October 30, 2014

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

@MarcACaputo

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

@MarcACaputo

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.

Almost 2.4m in FL have voted, GOP lead and margin-rate slightly sliding to Democrats

@MarcACaputo

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).

October 29, 2014

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

@MarcACaputo

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  

October 28, 2014

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

@MarcACaputo

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

@MarcACaputo

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. 

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

 

1.8m in FL have voted; Dems win early voting, continue to eat into GOP ballot lead

@MarcACaputo

South Florida in-person early voting turnout might have been relatively lighter than expected this weekend, but Democrats for the first time this election still topped Republicans in pre-Election Day ballot casting at the polls in the entire state.

But, thanks to strong vote-by-mail absentee ballot returns, Republicans still lead Democrats in overall early voting: 138,572 of the more than 1.8 million ballots cast as of this morning. In relative terms, the GOP is up 7.6 percentage points.

Either way, the GOP lead over Democrats has been shrinking. Yesterday it was about 147,000 or 8.4 percentage points.

Continue reading "1.8m in FL have voted; Dems win early voting, continue to eat into GOP ballot lead" »

October 26, 2014

South Florida's early voting weekend is a warning sign for Charlie Crist

@MarcACaputo

Saturday and Sunday marked the first chance for voters to head to the early voting polls on a weekend, a time when Democrats could really show in force and put a big dent in Republicans’ lead in casting pre-Election Day ballots.

But there was no huge surge in Democrat-rich Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

Intriguingly in the three counties, the total number of people who early voted Saturday was greater than Sunday – the day when black voters were expected to have the first of two “Souls to the Polls” voting events after church.

Some Democrats are starting to panic. It’s an understandable feeling. Mid-term election turnout in the big three urban counties is historically abysmal, which is a major reason why Republicans hold every statewide elected office but one. 

This is a warning sign for Democrat Charlie Crist. 

Continue reading "South Florida's early voting weekend is a warning sign for Charlie Crist" »

1.75m FL ballots already cast; GOP lead strong -- but slightly slipping to Dems

@MarcACaputo

Nearly 1.75 million Floridians have cast absentee and in-person early votes as of Sunday morning with Republicans still well in front of Democrats when it comes to pre-Election Day voting.

Total GOP lead over Democrats: 147,162, or 8.4 percentage points.

Yesterday's GOP lead was ever-so-slightly larger: 147,186, or about 9.2 percentage points.

Democrats will gloat that they're on a good trajectory and that the Republican margin now is smaller at this time in the election than in 2010. Republicans will take comfort in knowing Democrats are nowhere near their 2012 numbers, that a lead is a lead and that with the first full weekend day of in-person early voting, Democrats are still losing in this category of getting people to the polls.

Sunday's a bigger test, as black churches and activists hold their first "Souls to the Polls" rallies. The bigger one, they say, should be next Sunday -- right before Election Day.

Prior posts on early and absentee voting can be found here. And here are today's numbers by absentee, early vote and both votes combined:

PARTY     EV         %
REP     171,007 42%
DEM     169,088 42%
IND       66,309 16%
TOTAL     406,404  
     
     
     
PARTY       AB's     %
REP     629,492 47%
DEM     484,249 36%
IND     229,515 17%
TOTAL  1,343,256  
     
     
     
PARTY    EVAB      %
REP     800,499 46%
DEM     653,337 37%
IND     295,824 17%
TOTAL  1,749,660