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

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To: Fellow Data Nerds

From: Steve Schale, #FloridaMan

Re: Day Three of Early Voting

*12 days until the election

*16 days until FSU basketball tips off.

Before we dive into the data, can I have a side conversation with the reporters reading this?

Now, I get it, the national race for president is over, and there is a need to keep this race interesting. But the attention to that Bloomberg Poll yesterday is kind of nuts. Hillary Clinton has led or been tied in the 14 most-recent polls before that one, two of which came out yesterday that received virtually no coverage. So, let’s keep all these polls in perspective.

Back to everyone.

Let’s quickly talk about polling.

In 2012, the storyline was Barack Obama couldn’t win Florida. In fact, Obama only led four of the last 15 polls before this day in the election. It was fair skepticism.

But in this case, HRC has led 14 of the last 15. I don’t think anyone can argue the fact that she is in a strong position to win.

No one knows better to me how tough this state can be, and no one is going to blow anyone out here. But she is ahead. It is a fact. Now she must turn out the vote.

One last thing on that Bloomberg poll. They have the electorate at plus-three Republican, 42-39. I don’t know even the most optimistic GOP operative who agrees with that model.

Today, among votes in, it is 41-41-18. If you take the Bloomberg Poll and do nothing but weigh the party breaks to 41-41-18, guess what? It shows Clinton with a three-point lead — essentially what the average has been for a few weeks.

Oh, and the University of North Florida this morning has it plus-four HRC.

OK, rant over. Back to early voting.

Just shy of 2.5 million Floridians have voted. This is roughly 27-28 percent of what total turnout will be. In other words, more than a quarter of the likely Florida electorate has voted.

— 278,701 Floridians voted early, and Democrats won the day by about 4,000. Total in-person was about 15,000 less than Tuesday.

— 166,962 Floridians returned VBM ballots, and the GOP is ahead on them by about 10,000.

So out of about 2.5 million votes, the GOP has a 10,000-vote lead, which plays out to about 0.47 percent.

I often get asked how this compares to 2012. Apple to apples, it doesn’t. In 2012, early voting started on the same day as this coming Saturday, so this day four years ago we were only looking at VBM. The GOP had a pretty significant lead, and we did not overtake them in total votes until Sunday.

In 2008, the early voting calendar was like this one, though the GOP went in with a much larger VBM lead. If memory serves me right, it was the weekend when Democrats overtook the GOP.

Wednesday was the second day that was largely a wash. For what it is worth, I think today will be as well.

Also, from now on, I am going to report combined EV/VBM numbers. Where one or the other from the day is noteworthy, I’ll comment.

Here are the usual benchmarks. I will also explain below why these are the areas I find interesting.


Hillsborough is the only county that voted for George W. Bush twice and Obama twice. It has also correctly picked 19 of the last 20 presidents. For those unfamiliar with Florida, Tampa is located there. The county is very “Midwestern,” so it tends to have more swing voters.

Yesterday, Democrats carried the day by about five points, thanks to a 10-point advantage in VBM ballots. Democrats maintain a seven-point (44-37) edge in total ballots cast, which is in line with our registration edge.


The I-4 counties yesterday looked a lot like the I-4 should look, except for the third straight day, Democrats won the in-person early vote in Polk County, a county that last voted for a Democratic president in 1976. I suspect that is being driven by some of the new Puerto Rican growth. Democrats won in-person early voting everywhere but Volusia (Daytona) and Seminole; Republicans won VBM returns everywhere but Orange, Osceola, and Hillsborough.

Some county totals (again these numbers will be lower than yesterday because they include both VBM and EV):

Orange: 46-32 D for the day. 49-31 D overall

Osceola: 48-28 D for the day. 49-29 D overall

Volusia: 42-36 R for the day. 42-38 R overall

South Florida 

The three Southeast Florida counties are the home to the Democratic base. Each had robust in-person voting for the third consecutive day. For example, Broward was right at 30,000 in-person early votes for the third day in a row, and overall the Miami media market made up almost 21 percent of all the votes yesterday (it is about 19 percent of typical statewide vote).

Also, remember in Dade County, voter registration is 42-28-30 D-R-I, so the partisan edges will seem smaller than many would expect.

Palm Beach continues to look good (though I’d like higher turnout): 48-30 D for the day, 51-30 D overall (+28K). (Obama won by 17 points.)

Broward: 57-23 D for the day, and 58-24 D overall (+66K)

Dade: 45-31 D for the day, and 45-33 D overall (+33K)

And I continue to feel very good about Duval, even though GOP had a good day in VBM returns, Democrats once again won the in-person early vote. This is a county where Clinton could significantly reduce the huge Bush margins of 2000 and 2004 (61K votes in 2004!)

Duval: 44-43 R for the day, 44-41 R overall (+1,000)

At a more granular level, here are few interesting factoids.

From the standpoint of regional breaks, some interesting things pop up:

If you are a Republican, you will like the fact that the Fort Myers market is turning out. It is about 9.5 percent of votes so far, when it shouldn’t be much higher than 7 percent. What is interesting, both Republicans and Democrats in the market are turning out a very large percentage of unlikely voters.

On the flip side, North Florida media markets are coming in at a lower share of the state than is typical. In fairness, two caveats: many North Florida counties did not take advantage of the optional early voting periods, and many tend to have higher Election Day turnouts. For all the talk of a surprise Donald Trump enthusiasm, if it existed, we would see it here — and we are not.

If you are a Democrat, the good news is after a few days of in-person early voting, Orlando and Miami are coming in at roughly their 2012 vote shares. At the same time, West Palm Beach is a little under where I’d like it.

Tampa also is overrepresented in early vote and vote-by-mail, but that is typical at this point. It is about 25.8 percent of voters so far, will probably land right about 24 percent.

Democrats are turning out their highest shares of “unlikely voters” in Fort Myers (33 percent of Dems low propensity), Miami (29 percent) and Orlando (29 percent). Republicans in Fort Myers (27 percent), Miami (23 percent), and Pensacola (23 percent). Overall, about 27 percent of Dems are “low propensity” and 22 percent of Republicans. This number has been consistent over last few days.

Early vote is more diverse than vote-by-mail. Early vote so far is about 67 percent white, compared to 73 percent of VBM. Hispanic is a little low right now, but that tends to break later. Currently, African-American is 15 percent of in-person early voting. This is quite encouraging for my side. These numbers are through Tuesday. I won’t have Wednesday until later.

Again, I don’t expect much to change over next few days, but by the weekend, I suspect (and hope) we will have some separation.

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