Florida Archives - Page 6 of 54 - SaintPetersBlog

High-flying ‘Noles, road warrior Gators offer entertaining basketball

While their bowl games are still about three weeks away, the athletic departments at both Florida and Florida State each have other quality products to showcase. Each of their men’s basketball teams have something to prove in 2016-17.

At the top of the to-do list is making the NCAA Tournament, something that has eluded both. Florida has missed the Big Dance the last two seasons while Florida State is enduring a four-year drought.

The Gators have been ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 for most of the season. This week, they came in just a few votes behind No. 25 Cincinnati. The Seminoles started the season there, fell out, and then returned this week at No. 23.

What is remarkable is the fact Florida has not played a home game yet this season and will not until December 21. The Stephen C. O’Connell Center is undergoing extensive renovations, forcing the Gators to play their games at other venues.

They have played in Jacksonville, Lakeland, Orlando, Tampa and next week in Sunrise. They played Duke in New York City and had true road games against FSU and North Florida.

On December 21, Florida will unveil what will be known as Exactech Arena at Stephen C. O’Connell Center when Little Rock comes to Gainesville.

After Sunday’s 83-78 loss to FSU in Tallahassee on Sunday, Florida dropped to 7-3. The losses have come against No. 5 Duke, No. 8 Gonzaga and FSU.

“We can sit here and complain about having to play on the road,” said Florida Coach Mike White. “I’m pretty happy we get to play on the road in the fall because that means we are about to move into a beautiful new facility. Also, it gives you advantages, opportunities to grow, to become more cohesive as we’re traveling and coming together.”

White is now in his second year and has some experienced players. Seniors Justin Leon and Kasey Hill are joined by juniors Devin Robinson and John Egbunu. Canyon Berry joins the team as a graduate transfer from the College of Charleston along with highly touted freshman Eric Hester.

On the other hand, Florida State has played eight of their 11 games at home in the Donald L. Tucker Center. Two games were in Brooklyn, NY and one in Washington, DC.

The Seminoles were ranked 25th when they let an 18-point, second half lead get away against Temple. Following Sunday’s close win over the Gators in Tallahassee, FSU stands at 10-1.

FSU Coach Leonard Hamilton is blessed to have some experience and some gifted players on his roster. Sophomore Dwayne Bacon and Freshman Jonathan Isaac are elite talents. Xavier Rathan-Mayes and Terrance Mann add skill and experience in the backcourt.

“We are going to be playing even faster this year,” said Bacon shortly before the season began. “We’ve got guys that can run the floor and the big guys can get up and down.”

While that is true, FSU is paying closer attention to its defense and it is making a difference.

(It should not be forgotten that both schools have outstanding women’s basketball teams as well.)

Florida State opens conference play on December 28 at home against Wake Forest while the Gators open on the road (of course) on December 29 at Arkansas.

The football Seminoles take on Michigan in the Orange Bowl on December 30 while Florida faces Iowa in the Outback Bowl on January 2.

It will then be OK to focus on basketball full time.


Florida’s death penalty, a never-ending fight between state, opponents

Convicted murderer Ronald B. Smith reportedly coughed and heaved for 13 minutes Thursday night as the state of Alabama carried out its execution of the condemned murderer.

What does this have to do with Florida?

Maybe plenty.

Florida has applied the death penalty with enthusiasm since it was reinstated here in 1976. The state has executed 92 individuals, trailing only Texas, Oklahoma and Virginia. There are 384 people currently are on death row and awaiting their turn on the lethal injection gurney.

However, thanks to various legal challenges for how the state imposes the death penalty and its method of completing the task, the pace of executions has stalled here. The state has executed only three people in the last two years, its slowest pace since 1996-97 and far below the 15 men Florida sent to the great beyond in 2014-15.

No one can say with any reasonable certainty who will be next. The case in Alabama almost certainly will have an impact here, though, as opponents will use it as an example of what can go wrong.

Ken Faulk, who witnessed the procedure for Al.com, reported that Smith’s execution took 34 minutes to complete. Faulk wrote:

“During 13 minutes of the execution, from about 10:34 to 10:47, Smith appeared to be struggling for breath and heaved and coughed and clenched his left fist after apparently being administered the first drug in the three-drug combination. At times his left eye also appeared to be slightly open.

“A Department of Corrections captain performed two consciousness checks before they proceeded with administering the next two drugs to stop his breathing and heart.”

Smith’s attorneys had challenged the Alabama execution law, claiming the drugs used might not fully sedate a condemned inmate. The drugs used in Florida executions also have been challenged in court.

The News Service of Florida reported this week that the state has been stockpiling the drug etomidate, a sedative that has never has been used in executions. Attorney General Pam Bondi also is challenging a state Supreme Court decision that a portion of the reworked sentencing law is unconstitutional.

Alabama plans to perform an autopsy on Smith’s body to determine what happened during his execution. Its findings could spur more legal challenges that would keep Florida’s death row population stable for the foreseeable future.

All of this comes at a time when public support for the death penalty is declining. Pew Research reported in September that 49 percent of Americans favor capital punishment, its lowest level in about four decades and far below the high-water mark of 80 percent in 1994.

Lethal injection, once seen as a humane way to kill inmates compared to the electric chair and other forms of execution, now is under siege. In his book “Gruesome Spectacles: Botched Executions and America’s Death Penalty,” Amherst College professor Austin Sarat identified 75 flawed executions by lethal injection – 7.12 percent of all those carried out.

He specified the 2006 Florida execution of Angel Diaz, which took 34 minutes to complete after the needle inserted into his vein came out the other side. That prompted then-Gov. Jeb Bush to suspend executions.

Whatever the outcome of this latest misadventure with the death penalty, don’t expect things to change in Florida. The state will keep fighting to execute people, and opponents will keep fighting to stop it. That’s the only certainty here for capital punishment.

Florida concealed weapon license popularity skyrocketing

The number of people licensed to carry concealed weapons in Florida has tripled since President Barack Obama took office in 2009 and now represents almost one of every 13 Floridians.

That ratio includes an undetermined number in the millions of Floridians who are not eligible for concealed weapons licenses, such as children, people convicted of certain, disqualifying felonies, or other legally-disqualified people. Among qualified holders, the proportion of Florida residents who are licensed to carry guns in public now is likely closer to one of every 10 Floridians.

The rapidly-growing popularity of concealed guns in Florida will again be a factor in the Legislative Session this year, as pro-gun lawmakers again seek to expand rights for gun-toting citizens. This week state Rep. Scott Plakon, the Longwood Republican, introduced another bill seeking to eliminate the ban on concealed guns on colleges.

One thing is certain: concealed weapons are skyrocketing in popularity in the Sunshine State.

At the end of November, Florida was counting 1.68 million valid concealed weapons licenses, according to data provided by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which manages gun licenses, and analyzed by FloridaPolitics.com.

The license total includes a couple hundred thousand out-of-staters. But records show more than 1.46 million Florida residents are currently licensed to carry guns in public.

Under current Florida law, they can carry them, concealed, anywhere, except into law enforcement stations, courthouses, jails, polling places, schools, governing meetings such as Florida Legislature meetings, bars, airports, federal offices, or colleges and universities, plus a few obscure places defined in details of Florida law.

Florida’s concealed weapon licenses total is up from 511,868 in 2008, a total that included an unavailable number of out-of-state licensees.

The surge in popularity actually predates Obama’s inauguration in 2009, or any recent fears that gun-owners might feel about Democrats’ taking their guns away. The state has seen double-digit increases in the numbers of license approvals every year since 2005.

Not surprisingly, the licenses are generally most popular in rural counties. In Dixie County, in the Big Bend region of Florida’s Nature Coast, about one of every six residents has a license to carry a concealed gun, according to state license and Census bureau data. Several other largely rural counties such as Holmes, Jackson, Wakulla, and Suwannee also have significant ratios of concealed gun licenses per capita.

Yet so do a handful of semi-suburban counties. Outside of Jacksonville, better than one out of every ten Clay and Nassau counties’ residents could be packing. The same is true in Lake County outside of Orlando.

Among urban counties, only Duval and Lee have concealed weapon license rates higher than the state average. In Miami-Dade, one of every 21 people can legally carry. In Orange and Broward, it’s one out of 17; Hillsborough, one out of 16; and in Pinellas and Palm Beach, one out of 15.

Three-quarters of the licenses are held by men, and a quarter by women. They’re most popular among people over the age of 50, according to state data.

Outback Bowl to be headlined by defenses of Florida, Iowa

Can a football game be won with negative points?

If so, this year’s Outback Bowl might qualify.

The Florida Gators have a dreadful offense. And it’s still better than Iowa’s. The Gators are 115h in the nation on offense, and Iowa is 120th. It will not be a fireworks show.

Still, both teams are 8-4, and both have significant wins on their resume. The Gators beat LSU on the road with a goal line stand; Iowa beat Michigan.

For a change, the Gators would like to finish strong. They were blown out by Michigan in last year’s Citrius Bowl. Once again, Florida enters its bowl game after losing games to rivals FSU and, in the SEC title game, Alabama. In its last two games, the Gators have given up 85 points.

“Obviously playing a team that’s on a roll right now,” Gators’ coach Jim McElwain said. “You don’t go for a participation ribbon. I’m not sure a year ago we didn’t have some guys in there looking for a participation ribbon. To me that speaks volumes really about each person’s character that was involved in that event. Speaking personally, I was embarrassed. And yet, you know what, it happens. It happens at a lot of programs. But this is one that they’ve got to understand we’re representing the Gators and that’s different.

“We’ll be ready to go play.”


For the Gators, stopping receiver Akrum Wadley will be key. The Gators have the corners in Teez Tabor and Quincy Wilson to help do it.

The game is Jan 2. at 1 p.m. In Tampa.

Steve Schale: Florida early vote, a retrospective

It is time for one last big data piece on Florida 2016.

For about 18 hours a day over 2+ weeks, I found myself living and breathing early voting data. So now that all the data have been reported from counties, I wanted to look back at some assumptions, and compare them to the actual voting data.

Before I begin, there are five things to keep in mind:

1. Every time I talk in percentages, those percentages are relative to the two-party, i.e., Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton numbers. I have no use or interest in playing the “what if” questions around third-party votes, so the data in here is just the two-party vote. For what it is worth, this is standard for my blogs.

2. I compiled this data over the entire month of November, often by pestering counties to provide data they don’t have on their website. Some of the data came before the final, final certified versions, so there might be exceptionally slight variances — like tens of votes in a county — from the state final counts. However, there is nothing that happened so significant to change any findings.

3. When I talk about early voting, that is both in-person and vote by mail combined, unless I specify otherwise.

4. For the sake of interpreting the data, everything that wasn’t an in-person or traditional vote by mail ballot was allocated to Election Day. So this means that there are likely provisional from in-person early, and VBM, as well as late military ballots in Election Day. I don’t think the impact of this is significant, but I’m flagging it regardless.

5. We know how people voted on Election Day, but we do not know yet who voted on Election Day. In terms of firm lessons and take-aways, some of that should wait.

And since I was wrong about the outcome, before we get started, here were some of my macro-assumptions going into Election Day.

When early voting started, I thought presidential turnout would fall about 9.2 million votes. Because of early vote turnout, and based on who was left to vote on Election Day — namely voters who voted on Election Day in 2012, I modified that projection to 9.5 million late during the second week of early voting, and assuming 3 percent of those would vote for someone else, this meant slightly over 9.2 million would vote for either Trump or Clinton.

I was assuming going into Election Day, we were at about 67-68 percent of our total turnout, and while the Democrats had a 96,000 lead among registered voters heading into Election Day, I was operating from a place that her lead was between 3-4 percent, largely due to the overwhelmingly diverse nature of the NPA vote, which would put her raw vote lead between 180-250K votes.

This meant Trump had to win Election Day, on the low-end by about 5.8 percent to upper end of 8 percent, just to break-even. Both numbers are above Mitt Romney’s Election Day win in 2012 (I can’t remember John McCain, but I suspect it is above McCain as well).

Here are two other things baked into my assumptions: Republicans had about 100,000 more “certain” voters left to vote, though when you looked at just 2012 voters, the number was about 40K.

So worst-case scenario, Democratic turnout struggled and only the certain voters turnout. the R versus D lands about even for the entire election, and the early vote strength combined with a more diverse NPA vote would carry the day. I think my final memo pegged her winning Florida by about 1.5 percent, which was about 130K votes, meaning on the more optimistic view of Clinton’s early vote lead, Trump could still win Election Day by more than Romney, and she’d still win.

Since Trump is a golfer, I described his challenge on Election Day in golf terms: a 250 yard shot over water.

So here are the toplines:

— 9.42 million Floridians cast a ballot for President. For what it is worth, 9.58 million Floridians cast a ballot, though it was only 9.3 million in the Senate race.

— 9,122,861 Floridians voted for either Trump or Clinton in 2016.

— Trump’s margin was about 113K votes, or roughly 1.2 percent out of the two-party voters.

— 69.3 percent of the vote was cast before Election Day.

— Of the VBM/early vote, Clinton won by just over 247K votes — roughly a 4 point edge (she won both VBM and early vote)

— On Election Day, Trump won by 360K, or a roughly 13 point margin over Clinton.

Toplines versus basic assumptions:

Turnout on Election Day was slightly lower than I expected, by about 80-100K votes. Given that my projection was based largely on the number of 2012 voters who had yet to vote, it was almost certainly lower because some share of 2012 Election Day Democrats didn’t show up, and, more than likely, another share voted for Trump. This is the big question I will be looking at when the state updates the final 2016 voter file.

Clinton’s nearly 250K vote lead was actually at the upper-end of my projections. Honestly, this surprised me. I suspected some of my optimism in the numbers leading up to the election was misplaced, and honestly thought as I put numbers into Excel, that we’d see she had gone into Election Day with a narrower lead. However, almost everything was landing right on target for her to win. As I get more into this, and look at some of the benchmarks I tracked throughout, you can see the pattern for my optimism going into Election Day.

However, Trump just crushed Election Day. There is no other way to look at it. And as I discussed in the first look back at the numbers, it really happened in just a handful of places: namely the Tampa and Orlando media markets. For example, his two-party vote share was 8.39 percent higher on Election Day (56.44) than Early Vote. (48.05), but in Tampa it was up 8.92 percent (51.5 percent EV, 60.42 ED), and Orlando was up 9.08 percent (48.8 percent EV, 57.88 percent ED). Less than 3 million voted for Bush or Clinton on Election Day, yet he won the day by 360K votes.

How big is that? Bush won Florida in 2004 by landslide for Florida proportions: 380K votes — out of 7.6 million cast. Trump’s Election Day margin almost matched it.


For most of early voting, I tracked a variety of benchmarks, namely Hillsborough (the only county that voted for Bush and Obama both times), the I-4 corridor counties, South Florida and #Duuuval county.

So, for the sake of this exercise, let’s start there:


Clinton went into Election Day with about a 29K partisan advantage among early voters, or a partisan lead of about 6.8 percent.

When the votes were cast, she carried the early voting period almost 44,000 votes, or almost 11 percent of the two-party vote. Trump won Election Day by just under 2 points, or right at 3,000 votes, so when all was done, Clinton carried the county by 41,000 votes. The final percentage margin, 6.8 percent was almost the same as Obama, and her raw vote win was about 5,000 votes larger.

The county was a little below where it should have been for turnout. Hillsborough is typically about 6. percent f the statewide vote, but it landed at 6.3 percent, largely because its Election Day share was down — only 29 percent of Hillsborough votes came on Election Day.

Long and short of it, Hillsborough could have been a little better, but that number is right at what a win for Democrats looks like.

I-4 Corridor

Hillary Clinton won the I-4 counties by almost 162K votes, but here the Trump surge on Election Day is very evident. She won these counties by almost 200,000 votes in the early/vbm phase, yet Trump won Election Day by almost 35,000 votes. Overall, Clinton won the early phase with 56.3 percent of the two-party vote, though only won 47.3 percent of the Election Day vote — a surge which exceeded his statewide average.

When you look at the Volusia and Polk numbers, you can see the seeds of how Trump won on Election Day. Compared to the state, both saw their Election Day turnout levels exceed Early Vote — with 34 percent of the Volusia vote coming on Election Day, and over 40 percent for Polk. Once fairly Democratic Volusia has been the canary in the coal mine for a few cycles — there is a reason I’ve highlighted it in blogs for years. If I was going to do qualitative research into 2016, I’d start with focus groups in Volusia.

Pinellas is a slightly different kind of animal, but his Election Day performance is probably indicative of late deciders breaking almost exclusively for Trump. Had the FBI Director not chosen to insert himself into the campaign with a week to ago, I suspect Clinton would have carried Pinellas (albeit very narrowly).

In total, 24.1 percent of the statewide vote came from these counties, of which 70.6 percent of the vote came before Election Day. Another way to look at it: while only 29.4 percent of the total vote from these counties came in on Election Day, 33.4 percent of Trumps’ vote total from these counties came in on Election Day. I suspect when Election Day voter data comes out, we will see a cratering of minority participation.

Volusia (Daytona)

Final early vote party spread: 39.6 R, 37.1 D, 23.3 NPA R + 4,302
Actual early vote spread: Trump +8.88 percent (+14,754 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Trump +22.28 percent (+19,162 votes)
Results: Trump +33,916 (54.3-41.4 percent). In 12, Romney was +2700 (+1.15 percent)

Seminole — suburban Orlando

Final early vote party spread: 41.0 R, 35.0 D, 24.0 NPA R +10,316
Actual Early Vote spread: Clinton +1.84 percent (+2,989 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Trump +12.36 percent (+6,518 votes)
Results: Trump +3,529 votes (48.1-46.5 percent). In 12, Romney was +13,500 (+6.5 percent)

Orange (Orlando)

Final early party spread: 45.8 D, 29.5 R, 24.7 NPA D +67,155
Actual Early Vote spread: Clinton +29.71 percent (+116,949 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Clinton +13.49 percent (+17.729 votes)
Final spread: Clinton +134,678 votes (59.7 percent-35.4 percent). In 2012, Obama was +85,000 (+18.2 percent)

Osceola — heavy Hispanic suburban Orlando.

Final early vote party spread: 47.1 D, 26.2 R, 26.7 NPA D + 22,625
Actual Early Vote spread: Clinton +29.71 percent (+30,645 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Clinton +13.98 percent (+4,512 votes)
Results: Clinton: +35,157 votes (60.4-30.6 percent). In 2012, Obama was roughly +27K (+24.4 percent)

Imperial Polk — between Tampa/Orlando

Final Early Vote Party Spread: 39.6 R, 39 D, 21.4 NPA R +1,085
Actual Early Vote Spread: Trump +7.55 percent (+12,424 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Trump +25.01 percent (+27,573 votes)
Results: Trump +13.94 percent (+39,997 votes). In 2012, Romney was +19K votes (+6.8 percent)

Hillsborough (See Above)

Pinellas (Clearwater/St. Pete)

Final early vote party spread: 38.5 R, 38.2 D, 23.3 NPA D +752
Actual early vote spread: Clinton +4.58 percent (+14,460 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Trump +12.72 percent (+19,960 votes)
Results: Trump +1.1 percent (+5,500 votes). In 2012, Obama won by about 26K votes (+5.5 percent)

South Florida

Going into Election Day, there was almost nothing that I didn’t feel good about in South Florida, and here is why: 87.7 percent of the entire 2012 election turnout voted early in Dade. In Broward, it was a respectable 81 percent. In fact, 11.9 percent of all early votes came in from Dade (should be 10.3 percent), and Broward was at 9.65 percent (should have been 8.75 percent).

And then Election Day happened. The issue here was different from I-4. Trump’s share of the two-party vote in Broward and Dade went from 32 percent to 38.7 percent, a growth of 6.7 percent, which while significant, is lower than his statewide average increase of 8.4 percent. What happened on Election Day is people didn’t vote. Statewide, 30.7 percent of the vote came on Election Day — in Broward and Dade, it was 23.2 percent. Another way of looking at it: these two counties made up 21.5 percent of early vote, and only 14.7 of Election Day

That said, these two counties both exceeded their projected share of the statewide vote, as well as set records for vote margins. Democrats cannot blame losing on Broward and Dade not doing their jobs.

On the flip side, I was concerned about Palm Beach County the entire early vote period. Even in my last memo, I called Palm Beach a “red flag” largely due to lagging turnout. While the Democratic margins were good, Palm Beach was only 5.9 percent of the statewide early vote, and it should have been 7 percent. Well it turned out on Election Day — 41.1 percent of the total Palm Beach County vote came in on Election Day, making up 9.5 percent of the total statewide vote, the biggest single jump in the state. And it was a Trump vote that showed up: after running up a 95K vote lead in the early vote, Clinton won Election Day by just over 7K.

When it boils down to it, Clinton won the county by about the same vote margin as Obama in 2012 (which was down from 08), but her vote share was down. Frankly going forward, Palm Beach is a place where Democrats need to up their game.

Palm Beach

Final early vote party spread: 47.3 D, 28.4 R, 24.3 NPA D +74,728
Actual early vote spread: Clinton +24.9 percent (+94,888 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Clinton +2.78 (+7,383 votes)
Results: Clinton +15.1 percent (+102,271 votes). In 2012, Obama won by just over 102K (+17 percent).


Final early vote party spread: 55.4 D, 21.7 R, 22.9 NPA D +212,077
Actual early vote spread: Clinton +41.7 percent (+254,391 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Clinton +18.6 (+37,978 votes)
Results: Clinton +34.9 percent (+292,369 votes). In 2012, Obama won by 264K votes (+34.9 percent)


Final early vote party spread: 43.9 D, 29.2 R, 26.9 NPA D +114,767
Actual early vote spread: Clinton +34.4 percent (+234,758 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Clinton +26.7 percent (+55,389 votes)
Results: Clinton +29.4 percent (+290,147 votes). In 2012, Obama won by 208.5K votes (+23.6 percent)


Clinton had one job in Duval, keep it manageable. If you had given the Clinton campaign the option of spotting Trump a 20,000-vote win in Duval in exchange for both campaigns walking away, I would have urged them to take it. After all, this is a county where Bush in 04 won by 61,000 votes, and given that Trump exceeded the Bush 04 margins in most counties, running up a big number here was a real possibility.

But she did her job here, plus some. In keeping Trump’s Duval margins under 6,000 votes, she had the best showing in Duval for a presidential Democratic candidate since Jimmy Carter, and she held Trump well below the Marco Rubio numbers, who won the county by 70,000 votes. If #NeverTrump succeeded anywhere, it was in Duval.

Final early vote party spread: 42.5D, 41.1 R, 16.4 NPA D +4,279
Actual early vote spread: Clinton +1.9 percent (+5.439 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Trump +8.9 percent (+11,407 votes)
Results: Trump +1.4 percent (+5,968 votes). In 2012, Romney won by 15K votes (+3.6 percent)

Final Thoughts

There isn’t much more to say — Clinton had the race where it needed to be, and Trump won it on Election Day.

First, one quick note on the votes before Election Day. Democrats had about 1.5 percent edge in the voters who had voted either in-person early or a vote by mail ballot, yet she won the early voting period by almost 4 percent. This was likely due to her over-performing with NPAs, given that nonwhite voters made up 37 percent of NPA voters (compared to 33 percent of partisans).

I suspect what we will see when the Election Day voter data comes out that white NPA participation was quite high, balancing out the racial makeup of the NPA voter to look more like the electorate at-large.

So where did Trump really win it? The data from the early vote/Election Day totals confirms my first glance: This was a win primarily in suburban/exurban I-4.

Here’s why.

Start with my favorite analogy, Florida as a scale. The GOP media market buckets (Pensacola, Panama City, Jacksonville and Fort Myers) and the Dem buckets (Tallahassee, Gainesville, West Palm and Miami) largely balance themselves out, and I-4 tilts it one way or the other. This year, in their core markets, Republicans did much better on Election Day than the Democrats, winning them by 188K votes, compared to the Democrats only winning theirs by 70K, carrying a margin of roughly 120K votes out of their core markets.

However, Democrats went into Election Day with a bigger margin, having crushed the Republicans in early vote, by almost 260K votes. In fact, Clinton’s 141K final margin over Trump in the core partisan markets was a few thousand votes higher than Barack Obama in 2012.

Then we get to I-4, and this time, we look at it not as just as the counties on I-4, but every county in the two media markets. Going into Election Day, I-4 was balanced, with Trump holding a 11K vote lead. But on Election Day, Trump won by 242K votes. In other words, 95.5 percent of Trump’s total margin in the Tampa and Orlando media markets came on Election Day. In total, Trump won 59 percent of the two-party vote in the Tampa and Orlando media markets on Election Day.

And of those 242K votes, 200K of that margin came from the nonurban counties in the media market, in other words. Just on Election Day.

And while it is true that Republicans always do better on Election Day, his Election Day “improvement”, particularly in the Tampa media markets, far exceeded Romney.

For example, in Pasco, his vote share was 7.69 percent higher on Election Day than in Early Vote, whereas Romney was 2.59 percent higher, or 5.1 percent greater than Romney. In Polk, he was also 5.1 percent higher, Seminole 5.1 percent, Sarasota 5.4 percent, and Pinellas 7.2 percent. We saw similar things in the outlying counties in the Palm Beach market, where in St. Lucie, his vote share was 11.1 percent higher on Election Day, a 5.2 percent increase on Romney, and in Martin County, where his Election Day improvement was 6.3 percent higher than Romney.

I could keep writing on this, but until we get actual voter data from Election Day back, there isn’t much else to add. I will do a piece on my thoughts on where the Democrats should go from here sometime in the next few weeks, but as I mentioned in my last piece, the Trump loss, at least regionally, looks a lot like the Bush win in 04 — and there is a road map for how to reverse it (see Obama).

And again, I don’t think it is as simple as Republicans had more voters left to vote, because best case scenario, that number was only about 100,000 more voters. No, this almost surely a cratering of Democratic turnout, all Election Day deciders going to Trump, and an Election Day surge contributing to the comeback.

The combination of two disliked candidates, Trump’s success at driving the narrative into the ground, and all the late-breaking issues going to Trump, it ended up being the perfect storm Nov. 8, or in Trump’s case, the perfect 3-wood over water to that green 250 yards away.

And I lied in the first sentence — I’ll be back once we have the full voter file with Election Day voters. Until then, happy holidays, unless you are a Jags fan, because we will surely all get a Gus Bradley extension for Christmas.

12 of this year’s college Bowl games that are worth watching

Bowls, bowls, everywhere bowls.

There are Taxslayer Bowls and Nova Home Bowls and Motel 6 Bowls. There’s a Potato Bowl and a Poinsettia Bowl and a Popeye’s Bowl. There are Bowls on every day of the week.

But which ones should you watch?

A dozen bowls you shouldn’t miss.

1. National Championship Game, Jan. 9, Tampa, Fla.: Will it be an Alabama-Clemson rematch? Will it be Nick Saban vs. Urban Meyer? Can the maligned Washington Huskies sneak through? This is the one with all the hype, the one that relegates the other bowls to supporting actors.

2. National Championship semifinal, Jan. 2, Fiesta Bowl, Glendale, Arizona: Most of the noise will follow defending champion Alabama, but the Clemson-Ohio State game is better with quarterbacks Deshaun Watson and J.T. Barrett. Both have had closer games than you might expect, but both have plenty of firepower.

3. National Championship semifinal, Jan. 2, Peach Bowl, Atlanta, Ga.: Is this Saban’s finest team? Certainly, it might be his finest defense. If that defense is sharp, it shouldn’t have a major problem with Washington, which got to the playoffs despite a weak out-of-conference schedule. Alabama has opened as a  14-point favorite.

4. USC vs. Penn State, Rose Bowl, Jan. 2, Pasadena: Penn State remains outraged it wasn’t invited to the playoffs. Against USC, the Lions play another one of the hottest teams in the nation, however. Penn State has won nine straight games and USC has won eight. USC’s Sam Darnold and Penn State’s Trace McSorley combined for 51 touchdown passes.

5. FSU-Michigan, Orange Bowl, Dec. 30, Miami: Start the conversation with Jimbo vs. Jim, two fiery coaches who were both fined for their outbursts this season. Throw in Dalvin Cook and Deondre Francois of FSU and Wilton Speight and Jabrill Peppers of Michigan. Michigan, the No. 5 team in the country, will be favored.

6. LSU vs. Louisville, Citrus Bowl, Dec. 31, Orlando, Fla.: LaMar Jackson has lost some of his early-season momentum, but he still might win the Heisman. LSU’s excellent defense will try to slow him down, and hope Leonard Fournette can break one.

7. Okahoma State vs. Colorado, Alamo Bowl, Dec. 29, San Antonio, Texas: Oklahoma State is ranked 12th, Colorado 10th. That promises an even match-up that should be entertaining to watch. Quarterbacks Mason Rudolph of OSU and Sefo Liufau of Colorado lead their teams.

8. Houston vs. San Diego State, Dec. 17, Las Vegas Bowl, Las Vegas, Nev.: One of the season’s finest early-Bowl games. Houston has Greg Ward Jr. and San Diego State moves behind running back Donnel Pumphrey, who has gotten mention for the Heisman. Don’t care about who wins: Just watch.

9. Stanford vs. North Carolina, Dec. 30, Sun Bowl, El Paso, Texas: Yes, both teams could have been better this year. But with North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky and Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey, there should be enough offense to make fans watch.

10. Iowa vs. Florida, Outback Bowl, Jan. 2, Tampa, Fla.: If you’re interested in offensive fireworks, this isn’t the game for you. But Florida had enough defense to get past LSU this year, and Iowa had enough to get past Michigan. Could the Gators give a freshman quarterback playing time? Maybe.

11. Auburn vs. Oklahoma, Sugar Bowl, Jan. 2, New Orleans, La.: Oklahoma ended the season hot, and if not for an early-season loss to Ohio State (one of their two losses), the team could be in the playoff conversation. Auburn lost momentum late, but remains talented.

12. USF vs. South Carolina, Birmingham Bowl, Dec. 29, Birmingham, Ala.: It will be intriguing to see how the high-scoring Bulls fare against an SEC foe coached by defensive whiz Will Muschamp. USF’s offense ranks No. 5 in the nation in rushing (291.8 yard per game), No. 7 in scoring (43.6 points per game) and No. 10 in total offense (515.1 yards per game).

FSU to play Michigan in Orange Bowl; Florida meets Iowa in Outback

Jimbo Fisher vs. Jim Harbaugh.

As explosive as these two are, a bomb squad may have to officiate this year’s Orange Bowl.

The bowl schedule was announced Sunday afternoon, including a meeting between Harbaugh’s Michigan team against Fisher’s FSU team to be played on Dec. 30. Both Fisher and Harbaugh were fined for criticizing officials this season.

Other bowl games including Florida teams include Florida vs. Iowa in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 2, Miami vs. West Virginia in the Russell Athletic Bowl on Dec. 28, USF vs. South Carolina in the Birmingham Bowl on Dec. 29 and Central Florida vs. Arkansas State in the Cure Bowl on Dec. 17.

Penn State makes case for playoffs; Florida bowls nearly set

With Penn State’s thrilling 38-31 come-from-behind victory over Wisconsin in the Big 10 Championship Game on Saturday, the controversy over who gets the fourth spot in the College Football Playoffs (CFP) has already begun. While the four teams will be announced on Sunday, the debate will linger through the new year, no matter what happens.

Most are expecting the Nittany Lions (11-2) to head to the Rose Bowl to face Colorado with Wisconsin playing in the Cotton Bowl against Western Michigan of the Mid-American Conference. However, plenty believe Penn State should get the fourth CFP spot over Ohio State and they have some sound reasoning to back up the claim.

The Nittany Lions are the champions of a Power Five conference while Ohio State was unable to even reach the title game. The Buckeyes (11-1) were denied that opportunity when they lost to Penn State on October 23.

The job of the CFP selection committee would have been much easier if Clemson had lost to Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game in Orlando. Despite a spirited comeback, the Hokies fell just short, 42-35, locking in the Tigers for one of the four spots.

If Penn State somehow earns the selection to the playoffs, Ohio State would head to Pasadena, Calif. for the Rose Bowl. No matter what happens, one side or the other will believe they were robbed.

If Ohio State is selected, calls to change the rules will begin Sunday afternoon. More than a few hold the belief that CFP participants must be conference champions.

Saturday began with even more uncertainty surrounding bowls. There was concern that if Navy won the American Athletic Conference championship, several bowl assignments would be delayed while waiting to see if Navy could qualify for the Cotton Bowl bid. Temple’s 34-10 defeat of the Midshipmen in the American Conference Championship Game ended that concern.

With Saturday’s results, Florida’s nine bowls are now taking shape. While the projections are just that, the matchups are likely set.

Florida is expected to play Nebraska in the Outback Bowl while Florida State and Michigan are pointed toward an Orange Bowl showdown. Georgia Tech and Tennessee look to tangle in Jacksonville’s TaxSlayer Bowl and LSU is expected to come to Orlando to face Louisville in the Citrus Bowl.

Miami and West Virginia will meet in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando while Houston and Western Kentucky are slated for the Boca Raton Bowl. Houston was a top 15 team at one point before hitting a late-season tailspin.

South Florida is likely to remain close to home in the St. Petersburg Bowl to face Army. UCF will also remain near its fan base where it will face South Alabama in the Cure Bowl. Memphis and Central Michigan will play in the Miami Beach Bowl.

It promises to be an interesting Sunday afternoon in college football.

Alabama swamps Florida in SEC Championship game

The University of Alabama defense was too good for Florida quarterback Austin Appleby to overcome Saturday afternoon.

Appleby threw for 261 yards and two touchdowns against the Tide, but he also threw three interceptions and the Tide rolled over the Gators, 54-16, Saturday. The Tide, the only major unbeaten team in the country, outscored Florida 21-0 in the second half to pull away.

On this night, it is hard to believe that Florida’s greatest quarterbacks — Steve Spurrier, Danny Wuerffel or Tim Tebow — would have dented the Alabama defense very much.

Is this how second place feels? Or is this how, say, Kentucky feels?

Alabama had been a 24-point favorite going into the game. It turns out that wasn’t enough.

Florida took a quick 7-0 lead, but the Gators were overwhelmed by an Alabama team that scored on offense, on defense and on special teams in the victory.

The Gators ran the ball 32 times, but had zero yards rushing (counting sacks, which counts against the run in college football).

“Obviously, you’re not going to beat anybody giving them the ball four times,” Florida coach Jim McElwain said. “Especially against the team Nick Saban has put together. which I feel is the best top-to-bottom he’s put together.”

McElwain agreed the Gators have to find a quarterback. “It’s something we’ve got to do, and we’ve got to make sure it happens sooner or later.”

Alabama’s Bo Scarbrough had 91 yards and two scores. As a team, the Tide outrushed Florida 234-0.

The Tide has been considered to be one of the best teams of all-time. They led the nation in defense and rushing defense this season.

“I was really proud of the way our guys came out in the second half and played,” Alabama coach Nick Saban told CBS after the game. “This was a great win for our team. Florida’s got a good team. They got a little worn out in the game. Jim (McElwain) is doing a great job there.”

McElwain still has to break through against top-flight competition, however. He is 2-7 against ranked team.

“You don’t always get what you want in life, but you mostly get what you deserve,” Saban said. “And these guys have done a fantastic job all season long in winning 13 games and deserve to win the SEC.”

The 54 points were the second-most ever given up by Florida, behind only Nebraska in the 1995 Fiesta Bowl.

Alabama will probably be the top seed going into the playoffs, announced today. Florida will hope for a good bowl game.

The Predictions: Florida can’t score enough to stay with Bama

The way analysts talk about the Alabama Crimson Tide, you don’t know whether they are preparing for the College Football Playoffs or the ones reserved for the NFL.

They may be the best team ever, say some analysts. They are so No. 1 that their second-string may be No. 2. They are bulletproof and can stop speeding trains.

On the other hand, Alabama beat Ole Miss by five.

They beat LSU by 10.

So are they are unbeatable? Of course not. No one is. For Florida, which plays them in today’s SEC title game, that’s something.

Alabama had to rally from a 24-3 deficit to beat Ole Miss this year. They barely got to the end zone against LSU.

The keys to beating Alabama, of course, are to hit them early and often. It is to match their greatness on defense. It is to get turnovers and dominate field position. It is to put them into a rare dogfight and hope you can make the final play.

That may be hard for the Gators, who rank only 114th in total offense. Still, it would help Florida to try to strike early. It doesn’t want to get into a field position battle with the Tide, who have worn down most teams. They’ve scored 384 points this season.

With their No. 1-ranked defense, it’s doubtful if Florida can score enough to stay in the game for very long.

Prediction: Alabama 31, Florida 13

The Pros

Broncos at Jaguars

This was supposed to be a turnaround season for Gus Bradley and the Jags. Instead, the critics are asking for Bradley’s job. Unless the Jags can go 3-2, they won’t even equal last season’s totals. And playing the defending Super Bowl champions won’t help.

Prediction: Denver 24, Jacksonville 17

Dolphins at Ravens

Both teams have found their way after early season struggles. The Dolphins are in the playoff hunt at 7-4. The Ravens are tied in the AFC North with Pittsburgh. The thought here is that the Ravens will be able to control Jay Ajayi just enough to win at home.

Prediction: Baltimore 34, Miami 28

Tampa Bay at San Diego

The Bucs have been playing their best football in several seasons. Still, this one will be a chore with the diverse attack of the Chargers against their defense. Still, San Diego doesn’t play as well on the other side of the ball.

Prediction: Tampa Bay 23, San Diego 21

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