November 25, 2014

The 2014 governor's race votes and ad spending by Florida media market


The race for Florida governor was officially certified last week, so now we have final numbers. By our estimate, more than $103 million was spent on TV ads since March. 

All told, 6,026,802 Floridians cast ballots. Of them, about 53 percent voted early in person or by absentee ballot (1,878,537 absentees + 1,309,198 early votes = 3,187,735).

More people voted in the governor's race than any other contest: 5,951,561. Scott received 2,865,343 votes to Crist's 2,801,198. That's 48.14 percent to 47.07, a margin of 1.08 percent, or 64,145.

Scott's raw-vote margin was 4.2 percent bigger than in 2010, when his margin was 61,550 over Democrat Alex Sink. On a percentage basis, though, Scott did worse than in 2010, when his win-margin was 1.2 percentage points (the overall number of people voting in the governor's race grew 11 percent since 2010).

Here's how the 2014 votes broke down by media market, along with the ad spending:

Florida votes & ad spending




November 04, 2014

South Florida's light voting great for Rick Scott, bad for Charlie Crist. But indies might save the Dem


As the polls are about to close, Gov. Rick Scott's team should be feeling a little more confident because Democrat-rich South Florida is doing what it does in midterms: not voting in strong numbers.

Miami-Dade is reporting that 183,000 people had voted as of 6 p.m. on Election Day. Add that to the 293,000 who had absentee and early voted, and the county's turnout was just under 37 percent with one hour to go. 

Broward County might be in a similar position.

As of 3:15 p.m., when turnout gets slowest, Broward County reported Election Day turnout at 136,000. That was on top of 248,000 who had voted before Election Day by early and absentee ballot. And that puts turnout at roughly 36 percent.

In a sign of desperation, Charlie Crist’s campaign just issued a press release saying it wants the polls to stay open longer in Broward. It claims, among other things, that voters were turned away at the polls due to re-precincting. Miami Herald reporters found signs of this, but they weren't widespread.  Download Crist motion for polls to stay open.

Considering overall state turnout could be at 49 percent, this could signify higher performance by Republican counties and Republican voters. And thus, a likelier Scott win.

Here's what we reported in April about South Florida turnout:

Year after year, voters in the Democratic region are among the state’s worst when it comes to showing up at the polls. It was most glaring in 2010 when Scott won office and statewide voter turnout was a meager 49 percent.

The turnout in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties was worse: about 41, 40 and 47 percent, respectively. If those three counties had voted at the state average, Democrat Alex Sink likely would have beaten Scott by nearly 250,000 votes statewide. Instead, Sink lost by 61,550 votes.

Crist vows that won’t happen again.

Crist's campaign said it's hammering South Florida voters to get them out, but the reporters we have at the polls aren't seeing much action.

Our freelancer Theo Karantsalis reports light turnout in Liberty City, an African-American area. And he just encountered a voter who's..... voting for Scott.

The Caleb Center, which drew hundreds of Souls to the Polls churchgoers on Sunday, was open for early voting only.

Voters continue to park near the Caleb Center and carefully walk across busy NW 54th Street to cast ballots at the Mildred and Claude Pepper Towers.

"I came out in the cold and dark to vote for a republican," said Shirley Smith, 47, an African-American from Liberty City, who voted the republican ticket in the 2010 and 2012 elections. "I am so tired of people thinking the government owes them something."

Smith, who first looked to see if anyone was listening, then added: "I know I am the minority around here, but my vote counts even if it's different."

There is no line and few people at the neighborhood polling site located in the 2300 block of NW 54th Street. Polls close at 7 p.m.

This doesn't mean Crist has lost and that Scott has won. Not by a longshot. One analyst said the story of the night might be independents, who are leaning Crist. 

In Pasco, Pinellas, and Hernando counties in the Tampa Bay region, independent voters are coming out in droves, respectively: 22, 23 and 20 percent.

Even in GOP-rich Collier Countty, Rick Scott's home base, 20 percent of the voters are independents.

Republicans are boasting that they have more supervoters (those who voted in 4 of 4 elections, known as 4/4) to come out. But Democrats note that they're turning out more infrequent voters. Here's one Democrats' analysis:

As of end of the day yesterday, 31.0% of Democrats who had cast a ballot didn't vote in 2010, 43.4% of IND/NPA, 22.7% of Republicans. Dems have very nearly 80K more people who have cast ballots that DIDN'T vote in 2010 than Republicans.

On the other end of things, Dems have 54.2% of their 2/2s (and 49.3% of 4/4s) who had not yet voted as of COB yesterday; those numbers are remarkably similar for Reps: 53.7% of 2/2 and 49.5% of 4/4.

But, as GOP consultant Marc Reichelderfer told Adam Smith at the Tampa Bay Times, Republicans have more reliable Republicans voting:

"What I'm looking at is how many 4/4 voters and how many 3/4 voters are still out there waiting to vote," said Reichelderfer, suggesting that the Republicans and Democrats are roughly equal on 3/4 voters.

Add that 130,000 almost certain 4/4 votes today to the roughly 100,000 early and absentee vote advantage Republicans had going into today, and the 230,000 GOP lead looks tough to crack barring an massive Democratic turnout operation, he said.

After the 2010 cycles, elections officials cleaned up their lists of voters automatically receiving absentee ballots. The result, Reichelderfer said, that that many formerly consistent Republican mail voters have been shifted to election day voters, while the Obama campaign in 2012 shifted many of its most reliable election day voters to mail voters.

Poll averages: Race deadlocked, Scott could lead Crist by 0.6% pre-Election Day ballots


Heading into Election Day, Gov. Rick Scott and Charlie Crist are tied at 42 percent each, according to the averages of 20 public polls released in October, when absentee-ballot and then in-person early voting began.*

Technically, Scott has a lead of .07 percentage points (42.03 to Crist's 41.96). That's not really a lead at all. Assuming the undecideds don't vote, Scott gets 45.9 percent to Crist's 45.8. Libertarian Adrian Wyllie could pull 8 percent of the vote, about the same percentage as the undecided, who are an X-factor in all of this.**

Unlike prior poll-unskewing attempts, this exercise uses polls taken as people were casting pre-Election Day ballots, 3.1 million as of this morning. The GOP led Democrats in ballots cast by 98,000, 43-39 percent (3.3 percentage points). But independents account for about 18 percent of those voters, and they're leaning Crist by an average of about 6 percentage points.

Put it all together, and Scott's lead in early votes is 42.6 percent to Crist's 42 percent.

That's a 0.6 percentage-point lead.

That's not much of a lead at all, considering Democrats have a registered voter edge of about 455,000 over Republicans (obviously, not all vote). Scott's lead could be higher or lower because this analysis includes the undecided. Take out the undecided, Scott's lead remains at 0.6 percent.

Still, a lead is a lead.

What does Crist need to do to have a real shot at wining under this scenario? Have Democrats today turnout by 2 percentage points more than Republicans (assuming there's 49 percent turnout). Democrats would need to cast 42 percent of the Election Day ballots, Republicans 40 percent and independents 18 percent. If that happens, Republicans would still wind up casting slightly more overall votes in the election (including early and absentee ballots).

Possible? Yes. 

Probable? Not judging by history. 

Continue reading "Poll averages: Race deadlocked, Scott could lead Crist by 0.6% pre-Election Day ballots" »

Ken Detzner: So far, no hitches at the polls on Election Day


Voting is going "very smoothly" this morning, with all polls opening on time in the state's 6,222 precincts, Secretary of State Ken Detzner said at an elections briefing in Tallahassee.

While millions are expected to vote today, the number of early votes cast could be a record, he said. As of last night, 1.7 million Floridians voted by absentee ballot and 1.3 million voted in-person at the polls. By party, 655,020 Democrats and 791,324 Republicans voted by absentee ballot and 555,473 Democrats and 518,476 Republicans voted early in-person at the polls.

"Voters are very pleased to get out early and vote absentee," he said. "I think we might actually see some records in regards to the number of absentee ballots that were mailed and that we're seeing returned.

"By the time the polls close this evening, we should have a sizeable number of votes already counted because of legislative changes made in 2013," Detzner said, referring to fixes restoring more early voting after Florida's flawed 2012 election process.

The U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division is monitoring polling locations in four Florida counties -- Duval, Hillsborough, Lee and Orange -- to ensure federal voting laws are followed. Detzner said these "observers" are present in 17 states, but stressed his confidence that the voting process has improved.

Given a governor's race too tight to predict, the state is ready for a recount, Detzner said. But the contest between Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Cristisn't the only challenge supervisors face this evening.

Several other tight races could require a recount, including the 2nd Congressional District race between Republican Steve Southerland and Democrat Gwen Grahamand the District 26 race where Miami Democrat Joe Garcia is battling Republican challenger Carlos Curbelo.

Continue reading "Ken Detzner: So far, no hitches at the polls on Election Day" »

As polls open, 3.1m already voted; Dems cut GOP early ballot lead to 98k, 3.3%


Regardless of who wins or loses or if there's a recount, this is the last tally of pre-Election Day ballots and, like the others, it's good news bad news for both sides.

First the overall picture: as of Election Day morning, more than 3.1 million people had voted. That's probably more than half of the likely voters in this election (assuming a turnout of 49 or 50 percent).

Republicans go into Election Day with a lead in early and absentee ballots of about 98,401 ballots, 3.2 percentage points. Yesterday, the GOP lead was 100,583, or 3.3 points.

Since the GOP trails Democrats in registered voters by about 455,000, that's the great news for them. It's also far better than the 155,000 early-ballot deficit the GOP faced in 2012, when President Obama won by about 1 percentage point.

The bad news for the GOP: it's a far smaller lead than the 277,000 early ballot lead they held in the last midterm election, 2010, when Rick Scott was dragged to shore on a red wave of conservatism.

And Democrats' absente-ballot return rate has been proportionately increasing. So the absentee ballots that flow in today won't give the GOP a major boost. If this morning's numbers are any indication, it will add a net 2,000 votes to the GOP lead, putting it back at 100,000. But, since in-person early voting stopped Sunday, the Democrats didn't get to make any more large gains before Election Day.

What effects will independents have? They're about 18 percent of the early and absentee vote. Most polls indicate they're trending toward Democrat Charlie Crist. Will it be enough? What effect will Florida's medical-marijuana initiative (still popular, but failing to hit the needed 60 percent in most recent polls) have on Crist (who supports it, while Scott opposes it)? Then there's NextGen Climate, the liberal group that has raised about $16 million to hurt Scott and help Crist.

And don't forget one of the most important elections forecasting data points: the actual weather forecast. It rained in liberal-leaning Palm Beach and Broward counties this morning. It's blustery in liberal-leaning Miami-Dade. These counties have underperformed in turnout and, if there's a repeat, that's bad for Crist and great for Scott. A little bit of rain is enough to keep already flakey voters home.

Here are prior Florida Voters posts and today's early vote and absentee ballot numbers:

PARTY          EV           %
REP         518,499 39.6%
DEM         555,473 42.4%
IND         235,226 18.0%
TOTAL       1,309,198  
PARTY          AB's            %
REP         807,137 0.44864
DEM         671,762 0.373393
IND         320,175 0.177967
TOTAL       1,799,074  
PARTY       EVAB            %
REP       1,325,636 42.6%
DEM       1,227,235 39.5%
IND         555,401 17.9%
TOTAL       3,108,272  

November 03, 2014

Souls to the Polls gives Dems major boost, close early vote gap to 100k


Looks like Souls to the Polls was a success after all.*

In just one day of early in-person voting, Democrats took a major bite out of the GOP's pre-Election Day ballot lead, which now stands at slightly more than 100,000. That's an improvement of more than 26,000 ballots in Democrats' favor.

As of this afternoon, the GOP's margin over Democrats was 100,583, or 3.3 percentage points. Yesterday, after all the data was uploaded to the state's system, the GOP lead was 126,652, or 4.3 percentage points.

So the answer to the question about whether Souls to the Polls was a boom or bust for Crist is clear: It's a boom. As more evidence of that, Gov. Rick Scott's campaign issued another early vote memo that failed to mention the mammoth Democratic gains.

Nevertheless, a 100,000-vote margin is big. But with an advantage of more than 455,000 registered voters over Republicans, Democrats can make up that margin on Election Day. The big question: Will they?

Here are the numbers:

PARTY          EV           %
REP         518,499 39.6%
DEM         555,473 42.4%
IND         235,226 18.0%
TOTAL       1,309,198  
PARTY          AB's            %
REP         785,928 45.1%
DEM         648,371 37.2%
IND         308,360 17.7%
TOTAL       1,742,659  
PARTY       EVAB            %
REP       1,304,427 42.7%
DEM       1,203,844 39.4%
IND         543,586 17.8%
TOTAL       3,051,857  

This post has been updated with final numbers from the 67 election supervisors. 

Poll-prediction guru Nate Silver gives Charlie Crist a "slight" 60% chance of winning


Missed this a few days ago: Nate Silver, who accurately forecast the 2012 elections (including Florida) is out with a batch of predictions and, despite the tied polling and the GOP's lead in banking pre-Election Day votes in the Sunshine State, his data show the Democrat is more likely to win the governor's race.

From Five Thirty Eight:

Charlie Crist of Florida, the former Republican turned Democrat, is just slightly more likely than not to oust Republican Gov. Rick Scott from office. A slightly safer bet for a Democratic pickup is in Kansas, where Paul Davis has a 81 percent chance of beating Republican incumbent Sam Brownback.

Silver's chart shows Crist's chances of winning at 60 percent. More here

November 02, 2014

Will Souls to the Polls be a boom or bust for Charlie Crist?

@MarcACaputo et al

Sunday was for spiritual as well as political salvation, a day in Florida politics for “Souls to the Polls.”

The last day for in-person early voting, Sunday is a time when black voters have flexed their political muscle and cast ballots in droves after church. The lift was heavy Sunday: help the Democratic Party — and especially Charlie Crist — eat into Republicans’ 126,000 lead in casting pre-Election Day ballots.

In a nod to black voters’ importance, Crist campaigned with Vice President Joe Biden at Mount Hermon AME Church in Fort Lauderdale. Pastors throughout Tampa Bay urged the faithful to go vote. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton respectively stumped in Jacksonville and Miami.

Miami-Dade saw nearly 16,500 voters Sunday, a 53 percent increase from Saturday. And Broward’s increase in a day was larger still: 60 percent, to 19,802.

Republicans, unlike in past years, were determined not to let Democrats run up the score on Sunday. Gov. Rick Scott visited First Baptist Church Piney Grove in Lauderdale Lakes. Scott then rallied with Jeb Bush in Miami-Dade’s heavily Hispanic Republican city of Hialeah.

“Charlie Crist has gotta go,” Bush said to wild applause, joking a moment later that “my mother didn’t want me to say that.” Bush later told reporters that Scott has “kept his word. His opponent is someone who will say anything, do anything to get elected.”

Continue reading "Will Souls to the Polls be a boom or bust for Charlie Crist?" »

3m in FL have voted; GOP leads by 126k ballots as Dems close gap to 4.3%


There's a good chance that half of the 2014 ballots have already been cast now that 3 million Floridians have voted absentee or at early voting stations in person.

This morning's data (complaicated by the fact that five* of 67 counties have not updated yet) shows Republicans still holding a lead over Democrats in ballots cast, but it's not as strong as it used to be.

GOP lead over Democrats: 125,623, or 4.3 percentage points. Yesterday morning's lead: 133,521, or 4.8 percentage points.

So Democrats have narrowed the raw vote gap back almost to where it was on Monday, Oct. 20 when in-person early voting began: 123,502. In percentage terms, the margin was more daunting: 14 points.

Democrats are hoping for a big early vote turnout today, but polls close at 4 p.m. In Democrat-rich Broward County, Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes might want the polls opened longer today. Only Gov. Rick Scott can do that and, if 2012 is any indication, he'll say no. Democrat Charlie Crist is playing up the contrast, noting how he kept polls open longer in 2008, in contrast to Scott. This could help fire up Democrats heading into Election Day in South Florida, but considering they haven't flocked in huge numbers to the polls so far, it's anyone's guess.

Prior posts can be found through the Florida Voters tab here, and here are the early vote, absentee and combined totals followed by a graphic of how Democrats have narrowed the gap in percentage terms.

PARTY          EV           %
REP         492,025 40.6%
DEM         504,120 41.6%
IND         214,633 17.7%
TOTAL       1,210,778  
PARTY          AB's            %
REP         783,451 0.451234
DEM         645,733 0.371914
IND         307,057 0.176852
TOTAL       1,736,241  
PARTY      EVAB           %
REP       1,275,476 43.3%
DEM       1,149,853 39.0%
IND         521,690 17.7%
TOTAL       2,947,019  

EVAB 1102

*The five laggard counties: Hardee, Polk, Santa Rosa and Union.

November 01, 2014

Nearly 2.8m have voted in FL; GOP ahead 134k, Dems still slightly catching up


Almost 2.8 million Floridians have cast early and absentee ballots so far, and Republican returns are still ahead of Democrats, who have been in slow-motion catchup.

GOP lead over Democrats: 133,521, or 4.8 percentage points as of this morning. Yesterday's lead: 134,910 or 5.3 percent.

While Democrats can rightly boast they're closing the gap, the question lingers: Is it enough? Probably not. Republicans' lead could be cut to less than 4 percentage points by Election Day, according to an extrapolation of the past five days' voting rates. That could be a vote margin of more than 128,000 in Republican's favor. Again this is an extrapolation based on current rates. This analysis is conservative both in its mathematical assumptions and, incidentally, in its political outcome because it shows Republicans doing rather well.

This weekend could easily throw the averages more in Democrats' favor. This is the last weekend of in-person early voting, when Democrats have a chance to flex their more than 455,000-voter advantage. This is the time to see if Souls to the Polls, when African-Americans have flocked to vote after church, will really make a difference. 

Last weekend did relatively little for Democrats. And this weekend, Republicans want to make sure it's a repeat.

One factor in Democrat Charlie Crist's favor, most polls show him winning independents. And no-party-affiliation and third-party voters could make up as much as 18 percent of the pre-Election Day voters. Obviously, we only have polls to guide us because votes won't be tallied until Election Day.

Polls show the race essentially tied. Ask many of Florida's top political minds who's going to win and they say they have no clue. There are so many unknowns and oddities with this race, with two deeply flawed candidates who are basically both incumbents. 

Many are predicting low overall turnout. If we have 2010's 49 percent turnout, about 5.8 million people will vote. So about 47 percent of the vote is already in. Based on current rates, 3.2 million could vote by absentee or early vote ballot, which could be 60 percent of the electorate.

Prior posts on related topics can be found through the Florida Voters tab and here are today's in-person early votes and absentee votes, followed by the totals:

PARTY         EV          %
REP     442,306 40.9%
DEM     449,268 41.6%
IND     189,064 17.5%
TOTAL  1,080,638  
PARTY         AB's           %
REP 762531 45.6%
DEM 622048 36.9%
IND 295138 17.5%
TOTAL 1679717  
PARTY      EVAB           %
REP  1,204,837 43.6%
DEM  1,071,316 38.8%
IND     484,202 17.5%
TOTAL  2,760,355