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Marco Rubio makes closing argument in new TV ad

Sen. Marco Rubio is making his closing arguments in his final TV spot.

According to the Rubio campaign, 30-second spot, called “Debt,” is meant to discuss each generation’s “debt and duty to the next.

“America is the greatest country in the world, and keeping it that way is every generation’s debt to the next,” he says in the advertisement. “Today, our country is more divided than ever and our challenges are growing more grave, threatening who we are and everything we hope to be.”

He goes on to say the upcoming election “is about the future, and about keeping America the one place in the world where any dream can still come true.”

Rubio faces Rep. Patrick Murphy in the Nov. 8 general election. The Miami Republican has led in almost every poll since announcing his re-election bid. According to RealClearPolitics, he has an average 3.2 percentage point lead over Murphy.

Rubio is hitting the trail this weekend to rally support in the final weekend of early voting. He is expected to attend three get out the vote events Saturday, starting the day with a rally at the Sandshaker Lounge in Gulf Breeze. From there, he’ll attend a rally at RV Connections at Panama City, before wrapping up his North Florida swing at the Republican Party of Florida’s Jacksonville Beach Victory Office.

More than 5.7 million Floridians have already voted, according to the state Division of Elections. State records show nearly 2.3 million Democrats and nearly 2.3 million Republicans have voted by mail or in person during the early voting period. Democrats have edged out Republicans on early vote totals by a margin of more than 7,000 votes.

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The smartest guy in the room thinks Hillary Clinton will win Florida

With four days before The. Most. Important. Election. Ever. comes to its conclusion, it’s difficult to separate the signal from the noise when it comes to polling and predictions.

Right now, everyone is as much an expert about politics as they are in theories about how “Game of Thrones” will end.

So many people are nervous about the outcome of the election, they will hang on to a single shred of data — “But Hispanic NPA early voting is up 28 percent over 2012!!!” —as firmly as a rock climber grips the side of the mountain.

As my friend Mac Stipanovich likes to say during times like this, the British Empire was built on three words, “Steady, men. Steady.”

Steady, friends. Steady.

It’s during times like this that I am grateful for my friendship with Ryan Tyson of Associated Industries of Florida. At this point in the game, he is the smartest guy in the room.

“Ryan’s intellect is matched only by his incredible capacity to question everything, to guess at nothing, and to demand excellence of himself and everyone around him,” says Democratic strategist Steve Vancore, founder of VancoreJones Communications.

At AIF, he has a small group of funders who finance arguably the most extensive polling operation in the state. In the run-up to the election, he surveys at least five thousand Floridians per week. In other words, he is the opposite of the fly-by-night polling shops which drop into the state like an unwelcome relative and skew the Real Clear Politics average with their unreliable numbers.

For example, CNN’s latest survey of Florida is based on an electorate that has five-point advantage for the Democrats. That’s about as likely to happen as the Cubs winning the World Series. Oh, wait, that metaphor no longer works, so insert another one.

Like Nate Silver, Tyson believes in the need for extensive data sets, preferably collected over long periods of time, from which one can then use statistical techniques to incrementally change probabilities up or down relative to prior data. This “Bayesian” approach is named (thanks Wikipedia!) for the 18th century minister Thomas Bayes, who discovered a simple formula for updating probabilities using new data.

So what is going to happen? What does the smartest guy in the room think will happen Tuesday?

Tyson does not like to make predictions. He certainly does not like making his forecasts public, although he’ll occasionally toss FloridaPolitics.com or POLITICO Florida a bone.

But what Tyson is telling the people who write six- and seven-figure checks to finance his operation is that Hillary Clinton will win Florida, somewhere in the range of two to four points. For those who say African-American voter turnout is not where it was in 2012, Tyson will tell you a surge in Hispanic voter participation is making up for it.

(Another smart guy, Daniel Smith, bears this out. He tweeted today, “Highest # of blacks voted EIP to date … 48.5k blacks turned out …. but even slightly more Hispanics, 49.1k.”

Tyson is also telling his members Marco Rubio will win re-election, but that’s not much a surprise at this point.

If Clinton is able to win the Sunshine State, there’s really no path to victory for Donald Trump.

So for Clinton supporters, steady. Steady.

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Marco Rubio has a 6-point lead over Patrick Murphy in new Florida poll

Another day, another poll showing Sen. Marco Rubio ahead in the Sunshine State’s U.S. Senate race.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday shows Rubio has a 6 percentage point lead over Rep. Patrick Murphy. According to the poll, 50 percent of respondents backed Rubio, compared to 44 percent for Murphy. Five percent of voters said they either didn’t know who they were voting for or were voting for someone else.

The poll of 626 likely Florida voters has a margin of error of 3.9 percent.

The new Quinnipiac University poll found Rubio has support from 54 percent of independent voters and 87 percent of Republicans. He also leads among white voters with a college degree (56 percent-40 percent) and without a college degree (59 percent-35 percent).

Murphy, the poll found, is supported by 59 percent of non-white voters. He also has the backing of 83 percent of Democrats and 38 percent of Republicans.

“Candidates with a 16-point lead among independent voters rarely lose, and Sen. Rubio, who has that edge over Rep. Patrick Murphy, appears to be pulling away from the challenger,” said Peter A. Brown, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, in a statement. “But anything is possible.”

Murphy does appear to have an edge among those respondents who voted early. According to the poll, 50 percent of respondents who said they voted early backed Murphy, compared to 45 percent who picked Rubio.

The Miami Republican has led in nearly every poll since he announced he was running for re-election in June. Three polls conducted since June 25 showed the two men tied, according to RealClearPolitics. Rubio led in all of the other polls used by RealClearPolitics to calculate the polling average.

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Florida poll: Hillary Clinton at 49%, Donald Trump at 47%

With less than a week until the election, the race in Florida remains tight.

A new CNN/ORC poll found Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are essentially tied in Florida. The poll found 49 percent of likely Florida voters said they were backing Clinton, while 47 percent said they supported Trump. Libertarian Gary Johnson received 3 percent support, while 1 percent said they backed Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

The poll of 773 likely voters has a margin of 3.5 percent.

Clinton received support from 73 percent of non-white voters and 34 percent of white voters. She also saw support from 39 percent of independent voters, and 58 percent of voters who identified as moderates.

The poll found 65 percent of white men and 54 percent of white women said they backed Trump. He also received support from 63 percent of white voters without a college degree.

The CNN/ORC poll showed Sen. Marco Rubio’s lead over Rep. Patrick Murphy appears to be narrowing. The poll showed 49 percent of voters back Rubio, while 48 percent back Murphy.

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Report: FBI investigating donor scheme tied to Patrick Murphy

The FBI is investigating an alleged illegal donation scheme involving Rep. Patrick Murphy, according to a new report.

The Hill reported Tuesday that FBI is investigating a scheme involving a wealthy Saudi family that supports Murphy. According to the report, the Hill found no evidence Murphy was involved in the alleged scheme, and the campaign declined to say whether he was aware of the probe.

“This complaint was written by a Republican super PAC willing to say anything to elect Marco Rubio,” said Murphy campaign spokesman Joshua Karp told The Hill. “Neither Patrick nor any current or past employees have ever been contacted regarding this matter, and we are confident an examination of the facts will result in its dismissal.”

According to The Hill, the investigation goes back to Murphy’s first congressional run in 2012. The claim, originally made by the Senate Leadership Fund, is that Ibrahim Al-Rashid, a friend of Murphy’s and political donor, coordinated a straw donor scheme to help Murphy.

The super PAC filed a complaint in June with the Federal Election Commission. According to The Hill, the complaint alleged 11 donors participated in a scheme to funnel contributions to Murphy.

Murphy is running against Sen. Marco Rubio in the state’s contentious U.S. Senate race. Rubio currently has an average 5.6 percentage point lead over Murphy, according to RealClearPolitics.

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New Florida poll: 28% of registered Republicans who already cast ballots voted for Hillary Clinton

It’s an admittedly small sample, but a new poll shows that among the early and mail-in vote in Florida, 28 percent of registered Republicans already voted for Hillary Clinton.

Conversely, only 6 percent of registered Democrats have voted for Donald Trump.

That’s according to a TargetSmart/William & Mary survey. It also shows that with a week before the election, Clinton leads Trump 48 to 40 percent. That’s a dramatic contrast to several recent polls putting the race much closer. 

The RealClearPolitics average in Florida now favors Trump by one percentage point.

Clinton’s lead increases to 55-37 percent among those who said they have already voted.

The survey reached 311 respondents who voted early in the 2016 general election, either absentee, by mail or in-person, according to data from Florida’s secretary of state that was matched back to the TargetSmart voter file.

The survey reached 407 respondents who had NOT voted early in the 2016 general election, either absentee, by mail or in-person, using data from the Florida secretary of state that was cross-matched with the TargetSmart voter files.

Complete poll results are scheduled to be released later Wednesday.

The poll shows Marco Rubio leading Patrick Murphy in the U.S. Senate race, 49 percent to 43 percent. Among early voters, Rubio has a much bigger lead, 51 percent to 39 percent.

As of early Wednesday morning, 1.79 million Republicans have voted, as well as 1.77 million Democrats.

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Joni Ernst-affiliated PAC gives $5K to Brian Mast in CD 18

Brian Mast, the Republican candidate in Florida’s 18th Congressional District, reported $8,700 in contributions in a new filing with the Federal Election Commission Monday, including $5,000 from a committee backing Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst.

Mast is running against self-funding Democrat Randy Perkins for the seat currently held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, who is running for Marco Rubio’s Senate seat.

Ernst, elected in 2014, has become a major player in GOP politics and is best known for her annual “Roast and Ride,” a fundraising event she hosts alongside other Republican politicians which includes a motorcycle parade.

Last week, Mast reported about $95,000 in new contributions in FEC filings, and through Oct. 19 he had raised about $2.3 million and had about $400,000 on hand.

Perkins had raised more than $8.5 million through Oct. 19, though only about $685,000 of that money has come from individual contributors.

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Email insights: Patrick Murphy campaign ties Marco Rubio to Donald Trump in spooky scenario

Rep. Patrick Murphy is hoping to give voters a scare this Halloween.

In a Halloween-themed email, the Murphy campaign once again tried to tie Sen. Marco Rubio to GOP nominee Donald Trump.

“Floridians in search of a fright this Halloween, need to look no further than the spineless senator and the orange monster he wants to make president,” the campaign said in an email. “There is no haunted houses scarier than the White House, with Donald Trump’s finger on the nuclear codes and Marco Rubio dutifully by his side.”

The Murphy campaign has been hammering Rubio over his ties to Trump for weeks now, repeatedly calling on him to revoke his support for Trump. Murphy frequently pivoted to Trump during the final U.S. Senate debate last week, hoping to tie the Miami Republican to the Republican nominee.

For his part, Rubio has tried to sidestep questions about Trump, saying voters have to make their own decisions. During a stop in Naples last week, he once again said he has disagreements with both candidates, but doesn’t “want Hillary Clinton to be president.”

“This Halloween, amidst the goblins and ghouls, witches and vampires, there lurks a ghost more terrifying than them all: the ghost of Trump past,” according to the Murphy campaign.

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Rick Scott says ‘there’s a clear choice’ in 2016 election

With about a week until Election Day, Gov. Rick Scott remains confident Donald Trump come out on top.

“I think Trump is going to win, and I think the reason he’s going to win is that there’s a clear choice,” he said following a stop in Fort Myers. “Even though we’ve added 1.2 million jobs since I got elected in 2010, it’s still the No. 1 issue in the country. He’s created jobs; he knows how to create jobs. She’s never created jobs.”

Scott said the nation needs someone at the helm who can work to defeat ISIS and “defend Americans against terrorism.” Hillary Clinton, he said, had the chance to do that during her time as secretary of state, but made little progress.

The Naples Republican commended FBI Director James Comey for re-opening the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server, saying he’s hopeful he “truth will come out.”

“It seems like what she’s done her whole life is worry about herself, instead of the people she says she wants to serve,” said Scott. “I’m glad that Comey did what he did and hopefully the investigation will come out with the truth.”

According to the Associated Press, the FBI obtained a warrant over the weekend to begin reviewing newly discovered emails that may be relevant into the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server.

The inquiry, which closed without charges in July, resurfaced Friday when Comey alerted members of Congress to the existence of emails that he said could be pertinent to that investigation. The FBI wants to review the emails to see if they contain classified information and were handled properly, the focus of the earlier Clinton inquiry.

Scott has been largely absent from the campaign trail, but has been somewhat involved in the presidential race. He is the chairman of “Rebuilding America Now,” a pro-Trump super PAC, which released an advertisement over the weekend focused on the email scandal. The new ad is part of an ad buy in the Philadelphia area.

The race in the Sunshine State is tight. According to RealClearPolitics, Trump has a slight lead — a half of a percentage point — over Clinton.

But the presidential race isn’t the only key race playing out in Florida. All eyes are on the race between Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Patrick Murphy, which could determine control of the U.S. Senate. According to RealClearPolitics, Rubio has an average lead of 5.6 percentage points.

“Sen. Rubio has done a great job as our senator for the last six years, he deserves to be re-elected,” said Scott. “He’s going to continue to focus on what’s good for Florida families.”

Scott encouraged Floridians to get out and vote, either by mail, early or on Election Day. According to the state Division of Elections, more than 3.7 million Floridians have already voted either by mail or in person during the early voting period.

_The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Mac Stipanovich: Win or lose, Never Trump movement remains proud

With Donald Trump still down in the polls with a week to go, the edifice of excuses designed to justify his potential defeat is being hurried to completion.

To the foundation stones of voter fraud and a mainstream media conspiracy his campaign manager recently added treason, alleging that if Trump loses it will be, in large part, because he was stabbed in the back by the Never Trump renegades in the GOP.

That is a baldfaced lie. Never Trump did not stab Trump in the back. They stabbed him in the front.

Because Trump is a Republican only in the same sense that the Visigoths who sacked Rome were Romans, a relative handful of actual conservatives in the GOP adamantly opposed him from the moment he descended from on high, riding his Trump Tower escalator, armored in ignorance and spewing venomous bigotry and public policy nonsense.

They would not collaborate in pursuing what they believe would be a Pyrrhic victory, both for the GOP and for the country, if Trump is elected president.

Instead, to their honor and to the shame of all those who did collaborate — all the sycophants, front-runners, apologists, ambition-addled, and faint-of-heart — they resisted.

And they lost. Then they lost some more.

Some, like George Will, Mary Matalin, and Sally Bradshaw, long-time pillars of the GOP, gave up and left the party altogether, disgusted and demoralized. But others, like Sens. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Jeff Flake of Arizona, and Mike Lee of Utah, soldiered on.

Here in Florida, Hispanic leaders like U.S. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Carlos Curbelo from Miami are unflinching in their opposition to the Trump candidacy for obvious reasons, and they are seconded by others around the state made of similarly stern stuff, like Will Weatherford, former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, and Rick Wilson, a longtime Republican political consultant, just to name two among many.

But compared to the swollen ranks of right-wing populist true believers, Hillary-haters, and reflexive Republicans, all marching in lockstep behind Trump, the front line of Never Trump warriors is thin indeed. The fact is, Never Trump acting alone are too few to deprive Trump of the 90-plus percent of Republican votes he must have to win.

They are not alone, however. Behind them in the shadows are the Mumblers.

The Mumblers are all those elected Republicans who, horrified by Trump’s nomination but too fearful to publicly swim against this year’s fast-running tide of right-wing populism, mumbled once when asked where they stood, “I will support the nominee,” and then disappeared, never to be seen on the presidential campaign trail.

You could hold a Trump rally in the front yard of just about any Mumbler in America with Ivanka standing next to her father and be confident the Mumbler would not be home that day, or on any other day Trump is in the same ZIP code.

Obviously, the Mumbler contribution to the Never Trump cause is passive, but it is nevertheless important. While the broader resistance to Trump by GOP big feet, including the Bush family, Mitt Romney, Lindsey Graham, John Kasich, John McCain and others, signals wavering Republicans that it is all right not to vote for Trump, the collective inertia of the Mumblers dampens voter intensity and makes rank-and-file Republicans not caught up in the mass psychosis that is the Trump phenomenon less likely to buckle on their swords and go to war on his behalf, or to even vote.

Then there are the Ditherers, exemplified by Sens. Marco Rubio, Kelly Ayotte, and Deb Fischer, as well as House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Too frightened to resist Trump openly and too frightened to embrace Trump fully, the Ditherers fall squarely between the two stools, pleasing no one, and surely embarrassing their families and friends in addition to their constituents. But even so, their public agonies of indecision and inconsistency speak ill of Trump, and, thus, they too aid the effort to defeat him by calling into question his fitness for office.

Intentionally or inadvertently, many in the GOP have contributed their mite to stopping Trump, but none have contributed more than Never Trump, the point of the Republican anti-Trump spear.

Far from being a cowardly stab in the back, the long, dogged battle that Never Trump has fought against Trump has been face to face and out in the open for all to see.

And, win or lose, in that their glory lays.

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