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.

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


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.

New ads feature old attacks in Crist vs. Scott race

With a week to go until Election Day, you probably feel like you’ve heard every attack in the Florida gubernatorial campaign before.

That’s because you have.

With millions being poured into TV commercials, Gov. Rick Scott and challenger Charlie Crist (and the Republican and Democratic parties backing them) keep recycling the same talking points over and over. Many of them have been used so many times, PolitiFact Florida has already checked them more than once.

Two recent campaign ads illustrate this concept well. The ads are new, but the attack lines are recycled. We’ll sort out the spin to let you know what’s accurate and what’s not.

Turn to Joshua Gillin's article from PolitiFact Florida.

Internet poll from NY Times/CBS: Rick Scott 46%, Charlie Crist 45%


Gov. Rick Scott leads Democrat Charlie Crist 46-45 percent in the latest internet poll from YouGov, conducted for the New York Times/CBS.

So this poll, like others, essentially shows a tie because Scott's 1-point lead is within the error margin.

YouGov's polling technique is controversial and experimental (some thoughts at the bottom of this post). In looking at the survey's crosstabs, it has some strange results: Scott winning independents by 12 percentage points. No recent survey (or perhaps any other survey in this race) has had such a margin. The only recent one that had Scott up was a poll from the Republican Party of Florida. Most polls have Crist winning independents by 3 to 5 points.

On the other hand, the poll appears to have over-surveyed Democrats, thereby giving Crist back some of his margins lost among independents in the survey.

The internals of the poll aside, what's interesting here is that Crist has somewhat narrowed the gap in the survey, which has consistently shown Scott doing better than most other polls.

Paradoxically, though it's an outlier, the survey toplines seem right. 

Charlie Crist closing TV ad campaign with Bill Clinton, not Barack Obama


Democrat Charlie Crist is closing out his TV ad campaign with the party's most-popular surrogate, former President Bill Clinton. The ad is slated to run statewide.

And what of President Obama? Highly unpopular and nowhere to be seen in Florida, unlike 2012 when he continually had a reason for "official" presidential business that just so happened to dovetail with his re-election campaign in the nation's largest swing state.

Here's the Big Dog: 


Meantime, Gov. Rick Scott's campaign is pushing out a web ad of former NY Mayor Rudy Giuliani trashing Crist.

About 2m in FL have voted; GOP raw-vote lead grows over Dems, but relative margin shrinks


More than 1.9 million Floridians had cast pre-Election Day ballots as of Tuesday morning as Republicans slightly increased their raw-vote margin over Democrats while the GOP's proportional lead ticked down a notch.

Total GOP lead over Democrats in ballots cast: 142,787, or 7.2 percentage points. Yesterday morning, Republicans were up 138,572, or 7.6 percentage points.

NOTE: Polk County's new numbers aren't in yet -- something of a pattern for this county. For some reason, the 66 other counties are able to upload the data far sooner and more consistently. Blog updated with Polk County's now-uploaded figures.

The Republicans' surge came in the face of a big increase Monday in Democrat-dominated in-person early voting in liberal South Florida. As has been true this entire electin cycle, Democrats are doing worse than in 2012; Republicans are doing worse than in 2010.

Prior posts can be found here in the Florida Voters tab. And here are the numbers for in-person early voting, mail-in absentee voting and the combined totals:

PARTY       EV      %  
REP 236888.0 41.4% -3710.0
DEM 240598.0 42.0%  
IND 94856.0 16.6%  
TOTAL 572342.0    
PARTY       AB's      %  
REP         653,989 46.7%   146,497
DEM         507,492 36.2%  
IND         240,410 17.1%  
TOTAL       1,401,891    
PARTY    EVAB      %  
REP         890,877 45.1%   142,787
DEM         748,090 37.9%  
IND         335,266 17.0%  
TOTAL       1,974,233