Florida Archives - Page 6 of 50 - SaintPetersBlog

It’s likely to be a close election in Florida, again

Another close election in Florida? Count on it.

Through Friday, 2,268,663 Democrats and 2,261,383 Republicans had cast ballots by mail or at early voting sites – a difference of 7,280 in favor of Democrats. Overall, more than 5.7 million Floridians have voted, or nearly 45 percent of those registered. That far surpasses 2012 totals, when 4.8 million Floridians cast ballots before Election Day.

As early voting was set to end in 51 of Florida’s 67 counties Saturday, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump once again were campaigning in the Sunshine State. Their running mates Tim Kaine and Mike Pence and other top surrogates have been frequent visitors in the state that’s a must-win for Trump’s presidential campaign.

“How many of you have already voted?” Clinton asked a crowd in Broward County. The response was enthusiastic cheers. “OK, so that means you’ve got time to get everybody else to get out and vote, right?”

Earlier in Tampa, Trump told supporters at a rally that 66 of the state’s 67 counties supported him in Florida’s primary last March.

“Florida is just a place I love – my second home, I’m here all the time. I might know Florida better than you do,” Trump said. “I see maybe more enthusiasm right now than I did (in March).”

Florida’s 29 electoral votes are the biggest prize in Tuesday’s presidential election among states that could swing to either candidate. In 2000, Florida set the standard for close presidential elections when George W. Bush beat Al Gore by 537 votes out of about 6 million cast. It took five weeks to call the election in the state that determined the presidency.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio was campaigning across north Florida Saturday, starting with an event at a Pensacola Beach bar. He’s being challenged by Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy.

Unlike Murphy, Rubio has avoided campaigning with his party’s presidential nominee. While he supports Trump, he has condemned his words and behavior.

Murphy attended a Broward County rally with Clinton and later planned to attend a St. Petersburg concert with singer Jon Bon Jovi and Kaine.

While only 16 counties will continue early voting on Sunday, they are some of the state’s largest, including Democratic strongholds of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach. Democrats were planning “souls to the polls” events encouraging African-American churchgoers to take advantage of the last day of early voting in the counties where polls will be open.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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Joe Henderson: It all comes down to unpredictable, inexplicable Florida

You know Florida is important. You know our history with elections. And you know the nation, along with every late-night comedian, will be glued to everything that goes on within our borders on Election Day, ready to scream foul play at anything that looks askew.

We know all this. But why us? Floridians are good people. We didn’t ask to be under the microscope like this every four years. Why can’t they just let us run our elections in peace?

Just lucky, I guess. We are the Kardashians of the Electoral College. The nation loves us or hates us in equal measure, but they can’t stop watching us.

The numbers back this up.

Start with the five most populous states in the nation. We generally know how those states will vote for president long before Election Day.

California? Voted for the Democratic nominee every year since 1992.

Illinois? Six consecutive wins by the Democrats.

Texas? It has gone red nine straight times, mostly by blowouts.

New York? Seven straight blue finishes, also by blowouts.

But then there’s good ol’ Florida — good ol’ unreliable, unpredictable, and often inexplicable Florida. Since 1996, the state we call home went Democratic three times. It went Republican twice. Only once in that time was the winning margin more than 3 percent.

We are a split personality of about 20 million people in a place where everyone wants to move. We even have one Democratic senator and one Republican senator.

So, yeah, we’re a little indecisive. We are the electoral equivalent of Suspense Theater. From hanging chads to voter purges, and polls that show a state where the mood shifts daily, Florida loves to keep the candidates guessing. You don’t think they keep coming here because of the sunshine and seafood, do you? They need us.

The National Journal tracks the trips by candidates. Since July 30, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have made a combined 26 trips to Florida – 15 by Trump.

The total number of campaign visits to the other four states we mentioned: 10, including none to California.

They like the money that comes out of California – a whopping $83.7 million alone to the Clinton campaign ($9.9 million to Trump), according to the Federal Elections Commission database. But since Florida is the only place in the top five where the vote is close, the candidates make believe we’re the most important place on the planet — which, of course, we are.

For what it’s worth, Florida has kicked in $19.6 million to Clinton’s campaign and $9 million to Trump.

Florida has been trending for Trump in the last week, so much so that Nate Silver’s fivethirtyeight.com site gives the Republican a 52.6 percent chance of carrying the state’s 29 electoral votes.

If that is wrong, though — and Silver rates Florida tops on a measure he calls “tipping point chance” — it’s lights out for Trump. He would have no effective path to overall victory. It’s going to be a tight squeeze anyway, and possibly a long night.

It’s also possible, given how close Florida is, we could wind up with another recount like in 2000. Trump’s charges of a rigged election in the weeks leading up to Nov. 8 only increased that possibility. Any abnormality, no matter how slight, will be blown up into a full-blown conspiracy to defraud whichever candidate is on the wrong side of that count.

It can be maddening, but it’s also a fascinating spectacle. And with the destiny of the union hanging like a paper chad, here we go again — our quadrennial big tease to the rest of the country. What’s the rush? When we make up our minds, we’ll be sure and let everyone know.

Maybe.

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Mistake by Lightning’s Victor Hedman lifts Florida Panthers to 3-1 victory

Victor Hedman, one of the steadiest members of the Tampa Bay Lightning, made the key mistake in the team’s latest loss.

Reilly Smith of the Florida Panthers stripped the puck from Hedman and scored with 4:32 to play in Monday night’s 3-1 defeat. The Panthers added an empty-netter at the end.

The Panthers led 1-0 on a goal by former Lighting player Jonathan Marchessault. Ondrej Palat tied the score early in the third period, but Tampa Bay couldn’t manage another goal against Roberto Luongo, who broke a four-game losing streak. Derek MacKenzie scored the empty-netter at the end.

Ben Bishop had 29 saves for the Bolts. Luongo stopped 34 for the Lightning.

The Lightning, 7-5-1, is home Thursday night against the New York Islanders. Tampa Bay is 3-4 away from Amalie Arena.

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Hillary Clinton vows to ‘be a president for all Americans’ in final TV ad

Hillary Clinton is making one last appeal to voters.

The Clinton campaign released a 2-minute advertisement laying out the choice in the election. The national advertisement will air during “The Voice” on NBC and “Kevin Can Wait” on CBS, reaching an estimated 20 million people, according to the Clinton campaign.

Clinton talks directly to the camera in the two-minute spot, called “Tomorrow.” She uses the advertisement to lay out her agenda, promising voters she will “be a president for all Americans,” not just those who support her in the election.

“I will work my heart out as president to make things better for you and your family. We won’t always get it right, but you can count on this: I never quit and I never will,” she says in the advertisement. “I’ll get up every day determined to keep America safe and strong and make our economy work for everyone, not just those at the top.”

Clinton also said she has spent her life working for children and families, and never has that been more important than right now.

“This has to be our mission together: to give our kids and every American the chance to live up to their God-given potential,” she said. “I’m asking you for your vote. And tomorrow, let’s make history together.”

According to RealClearPolitics, Clinton has an average lead of 3 percentage points over Donald Trump nationwide.

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My electoral college prediction: Hillary Clinton 304, Donald Trump 234

Were I a betting man— and Alan Suskey can tell you I am not — this would be my prediction for how the electoral college vote turns out.

Hillary Clinton 304, Donald Trump 234.

electoral-college-predictionHere is a quick rationale:

Nevada should have gone for Trump. In fact, I am surprised Sheldon Adelson and the boys aren’t making it happen. But Jon Ralston, who is basically the Marc Caputo and the Adam Smith of the Silver State, says Trump is dead there and that’s good enough for me to award the state to Clinton.

New Hampshire goes for Trump because it is the land of cantankerous white people and if any demographic is Trump’s base, that is it. Also, a lot of recent polling has shown Trump tied with Clinton, if not outright leading. The Live Free Or Die state appears to be breaking for Trump.

North Carolina goes for Trump, despite what Monday’s Quinnipiac poll shows because if there is one place there are “shy Trump” voters, it’s in the Tar Heel state.

As for the rest of Clinton’s “blue wall,” including Michigan, it remains intact.

Clinton doesn’t need Florida to win, but Trump does and up until last Thursday, I was prepared to give him the Sunshine State. But reading Ryan Tyson‘s polling memos and seeing the early voter turnout in South Florida from the weekend has me believing Clinton will win the state’s 29 electoral votes.

Anyway, that’s my prediction. What’s yours?

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Steve Schale: Final notes on early voting in Florida

To: The tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to be free of 2016

From: Steve Schale, Florida Sherpa

Re: It is almost drinkin’ time

I usually do a timeline here, but since I can’t even imagine life in a post-2016 election cycle world, I am simply going to say, Thank God America, we have damn near made it. Like the weed that I can’t get to stop growing up the side of my backyard fence, admit it, you thought this would never end. But it is going to. Yes. Tomorrow, we will have a winner. Just hang in there one more day.

On Sunday, I took my Turkish crew to the St. Mark AME Church for a Souls to the Polls service with Val Demings and Kamia Brown, after which we visited an early voting site nearby. The lines at noon were already quite long, so it came as no surprise that Orange County (Orlando) set a turnout record. And so did Osceola, and Hillsborough, Broward, Palm Beach, Duval, Leon, Pinellas and yes, Miami-Dade.

In fact, Miami-Dade had more people vote today than 33 counties have had voted in this entire election. They more than 760K people who voted in early voting is equal to almost 88 percent of the entire vote cast in the 2012 election. If Election Day turnout is just half of what it was in 2012, more than 1 million people will vote in Dade. I had it estimated at 900K, as did most people I spoke with.

In total, almost 260K people voted yesterday in the 15 counties that cast ballots. To put that in context, most days last week of in-person early voting barely eclipsed the total from 15 counties. Frankly, the turnout was stunning.

There will be some VBM ballots which will show up tomorrow at elections offices, but the below numbers are pretty much what we will see heading into E-Day.

So, let me try to make some sense out of this.

Total Ballots cast: 6,419,154

Total Vote by Mail: 2,549,633 (41.5 percent)

Total Early Vote: 3,869,521 (58.5 percent)

Democrats: 2,558.072 (39.85 percent)

Republicans: 2,470,823 (38.49 percent)

NPA: 1,390,259 (21.66 percent)

Total Margin: DEM +1.36 percent

How big is the final weekend for Dems?

Friday: Dems +0.13 (+7K)

Saturday: Dems +0.59 (+32K)

Sunday: Dems +1.36 (+87K)

To repeat from yesterday, my go-to model for this cycle has been 40D-39R-21NPA. NPA’s are going to outpace it, but I still think +1 DEM is safe.

And when you add Sunday, here is how the NPA tracked over the last week

After Sunday: 21.66 percent

After Sat: 21.35 percent

After Fri: 20.55 percent

After Thurs: 20.2 percent

After Wed: 19.8 percent

After Sunday: 19.3 percent

Right now, I think about 67 percent percent of the likely electorate has voted. Late last week, I predicted 70 percent, but to be fair, I had it at 9.2M turnout late last week. At that turnout, EV ended up at 69.7 percent, so that prediction was almost OK. 9.5 million is where I do think it lands – that is roughly 08 level turnout (exact 08 would be 9.55m). Given the sheer numbers of low propensity voters, it could go beyond that, but honestly, I would be surprised (albeit pleasantly).

So, let’s dive into the usual benchmarks.

Hillsborough

Hillsborough had a record day, with Dems leading the day by a 3500-voter plurality. NPA voters made up 30 percent of the voters yesterday, which is remarkable, out placing NPA registration at 28.

All in all, the Dems will go into Eday with a 7-point voter registration advantage, which is slightly more Republican than the county’s voter registration statistics. D’s maintain an 8-point voter registration advantage in the county. Keep in mind, the reason I use Hillsborough is it is the recent benchmark, as the only county won by Bush twice and Obama twice.

And Hillsborough is doing a nice job of playing its role as the state benchmark. It should be about 6.5 percent of all statewide votes, and that is pretty much where it is in early voting (6.51 percent)

Yesterday: 41.7 Dem – 28.3 GOP – 30.0 NPA.

Total: 42.1 Dem – 35.3 GOP – 22.6 NPA

Dem +28,092

I-4

Almost as many people voted as Saturday, even though Volusia had no early voting, and the Dems won the day by over 13,00. But again, the big news is NPA, which made up 30 percent of all the voters along the highway, out-pacing Republicans.

Again, it was metro-Orlando driving the NPA surge, with Seminole, Osceola and Orange all over 30 percent NPA, with Osceola topping out at 33 percent. In fact, yesterday’s record day in both Osceola and Orange (I don’t have historic Seminole data), saw Dem + NPA = over 75 percent of the vote. The Obama effect again.

To date: 42.1 D – 35.4 R – 23.4 NPA

Yesterday: 41.6 D -28.4 R – 30.0 NPA

In total 1.74 million votes were cast in the 7 counties along this interstate. To put this in perspective, I-4 county early voting in 2016 was bigger than Iowa in 2012.

These counties are now exceeding my projection of the state’s share by 0.8 percent, coming in at 27.16 percent of the state through yesterday, compared to my projection of 26.38 percent. But as I mentioned yesterday, this is not a disparity created equally along the interstate. In terms of ranking, Orange and Osceola are the fourth and fifth most “over-performing” counties in the state. On the flip side, the fifth most under-performing: Polk, which typically is a lean-GOP county, and frankly, is the kind of place I expected to see a “secret-Trump vote” surge. It might happen Tuesday, but I’m not convinced.

Also, my phone will blow up if I don’t mention that Pinellas flipped to the Dem column yesterday. It is still exceptionally tight and my gut says Trump does better than Romney.

Just to recap the counties on I-4:

Volusia (Daytona) – should lean a little red this year (NO EV ON SUN)

All votes: 39.7 R, 37.2 D, 23.1 NPA

R + 4,235

Seminole – suburban Orlando, more white/Republican. As a note, the SOE here, Mike Ertel here is a great guy, and today is hosting my Turkish delegation to walk through how votes are tabulated. Given how busy he is, I truly am grateful.

All votes: 41.3 R, 35.1D, 23.8 NPA

R +10,186

Orange (Orlando)

All votes: 46 D, 29.5 R, 24.5 NPA

D +65,553
Osceola – very Hispanic. President Obama was there

All votes: 47.3 D, 26.3 R, 26.4 NPA

D + 21,986

Imperial Polk – between Tampa/Orlando – lean R

All votes: 39.7 R, 39 D, 21.3 NPA

R +1,023

Hillsborough – twice for Bush, twice for Obama

Total: 42.1 Dem – 35.3 GOP – 22.6 NPA

Dem +28,092

Pinellas – lean D county on Gulf, west of Tampa

All votes: 38.6 R, 38.4 D, 23.0 NPA

D +358

Last look at I-4, by looking at the media markets, Republicans continue to hold a slight edge. To win Florida, Trump needs to grow slightly from Romney in both Tampa, and Orlando.

I noticed something over the last few days that is interesting: early in the voting period, the Tampa market was way out-performing the state, and now it is under-performing. Why is that? Hillsborough is roughly where it should be, but Pasco, Polk and Pinellas are well behind. Combined, those three counties are about a point below where they should perform as a share of the state. Will that be made up Tuesday? I don’t know, but I do think for Trump to do well, he needs solid margins and volume from particularly Pasco and Polk.

Honestly, in these two markets, Clinton appears to be right on the path to meet her goals.

South Florida

It was like Miami had LeBron back yesterday, joined by Jordan in his prime.

Over 100,000 people voted in just Broward and Dade yesterday. In other words, 40 percent of yesterday came from the two biggest Democratic counties in Florida. Anyone care to write the “lack of enthusiasm” story today.

The numbers speak for themselves. 87.7 percent of the entire 2012 election turnout has already voted in Dade. That just doesn’t happen. And Broward is at a respectable 81 percent.

Dade is at 11.9 percent of all votes cast so far (should be 10.3 percent), and Broward is at 9.55 percent, where I had it pegged at 8.75 percent. The media market is a full two points bigger than it should be. If the Miami market finishes at 21.8 percent of all votes, this thing is cooked, and we will know it before 8:00 (assuming Miami decides to count all these ballots)

The red flag for Dems: Palm Beach. It is at 62 percent of its 2012 total, and it is also the county most “under-performing.” It should be about 7 percent of the state vote, but today it is about 5.9 percent. Of all the data points right now, this is the only one that concerns me. While Miami is more than making up for it, for HRC, win path is much easier with a more robust Palm Beach.

Palm Beach

All votes: 47.4 D, 28.5 R, 24.1 NPA

D +71,994

Broward

All votes: 55.5 D, 21.7 R, 22.8 NPA

D +206,981

Miami-Dade

All votes, 44.1 D, 29.3 R, 26.6 NPA

D +112,220

Duuuuuuval

The Obama effect:

D’s were down 3,000 when he got there.

They finish early voting up 4,248.

#ThanksObama

Will Dems win Duval? Hell, no. Will Trump win it by the Bush 04 margins he needs to make up from the Dade County wave? Absolutely not.

Additional Thoughts

My basic view on this cycle, going back over a year, is that diversity would create the mechanism for Democrats to overcome other issues in the campaign, whether they be candidate or structurally-based.

Many folks doubted that 2016 would be more diverse. I had these same fights in 2012, as the Romney campaign tried to make the case that 2008 wasn’t replicable, not understanding that nothing had to be replicated, because the pie of Florida voters had changed. Almost any 2012 reporter can attest I was a broken record on this — demographics are changing, and people aren’t reading the state right.

Last week was deja vu, as early voting looked slow for the Dems, though signs of this Hispanic surge started to emerge, I had the same conversations with many of the same people.

One of the challenges Democrats have in Florida dealing with these process-driven stories about turnout is one of optics. Even when VBM is competitive between the parties, as it was this year, it is dominated by older white voters. This leads to the inevitable “X” group won’t vote story, typically backed up by a few quotes from people who are not involved in the actual campaign. We saw this it this year again.

But two things emerged last week. One, this low propensity Hispanic thing became a thing. While Trump folks argued that Trump would turn out low-propensity voters, we’d see slight edges for Democrats in this category. What became clear over days last week, this was a Hispanic deal, and as week 2 of early voting took hold, so did this surge. As of Saturday, Democrats had an edge of more than 175K low propensity voters.

Secondly, we began to see the edging upward of NPA voters. I had projected NPA at 21 percent of the electorate, but it will probably land closer to 23. And it is diverse, running an average of four points more diverse than the electorate as a whole.

So, you end up with this scenario — a close partisan break, but below that, you saw surging Hispanic, surging NPA, and growing proof that the electorate would be more diverse than it was in 2012. Then we also learn that a large chunk of the GOP advantage was built with voters who were registered Dems in 2012 (though almost certainly not Dem Voters), as well as the GOP having cannibalized more of its own Election Day vote, and I began to realize this was looking better each day.

On that diversity issue, just since last week, the percentage of the electorate that’s white has gone from 71 then over the last few days from 68.6 to 68.0, to 67.4, to 68.8. Since Thursday, there has been no day when the electorate has been more than 61 percent white. This is the Clinton recipe for winning.

So, when I get asked — all the freaking time — about the fact the R versus D number is lower for the Dems than 2012, I answer, sure. And last week, I did worry about it, but this week, what has become clear is that structurally, we live in a state with more NPA, and more old conservative Dems who have switched parties, which drive down the total. But, we also live in a state that is getting more diverse, more quickly, and based on the 2012 experience, that is far more important in my eyes.

And the R versus D thing still isn’t really out of whack. My most frequent model has the state going 40D, 39R, 21NPA, which I figured would land at 66 white. We are going to land more like 39D, 38R, 23NPA, and with that NPA driven by Hispanics (20 percent of NPA voters), this looks like a Clinton coalition. In fact, most people, Republican and Democratic, I talked to in Florida were projecting D +1, so despite the talking points from the DNC, we are right on track.

I am going to write a wrap tomorrow for E-Day, but two questions I get a lot.

What am I worried about for HRC?

Really, almost nothing. I’ve mentioned the Palm Beach thing a few times, but right now, the diversity mix is rounding nicely into shape, and our best counties are way out-performing the state. Right now, she needs the organization on the ground to get this done Tuesday

Could there be a Trump surge Tuesday? It is possible, because the counties most under-performing right now are Trump counties. His problem, most of them are very small, part of what Jonathan Martin called the Gingrich counties (where Newt beat Romney) — those rural places in-between all the big counties.

All in all, the I-10 markets are way below where they should be, maybe as much as 3 percent below where its share should be. If that comes in tomorrow, it will tighten the race considerably.

Tomorrow’s memo will also lay out some things you watch for. If she wins by 3, we will know well, probably before the Panhandle returns come back after 8. If it is close, prepare for a long night.

One last thing — and this is just for the FL HRC organizers out there.

You all got this. This thing is right there. You’ve spent six months training for this moment. This is what you built for. Do your job today and tomorrow, stay focused on your goals, and you can say you made history.

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10th-ranked Gators ambushed by Arkansas in 31-10 defeat

The 10th-ranked Florida Gators might have been a bit overrated.

The Gators were clobbered by the Arkansas Razorbacks, 31-10, in Fayetteville Saturday. One game after being shredded by Auburn, 56-3, Arkansas dominated the Gators. They had surrendered 532 yards rushing to the Tigers; they gave up 12 to Florida.

The Gators entered the game No. 2 in the nation with total defense giving up 239.9 yards per game. Against Arkansas, they gave up 466 yards.

Arkansas took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, and the Gators could not get enough offense to get back in the game. Besides their 12-yard day rushing the ball, quarterback Luke Del Rio threw for only 229 yards and had two passes intercepted.

Florida coach Jim McElwain said he considered pulling Del Rio. He said there will be additional evaluation going forward.

“There’s a lot of positions we’ve got to evaluate going forward,” McElwain said. “Obviously, when you lose, that’s part of playing the position of quarterback. I mean, everybody’s ready to put you on their shoulders when you win, and when you play don’t play great as a team, it’s usually the place that’s pointed to.”

Florida’s only touchdown came on a 37-yard interception return by Duke Dawson.

The loss is sure to make the Gators tumble in the top 25 poll. It was longshot for the playoffs, but at one loss, it had a chance. Now at 6-2, it does not seem to have one.

Rawleigh Williams rushed for 148 yards for Arkansas.

The Gators are home next week against South Carolina, then play LSU in their makeup game in Baton Rouge.

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The Predictions: Gators will win another game behind their defense

The Florida Gators face another afternoon of being unimpressive Saturday.

Every week, it is the same. The defense will play well against Arkansas, the offense will struggle, the Gators will win. And the critics will yawn.

It has largely been so this year as Florida has built a 6-1 record and a No. 10 ranking in the AP Poll. The defense is second in the nation, but every week, all everyone wants to do is notice that Luke Del Rio isn’t throwing for enough yards.

Still, Florida has a shot at the SEC East. And that defense should shine against an Arkansas team that had only 25 yards against Auburn. No, the Gators aren’t world-beaters, but they may just be the best team in their division.

Prediction: Florida 24, Arkansas 13

FSU at North Carolina State

The Seminoles have had uncommon struggles when visiting the Wolfpack, losing three of their last five games. One of those came when FSU was ranked third in the nation.

Naturally, FSU is concerned, especially facing a possible letdown after a game against Clemson got away. The thing is, the season has turned rocky for N.C. State, too, since losing by a field goal against Clemson.

FSU might start slowly, but they simply have too many weapons.

Prediction: FSU 30, N.C. State 24

Pitt at Miami

The bottom has fallen out for Miami since a blocked extra point cost them against FSU. All of the momentum the program had regained under Mark Richt has failed.

Against Pitt, Miami should be able to get its mojo back. Look for Brad Kaaya to have a big game.

Prediction: Miami 27, Pitt 17

Tulane at UCF

The Knights, 4-4, are still learning to win. Perhaps that’s why leads against Temple and Houston evaporated and turned into defeats.

But UCF has made remarkable progress under new coach Scott Frost, going from a winless team to one with a shot at a bowl game. Freshman McKenzie Milton has excited fans with possibilities.

Prediction: UCF 35, Tulane 14

FAU at Rice

Both teams are 1-7, which kind of leaves fans searching for a reason to watch. There aren’t many.

Prediction: FAU 9, Rice 6

FIU at Western Kentucky

The Hilltoppers should roll. FIU has a chance to hang around for a half, but it’ll be tough to last longer.

Prediction: Western Kentucky 35, FIU 20

The Pros

New York Jets at Miami

Two disappointing teams get together to compare shortcomings. The Dolphins have found success in running back Jay Ajayi lately, but New York’s defense is better than you might think.

Prediction: Miami 17, New York 16

Jacksonville at Kansas City

The Jags are looking for a fresh canvas after dumping offensive coordinator Greg Olson. That isn’t likely to happen at Kansas City, even if the Chiefs are playing backup quarterback Nick Foles. Blake Bortles will keep it close, but the Jags need an impact play.

Prediction: Kansas City 27, Jacksonville 21

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Steve Schale: Notes on the 11th day of early voting in Florida

To: A tired, weary nation, and the Trump tech guys in Macedonia
From: Steve Schale, Florida Man
Re: Why in the world did I start doing these?

*1 day since the leader of the free world did the #swoop at UNF.
*4 days until the election.
*6 days until I am home for a nice long time.
*8 days until FSU basketball tips off.
*106 days until pitchers and catchers.
*131 days to get your NCAA basketball bracket complete — and your $20 in.

It is Friday.

The greatest Friday in like two years, because it is the final Friday of this quadrennial renewal of our federalist experiment in self-governing.

I can only imagine the letters that Adams and Jefferson are sending via pigeon carrier in heaven right now. Or maybe they have texting now —  guess we’ll find out one day.

Ballots. Barack Obama flew to Florida to tell you to return your ballot. Please listen to the man.

Speaking of President Obama, I had the honor to welcome him back to Jacksonville yesterday on what was a strangely emotional day. It is hard to believe it has been eight years. And while I have rather enjoyed having a life this cycle, it was good for the ol’ bloodstream to jump in for a day.

We’ve also reached the part of the campaign that is tough for the people who are in them, on both sides. Once you get to Friday, the die is mostly cast.

You’ve made your final moves, and other than ordering some robocalls or adjusting canvass operations, you just must trust your plan, and trust the kids on the ground to execute.

I went and banged on doors in ’08 for a few hours the last weekend, just to get out the nervous energy.

It is also the point where exhaustion has long since been replaced with a zombielike consciousness, fueled by an occasional morsel of pizza, or candy, or whatever else you can find, mixed with coffee, Coca-Cola, and whatever cheap beer is in the fridge.

In hack-lingo, this is the “October Diet,” and by this point in 2008, I was lucky if I was getting three or four hour’s sleep. And this is true, whether you are at the top of the org chart, or an organizer at the bottom.

In other words, you aren’t thinking well, and campaigns become defensive.

I say this to give some perspective to what is happening right now: tired kids in offices full of pizza boxes and beer bottles in trash cans that haven’t been emptied in weeks, pulling 16-18 hour days, often sleeping on couches or in spare rooms of “supporter housing.”

For most of them, this is the only campaign they will ever work on — most be doing something different soon, grad school, teaching, etc. Even if their team wins, most will never go to Washington. There is something romantically heroic about it.

That is how early voting and Election Day gets done: kids grinding out this thing, one voter at a time. I used to tell them I had the easy job, and I couldn’t do what they do.

With all the elevation publicly of hacks, the media (and pretty much everyone) often forgets in these things, but how they do their job will determine not only who wins this state, but potentially who is president. I used to tell my crew their job was simple: just do your job. And if you do, you will change the course of history.

So with that, here’s where we stand:

Yesterday, we blew past the 5 million mark, pushing over 5.25M votes.

I do want to note — especially because as you will see, the margin is razor-close — that there are discrepancies between the data the state reported and data you can get off county election’s offices. In some cases, those differences would benefit the D’s, in some the R’s. In other words, these numbers could change a little during the day.

Total Ballots cast: 5,267,750
Total Vote By Mail: 2,370,567 (45 percent)
Total Early Vote: 2,897,183 (55 percent)

Republicans: 2,093,586 (39.74 percent)
Democrats: 2,091,753 (39.71 percent)
NPA: 769,241 (20.55 percent)

Total Margin: GOP +0.03 percent

Dems won VBM and EV today, the first time the former has happened. I wouldn’t be surprised if this continues, largely because of math.

There are a lot more Dem ballots out there than GOP ballots, in part because the Dems pushed VBM later in October, and in part because I have no freaking idea why people haven’t mailed back their ballots.

Right now, I think about 57 percent of the likely electorate has voted. At this pace, if the next few days of early and VBM returns look like the last few days, we will be at 70 percent of the likely electorate done by E-Day.

One caveat, given the number of low-propensity voters who are showing up, I might revise my turnout estimate upward, in which case, that 70 percent number will become more like 67-68 percent, but still, at that rate, we are going to have a pretty good sense where Florida is headed darn early Tuesday.

And yes, there are still almost a million vote-by-mail ballots sitting out there; and yes, Democrats have more outstanding mail-in ballots than Republicans. Unreturned vote-by-mail ballots look like this: 41D-34R-25NPA, meaning 82,873 more Dem ballots are out there.

PRO TIP: AT THIS POINT, DON’T MAIL YOUR BALLOT BACK — TAKE IT TO AN EV SITE, THE SOE OFFICE OR YOUR POLLING LOCATION ON TUESDAY.

Hillsborough

Hillsborough had a bigger day yesterday than the day before, with 26,164 ballots in the door. Democrats won by about 6 percent, equal to their overall margin lead, or about 1,500 voters. NPA voters, though, continue to show up late in early voting, as yesterday 26.5 percent of all Hillsborough voters were NPA. Throughout all early voting, NPA = 21 percent, so this is an uptick.

Staying in the Bay area, I get a fair amount of questions from my Pinellas readers. For those unfamiliar with Pinellas, it is home to St. Petersburg and Clearwater, the peninsula of land that is on the west side of Tampa Bay (remember, Tampa is the city, Tampa Bay is the water). It was one of the first places where Republicans in Florida did very well, an homage to the area’s ties to the Midwest.

Since about 2004, party affiliation there has been very close, though Democrats tend to do better than the party affiliation at the top of the ticket since it tends to have a more moderate Republican voter. It is also unique in that the county votes overwhelmingly VBM, so we will know a lot of results very quickly.

Right now, Dems did win yesterday, and the GOP has about 1,500 voter lead in the county (Dems have about the same lead in voter registration).

Metro Orlando and the rest of I-4

Looking at the rest of I-4, the big news yesterday is the continued explosion of NPA voters.

Of the five remaining I-4 counties, Polk, Osceola, Orange, Seminole, and Volusia, none had NPA’s share of the day equal less than 24.5 percent. As I wrote about yesterday, this is primarily driven by Puerto Ricans voting in substantial numbers.

One thing also noteworthy from yesterday, the two places with the highest Puerto Rican populations, Orange and Osceola counties, both outperformed their projected share of the statewide vote. In other words, more people turned out there than you’d expect based on their likely proportion to the rest of the state.

In fact, both are above their projected share for the entirety of early voting. Polk is a little below where it should land, and both Seminole and Volusia are pretty much on marks.

As I wrote on a blog earlier, the dynamic in this market is whether GOP turns out more voters in the surrounding counties than Dems can win in the urban counties. In both Lake and Flagler, Republicans are doing well, though I don’t think well enough to balance out what is happening in Orange and Osceola.

Hillary Clinton doesn’t need to win the Orlando media market. Romney did narrowly in 2012, but she does need to keep it close. Right now, it looks close.

South Florida

Miami and Broward blowing up. There is no other way to look at it.

Look at it this way: I expect Broward to be just under 9 percent of all statewide votes. Yesterday it was 10.3 percent. And Miami-Dade should land somewhere around 10.5 percent of all votes.

Yesterday it was 12.1 percent.

What is driving that? NPAs.

In Broward, 26 percent of voters yesterday were NPA, and 30 percent of Miami-Dade. Look at it another way: 74 percent of all voters in Dade yesterday were either Democratic or NPA, and 79 percent in Broward.

The story in Palm Beach isn’t the same, and if I were a Democratic hack working in a campaign, I would be raising a flag. The margins are solid, but the turnout is lagging. While Broward and Dade are both exceeding their projected shares, Palm Beach is well behind it.

The Broward partisan margin us up to 160,000, and Miami-Dade is now over 80K, but in frankly bigger news there, total NPA vote now trails GOP votes by about 30K.

Duuuuuuval

Well, the president flew into town, dropped a #DUUUVAL on the crowd, and did the Osprey “swoop” inside UNF Arena.

*Side note about my ex-boss — it is hard to imagine either of the 2016 front-runners pulling those two things off. I am pretty sure, Trump didn’t do either at his West Side (is the best side) rally.

*Side Note 2: Had I realized Trump’s rally was on the west side, I would have encouraged my press buddies to hit Intuition Brewing as a place where they could file their stories without Trump supporters yelling at them. Their IPA is much tastier than the water at the Equestrian Center.

OK, back to Duval. President comes to town and what happens? In-person early vote had a record day. #ThanksObama

Democrats continue to chip away at the margin here, which is under 2,500 voters, and now just 1.1 percent. There remain a huge number of African-American voters who have not voted, as African-American turnout here lags the state.

But, all in all, turnout here is lagging a bit, which means it isn’t crushing for Trump either.

Additional notes

The electorate continues to get more diverse. The electorate is now under 68.6 percent white (67 in 2012), with Black and Hispanic voters continuing to grow in share of the electorate.

And let’s talk about the Hispanic vote a little.

First, through Wednesday, 170,000 more Hispanics had voted early (or VBM) in 2016 than voted early or by VBM in the entire 2012 cycle. And keep in mind, because Hispanic is a self-identifying marker, studies have found the real Hispanic vote is larger than the registration.

So, while Hispanics might make up 14.2 percent of the voters who have voted so far, in reality, the number is larger.

And it isn’t just that Hispanics are voting, it is the types of Hispanics who are voting.

Here is one way to look at it: Right now, statewide, 16 percent of early voters are either first-time Florida voters, or haven’t voted in any of the last three elections. Across party lines, 24 percent of all the Hispanic votes today come from these first-time voters.

Among Hispanic Republicans, it is 14 percent, among Democrats, it goes up to 26 percent, and among Hispanic NPAs, a whopping 32 percent have no previous or recent voting history.

When you expand it out to voters who voted in one of the last three, which is what I define as “low propensity,” it goes up to 53 percent of Hispanic Democrats and 60 percent of Hispanic NPAs.

That, my friends, is the definition of a surge.

Right now, Democrats hold a 117K vote advantage among all low-propensity voters, in large part due to this Hispanic surge. So far, 32 percent of Democratic voters are low propensity voters, compared to 26 percent of the GOP voters. But among NPA, the number rises to 48 percent. That’s right, 48 percent of NPAs who have voted so far are low propensity — and 25 percent of those are Hispanic.

In fact, of the NPA low-propensity voters, a full 42 percent of them are nonwhite. That right there is the Clinton turnout machine edge.

One last thing on these NPA voters, right now, the overall electorate is 68.6 percent white, but among NPAs, that number drops to 65 percent. In other words, NPA voters are more diverse than the electorate as a whole. That almost certainly bodes well for Clinton.

Why do I mention all this?

Well, it is because so much attention is paid to the top-line EV numbers: R versus D. But the more I think about it, the more I think the fact D’s have trailed later into EV than normal, the more I wonder it has more to do structurally with HRC’s coalition than it does any partisan advantage.

As I told a reporter, I think the R vs. D number now is more of an optics problem than an electoral one.

One other thing about that GOP advantage. Between 2012 and 2016, a significant number of white Democrats switched parties. Many them came from places where the odds of them voting for any Democrat in recent history was very low, and certainly not one for president. For those not from here, you should remember that large parts of the state are still very “Southern” and as such, has retained some of that Southern Democrat identity, even though many of those voters have long stopped voting for Dems for president.

The Obama second term and the rise of Trump — plus the fact that Republicans are winning more local offices, gave them the nudge to shed the label and “re-categorize themselves” into the party where they belong.

So, I asked some data people a question: is there a chance that part of the GOP lead is built with people who four years ago, were Democrat early voters — even if they were Dems in name only. The answer is yes.

Almost 50,000 2016 Republican early voters were Democratic early voters in 2012. In other words, if none of those voters had switched, Dems would have an 80-90K vote lead over the GOP today — even though that lead would have been meaningless.

One last key stat from Wednesday: African-American and Caribbean Americans had their largest day of 2016, with 55,000 Black voters voting early. The Black share of the electorate now stands at a solid 12 percent and growing.

A couple of last observations. Right now, Republicans should be feeling good about turnout in Southwest Florida, as well as around the Villages, where the areas are turning out at a larger share of the electorate than projected. For Democrats, areas with high Hispanic are high, including the counties mentioned earlier in Southeast Florida and around Orlando. North Florida is getting better for Republicans, but still is lagging.

Which leads me to my final point. My buddy Peter Hamby, who works at Snapchat and who I think is one of the smarter people around, tweeted something last night which I think is both likely — and reminiscent of 2012:

There’s more likelihood polls are overlooking disconnected Millennials, African-Americans & Hispanics than ‘closet Trump’ supporters.

From my observation, particularly with the NPA growth and the number of low-propensity voters in Florida, I think this could be happening here, and is one of the reasons I am less concerned about the party delta than I was earlier in the week.

All of this has me leaning a bit that the state is shaping up nicely for HRC, but while I think that, in no way is it in the bag, or close to it. Donald Trump could still very well win Florida, and it remains exceptionally close.

The race will go to the side that does the best job over the next 96 hours. I used the term “crazy close” yesterday, and I think it still works today.

OK — little scheduling news:

Starting Saturday, I am hosting a group of Turkish party leaders through the American Council of Young Political Leaders, who will be in Florida observing the elections. It is a joint project with the State Department to introduce foreign leaders to American democracy.

Since the 2012 Presidential, I have gotten engaged in the political exchange community — it is easily some of the most meaningful work I do (if you are curious, I have written extensively about it on my blog).

I bring this up because my plan is to write a memo Saturday for Friday, publish some notes Sunday from Saturday, and write a longer read Monday that goes into more depth about where we stand.

Tuesday morning, I hope to do a short piece that is simply what to look for on election night. I also will do an election wrap-up, though it might be a few days after. We’ll just see if I am still standing on 11/9.

However, because of my responsibilities with ACYPL and this delegation, I probably won’t have time to banter for hours on Twitter, though I will continue to try to respond best I can.

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Florida should be ‘lean blue,’ Democratic consultant Kevin Cate says

Put Florida in the leaning blue column.

According to a memo Kevin Cate sent to reporters Friday, Donald Trump’s mini-surge in the Sunshine State is over, and Clinton is “once again gaining raw votes.”

“Florida should lean blue for Clinton. Trump’s mini(hand) surge here is over, based on RealClearPolitics.com’s fairly conservative averaging. Clinton is once again gaining raw votes,” he wrote. “Based on a snapshot, day-by-day margin analysis, which is the only way to operate in a state with 50 days to cast/count votes, I think Clinton is up 83,697 votes. And gaining.”

According to RealClearPolitics, Clinton has an average lead of 1 percentage point in the Sunshine State. In a four-way race, RealClearPolitics shows Clinton’s holds a 1.2 percentage point lead over her competitors.

“To get to a win number, Trump needs a massive 3.34 percent shift in margin here. Clinton is up in the day-by-day, proportional to votes cast, by 2.14 percent, and as of today, Trump is down 1.2 percent on RCP,” wrote Cate.

“Again, this model is not super complicated, and it’s not skewed. We are taking the RCP averages, which also average out the expected turnout models, and matching it day-by-day with actual raw votes cast,” he wrote. “There are probably about 4 million votes to go right now. Florida should be lean blue for Clinton.”

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