for equal pay for women for months. Scott has attacked Crist for taking money from strip club owners.

Now a TV ad attacks Scott’s record on funding rape crisis centers.

"No one saw it coming. With the stroke of a pen, Rick Scott vetoed funding for 30 Florida rape crisis centers. Scott said the centers weren't needed. But they’ve helped over a million Florida women who’ve been sexually assaulted get care, counseling and legal help. These centers were a place for women who have nowhere else to turn. And Rick Scott turned his back on every single one of them." (Technically the Florida Democratic Party released the ad, but the Crist campaign has promoted it.)

The ad leaves viewers with the impression that Scott completely rejected funding for rape crisis centers, a serious attack against the governor. Did Scott veto funding for 30 rape crisis centers and say that the centers weren’t needed?

Turn to PolitiFact Florida for the answer.