Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau Chief Steve Bousquet appeared on Fox News this afternoon to discuss the recent Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9 poll of voters along the Interstate 4 corridor and whether Florida is shifting toward Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney as the campaign enters its final week.
CNN today reported that President Obama's Florida team believes there's a direct correlation between Hispanic voter turnout and the campaign's chances in Florida:
"If President Barack Obama wins Florida, it will be thanks to an increase in Hispanic voters, according to leaders of the president's campaign in the state," CNN said.
"One week before Election Day and three days into early voting in the ever important battleground, Obama's Sunshine State director Ashley Walker told reporters during a pen and pad briefing that early turnout among Hispanics is up 50% from 2008 due to an increase in registration and enthusiasm in the community."
Here's what wasn't apparently mentioned: Obama's Hispanic numbers don't appear to be that rosy in Florida.
Public Policy Polling, a firm that typically surveys for Democrats, found that Obama was actually losing the Florida Hispanic vote 46-54 to Republican Mitt Romney. But it doesn't poll in Spanish, and the sample size was small. Two Mason-Dixon polls this weekend had mixed news for Obama. It showed him up 56-37 percent in the crucial I-4 corridor, but he was down 19-76 percent among Cuban voters in Miami-Dade. And they're amped to vote, casting about 44 percent of the 134,000 absentee ballots that have been mailed in so far.
Then there's SurveyUSA, which doesn't poll in Spanish like PPP, that showed Obama up over Romney among Hispanics in Florida, 58-32.
If the numbers are all over the place, there's a reason for it: The Florida Hispanic vote is not monolithic. Survey in one area (like Cuban-heavy South Florida or Puerto Rican-heavy Central Florida) and your poll can move right or left.
And the voter-registration data isn't so helpful, either.
Hispanics prefer the “no party affiliation” label to being Democrats or Republicans. Since 2008, the Hispanic voter rolls have grown 22 percent overall to 1.7 million, about 14 percent of the electorate. Hispanic no-party affiliation growth: 38 percent. Democratic growth: 22 percent. Republican growth: 7 percent.
So Hispanics prefer right now to be independents. And the polls almost universally agree: Romney's narrowly winning independents right now.
But polls are polls. And ground game is ground game. The best campaign will get its voters out. And it'll win, despite what the polls say.
We've been posting early and absentee-vote data (Democrats have a lead in ballots cast), and this poll is among the first that examines how those folks might vote. From SurveyUSA:
8 days until votes are counted in the election for President, the 5% of Florida voters who today are undecided will determine whether Mitt Romney or Barack Obama get the state’s critical 29 electoral votes, according to a SurveyUSA poll conducted for WFLA-TV in Tampa. Among Florida voters who have made up their minds, including a large number who have already returned a ballot, the contest is 47% Romney, 47% Obama.
Romney starts off 15 points in the hole: Obama leads 57% to 42% among voters who tell SurveyUSA they have already voted. But Romney leads by 13 points among the larger group of voters who tell SurveyUSA they will vote on Election Day. When the 2 groups are proportionally blended, the candidates finish exactly even.
Compared to a SurveyUSA poll released 11 days ago, which was conducted before the 3rd and final Presidential Debate, Romney is today up a nominal 1 point, Obama is flat. Today, Obama leads by 19 points in Southeast FL, but Romney leads in every other region of the state. Obama leads by 4 points among women, Romney leads by 5 points among men. Independents break 45% to 40% for Romney. Moderates break 51% to 41% for Obama. Romney leads among Florida’s white voters, is tied among Florida’s Cubans, and trails Obama among Florida’s other minority groups.
Romney leads by 18 points among seniors, who are the most reliable voters. This gives Romney an advantage heading into the final week of campaigning. If younger voters do not turn out in the numbers shown here, Obama will under-perform this poll.
Republican Mitt Romney began his day campaigning in Florida today, conducting a teleconference town hall meeting in which he reached voters via robo-call. Romney told listeners he was in Dayton, Ohio, “where it’s snowing” and will be "criss-crossing" Florida tomorrow (with a planned fly-around with former Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.)
Medicare and health care costs seemed to be on top of mind for many listeners. Callers were told the call would be recorded, so we listened in and took notes. Here are some excerpts.
Bonita asked about health care costs and Romney answered that the Obama administration has claimed that costs would go down $2,500 per family under his health care reform when in fact “they have gone up $2,500. That’s a huge burden,’’ he said.
“The answer, in my view, is not to have government step in and lower the reimbursement rates for Medicare” because that will lead to hospitals shifting the burden and raising the costs on everyone else.
He said the answer was “not to run health care like a government-run utility, like a monopoly, but instead to provide into healthcare more competition.”
CNN's latest ORC Florida poll is a lot like it's last one showing Mitt Romney beating President Obama by 1 point, inside the poll's error margin, among likely voters. The poll simultaneously backs up both campaigns' statements about the race.
On one hand, it shows Romney is winning, albeit marginally. On the other, the broader poll of just registered voters (those who don't describe themselves as likely to vote) shows Obama beating Romney 52-46. The Obama folks have complained the "screens" of these likely voter polls is stripping out its voters and, it says, it's turning out sporadic voters. The Romney folks say that's spin.
We'll see on Nov. 6. Or maybe the 7th, if there's a too-close-to-call election night.
In the first two days of in-person early voting, Florida Democrats wiped away a lead that Florida Republicans had run up thanks to the GOP's strong absentee-ballot program. In all, about 1.9 million ballots have been cast (about 16 percent of the 11.9 million voters)
As of this morning, Democrats cast a total of 73,000 more early in person ballots than Republicans, who had cast about 63,000 more absentee ballots, typically cast by mail. So it looks like a 10,000-vote edge for Democrats.
But it's probably smaller than that.
The Monday absentee ballot numbers aren't really updated because no mail is delivered Sunday. By averaging the daily percentage increases of the GOP absentee-vote lead, the total Democratic advantage could be as low as 2,000. Of course, it could be higher. This is just a projection.
If anyone wondered why the GOP-led Legislature reduced the number of in-person early-voting days in Florida, Saturday told you everything you needed to know.
Democrats turned out in force, casting about 49 percent of the roughly 300,000 votes in just 12 hours across the state. Republicans cast 35 percent of the in-person ballots.
Republicans prefer to vote by absentee ballots, which are typically mailed in. The GOP led Democrats by a whopping 66,000 ballots cast on Saturday. Democratic early voting cut that lead by 60 percent in a single day.
All told, 1.6 million Floridians had voted by Sunday morning.
And by Monday morning, when the previous day’s vote tallies are released, that number will grow by the hundreds of thousands. And there’s a chance Democrats could surpass Republicans in pre-Election Day ballots cast.
Sunday was a big day to get out the Democratic base — the black vote — as part of a “Souls to the Polls” rally. This was the only day available for after-church weekend voting because the Legislature eliminated early voting on the Sunday before Election Day.
“They’ve cut back the time, but they can’t cut back the line,” said the Rev. Al Sharpton, an MSNBC host and founder of the National Action Network, who stumped in South Florida this weekend.
“The lines are longer,” Sharpton said. “And they may be stronger.”
But the evidence of the longer, stronger lines also conflicts with a talking point from liberals: That the Legislature engaged in “voter suppression” by reducing the number of early-voting days from 14 to eight.
Before 2002, there was no early in-person voting at all. Since then, the Legislature has also expanded chances to cast absentee ballots in Florida. Absentee-ballot voting has gone on for almost a month. It’s easy to request and get one. Almost too easy.
So there’s plenty of time for anyone to cast a ballot (unless you’re a felon, which is a separate issue).
Meantime, conservatives are doing their own share of spinning.
The reduction of early voting hours was made in a package of legislative reforms designed to crack down on voter fraud. But the law didn’t touch absentee-ballot voting, which is the easiest way to commit voter fraud (and it’s not that easy to cast fake ballots, either, especially on a significant scale).
The GOP dominates absentee-ballot voting in Florida. So the GOP Legislature saw little reason to harm their vote-by-mail program. And when The Miami Herald began reporting about fraud issues related to absentee ballots in August, Republicans started complaining that the news media were trying to suppress the GOP vote.
Now that in-person and mail-in ballot voting is underway, there’s a wealth of new data for each side to complain and boast about.
PPP's newest Florida poll finds Barack Obama leading Mitt Romney 49/48, flipping the numbers from each of our last two polls of the state which found Romney leading by a point. Every poll PPP has conducted in the state since the first Presidential debate has found a one point race.
Obama's leading in Florida based on his strength with women (54/45), African Americans (89/10), and voters under 30 (55/39). Romney is strong with men (53/43), whites (57/39), and seniors (53/46). Romney also has narrow advantages with Hispanics (54/46) and independents (50/43).
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is heading to the University of Miami on Wednesday, according to the campaign.
The Romney visit will come just three days after a Miami Herald poll showed President Obama's numbers aren't where they need to be in Miami-Dade, Florida's most-populous county, County if he wants to carry the Sunshine State.
To win Florida, Obama needs a big lead in Miami-Dade, where Democrats outnumber Republicans by 15 percentage points, 44-29 percent. Obama won Miami-Dade by a 16-point margin in 2008.
A Sunday Miami Herald poll, however, shows Obama is only winning Miami-Dade by 9 percentage points. As of Sunday morning, after the first day of in-person early voting, Democrats narrowly led Republicans in all 153,000 ballots (absentee and in-person) cast, 42-40 percent in Miami-Dade.
Romney's strategy: keep Obama from running up big numbers in Southeast Florida, the most-liberal region of the state. Romney is winning in conservative North Florida and a Tampa Bay Times poll Sunday showed the Republican is carrying the center of the state, nicknamed the I-4 Corridor, 51-45 percent over Obama.
Obama visits the heart of the I-4 Corridor, Orlando, on Monday with former President Bill Clinton. Vice-President Joe Biden will visit some area of the state on Wednesday.
Assuming the schedule holds, Wednesday marks the second time Romney has visited the University of Miami. Florida is must-win for Romney. Obama, who doesn't need Florida as badly as Romney, has visited UM three times this year.
In just 12 hours of in-person early voting Saturday, Florida Democrats swamped the polls so heavily that they ran up a more than 39,000-vote margin over Republicans out of the nearly 300,000 votes that were cast at polling stations.
The Democratic vote was so big that it cut a Republican lead, built up during a month's worth of absentee-ballot voting, by about 60 percent. As of Saturday morning, Republicans were ahead of Democrats by nearly 66,000 absentee ballots cast, or 5 percentage points.
Factor in the day's worth of Democratic early voting, and that GOP lead is now just above 26,300, or 1.6 points. Add in Duval, whenever those numbers come in, and the GOP lead should be even smaller.
Here are the absentee and early vote ballots combined:
|Party||Total votes||Total %||REP edge|
The early vote numbers:
|Party||EV votes||EV%||DEM EV edge|
The absentee vote numbers:
|Party||AB votes||AB%||REP AB edge|
In the Democrats' favor: the eight days of early voting continues today. And It's the only Sunday of early voting, when African-Americans prefer to head to the polls after church for their "Souls to the Polls" rallies. The Legislature, in shortening the Democrat-heavy early voting days, eliminated the Sunday-before-Election Day early voting.