October 29, 2014

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    

October 27, 2014

South Florida's early voting Monday is a warning sign for Rick Scott


Yesterday, something weird happened: early voting was lower Sunday than on Saturday in South Florida's three biggest counties. Miami-Dade saw 6,109 (lower than Tuesday and Wednesday) early voters; Broward was 5,912 (the lowest of the week); Palm Beach 3,377 (the lowest of the week).

So panic settled in among some Democrats because low turnout in Democrat-rich South Florida means Gov. Rick Scott will more than likely be reelected. It was a warning sign for Democrat Charlie Crist.

Today, some opposite weirdness: Gangbusters early vote numbers on Monday (a work day).

Miami-Dade saw 8,153 new early voters (a 33 percent increase); Broward was 8,518 (44 percent); and Palm Beach 7,019 (108 percent). Maybe this a lag in data entry from understaffed county elections supervisors?

Either way, in the interest of balance and accuracy, let's call this a warning sign for Scott. 

We won't know the party breakdown until tomorrow (and, no, the votes for the candidates aren't opened and tabulated until Election Day). But at current rates, there's a good chance Democrats increased their net lead in these three counties by 6,741.

That's just for these three counties. There are 67 counties total.

And it should be noted (as has been done everyday here): Republicans still hold a sizable lead in pre-Election Day ballots. This morning it was 138,572. That's thanks to the GOP's strong voters and the party's absentee-ballot program.

But the GOP lead has been shrinking and, considering today's numbers in the Big Three urban counties, there's a good chance that trend will continue. But there's also a good likelihood that raw early voting numbers will be not continue to climb before the weekend, after which early voting ends before Election Day. Let's call Monday's numbers, and perhaps Sunday's, a blip. 

0ptimus FL poll: Rick Scott 42%, Charlie Crist 39%


The new Republican data analytics firm, 0ptimus, has released another mega-robopoll with some good news for Gov. Rick Scott: He's narrowly leading Democrat Charlie Crist.

The race is still technically a tie but Scott's lead of 2.4 percentage points (41.9-39.4 percent) is almost outside the poll's error margin.

Looking at the party breaks, Crist nudged down ever so slightly with Democrats in the poll and lost a few independents, who moved a little bit toward Scott. Here's more on 0ptimus prior poll, here's our blog's category link for polling and here are this poll's partisan crosstabs:

  Overall     Rep   Dem       IND
Scott 41.9% 68.6% 16.0% 34.2%
Crist 39.4% 14.2% 66.2% 40.6%
Wyllie 11.9% 5.7% 7.1% 9.4%
Unsure 6.8% 11.6% 10.7% 15.7%


Rick Scott ahead, but Charlie Crist gaining, in FL's early vote war

@MarcACaputo @adamsmithtimes

The race for Florida governor is tied in the polls, but the past week has brought more good numbers for Democrat Charlie Crist than Gov. Rick Scott.

After the first full week of in-person early voting, Democrats have started to eat into Republicans’ lead in casting pre-Election Day ballots — a margin in the GOP’s favor of 138,000 of more than 1.8 million cast statewide.

In 2010, Republicans led Democrats by 12 percentage points in ballots cast before Election Day, when Scott went on to beat Democrat Alex Sink by just over 1 percent of the vote. As of Monday, the Republican lead for this election was about 7.6 percentage points.

In a sign of how tenuous Scott’s lead appears, the governor reversed course and broke his word not to spend his personal millions on the race. An estimated 10,000 ads attacking Crist and promoting Scott are expected in the final week.

“I think they’re pretty desperate,” Crist said Monday at an early voting rally at Florida International University. “He wouldn’t be spending that kind of money if he wasn’t afraid.”

The actual early and absentee votes won’t be tabulated until Election Day, of course, so it’s impossible to say how many votes each candidate has received so far.

More here