Steve Schale: Democrats continue chipping away at GOP early vote lead

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As the first full weekend of early voting approaches, Democratic voters have been steadily chipping away at the traditional GOP early vote and absentee ballot lead, according to Democratic advisor Steve Schale.

Schale, who works with the Charlie Crist campaign, now provides nearly daily vote number updates as part of the campaign memo war with Tim Saler, his counterpart over at Republican Rick Scott’s camp.

It’s all about momentum, he says, particularly compared with 2010 numbers, when Scott won by just over 61,000 votes.

Schale points out that Republicans went into Election Day 2010 with a 12-point lead in early voting; this time around, that lead is shrinking fast, with a 4-point drop in the last four days.

The most significant takeaway from this week, he says, is that Democratic turnout is starting to heat up. Votes are coming in faster than they were in 2010. As of Oct 26, 2010, there were 1.45 million votes cast, giving the GOP an advantage of about 240K or a 17-point advantage.

Today, the margin runs about 130K or 9.6 points.

In addition, the first few days of early voting in 2010 had a steady GOP advantage. This cycle, the margin dropped significantly, down 4 points in only 4 days.

Democratic participation, as a percentage of the electorate, is up 3 points versus the same point in the 2010 election.  NPA participation is also up 3 points.  GOP is down six points from this day in 2010.

Democrats are taking a larger share of “sporadic voters” – those who have not regularly cast ballots in the past four General Elections. More than a quarter of Democratic voters did not vote in 2010, compared to 17 percent of Republican voters.  Over 30 percent of NPA voters are infrequent voters.

Schale’s analysis: an expanding electorate in 2014 is favoring Democrats, the opposite of what happened in 2010.

Going into Election Day in 2010, Republicans had a 12-point advantage. Rick Scott won by a single point or 61,500 votes.

Today it is 9.6 points.

This being Florida, Schale concludes, the governor’s race is going to be close.

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.