October 31, 2014

Nearly 2.6m Floridians have voted; GOP ahead of Dems by 135k ballots, but lead still slipping


With four days until Election Day, nearly 2.6 million people have cast in-person early votes and absentee ballots. As in past days, the GOP is holding on to its lead in ballots cast over Democrats, who are nibbling away at the margins.

GOP lead this morning over Democrats: 134,910 or 5.3 percentage points.

Yesterday's GOP lead: 140,123, or 5.9 percentage points.

Prior posts can be found through the Florida Voters link here.

PARTY          EV           %
REP         384,159 41.1%
DEM         390,025 41.7%
IND         161,591 17.3%
TOTAL         935,775  
PARTY          AB's            %
REP         740,128 45.6%
DEM         599,352 36.9%
IND         283,804 17.5%
TOTAL       1,623,284  
PARTY       EVAB            %
REP       1,124,287 43.9%
DEM         989,377 38.7%
IND         445,395 17.4%
TOTAL       2,559,059  


PolitiFact Florida's greatest hits of the governor's race

Through all the debates, TV ads, emails to supporters and appearances on the campaign trail, PolitiFact Florida has been fact-checking the race for Florida governor. We’ve published more than 80 fact-checks over the past year on everything from abortion to immigration to university tuition.

Overall, the race between incumbent Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist has been chock full of attacks, with each side sending out a barrage of negative commentary on the other guy.

Here, then, is PolitiFact Florida's rundown of our most significant fact-checks in the campaign for Florida’s governor. Since 2010, we have fact-checked Scott 125 times and Crist 77 times (the difference is due to the fact that Scott has been in office nearly all of that time unlike Crist who left the governor's job in January 2011).

October 30, 2014

Polling shows Fla governor's race could be closer than 2000


Gov. Rick Scott is winning reelection by about 2 percentage points in a major new poll exclusively shared with The Miami Herald.

Democrat Charlie Crist is winning by 3 percentage points in Quinnipiac University’s new poll.

Which survey is right?

Both are.

The results rest within each poll’s margin of error, meaning the race is essentially a tie – regardless of the poll. Every other major survey shows that. And it looks like it will stay a squeaker through Election Day, Nov. 4.

“This race is closer than we thought George Bush vs. Al Gore was before the 2000 elections,” SEA pollster Tom Eldon said, referring to the 537-vote margin that made Bush president after 37 days of disputed results, court challenges and ballot reviews.

So Tuesday is going to be a long night?

“You’re potentially talking about a long month,” Eldon said.

More here

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


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


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


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


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.