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Sunburn for 11.08.16 – Election Day in America

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Sunburn – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Tom Jackson, Mitch Perry and Jim Rosica.


And so, at last, it is upon us. Election Day. Time, fence-sitters, to decide.

We’ve been counting down so long, all the way back to the spring of last year; it sometimes seemed we’d never get here.

Great nation that we (still) are, however, propelled by momentum and time-honored systems that guide truer than any GPS, we’ve navigated the distance: From the GOP’s scrum-debates of last fall through the frigid caucuses and first primaries, through the snooze-fest conventions and the increasing post-Labor Day urgency, to here, this day, this moment.

The choice apparent record numbers of voters have been pushing off — and who can blame them, really — is now. Time to choose. Time to commit.

Time, if the dug-in partisans who’ve been slinging varieties of the same invective on your Facebook page since before Memorial Day, to decide … and to discover if the progression of events has assumed the role of the Man In Black and this truly is our iocane-powder moment.

Will we, too, guess wrong no matter what? Is this a land war in Asia or, worse, going in against a Sicilian when death is on the line? Or has the United States, buoyed by the genius of its shared-authority Constitution, spent the last two-plus centuries building up an immunity to two equally poisonous goblets of wine?

Our money is on Mr. Madison’s antidote of checks and balances, as well as the resilience of the American people who, as Winston Churchill once said, always can be counted on to do the right thing … once all other possibilities are exhausted.

Not that the choice still lurking for those who reserve and hallow Election Day for the vigorous exercising of our franchise, has improved, or, frankly, even clarified, with the approach and, at last, arrival of today.

The negative campaign messengers have convinced us. One is an orange, helmet-haired xenophobe with a dismal moral character who lashes out in unpredictable fashion as it suits him. But he has lovely children. The other is the most corrupt candidate for high office in any reputable historian’s memory, whose corrosive appetite for power is exacerbated by Nixonian characteristics: paranoia and vengefulness. But Chelsea seems OK.

In a change election, in a nation whose inhabitants, by more than 2-to-1, ache for a new direction, our top picks for president each seems a perversion. One wouldn’t be where he is without having converted a personal fortune into brand-conscious schtick. The other wouldn’t be where she is without her married last name and the blessing — in an America increasingly organized around group identity — of lady parts.

Given that, it seems perfectly appropriate that the final week swirled around the revelation of fresh correspondence discovered only because the husband of Hillary Clinton’s closest confidant is an apparent serial creep who hoarded his wife’s email on a laptop — and that the whole thing, resolved in record time by the FBI — amounted to nothing.

The entire affair almost seemed a feint, a dodge, a misdirection play, mischief from the nation’s chief investigative team. Imagine Director James Comey as Johnny, pulling the plug on the runway lights in “Airplane.” Just kidding.

Well. You can believe that if you want to.

Meanwhile, in Michigan and Pennsylvania Sunday night, Donald Trump, to the cheers of those who skipped Economics 101, resumed his pledge to punish U.S.-based companies that attempt to move or outsource.

Hoo, boy.

The whole thing tempts you to leave the top of the ballot blank, and dive straight into the foundational races.

Will Floridians renew Marco Rubio’s political lease? In Pinellas County, will David Jolly’s against-the-grain legislative and campaign styles usher him past the latest iteration of Charlie Crist while showing Republicans a possible new way forward in their (presumed) post-Trump era?

And will we, reject all attempts to amend the Florida Constitution at the ballot box? … Or will we face Wednesday’s new dawn having acquired a malady covered by medical pot, and be happy for the hippy dippy wisdom of the state’s voters?

Strap in. At long, long last, Election Day is here, and it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

62% OF VOTERS SAY ELECTION HAS MADE THEM FEEL LESS PROUD OF AMERICA via Carrie Dann of NBC News — A majority of Americans – 62 percent – say they are less proud of America as a result of the 2016 presidential contest, while only seven percent say they are more proud of the country because of the race. The numbers are a grim reminder of the nation’s mood despite the history that will be made regardless of the outcome on Tuesday night. … The data are also particularly stark compared to 2008, when voters had a choice between the first black presidential nominee, Barack Obama, or a widely-respected war hero, John McCain. In the final NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll before the 2008 election, 34 percent of voters said they were more proud of their country because of the presidential race, 45 percent said their pride in the country had not changed, and just 12 percent said they were less proud of the United States because of the election.

FINAL CRYSAL BALL – CLINTON 322, TRUMP 216; 50-50 SENATE; GOP HOLDS HOUSE via Larry J. Sabato, Kyle Kondik, and Geoffrey Skelley via Sabato’s Crystal Ball — Despite some wobbles along the way, we’ve favored Clinton as the 45th president of the United States ever since we did our first handicapping of the Clinton vs. Trump matchup back in late March. The edge we had for her back then has eroded a little bit at the end — we had her as high as 352 electoral votes, and in the final tally we have her down to 322, with 216 for Trump. If this is how it turns out, Trump will fare 10 electoral votes better than Mitt Romney, and Clinton will do 10 electoral votes worse than Obama in 2012.

… If Trump pulls an upset, it’ll probably be because he narrowly fought off Clinton in Florida and North Carolina and managed to spring a shocker or two in the Rust Belt. Florida may tell us a lot about whether we’re going to have a long night or a short one. About two-thirds of voters will likely have cast their ballots early, so the vote count should not take that long. If Clinton wins the state by two or three points and is declared the victor early on, it’ll be hard to find a plausible path to Trump victory. If Trump captures the state, though, then we’ll have to see if her firewall states, like the aforementioned states of Michigan, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania, as well as Colorado, Nevada, and Virginia, come through for her.

… We’re forecasting Democrats to win control of the Senate, but only by the slimmest of margins. Overall, we’re picking a net gain of four for Democrats in the Senate, which results in a 50-50 tie in Congress’ upper chamber. … In Florida, we project Rubio’s 2015-2016 political journey to end in reelection after running for president and not intending — at least publicly — to run for Senate again if he failed in his White House bid. As we have discussed many times, Rubio doesn’t appear to have suffered much collateral damage among Latino voters in the Sunshine State because of Trump, running well ahead of his party mate among that demographic. Should Rubio defeat Murphy by only a narrow margin, there will be recriminations in Democratic circles for failing to go hard after Rubio, especially because he still has presidential ambitions that could reignite circa 2019.

FINAL NATE SILVER FORECAST via Five Thirty Eight — The polls are coming in fast and furious — and there are signs of late momentum for Clinton, whose lead has increased to roughly 3.5 percentage points over Trump. …  But even if Clinton’s win probability inches up by another percentage point or two, she’ll still be the probable but far-from-certain winner. That means (Tuesday) is going to be very exciting — not only because the result is uncertain but because an unusually large number of states will potentially have a say in the outcome. Consider, for instance, that party ideologies and demographic coalitions are changing to the point that Clinton is an overall favorite in the race despite being several points behind in Iowa and even a modest underdog in Ohio, and also consider that Trump still has a shot despite sometimes having trailed in polls in red states ranging from Georgia to Utah. I think of the swing states as belonging to eight groups of two to four states each. These groups correspond pretty closely to the states’ relative order of importance according to our tipping-point index, which reflects each state’s chance of casting the decisive 270th vote in the Electoral College.


… I think of Florida and North Carolina as being the protagonists of this election. They have a bit of everything: early voting, conflicting polling, changing demographics. And they’ve always played a role in the drama of the campaign, since neither candidate has ever really been able to pull away in either state. (No candidate has ever been better than a 2-1 favorite in North Carolina in our polls-plus forecast, for instance.) Furthermore, both states’ polls close relatively early and they count their vote relatively quickly, so they’ll be some of the first states we’ll be checking for clues as to how tomorrow will proceed. Clinton would seem to be playing offense in these states, in the sense that winning either one would make it very hard for Trump to come back — that’s especially the case for Florida, with its 29 electoral votes, which could cover for her losing two key states elsewhere on the map. But there’s a higher chance than you might think that they prove to be a necessity rather than a luxury for Clinton, in case something goes wrong for Clinton in the Midwest.

FINAL UPSHOT FORECAST via Nate Cohn of The New York Times — Hispanic voters were largely credited with President Obama’s victory in 2012, but they weren’t as crucial as many believed. Obama didn’t even need to win the Hispanic vote to put him over the top, thanks to high black turnout and support among white voters in the North. The turnout among Hispanic voters didn’t surge, even though exit polls implied that it had. This year, Hispanic voters, perhaps motivated by Trump’s policy proposals (including deportation) and harsh language aimed at undocumented Hispanic immigrants, really might decide this election. Early voting data unequivocally indicates that Clinton will benefit from a long awaited surge in Hispanic turnout, vastly exceeding the Hispanic turnout from four years ago.

… In Florida, voters who indicated they were Hispanic on their voter registration form represent more than 15 percent of the early vote. In 2012, Hispanic voters were just 12 percent of the final electorate. The numbers are striking in part because of the sheer magnitude of the early vote so far. Already, more than 6.4 million total voters have cast their ballots in the state — equal to 75 percent of the final turnout in 2012. In total, as many Hispanic voters have already cast ballots in Florida’s early voting period as cast ballots in all of 2012. The Hispanic surge in Florida isn’t simply because Clinton has drawn typically reliable Election Day voters to vote early instead: According to Daniel Smith of the University of Florida, fully 36 percent of the Hispanics who have voted so far did not vote in 2012. It’s also striking because Hispanic voters are typically among the least likely to participate in early and absentee voting. If that pattern continues this year — suggesting a robust Hispanic turnout on Election Day — Trump is probably in serious trouble.

SCHORSCH’S FINAL PREDICTION – CLINTON 304, TRUMP 234. Read my rationale here.

IS 99% A REASONABLE PROBABLITY? via Sam Wang of the Princeton Election Consortium — Three sets of data point in the same direction: The state poll-based Meta-Margin is Clinton +2.6%. National polls give a median of Clinton +3.0 +/- 0.9% (10 polls with a start date of November 1st or later). Early voting patterns approximately match 2012, a year when the popular vote was Obama +3.9%. Based on this evidence, if Clinton does not win on Tuesday it will be a giant surprise. There’s been buzz about the Princeton Election Consortium’s win probability for Clinton, which for some time has been in the 98-99% range. … (L)et me explain how the Princeton Election Consortium achieves such a high level of confidence. We start by generating the sharpest possible snapshot, based on state polls. State polls are more accurate than national polls, which at this late date are a source of unnecessary uncertainty. … The snapshot gets converted to a Meta-Margin, which is defined as how far all polls would have to move, in the same direction, to create a perfect toss-up. The Meta-Margin is great because it has units that we can all understand: a percentage lead.

At the moment, the Meta-Margin is Clinton +2.6%. As I have noted, the Presidential Meta-Margin tends to move on a one-to-one basis with the Senate Meta-Margin and the generic House ballot. That suggests that down ticket effects are powerful, and also that the snapshot calculation does a good job of separating correlated from uncorrelated change. To turn the Meta-Margin into a win probability, the final step is to estimate how far the results of tomorrow’s election will be from today’s Meta-Margin. As a community, pollsters have pretty good judgment, but their average estimate of who will vote may be off a little. In past years, the snapshot has been quite good, ending up within a few electoral votes of the final outcome. That is equivalent to an uncertainty of less than one percentage point.

16 BATTLEGROUNDS THAT WILL DECIDE THE ELECTION via Charlie Mahtesian of POLITICO – While every vote counts, not all of them have the same value — in an election that has come down to less than a dozen contested swing states, some places matter a lot more than others. Here are 16 battlegrounds that will decide the election: Miami-Dade County … Philadelphia suburbs … Waukesha County, Wisconsin … Northern Maine … Polk County, Iowa … Mahoning County, Ohio … Wake County, North Carolina … Oakland County, Michigan … Clark County, Nevada … Northern Virginia … Arapahoe County and Jefferson County, Colorado … Hillsborough and Rockingham counties, New Hampshire … Maricopa County, Arizona … Gwinnett County, Georgia … Salt Lake County, Utah … Omaha, Nebraska.

WANT TO KNOW WHO IS WINNING THE PREZ RACE IN SORTA REAL TIME? via Josh Voorhees of Slate — By combining proprietary, large-sample polls taken before Election Day with targeted, real-time tracking of voter turnout Tuesday, VoteCastr will make rolling projections of how many ballots have been cast for each candidate in each of the states we’re tracking: Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. If you visit Slate at 11 a.m. EST Tuesday, you’ll see projections for how many votes have been cast for Clinton and Trump in each of those states as of 11 a.m.

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THREE FLORIDA COUNTIES WHICH OFFER CLUES ON OUTCOME via Bill Barrow of the Associated Press – Did Trump succeed in at last winning over college-educated whites uneasy with the billionaire reality TV star? Did he drive a wave of working-class white voters? Did Clinton rebuild Obama’s winning coalition – young voters, urban liberals and minorities – while picking off moderate Republicans? Those questions are central to who will win Tuesday’s presidential election, and a handful of locales could provide some early answers on election night.

Here are three Florida counties seen as bellwethers for the Trump and Clinton strategies. DUVAL: This Republican-leaning county …  has a solid white majority and sizable black minority, making it look more like the Deep South than south Florida. So a movement in Trump’s favor would mean returns closer to 2004, when George W. Bush won by 60,000 votes, than 2012, when Romney finished just 16,000 ahead of Obama. HILLSBOROUGH Bush and Obama each won Hillsborough (Tampa) twice, and both are two-term presidents. What makes Hillsborough stand out in 2016 is a growing Mexican-American population. There are already signs that Trump’s hard-line immigration stance is driving up the Hispanic vote: A quarter of the Hispanics who cast ballots in the opening days of early voting hadn’t voted at all in 2012. An expanded electorate (543,000 voted here in 2012) that is less white would benefit Clinton. MIAMI-DADE In Florida’s most populous county, older Cuban-Americans fuel Republicans (333,000 votes in 2012), while younger Cuban-Americans, other Hispanics and black voters drive Democratic totals (541,000 in 2012). If Clinton lags Obama’s vote totals with black voters, it could show up here. Trump, meanwhile, could struggle to match the usual Republican performance among Cuban-Americans. Watch for whether Trump’s Miami-Dade vote totals lag far behind those of Sen. Marco Rubio, a favorite among his fellow Cuban-Americans.

FINAL FLORIDA POLL: HILLARY CLINTON 46%, DONALD TRUMP 45% via Florida Politics — A new Quinnipiac University poll shows just 1 percentage point separates Clinton from Trump in the Sunshine State. According to the poll, Clinton is at 46 percent, followed by Trump at 45 percent. Libertarian Gary Johnson is at 3 percent, while Green Party candidate Jill Stein is at 1 percent. “As the 2016 presidential race hits the finish line, both Florida and North Carolina are virtual ties with Clinton at 46 percent in Florida and 47 percent in North Carolina, and Donald Trump at 45 percent in each state,” said Peter Brown, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, in a statement. “There is no realistic scenario under which Trump can win the White House without those two states, while Clinton might get there without them, but it’s not a road she wants to travel. While neither of these states is likely to be as close as the 548 votes in Florida that decided the 2000 election, both states could keep the country up counting ballots well into Wednesday morning and perhaps beyond.” … Clinton is supported by 85 percent of Democrats, 45 percent of independent voters, and 7 percent of Republicans. She has support from 68 percent of non-white voters, and has an edge over Trump among voters who have already voted, 47 percent to 43 percent.

OPTIMISM HOLDS THAT 2012’S THREE-HOUR AND LONGER VOTER LINES WILL NOT REAPPEAR via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – Secretary of State Ken Detzner and his Florida Division of Elections team declined to talk about 2012, even to discuss why they may be optimistic it will not repeat itself in 2016. Supervisors of elections are expressing confidence, especially since in many counties more than half the voters this year have voted even before Election Day dawns. “Given the fact that there has been quite an effort in most counties if not all to strengthen the awareness of voting by mail coupled with a ballot that is not too-terribly long, I believe, even if the remainder of the voting public would give us 100 percent return, it would not equate to a long line,” said Chris Chambless, Clay County supervisor of elections, who is president of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections … a couple of reasons elections officials are optimistic that three-hour lines won’t happen this year. The first is the tremendous increase in early and mail-in voting. Much of that is driven strategically by state and county elections officials, the political parties, and the campaigns all trying to encourage people to vote early or by mail, and to make it easier. It also may be driven by voters’ own memories of those 2012 lines. If you spend two hours in line waiting to vote, next time out you’ll be thinking about how to avoid such lines. The Florida Legislature, pressured by Democrats, re-established the 14-day early-voting period, up from the eight days that were allowed in 2012, and also allowed for increased locations. And mail-in voting — once known by the intimidating phrase “absentee voting” — has kicked up to unprecedented popularity. But it’s more than that. The 2012 general election ballot was six or more pages in most counties, weighted down by 11 statewide initiatives and often several local or county initiatives. This year there are only four statewide initiatives — a lot less for each voter to have to stop, read and figure out, said Bill Cowles, supervisor of elections for Orange County.

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SENDS POLL WATCHERS TO 5 FLORIDA COUNTIES via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – The U.S. Justice Department is dispatching more than 500 monitors and observers to watch polling sites in 28 states on Election Day … “We will work tirelessly to ensure that every eligible person that wants to do so is able to cast a ballot,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement. The number is a reduction of about a third from the more than 780 monitors who were deployed during the 2012 election. On Tuesday, they will be stationed in 67 jurisdictions across the country to keep track of any voting irregularities. They will be watching for voting rights violations, such as whether voters are discriminated against because of their race or language. “As always, our personnel will perform these duties impartially, with one goal in mind: to see to it that every eligible voter can participate in our elections to the full extent that federal law provides,” Lynch said … Of the 500 people who will be deployed, those sent to Alaska, California, Louisiana, New York and Alabama will be election “observers” will full access to the polls. Those dispatched to the other 24 states will be “monitors,” meaning they don’t have the statutory authority to access polling sites, which will have to be granted by state and local authorities. Among the monitored counties will be five in Florida: Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Orange, Hillsborough and Lee.

NEW ANALYSIS SHOWS IMPACT OF FLORIDA FELON VOTER SUPPRESSION ON ELECTION via Annika Hammerschlag of the Naples Daily News – An estimated 58,885 voters won’t be casting ballots … according to a Naples Daily News analysis that used voting trends from North Carolina, a state with similar electoral composition and a more lenient felon voting policy. In a state like Florida where elections are decided by the smallest of margins, the consequences could be huge for both parties. If Florida felons were allowed to register, an estimated 258,060 would sign up as Democrats, 46,920 as Republicans, and 84,456 as independent and third party, according to the analysis that relies on research of felons voting in North Carolina. That could add to the Democrats’ current 325,000 edge in Florida registrations out of 12.9 million voters. The Daily News used the trends from North Carolina because the state’s party composition mirrors Florida’s. The study showed 27.6 percent of North Carolina felons released between 2004 and 2008 were registered to vote in 2013 — 55 percent as Democrats, 18 percent as independent and third party, and 10 percent  as Republican. Party registration could not be identified for about 17 percent of the felons. In North Carolina, 12.5 percent of felons registered to vote cast ballots in the 2012 presidential election. But the new voters could push either party’s candidate over in a tight race. When it comes to turning out at the polls, the Daily News analysis found Florida felons would cast an estimated 58,885 ballots.

CLINTON VOWS TO ‘BE A PRESIDENT FOR ALL AMERICANS’ IN FINAL TV AD — The Clinton campaign released a 2-minute advertisement laying out the choice in the election. The national advertisement aired during “The Voice” on NBC and “Kevin Can Wait” on CBS, reaching an estimated 20 million people, according to the Clinton campaign. Clinton talks directly to the camera in the two-minute spot, called “Tomorrow.” She uses the advertisement to lay out her agenda, promising voters she will “be a president for all Americans,” not just those who support her in the election. “I will work my heart out as president to make things better for you and your family. We won’t always get it right, but you can count on this: I never quit and I never will,” she says in the advertisement. “I’ll get up every day determined to keep America safe and strong and make our economy work for everyone, not just those at the top.” Click the image below to watch the advertisement.

TRUMP MAKES ONE LAST PITCH IN FLORIDA BEFORE ELECTION DAY: ‘THIS IS IT’ via Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times – “This is it,” Trump said before thousands at Sarasota County Fairgrounds. “Good luck, get out there. I did my thing.” Voters, he said, have “one magnificent chance to beat the corrupt system. … I’m asking you to dream big.” Returning to the populism that fueled his rise, Trump said he went from being “the ultimate insider” to an insurgent who will upend politics. “I had to join the other side, which is you,” he said. “Our country was in trouble.” The rally — punctuated by chants of “lock her up” and “drain the swamp” — begins a furious final day for Trump. In Sarasota, Trump railed against Obamacare and the FBI’s handling of the investigation into Clinton’s emails. “Hillary Clinton is being protected by a totally rigged system and now it’s up to the American people to deliver justice at the ballot box tomorrow.”

JOE BIDEN CONNECTS WITH CAMPUS CROWD IN TALLAHASSEE via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics – A sunglasses-wearing Vice President Biden wanted a Tallahassee crowd … to “imagine” a world with Trump as president. It wasn’t pretty. “We don’t have to make anything up; we just have to say what they want to push,” Biden said during a midday get-out-the-vote rally at Florida A&M University. Several times, he prefaced his comments with, “This is not hyperbole.” For example, “does anyone think a Trump administration will continue with $300 million in Pell grants,” allowing historically black colleges and universities to grow? he asked. “Imagine what happens, imagine all the lost opportunities,” he said. If Trump wins, “what message does that send about who we are?” Biden was on a last-minute swing through the Sunshine State the day before Election Day, stumping for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.He was next scheduled to appear at a rally in St. Petersburg. The vice president alternated from quiet to shouting, driving home his message of a Trumpian world without hope.

ANA NAVARRO SAYS SHE VOTED FOR CLINTON via Patricia Mazzei of the Miami Herald – The CNN commentator and Jeb Bush supporter, who has broken through on cable news as a forceful voice against Trump, posted a first-person essay explaining her vote: I didn’t want to write this. I avoided making a decision as long as I could. I schlepped my absentee ballot all over the country for almost four weeks. I would periodically take it out of the envelope, look at it, shake my head in disgust, and put it back in my suitcase. I had decided to write-in my mother as a symbolic protest vote against the Democratic and Republican nominees. I didn’t want to vote for either of them. I had hoped that a week before the election, Trump would be losing Florida by a large enough margin that my vote wouldn’t matter. But darn it, my home state is too close to call. Florida could be the decisive state (again) as to who ultimately becomes the next president of the United States. I thought back to the 2000 election, which was decided by 537 votes in Florida. I thought about how I would feel if the same thing happened in 2016. I thought and I thought and I thought … Then I cast my vote for Hillary Clinton. Let me rephrase that. I cast my vote against Donald Trump. I did it without joy or enthusiasm. I did it out of civic duty and love for our country.

UBER, GOOGLE TEAM UP TO ENCOURAGE USERS TO VOTE — The ride-hailing giant has teamed up with Google to launch a special in-app feature Tuesday that will help riders locate their polling place before requesting their ride. “Given the important decision people around the country will make on Nov. 8, we wanted to make getting to and from your polling place easier than ever,” said Nikki Christoff, the head of federal affairs at Uber in a statement on its website. “Teaming up with Google, Uber is excited to help make that trip as convenient and stress free as possible.” Today, an in-app message will remind riders it is Election Day and provide easy access to their polling place, before helping them request a ride.

ELECTION CAKES MAY BE THE PERFECT SWEET END TO A BITTER CAMPAIGN SEASON via Daron Taylor of The Washington Post – After making it through one of the most bitter and divisive campaign seasons in generations, maybe we could all use a slice of delicious cake. That’s exactly how America used to celebrate democracy in action when our country began: With ‘election cakes.’ Enormous in size, these sweet, spiced and fruit-filled cakes were designed to sustain voters at the polls. The oldest known recipe for election cake is found in one of the first cookbooks ever published in America: the second edition of American Cookery by Amelia Simmons, published in 1796. The election of 1796 was certainly one worth celebrating. It was the election held after George Washington refused a third term as president, and it was a test of the peaceful transfer of power in our new democracy. Women were not allowed to vote when the first recipes for election cakes were written, and baking cakes was encouraged as a way to participate in the electoral process if only from the sidelines. By the time the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920, election cakes had fallen out of favor. More than 90 years later, a new generation of bakers is reviving these old recipes for the 2016 election using the hashtag #makeamericacakeagain. Baking, and women’s historical role in domestic and public life, holds a special significance in this year’s presidential campaign, the first ever to include a female presidential nominee. Election cakes, and for that matter the act of baking itself, is non-partisan.

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FINAL FLORIDA POLL SHOWS MARCO RUBIO AT 50%, PATRICK MURPHY AT 43% via Florida Politics — A new Quinnipiac University poll shows Rubio leads Murphy, 50 percent to 43 percent. The poll found 7 percent of respondents said they were either voting for someone else or didn’t know.The latest poll of 884 likely Florida voters was conducted from Nov. 3 through Nov. 6. It has a margin of error of 3.3 percent. Rubio has the backing of 93 percent of Republicans, 55 percent of independent voters, and 8 percent of Democrats. The survey found 48 percent of respondents who said they already voted backed Rubio, compared to 46 percent who said they voted for Murphy. Murphy has the backing of 88 percent of Democrats, 39 percent of independents, and 3 percent of Republicans.

SECOND TRY AT MEDICAL POT AMENDMENT GAINS SUPPORT IN FLORIDA via Joe Reedy of The Associated Press – Most state polls have support for Amendment 2 above the 60 percent threshold needed for approval. A similar measure was on the 2014 general election ballot and received 58 percent. Supporters say they have listened to concerns from two years ago and changed the amendment’s wording to tighten oversight over the industry and protect children from harm. Opponents say there still isn’t enough research proving the benefits in medical treatment. They also warn that the state will be overrun with pot shops and that children could illegally gain access to the drug. If approved, Florida would be the 26th state along with the District of Columbia to legalize the marijuana plant for medical use. Florida is one of 16 states where only part of the marijuana plant is used.

VOTERS IN FLORIDA FACE CRUCIAL SOLAR POWER DECISIONS via Jason Dearen of The Associated Press – Voters in sunbathed Florida will face a decision … that could weigh heavily on the use — and cost — of solar power in the state. The solar power industry is opposed to Amendment 1, a proposal to amend the state constitution that will appear on the ballot as “Florida Solar Energy Subsidies and Personal Solar Use Initiative.” Utilities — including Florida Power & Light Co. — have spent upward of $20 million trying to get the amendment on the ballot. The two sides are sharply divided. The solar industry says it could penalize users of sun-derived power who sell their excess energy back to the grid. Utility companies say the amendment would prevent non-solar users from subsidizing the solar users who profit from the excess energy that they produce.

JOHN MICA PRESSING HARD IN LAST EFFORT TO KEEP HIS SEAT via Scott Powers of Florida Politics – “We have more people on the ground than anybody. We’ve gone door to door. We’ve telephoned. Whatever we can, cost-effectively, to get to folks. Because we’ll be outspent four- or five-to-one,” said Mica …  Mica is in a real battle with Democratic nominee Stephanie Murphy … in a race that has become a cause for national Democratic groups who’ve backed her with millions of dollars in finances and a long list of impressive Democratic figures. For the first time, when Mica talks about being an underdog in his district, he might be telling the truth. At the very least, public opinion polling has the contest in the margin of error. It’s been a decade since a Mica opponent even came within 20 points of him. But CD 7 is different now, redrawn to have a slight Democratic lean and a much younger, more diverse voter base than the ones that have elected or re-elected him 12 times in a row. On Sunday, he and 135 volunteers fanned out across the Goldenrod area of Orange and Seminole counties to knock on doors and press his final argument to stay in Congress. Then he headed out to the Bitho area to do the same. Monday found him in Sanford, working the tables at the Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Cafe and the downtown sidewalks. “We covered thousands of households,” he said of Sunday’s canvassing efforts. “It was the biggest turnout we’ve ever had,” Mica said. Is there a sense of desperation? Mica sees it more as having to take on the entire Washington D.C. Democratic Party establishment, which targeted his district to help the Democrats regain control of Congress.

POLL: CHARLIE CRIST HOLDS A FIVE-POINT LEAD OVER DAVID JOLLY ON EVE OF ELECTION via Florida Politics — A new poll from St. Pete Polls shows the former governor holds a five-point lead over Jolly in Florida’s 13th Congressional District. The survey — conducted for — shows nearly 51 percent of voters said they were backing Crist, compared to nearly 46 percent backing Jolly. About 4 percent of respondents said they were still unsure. The poll of 844 likely Florida voters was conducted on Nov. 6. It has a margin of error of 3.2 percent. The poll found 66 percent of respondents said they already voted. The survey found 56 percent of early voters said they picked Crist, compared to 42 percent who picked Jolly.

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In no-limit Texas hold ’em poker, holding a pair of aces gives a player an 87 percent chance of winning against a seven-deuce offsuit before the flop. But that still means, over time, the worst hand in poker still wins 13 percent of the time.

The same thinking can be applied to politics. Despite advantages of name recognition and money, upsets occur. There’s no better recent example in Florida politics than in 2012 when the Democratic challenger defeated Republican Chris Dorworth, who was at the time in line to become speaker of the Florida House.

Dorworth’s aces were cracked by Mike Clelland‘s seven-deuce offset. I don’t like beating up on Dorworth anymore (especially after this weekend, when he got married), but I have to ask, is there another Dorworth situation in the cards for Tuesday?

Looking at the congressional races in Florida, the opportunities for an upset are thin. Whatever changes that were to be made to Florida’s congressional delegation have already happened (Gwen Graham not running, Corrine Brown losing to Al Lawson, etc.). This isn’t to say there aren’t interesting races to watch Tuesday because there are in CD 13, 18, and 26. However, the underdogs in those races are not exactly Davids facing Goliaths. Those three races are basically coin flips at this point.

The one competitive congressional race which is not a coin flip is CD 7 where Republican incumbent John Mica is attempting to hold off Stephanie Murphy. The smart money has been watching this race for more than a month as Murphy has closed on Mica, so it would not be out of left field were Murphy to knock off Mica. Still, if you had asked political observers a year ago if John Mica was in trouble of losing his seat, the answer would have been a loud ‘No.’

At the legislative level, its important to separate the competitive from the earth-shattering. There are competitive races in SD 8, 13, 18, 37, 39, and 40 as well as half a dozen state House races, but, again these are basically coin flips. Republican Dana Young is up single digits over Democrat Bob Buesing in SD 18; no one can safely predict who will win in the South Florida seats; and the House races will largely be decided by the top of the ballot.

BUT! And this is a huge but … a Sir Mix-A-Lot-sized but … were there to be a Dorworthian surprise Tuesday night, it will probably occur in some of the state House races in South Florida.

Again, a huge disclaimer that I am not suggesting that these upsets will occur, but there has been talk — over the last two weeks, especially as Donald Trump was tanking and through South Florida’s “gangbusters” early voting turnout Sunday — that if a wave the size of the one in the movie “Poseidon” were to hit, some Republican House candidates could be in trouble, such as Carlos Trujillo in HD 105 and Michael Bileca in HD 115

Mind you, I re-watched the movie “The Big Short” this weekend, so my mind is thinking in terms of failing tranches. Not that Trujillo or Bileca or any of the other South Florida Republican campaigns should be compared with subprime mortgages. They’re not. They’ve run AAA-rated campaigns.

But that’s the thing about black swans. They appear so rarely in nature, they are almost impossible to predict. The best you can do is look in the direction they might appear.

And on Tuesday night, that may be in South Florida.

DONATIONS TO LEGISLATIVE CAMPAIGNS TOP $393.6 MILLION — Legislative campaigns raised $393.6 million through Nov. 3. An analysis by Contribution Link found about 76 percent of contributions, or $301.1 million, went to committees. The analysis found $224 million, or 74 percent, of total committee contributions went to political committees. Another 15 percent, or $45.7 million, went to state party committees; while 7 percent, or $20.7 million, went to affiliated party committees. Candidates received $92.5 million, according to the analysis. Republicans received $51 million, or 55 percent of contributions to candidates; while Democrats received $27.4 million, or 30 percent of total contributions to candidates. No party affiliate candidates brought in $14 million.


RICK SCOTT CHIPS IN TO HELP GOP HOLD FLORIDA SENATE via Jeremy Wallace of the Tampa Bay Times – Scott’s Let’s Get to Work political committee sent $50,000 to the Florida Republican Senatorial Committee as the GOP battles to maintain its 26-14 edge in the Senate. It’s the only donation Let’s Get to Work has made this year to the Florida Republican Senatorial Committee. “The Senate has several competitive races and we wanted to help them close strong,” said Melissa Stone, an adviser to Let’s Get to Work who is also with Cavalry Strategies LLC. Scott has mostly stayed away from the campaign trail this year. He has said that is because he’s been focused on his job as governor, particularly as the state recovers from two hurricanes and deals with the Zika virus. It’s hardly the biggest donation to the committee, which has raised $6.4 million since Oct. 1. Other political committees run by state Senators have been the biggest supporters of the committee. The Florida Leadership Committee, run by Sen. Jack Latvala … has poured $400,000 into the committee since Oct. 1. And State Sen. Bill Galvano … has put $925,000 into the fund through his political committee, Innovate Florida, since the start of October.

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PAM BONDI’S PRESS OFFICE SILENT ON WHY SHE ENDED ‘HOT TOPICS’ TALKING POINTS MEMO via Daniel Ducassi of POLITICO Florida – After more than a week of ignoring emails asking why, [Bondi] refused to provide any reason for the decision. The memos, called “Hot Topics,” were privately used to give Bondi some ready-to-go quotes and background information when reporters ask about a wide-range of subjects, including controversial topics of the day. Talking-points are a common part of the operation for any state government entity or political campaign. The media later gained access to the memos through public records requests. The memos from Bondi’s office sometimes contradicted or conflicted with what she told the media in addressing specific issues or legislation … A memo in March gave Bondi talking points to address the Trump University scandal. “Our office had only received one complaint by the time that these erroneous allegations were being made,” one talking point read. “That complaint was handled appropriately by staff, and it never rose to my level,” read another. The March memo is the last “Hot Topics” the press office would provide. Bondi’s press secretary, Kylie Mason, [said] in late October that the press staff “no longer produce Hot Topics and/or any similar document.” … “We have no additional comments on the public records provided,” Bondi’s Director of Media Relations, Whitney Ray, repeated in emails.

CORCORAN READY TO OUTLINE NEW LOBBYIST RULES FOR HOUSE via Tia Mitchell of the Florida Times-Union – “We will be the most open and accountable legislature in the entire country,” Corcoran said in a statement … “The public rightly believes that lobbyists have too much power. We can and will fix that — any disclosure requirements the House adopts will be more than cosmetic or superficial. Of that you can be sure.” Under the guidelines, lobbyists would be required to submit “notice of appearance” paperwork before they meet for the first time with anyone in the House on an issue or about legislation. The notice will include information about which business or entity the lobbyist represents and the bill number or amendment he or she hopes to influence. When it comes to the budget, lobbyists would be required to list the particular sections or issues that are of interest to them before lobbying can commence. That information would then be made available on the House’s official website for the public to access. Lobbyists will not have to disclose which legislators or staff they are meeting with on an issue.

CORCORAN BANS ‘TEXTING WHILE LEGISLATING’ via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald  Corcoran … says the new rule banning lobbyists from texting legislators while in committee or in the House chamber is needed to raise ethical standards and regain public confidence in the legislative process. “We want to clean up and create fine lines on standards of ethical behavior for members and we want to clean up and mitigate the overarching influence of special interests on the process,’’ Corcoran told the Herald/Times.

LOBBYISTS GROUP ASKS FOR SEAT AT THE TABLE TO TALK ABOUT CHANGES TO HOUSE RULES via Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster of Florida Politics – David Mica, the chairman of the Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists, sent a letter to Corcoran asking weigh in on the House rules before they are released. “There have been several news reports which suggest that part of the new House Rules will include provisions related to how House members interact with lobbyists,” said Mica … “As such, we felt it was important to provide stakeholder input to avoid any unintended consequences and to minimize unnecessary regulations, as many of us are small-business owners. Since we have not yet had the opportunity to review the new rules, is it possible for us to review and provide meaningful input at this time?” … “The exchange of information between professional lobbyists and Legislators plays an important role in the legislative process,” said Mica. “As we move forward during your term as speaker, please know that FAPL stands ready to work with you to advance professionalism and ethics in the lobbying profession, and the legislative process overall.” He continued by telling Corcoran if there is a “specific issue or problem that you would like to address,” there are FAPL members with decades of experience in the process ready to help draft “the appropriate rule or legislation to address any issue of concern.”

PROTESTERS GATHER TO TRY AND BLOCK SABAL TRAIL PIPELINE PROJECT via Andrew Caplan of the Gainesville Sun – The woman who called Gov. Scott “an embarrassment” at a Gainesville Starbucks has another bone to pick with the governor — and this time she has back up. Cara Jennings, a community activist, plans to spend her weekend with about 100 others camping out in Branford, near the Santa Fe River, to protest the Sabal Trail pipeline. Her husband, Panagoiti Tsolkas, said it will be the largest protest to the pipeline yet. “Governor Scott has shown that he’s inept to deal with environmental-climate issues,” Jennings said. “His support for this pipeline is part of his legacy of bad decisions that hurt the people of Florida and our environment.” Construction of the 515-mile Sabal Trail pipeline is well underway in parts of Florida. The $3 billion project, partly owned by Spectra Energy, stretches through Alabama, Georgia and Florida and will carry up to 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day through a dozen Florida counties, including Alachua, Levy, Marion, Suwannee and Gilchrist, before connecting to another pipeline in Osceola County in the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford area. Jennings and her husband said they hope to slow down the construction process this weekend and help others gain necessary skills and knowledge to take action in hopes of protecting the springs. Jennings became a social media sensation earlier this year when a video captured her berating Scott in a Gainesville Starbucks. “We figured if we could get more attention to what’s actually happening that we could inspire more people to show up and fight for this area that we love,” said Tsolkas, an organizer for Earth First!, an environmental advocacy group.

GREAT FOOD — AND CAMARADERIE — SERVED UP AT TALLAHASSEE GATHERING OF VETERAN REPORTERS via Rosanne Dunkelberger of Florida Politics – For the 11th year, Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald Bureau Chief Steve Bousquet and consultant Nancy Leikauf opened their Tallahassee home to friends and compatriots for their annual Fall Soup Supper. Guests are invited to bring their show-stoppers like Victoria Zepp’s Greek Avgolemono and Mary Ellen Klas’ pecan and wild rice soup, while others opt for salads (former state Rep. Anne Mackenzie’s garlic salad went quickly), appetizers and desserts. Chowders — clam, chicken, and two iterations of sausage and corn — seemed to be the most popular offerings. Leikauf is known for her enthusiastic holiday decorating and the home featured several tables fully set with fall linens, candles and multitudinous pumpkins and other gourds. It was the end of the final day of early voting in Florida, and host Bousquet was late to his own party after quarterbacking a roundup story. No matter what room you entered, much of the conversation revolved around speculation about the presidential and elections around the state. Among those who attended were Phil Ward and Rochelle KoffLucy and Dick MorganCynthia HendersonTroy KinseyBrent and Kathy Kallestad and next-door neighbors Michelle and Matt Ubben.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our friends Leah Bickley and Emily Sitzberger.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, 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.

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