Steve Schale’s latest early-vote update memo offers Democrats a little more hope, in the form of three key numbers: 7.5, 66,398 & 61,500.
The Republican advantage in votes cast now stands at 7.5 percent, he says, down from 8.2 percent as of Sunday, compared to 17.7 percent at this point in the last comparable gubernatorial race in 2010.
The difference in real votes between the GOP 2010 advantage and today is 66,398, which means the GOP is that much smaller today than at the same point in 2010.
Of course, there is 61,500; the number of votes, rounded slightly, by which Rick Scott won the Governor’s race by in 2010.
As Schale sees it, Democrats clearly won the first weekend of early voting, particularly on Sunday, by just under 7,800 or 15 percent. In 2010, Republicans won the first early-voting weekend by a small percentage.
During the past two days, the Republican advantage over Democrats dropped from 9.1 to 7.5 percent. Last week, Republicans began early voting with a 13-point advantage, meaning the GOP lead dropped 5.5 percent in just a week.
When looking at the numbers after the first week of early voting 2010, the GOP advantage percentage held steadily.
To date, Schale estimates approximately 1.825 million Floridians have cast ballots, with a 7.5 percent GOP edge in early voting.
As of October 28, 2010 (Day 5 of that election cycle), 1.8 million Floridians had voted, and the GOP advantage was nearly double, at 14.9 percent among all voters.
Compared to 2010, Democrats are outpacing Republicans in 54 of 67 counties, particularly in the three southern counties: Dade (15 percent up), Broward and Palm Beach (14 percent up each).
In Broward and Palm Beach, Democrats have turned out roughly twice as many voters at this point in the election than in 2010. In Dade, the number is about 76 percent more.
Democratic gains over 2010 numbers are also up in the I-4 corridor — 19 percent in Osceola, 15 percent in Sarasota, 14 percent in Pasco and 12 percent in both Orange and Seminole County.
Schale’s memo reminds us that those numbers represent “real gains” in margins between the two parties.
Even in conservative Lee County, the largest in Scott’s home media market, Democrats cut the GOP lead from 41 percent in 2010 to 29 percent.
In 2010, Scott spent over $100 million, winning by roughly 61,500 votes. Schale is convinced that few but the most ardent GOP operatives believes that Scott finished Week 1 as “anything but vulnerable.”
After about 80,000 mostly negative ads, Scott has failed to move the needle from 42 percent, the exact same place he was at the start of the year.
“There is no reason to think that 10,000 more (the amount expected in the next week) will do something that the first 80,000 didn’t,” Schale says.
Democratic turnout is definitely better than the 2010 midterms, and that gap continues to close. In the GOP success of 2010, they entered Election Day with a 12-point advantage in all early votes cast. Today it is 7.5 percent.
“I know for certain,” Schale says. “Rick Scott has to have a GOP year to win. I firmly believe anything resembling a push in terms of partisan advantage benefits Governor Crist.”
There is no time to rest, since this race remains “razor tight.” Republicans may be uncomfortably ahead, Schale says, but they are ahead.