New Steve Schale memo: Charlie Crist doing much better than GOP wants to believe

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After three days of early voting, Democratic wunderkind Steve Schale looks at where things stand in the Florida Governor’s race.

Schale’s memo, reported by Adam Smith in the Tampa Bay Times, also offers a counterpoint to Tuesday’s campaign memo from Rick Scott Campaign Manager Tim Saler.

Saler’s memo crowed about early GOP gains in absentee ballot returns, saying that Democrats are essentially in free fall.

Not quite, Schale says, providing compelling numbers to support his view.

First, Schale notes that Quinnipiac still has the incumbent Republican governor at 42 percent, essentially where he was about $60-70 million ago. Yet averages continue giving Democratic opponent Charlie Crist a small lead.

Nevertheless, Democrats have outpaced their same-point 2010 performance by 8.6 points.

For Schale, the “single most important fact” is this: of voters who have already cast ballots, the GOP advantage is 10.4 percent, compared to 19 percent in 2010.

In addition, nine out of the 10 counties where Democrats see the largest gains since 2010 are in the all-important I-4 media markets of Southeast Florida. They include right-leaning swing vote regions of Pasco and Sarasota, as well as the Tampa media market, Crist’s home base, and key Democratic counties such as Broward and Dade.

For example, in Broward County, almost twice as many Democrats voted in 2014 so far than in 2010 at the same point in the election. Democrat advantage grew from 12 at this point in 2010 to 26.

Schale also points to Osceola County, an “interesting little story.”

With its growing Puerto Rican electorate, Osceola had the lowest voter turnout in the state of Florida for 2010. Depressed Hispanic turnout was one reason why Alex Sink lost, principally in the Orlando area.

Osceola is a little different in 2014.

So far, approximately 9400 voters cast ballots in Osceola County; 40 percent are ‘sporadic’ voters, or those who did not vote in 2010.

Of voters who voted in 2010 who already voted this time, Republicans lead by 5 points.

However, of the sporadic voters, Democrats enjoy a 25-point advantage, where 52 percent of them are people of color, as well as 37 percent who self-identify as Republicans.

The result is a stark difference between 2010 and 2014 at the same point in the election. The GOP held a 13-point lead at this point in the 2010 election. Today, Dems are leading by 7 points.

Overall, sporadic voters are nearly 32 percent of all the Democrats voting, while the number for Republicans is closer to 20 percent.

Taking in account the expanding electorate, Democrats is outperforming 2010 at this point in the election everywhere in the state, with the exception of 15 counties. Excluding Duval County, the remaining 14 counties combined make up a smaller number of voters than those who have already voted in Martin County.

Schale also reminds readers that in 2010, the GOP had an 11.9 percent advantage going into Election Day.  Adding Election Day numbers, there was a 5-point GOP advantage amongst all voters.

Scott won by only 61,000 votes – just 1 point.

To have that advantage pre-Election Day in 2010, the GOP arrived with an 18.4 percent lead in absentee ballots, as well as a 4.3 percent advantage in early voting.

In 2014, the GOP absentee ballot advantage is 12 points (versus 21 in 2010). Early vote is a wash, where it was 12 points at the same time in 2010.

Trends support the model where a Republican advantage is not at 5 — the margin that would provide Scott the same 61,000 vote victory; it is more like +2 (or less) Republican, a margins that could have led to Sink winning in 2010.

Schale warns that Democrats need to vote; there is still a long way to go. Scott’s new influx of cash — from his most ardent supporter, himself — ensures a steady avalanche of negative ads until Nov. 4.

Twelve days is a lifetime in politics, Schale adds.

In all, trends suggest that Crist will have a much more welcoming election environment than Sink had in 2010.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.