Sunburn for 11/5 — A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics…

…but first, a happy birthday shout-out to two men I admire greatly, David Johnson (today) and Senator Jack Latvala (Saturday). Neither man would expect to see their name in the same sentence as the other, but they are two of Florida’s best politicos.

…Happy birthday to two other good guys, David Hurley and Joe Marino.

…Congrats to Nicole and Dan Krassner on the birth of their daughter, Ava Felice Krassner, all 8 lbs, 3 oz of her.

Now, on to politics…

OBAMA PULLS AHEAD NATIONALLY

The final Pew Research survey finds President Obama has edged ahead of Mitt Romney in the final days of the presidential campaign, 48% to 45%.

The last NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey shows Obama moved ahead by one point, 48% to 47%.

The latest Public Policy Polling tracking poll shows Obama leading Romney by three points nationally among likely voters, 50% to 47%.

“This is the first time either candidate has led by more than 2 points in the three weeks we’ve been doing this survey. Obama has led in 4 individual days of polling in a row since Wednesday, suggesting that he may be getting a bounce based on his leadership during Hurricane Sandy.”

Meanwhile, the Politico/GWU poll and Rasmussen tracker both find the race tied, though both earlier found Romney leading.

INDEPENDENT VOTERS COMING BACK TO OBAMA

Some pollsters have started to notice that independent voters, who until recently were leaning toward Mitt Romney, may be trickling back toward President Obama with just days until the election.

Zogby poll finds Obama has picked up five points among independents, perhaps because of how he has handled the federal response to Hurricane Sandy. Meanwhile the latest national Public Policy Polling tracking poll shows Obama turning a longtime disadvantage with independents into a 49% to 44% advantage. Furthermore, a new national ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll shows Obama and Romney deadlocked with independents, at 46% each, matching Obama’s best showing among that group in that survey and coming after Romney had reached a high of 58% just a week and a half earlier.

Finally, the Politico/GWU tracking poll finds the two men essentially tied with independents just a week after Romney held a double-digit lead with them.

MEMO: HOW OBAMA CAMPAIGN IS DEPLOYING ITS GROUND GAME

The Obama campaign is out with a memo detailing how it will execute its long planned ground game:

“This morning, as our volunteer Neighborhood Team Leaders opened 5,117 get-out-the-vote (GOTV) staging locations in the battleground states that will decide this election, they began to execute the final phase of a ground game unlike any American politics has ever seen. These staging locations are even more localized versions of our field offices – set up in supporters’ homes, businesses or any area that can serve as a central hub for a team’s GOTV activities in the final days.”

“From these hyper-local Obama hubs, volunteers have signed up for 698,799 shifts to get out the vote over the final four days of this campaign, a number that grows by the minute as organizers continue assigning supporters who have expressed an interest in volunteering. These volunteerled GOTV staging locations embody what this campaign has been all about since we started organizing for change in 2007. The Neighborhood Team Leaders who are running our get-outthe-vote operation have been working in these neighborhoods for months, if not years.”

FOR ROMNEY TO WIN, STATE POLLS MUST BE BIASED

Nate Silver finds President Obama with an 84% chance to win the presidential election and that the barrage of swing state polls showing him leading Mitt Romney represents “powerful evidence against the idea that the race is a ‘tossup.’ A tossup race isn’t likely to produce 19 leads for one candidate and one for the other — any more than a fair coin is likely to come up heads 19 times and tails just once in 20 tosses. (The probability of a fair coin doing so is about 1 chance in 50,000.)”

Instead, Romney will have to hope that the coin isn’t fair, and instead has been weighted to Obama’s advantage. In other words, he’ll have to hope that the polls have been biased in Obama’s favor… They could be biased. Based on the historical reliability of polls, we put the chance that they will be biased enough to elect Mr. Romney at 16%.”

CHRISTIE WAS ROMNEY’S FIRST CHOICE FOR VP

Campaign insiders tell Politico that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was actually Mitt Romney’s first choice as his running mate, “lending an intriguing new context to the continuing drama around the Garden State governor.”

The strong internal push for Christie, and Romney’s initial instinct to pick him for vice president, reflects how conflicted the nominee remained about choosing a running mate until the very end of the process. At least on the surface, Christie and Paul Ryan are about as opposite as two Republicans could be: a brash outsider from the Northeast versus a bookish insider from the heartland.

And yet Romney switched from Christie to Ryan in a span of about two weeks… Romney was so close to picking Christie that some top advisers at the campaign’s Boston headquarters believed the governor had been offered the job.

ROMNEY IN SANFORD TODAY

Romney makes an Election Eve appearance in Sanford as part of the “Romney-Ryan Real Recovery Road Rally” in the run-up to Tuesday’s voting.

PAUL RYAN IN PANAMA CITY: “FLORIDA IS EVERYTHING”

Ryan wrapped up a marathon four-stop, five-state day at an outdoor rally at the Panama City marina acknowledging to the crowd that “Florida is everything.”

“Mitt Romney and I can handle whatever they are going to throw at us for the next three days, but this country cannot handle another four more years of this administration. We are asking for your help, we are asking for your support,” Ryan said to a crowd of about 2,000 people. “Florida is key, you know that. Florida is everything.”

SWING STATE EARLY VOTING via the Associated Press’s Stephen Ohlemacher

More than 27 million people have already voted in 34 states and the District of Columbia, either by mail or in person. No votes will be counted until Tuesday but some key states are releasing the party affiliation of those who vote early.

Colorado — Votes: 1.6 million … Democrats: 35% … Republicans: 37%; Florida — Votes: 3.9 million … Democrats: 43% … Republicans: 40%; Iowa — Votes: 614,000 … Democrats: 43% … Republicans: 32%; Nevada — Votes: 628,000 … Democrats: 44% … Republicans: 37%; North Carolina — Votes: 2.5 million … Democrats: 48% … Republicans: 32%; Ohio — Votes: 1.6 million … Democrats: 29% … Republicans: 23%

SWING STATE POLLS

Florida: Romney 51%, Obama 45% (Miami Herald/Mason-Dixon); Florida: Obama 49%, Romney 47% (NBC/WSJ/Marist); Ohio: Obama 51%, Romney 45% (NBC/WSJ/Marist); Pennsylvania: Obama 47%, Romney 47% (Susquehanna)Virginia: Obama 49%, Romney 48% (We Ask America); Wisconsin: Obama 52%, Romney 45% (We Ask America).

PARAGRAPH OF THE DAYVia Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

“It’s easy to forget in this polarized era that presidential re-election campaigns are rarely close. George W. Bush narrowly beat John Kerry in 2004, but that was the first close re-election campaign since President Woodrow Wilson defeated Republican Charles Evans Hughes in 1916. … This is what happens when the force of an undeniably historic presidency collides with the intransigence of a brutally historic recession.”

***Friday was the final campaign finance report due for all legislative candidates prior to Tuesday’s election. The G4 totals due tonight include everything raised/spent from October 13 through November 1, 2012. On3PR will also be providing election results in legislative and congressional races next week. If you’re not getting On 3 Public Relations’ comprehensive finance reports for your clients and contacts, turn in your politico card at the door on the way out.  www.On3PR.com.***

CHARLIE CRIST SLAMES RICK SCOTT’S EARLY VOTING DECISION AS ‘UNCONSCIONABLE’ via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald

Before former Gov. Charlie Crist rallied the crowd at President Barack Obama’s final Florida rally on Sunday, he made a guest appearance on CBS4’s Facing South Florida with Jim Defede and did some politicking of his own.

… “To me it’s just a responsibility and obligation. This is a precious right. It’s a cherished right that people have fought and died for and the notion that you would try to suppress that, and reduce the opportunity for the right to vote whether they vote Republican or Democrat or independent is just unconscionable to me.”

HOW AN ATTEMPT TO LET MORE PEOPLE VOTE EARLY IN MIAMI DADE TURNED INTO A DEBACLE by Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald

On the surface, officials blamed technical equipment and a lack of staff for the shutdown. But behind the scenes, there was another issue: Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

The Republican had never signed off on the additional in-person absentee voting hours in the first place.

“That was counter to what I said on Friday, which was we were not going to change the game mid-stream,” he said. “I said, ‘No, there’s no way we did this.’”

But Gimenez, who is in a nonpartisan post, quickly realized it was better to let the voting go on, and the voting resumed.

(NEAR) FINAL EARLY VOTING NUMBERS

Overall Early Voting: 2.41 million – 1.11 DEM & 862k GOP votes. Overall Absentee: 2.01 million –  871k GOP & 784k DEM.

TWEET, TWEET: @fineout: So minus the 4 hrs at 1 polling site in Orange County on Sun – early voting # in Fla dropped to 2.41 m. from 2.66m in 08.

THE MUST-SEE PHOTO OF ELECTION 2012: Hundreds in Miami-Dade wait to vote early here.

TWEET, TWEET:  @jbrownedianis: That’s right 12:45am people still in line #earlyvoting in Miami Dade!

BRETT DOSTER: REPUBLICANS SHOWING NET ADVANTAGE IN ABSENTEE, EARLY VOTES OVER 2008 via William March of the Tampa Tribune

—Democratic absentee ballot requests are up from 815,688 in 2008 to 1,124,259 so far this year – an increase of 308,571.

—Democratic early voting, however, is down – 766,121 as of Thursday, compared to 1,050,045 at the same point in 2008. That’s not surprising, considering there had been 12 days of early voting at the same point in 2008, and only six this year, but it’s a drop of 283,924.

—Republican early voting, meanwhile, is slightly increased despite the fewer days – 612,974 this year compared to 609,325 in 2008.

—And Republican absentee ballot requests are up from 1,022,411 to 1,161,099, an increase of 138,688.

Add up the pluses and minuses on each side—and assuming all absentee ballot requests result in returned ballots, which of course is far from certain—and you get a net Republican advantage of 117,690 votes over 2008. That’s almost exactly half the 236,450 votes by which Barack Obama won Florida in 2008.

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TIMES/HERALD POLL: BILL NELSON 49%, CONNIE MACK 43%

Mitt Romney’s coattails do not appear to be strong enough to carry Connie Mack into the U.S. Senate, according to a new Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9/Miami Herald poll.

Democrat Bill Nelson retains a six-point lead in the high profile matchup, as Republican ticket-splitters and independent voters continue to provide the crucial margin Nelson needs to return to Washington.

Nelson leads Mack 49 percent to 43 percent and gets one out of every nine Romney voters — a sign that voters are looking for “someone who can work across the aisle” in the closely-divided Senate, said Brad Coker, director of the nonpartisan Mason Dixon Polling and Research, which conducted the poll.

“Independents aren’t sold that Republicans have the answers, and they aren’t sold that Democrats have the answers,” he said.

FIRST LOOK AT THE LATEST POLLING IN THREE  KEY CONGRESSIONAL RACES

Here is an exclusive first look at fresh polling numbers in three key battleground races via St. Pete Polls.

CD 18 – Democrat Patrick Murphy 48.9%, Republican Allen West 49.3%

CD 22 – Democrat Lois Frankel 57.2%, Republican Adam Hasner 39.3%

CD 26 – Democrat Joe Garcia 49.6%, Republican David Rivera 41.9%

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FLORIDA GOP HAS RAISED $26 MILLION FOR THIS CYCLE — $14 MILLION SINCE AUG. 10

In an advantage that could ripple through races statewide, the Republican Party of Florida has raised nearly $14 million since August 10 — while the Florida Democratic Party has collected about seven and a half million, according to campaign-finance reports filed Friday.

The GOP, which totally controls state government, tapped major donors such as Florida Power & Light, which contributed $435,000, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, which chipped in $425,000.

Democrats, meanwhile, received $535,000 from the Florida Education Association teachers union and $475,250 from Florida Justice PAC, a political offshoot of the Florida Justice Association trial-lawyers group.

The latest party totals, which covered the period from Aug. 10 until Thursday, widened a fund-raising gap that has been evident in campaigns across Florida. In all, the Republican Party has raised about $26 million this year, more than double the $10.8 million raised by Democrats.

LAWMAKERS RAISE $20 MILLION FOR PERSONAL COMMITTEES by Toluse Olorunnipa and Tia Mitchell of the Times/Herald bureau

Florida legislators have padded their personal political committees with more than $20 million in special interest donations this election cycle, using the funds to buy attack ads, help colleagues win races and, occasionally, pay for travel, meals and perks.

More and more, special interest groups are sending five- and six-figure campaign checks to lawmakers through committees as a way to avoid the usual $500 cap on individual donations, a Times/Herald analysis shows.

***Today’s SUNBURN is also sponsored by Corcoran & Johnston Government Relations. With more than 45 years of combined legislative and regulatory knowledge and experience, Corcoran & Johnston’s ability to navigate through the processes and politics of government and deliver for their clients is unmatched.***

PARTIES PUMPING MONEY INTO DORWORTH VS. CLELLAND RACE by Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel

The Republican Party of Florida and Florida Democratic Party are both suddenly pouring money into House District 29 — the race pitting future Republican House Speaker Chris Dorworth, R-Lake Mary, against former Democratic firefighter Mike Clelland.

The Republican Party of Florida, which had previously done less than $20,000 in direct spending on Dorworth’s race, plowed another $47,000 in the campaign during the latest fundraising period, according to updated finance reports. That included more than $14,000 on two polls (one paid for on Oct. 18 and another on Nov. 1) and more than $27,000 on telephone calls.

The Florida Democratic Party had done even less direct spending on Clelland: Giving him only the standard $5,000 contribution back in June. But it dumped another $40,000 into the race during the closing weeks — $3,200 for a poll (which it said showed Clelland within the margin of error) and $36,000 on mail pieces attacking Dorworth.

DORWORTH SPENDS $300K ON LAST-WEEK TV BLITZ

Dorworth has plowed more than $300,000 into a final-week television, radio, telephone and direct-mail advertising blitz.

Dorworth’s newest group, the “Florida Enterprise Foundation,” on Oct. 30 spent $100,000 on a television-ad buy. Then, on Nov. 1, the group put $96,000 into radio and direct-mail advertising. (The Enterprise Foundation had already spent $129,000 on TV ads for Dorworth earlier in October.)

In addition, Dorworth, through his own campaign, spent nearly $85,000 last week on TV, mail and online advertising. And the Republican Party of Florida added nearly $28,000 on telephone calls, again all last week.

… Helping make the late spending possible: incoming House Speaker Will Weatherford. One of Weatherford’s fundraising groups, the “Committee for a Conservative House,” gave $100,000 to Dorworth’s Florida Enterprise Foundation on Oct. 30.

TWEET, TWEET: @ChrisDorworth: Sentinel determines that me spending the money I’ve raised to get reelected on my reelection is newsworthy. #slownewsday

LAST MINUTE MAILER IN HD 30 LINKS KAREN CASTOR DENTEL TO JERRY SANDUSKY

The mailer features a picture of the former Penn State football assistant coach in handcuffs. Next to it the text says that Democrat Karen Castor Dentel would rather protect teachers and the union than young and impressionable students. … The mailer did not come from Plakon but from the Committee to Protect Florida. … Records show that the group had gotten money from political committees linked to Rep. Will Weatherford.

MY TAKE: The “Sandusky” mailer is atrocious, but don’t blame Weatherford. Full blog post here.

IN HD 40, INCOMING APROPS CHAIR SETH MCKEEL ADDS $42K via the News Service of Florida

Rep. Seth McKeel, a Lakeland Republican who is slated to become House budget chairman after the election, received $33,635 in contributions between Oct. 13 and Thursday, new records show.

McKeel has raised a total of $295,966, including $80,910 during the last month. Among his latest contributors were firms related to Walt Disney World and the Geico insurance company. McKeel does not have a Democratic opponent in Tuesday’s election in House District 40.

BOB BROOKS SAYS HE’S WITHIN A FEW POINTS OF LINDA STEWART IN HD 47

For several weeks now, there has been chatter in both political parties is that Democrat Linda Stewart, the former Orange County commissioner, is comfortably ahead of former Republican Rep. Bob Brooks in the race for House District 47, which stretches from Winter Park through downtown Orlando and into the Conway area.

Even GOP lawmakers and strategists have privately expressed doubts about Brooks’ chances, even as they confidently predict wins for the Republican candidates in Orlando’s other marquee House races …

But Brooks isn’t buying it. … “I think it’s within a few percentage points, one way or another,” Brooks said this morning, while waving signs outside of the Winter Park Public Library early voting station.

FACEBOOK STATUS UPDATE OF THE DAY

From Rep. Peter Nehr: Over 200 of my signs are now gone over the last few days. The County workers say it was not them. Then yesterday one of my supporters saw my opponent Carl Zimmermann himself taking my signs and putting them in the trunk of his car. When confronted he says yes they are my opponents signs but they are lies. First of all they are not lies. We have proof of everything he said. Also Carl: it is against the law to steal signs regardless. What a twit.

IN HD 65, NEHR ONLY NARROWLY AHEAD OF ZIMMERMAN

Republican Peter Nehr is clinging to a one point lead with early voters over Democrat Carl Zimmerman in the surprisingly close race for battleground House District 65.

According to a new survey conducted by St. Pete Polls, Nehr is at 47.6%, while Zimmerman is at 46.4% with voters who say they have voted absentee or early.  The race is also close among remaining likely voters, with Nehr at  46.3% to Zimmerman’s 43.7%.

The poll was conducted Nov. 1 and has a margin of error of +/- 5.1%.

POLL OF HD 68: FRANK FARKAS, DWIGHT DUDLEY DEADLOCKED

Farkas is at 45.0%, while Dudley is at 44.7% with voters who say they have voted absentee or early. Dudley has a wide lead among remaining likely voters, leading Farkas 45.6% to 37.6%, with 16.7% undecided or voting for NPA candidate Matt Weidner.

***Ron Sachs Communications is Florida’s preeminent public affairs communications firm. Ron Sachs Communications provides its clients with a competitive advantage built on strategic relationships, dynamic creativity and smart and aggressive communications strategies that generate superior results. If you want to win, you’ll want to have Ron Sachs Communications on your side. www.RonSachs.com***

DEP BRINGS ON NEW COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR

Reena O’Brien has been named communications director for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection after Rachel Cone’s move the governor’s office on Sept. 25. O’Brien, who was Reena Bhardwaj until her recent marriage, joined DEP as the press secretary in July.

ST. JOE COMPANY SEEKS UPTICK IN REAL ESTATE SALES

The St. Joe Company, a massive landowner in north Florida, reported an increase in residential real estate as earnings improved during the year’s third quarter.

The report, released Wednesday afternoon, said St. Joe sold 58 residential units during the quarter, compared to 40 during the same time period in 2011. Also, the company’s resorts and clubs saw a 9 percent revenue increase, with St. Joe pointing to a “strong summer vacation season.”

Overall, St. Joe reported net income of $15.3 million, or 17 cents a share, during the third quarter, up from a net loss of $2.4 million, or 3 cents a share, during the period last year. Park Brady, the company’s chief executive officer, said St. Joe showed improvements in all of its lines of business. We will continue to seek market opportunities in our resort and primary home communities while also exploring longer term opportunities that take advantage of changing demographics, such as retirement communities,” he said in a news release.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you in part by Tucker/Hall — a top-notch public affairs and public relations firm. Visit TuckerHall.com to read about their team, success stories and case studies.***

ELECTION NIGHT PARTY LISTING here.

GREAT INFOGRAPHIC of the business of running for President here.

WILL FERRELL WANTS YOUR VOTE: Will Ferrell will dance, punch himself in the face or give you a tatoo to make sure you vote.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.