Sunburn for 11/4 – The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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

Today’s Rise and Shine Fact-iversary is brought to you by Sachs Media Group, the public affairs firm known for unparalleled relationships and winning strategies: Today is an important date in Florida history, but we’ll bet you didn’t realize just how important. It’s finally Election Day, of course – meaning the long-awaited end of campaign ads. But it’s also the 28th anniversary of the day Florida got only its second Republican governor since Reconstruction … and its first taste of legalized gambling. In the 1986 election, Bob Martinez captured 54.4% of the vote against Steve Pajcic, while 63.6% of voters approved a constitutional amendment creating the Florida Lottery. Martinez failed to win a second term, but the Lottery is still going strong – contributing more than $27 billion to education over the years. As for the outcome of today’s neck-and-neck gubernatorial election, the only thing we can be sure of is that either way, The Who had it right: Meet the new boss, same as (an) old boss.

CANCEL THE MIDTERMS via David Schanzer and Jay Sullivan of the New York Times

By Tuesday night, about 90 million Americans will have cast ballots in an election that’s almost certain to create greater partisan divisions, increase gridlock and render governance of our complex nation even more difficult. Ninety million sounds like a lot, but that means that less than 40 percent of the electorate will bother to vote, even though candidates, advocacy groups and shadowy “super PACs” will have spent more than $1 billion to air more than 2 million ads to influence the election.

There was a time when midterm elections made sense — at our nation’s founding, the Constitution represented a new form of republican government, and it was important for at least one body of Congress to be closely accountable to the people. But especially at a time when Americans’ confidence in the ability of their government to address pressing concerns is at a record low, two-year House terms no longer make any sense. We should get rid of federal midterm elections entirely.

There are few offices, at any level of government, with two-year terms. Here in Durham, we elect members of the school board and the county sheriff to terms that are double that length. Moreover, Twitter, ubiquitous video cameras, 24-hour cable news and a host of other technologies provide a level of hyper-accountability the framers could not possibly have imagined. In the modern age, we do not need an election every two years to communicate voters’ desires to their elected officials.

But the two-year cycle isn’t just unnecessary; it’s harmful to American politics.

The main impact of the midterm election in the modern era has been to weaken the president, the only government official (other than the powerless vice president) elected by the entire nation. Since the end of World War II, the president’s party has on average lost 25 seats in the House and about 4 in the Senate as a result of the midterms. This is a bipartisan phenomenon — Democratic presidents have lost an average of 31 House seats and between 4 to 5 Senate seats in midterms; Republican presidents have lost 20 and 3 seats, respectively.

The realities of the modern election cycle are that we spend almost two years selecting a president with a well-developed agenda, but then, less than two years after the inauguration, the midterm election cripples that same president’s ability to advance that agenda.

DRIVING THE NAT’L CONVO – FINAL SENATE SURVEY: IT’S THE GOP’S TO LOSE via James Hohmann of POLITICO

Senate races that had been razor-close affairs for months have moved toward Republicans — from the open seats of Iowa and Georgia to challenges to incumbents in Arkansas and Alaska. Kentucky appeared to move off the map with Mitch McConnell — poised to replace Harry Reid as majority leader next year — opening a decisive lead.

Democrats still have a path to hold on. Republicans could lose Kansas and Georgia — which would mean they’d need to net eight seats elsewhere instead of six, a tall task. And the GOP needs to achieve a feat that has eluded the party since 1980: toppling more than two sitting senators in a single election.

But the national atmosphere, namely President Barack Obama’s unpopularity, may be more than Democrats’ historic investment in turnout can overcome.

Republicans are certain to pick up open seats in the red states of Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia. They need to net three more to get the majority.

Arkansas looks likely to fall to Republican Rep. Tom Cotton. Louisiana is a likely GOP pickup, but it’s expected to go to a December runoff.

Democratic incumbents have an edge in New Hampshire and North Carolina, but polls have tightened in recent weeks.

Here are the latest probabilities of Republicans taking control of the U.S. Senate after the midterm elections: Election Lab: 96 percent, FiveThirtyEight: 73 percent, The Upshot: 68 percent, Princeton: 63 percent.

FUN READ: The most boring U.S. House races in the country here.

5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FLORIDA’S ELECTIONS

GOVERNOR’S RACE: The election between Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Democrat Charlie Crist, the former Republican who preceded Scott in office, is close, bitter and expensive. Scott and Crist crisscrossed the state Monday and were confronted with reminders of the testy nature of the contest that has included more than $100 million worth of ads from the campaigns and their allies.  Scott started his day by campaigning in Clearwater where his bus was met by a loud protesters who were chanting “too shady for the Sunshine State” and “it’s not working,” a dig at Scott’s election motto. Crist, meanwhile, campaigned in South Florida ahead of an election eve rally with former President Bill Clinton. Outside a Miami union hall, Crist supporters crossed the street to drown out a contingent of Scott backers that included Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera. The last Quinnipiac Poll before the election released Monday showed Crist with a 42-41 percent lead. Nine percent were undecided and Libertarian Adrian Wyllie was getting 7 percent, which would easily be a record for that party in a statewide race. The poll of 817 likely voters was conducted between Tuesday and Sunday and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

AMENDMENTS: Floridians will decide three constitutional amendments that, if passed, would legalize medical marijuana, dedicate billions of dollars to conservation efforts and let the outgoing governor fill three expected vacancies on the state Supreme Court in 2019. Amendment 1 would dedicate $18 billion in existing real estate taxes to environmental protection over the next two decades. About half the revenue would go to buy nearly 2 million acres – pockets of wilderness including swamplands, beaches and other places that link key corridors of open space where wildlife can migrate naturally. According to Amendment 2, to obtain medical marijuana, patients would have to get a doctor’s certification of their condition, which in turn would qualify them for a patient ID card they could use at licensed dispensaries. Amendment 3 is complicated, but it boils down to whether the outgoing or incoming governor would fill three expected vacancies on the state Supreme Court. Under the state constitution, each measure needs 60 percent approval to pass.

CABINET: All three Republican incumbent Cabinet members are expected to coast to re-election Tuesday. Attorney General Pam Bondi faces the toughest challenge against Democratic challenger George Sheldon, who once led the Florida Department of Children and Families and served in the Legislature. Bondi has outraised Sheldon by an almost 3-to-1 margin. Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam are both running against little-known Democratic opponents, William Rankin and Thaddeus Hamilton, respectively. Atwater has outspent Rankin by an 80-to-1 margin and Putnam has outspent Hamilton by a 100-to-1 margin.

CONGRESS: Only two of Florida’s 27 congressional districts are expected to produce tight races. In the Panhandle, Republican Rep. Steve Southerland is in a tough race with Democrat Gwen Graham, the daughter of Bob Graham, the popular former governor and U.S. senator. That race took a weird twist when Southerland defended an all-male fundraiser that encouraged donors to “tell the Misses (sic) not to wait up” as the men joined in a time-honored tradition of talking policy and politics without women in the room. After Gwen Graham took issue with the way the invitation was worded, Southerland asked a Tampa Bay Times reporter: “Has Gwen Graham ever been to a lingerie shower? Ask her. And how many men were there?” In a South Florida district, it is a Democratic incumbent who is in danger of losing. U.S. Rep Joe Garcia rode into Washington two years ago on an anti-corruption platform against scandal-plagued U.S. Rep. David Rivera, but now Garcia’s camp is facing its own corruption accusations. That has allowed Republican Miami-Dade County school board member Carlos Curbelo a chance at pulling off an upset.

LEGISLATURE: The Republicans will maintain large majorities in both the Florida House and Senate, but the question is whether they can gain enough seats to gain two-thirds majorities that would allow them to override any gubernatorial vetoes without Democratic help. That would be especially important for the GOP if Crist defeats Gov. Scott. The GOP has a 26-14 lead in the Senate and a 75-45 lead in the House. To flip the Senate, the GOP needs to flip one seat. In the House, it needs to flip five.

EMAIL INSIGHTS: DON GAETZ WISDOM; VOTE, OR GET THE GOVERNMENT WE DESERVE Full blog post here

“Representative democracy is a form of government that guarantees we get pretty much what we deserve.”

Those words still ring in the ears of Florida Senate President Don Gaetz; words from his father — who died when Gaetz was 16, more than fifty years ago.

Gaetz’s latest email is not for advocating a specific candidate but in support of the whole institution of voting, as a function of a healthy democracy.

His father’s wisdom gave the Okaloosa County Republican strength to resist the urge to “fold arms in disgust,” bitter from disagreement and disillusion. If we fail to vote, he says, and others to fill the gaps in governance, then we are more likely to get “bad government.”

Voting, by an engaged and passionate electorate, is the first, best firewall against such bad government. It may not bring us a perfect state, or even one where everyone agrees, but it will be good governance.

“So that’s why I’ll be one of the first in line to vote at the Baptist Church on Range Road in Niceville,” Gaetz says. “Not because I’ve found flawless candidates.  I’m voting because it will be my fault if I don’t vote and bad things happen to our community, our state, our country.”

Because a half century ago, his father was right — if we do not vote, then we get exactly what we deserve.

ROMANO COLUMN: CLOSE FLORIDA ELECTIONS ARE JUST PART OF OUR HERITAGE via for the Tampa Bay Times

Elsewhere, they might call it a travesty.

Around here, we simply call it Election Day.

If the Scott-Crist gubernatorial race is as close as polls indicate, it could take a lot of time, and even more lawyers, to sort this mess out.

And, truth be told, this sort of thing is part of our heritage. After all, Florida has been at the heart of the two most controversial presidential elections of the last 150 years.

Most of us remember the sitcom that was the 2000 election, but that was child’s play compared to the 1876 fiasco. It was an election that took months to sort out, and eventually decided both a president and a governor in a split decision.

On election night, most of the nation’s newspapers declared Democrat Samuel J. Tilden had defeated Republican Rutherford B. Hayes in the presidential election. The New York Times was one of the few that demurred, according to Jerrell Shofner’s book Nor Is It Over: Florida in the Era of Reconstruction.

BE PATIENT: VOTE COUNTING IN MIAMI-DADE, BROWARD IS LABOR INTENSIVE via Patricia Mazzei of the Maimi Herald

The anxious wait for election results begins when the polls close at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Open web browser. Find results page. Click “refresh.” Again. And again. And again.

Sometimes the waits in Miami-Dade and Broward counties extend well past 10 o’clock. Why, the restless ask, aren’t the numbers posted any faster?

Because counting votes, at least in Florida’s two most populated counties, turns out to be quite labor intensive.

During the low-turnout Aug. 26 primary, the majority of results from Election Day voting in Broward didn’t post until after 9 p.m. Miami-Dade didn’t post its final tallies until around 11 p.m.

In 2012, a problem with Miami-Dade’s only absentee-ballot sorting machine contributed to slow counting in the high-turnout presidential election, which had already been delayed by late precinct closures due to long voting lines. Since then, the county has purchased a new sorting machine to scan more ballots more quickly.

FINAL Q-POLL: CHARLIE CRIST 42, RICK SCOTT 41%

The race between Gov. Scott and Charlie Crist remains essentially tied as the campaign enters its final day.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Monday showed Crist had 42 percent of the vote to Scott’s 41 percent. Libertarian Adrian Wyllie had 7 percent with 9 percent undecided.

A Quinnipiac poll last week showed Crist with a 43-40 lead.

Most likely voters had unfavorable views of both candidates. Half the voters had a negative opinion of Crist, compared to 43 percent with a favorable opinion. Some 49 percent of voters said they disapproved of Scott compared to 42 percent who had a favorable rating.

Quinnipiac polled 817 likely voters between Tuesday and Sunday. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

LARRY SABATO moves the governor’s race from “Toss-up” to “Leans Democratic” here.

NATE SILVER still gives Crist a 60 percent chance of winning. Forecast here.

TIM SALER: “SOULS TO THE POLLS” A MIXED BAG FOR DEMOCRATS Full blog post here

Tim Saler has a few things to say about Sunday’s “Souls to the Polls” in his final early-vote update before Election Day.

Rick Scott’s Deputy Campaign Manager once again compares the 2014 “Obama-Crist” numbers to the 2012 campaign, where the “Obama machine” turned out more than 108,000 Democrats to early vote during their Sunday effort.

Saler expected the same thing this time — as he did in the first Sunday of early voting.

That didn’t happen, he says.

Although St. Lucie County has yet to report its Sunday numbers, Saler says one thing is clear: “The Crist-Obama team in 2014 was unable to duplicate the Obama machine’s success from 2012.”

Democrats brought out more than 20,000 “super voters” during the final day of early voting, those who have a high propensity to cast ballots only in general elections.

Democratic efforts to close the GOP lead on Election Day was a failure, Saler concludes, and Republicans will now enter today leading with roughly 100,000 voters.

STEVE SCHALE 2ND-TO-LAST VOTER MEMO: SUNDAY WAS “VERY GOOD” FOR DEMOCRATS Full blog post here

Democratic operative Steve Schale, in his “second-to-last” early vote update memo, offers his take on Sunday’s “Souls to the Polls.”

Not surprisingly, it is completely different from the opinion of Tim Saler, his Scottworld counterpart.

Souls to the Polls, the final Sunday before Election Day, was “very good” for Democrats, Schale says. In one day, Democrats cut the GOP advantage by some 25,000 votes.

As of Monday, the GOP early vote and absentee ballot lead is just under 100k votes or 3.3 percent. In 2010, Schale notes that the GOP advantage was 12.3 percent or 272k votes.

This means that the GOP has lost 172K votes from its 2010 advantage. Scott won in 2010 by 61k votes or only 1 percent.

Black turnout has grown to 12 percent of all voters, a full point higher than 2010. Just this change alone would cut Scott’s 61,000 margin in 2010 to roughly 10,000 votes.

No Party Affiliation turnout continues to be encouraging to Democrats. About 40 percent of NPA who cast ballots in 2014 did not vote in 2010.

In addition, women continue to outpace men by 54 to 46 percent, which is even better news for Democrats, Schale says.

STAT OF THE ELECTION via The Center for Public Integrity: Ratio of positive-to-negative TV ads in Florida that mention Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist: 1-to-7

ALL OVER BUT THE COUNTING FOR RICK SCOTT, CHARLIE CRIST via Steve Bousquet and Marc Caputo of the Tampa Bay Times

Gov. Scott and Crist rallied their most reliable supporters on the last day of a long and brutal campaign, as all signs point to a close and suspenseful fight for control of the Governor’s Mansion.

Scott, accompanied by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, worked his way across the I-4 corridor from Clearwater to Plant City to Lakeland and The Villages, the mega-retirement complex that’s a mandatory destination for Republican candidates.

Crist countered with a last-minute appearance by former President Bill Clinton at a nighttime student rally at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.

It was the final stop on a bus tour that took Crist and his running mate, Annette Taddeo, through the heart of the South Florida Democratic base including stops in Allapattah and Lauderdale Lakes, inner-city areas with many African-American voters.

SCOTT MAKES ELECTION NIGHT PREDICTION: “WE KICKED CHARLIE’S REAR” via John Kennedy of the Palm Beach Post

In a governor’s race already marked by a barrage of hard-hitting television ads, Gov. Scott coarsened the tone a little more in firing up a crowd of supporters at The Villages.

Joined by Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal for get-out-the-vote efforts in Central Florida, Scott predicted a relative early and easy victory over Democrat Charlie Crist on Election Night.

“We’re going to announce at 8 o’clock that we kicked Charlie’s rear,” Scott said, drawing cheers from more than 200 supporters at the sprawling retirement community. “And he deserves it.”

Always a must-stop on the Republican campaign trail, The Villages didn’t disappoint when Scott asked how many had already voted — virtually the entire crowd shot up their hands.

ADAM SMITH: 4 LESSONS FROM FLORIDA’S NASTY, RECORD-SETTING GOVERNOR’S RACE via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times

1. Money matters so much — to reach so few.

Never before have two campaigns spent so much to move the needle so little.

Scott started his TV campaign in March, but the real start of the ad blitz came in July when Crist went on TV as well. It was a margin-of-error race then — Crist up by an average of 2.2 percentage point according to RealClearPolitics.com — and it’s a margin of error race today — Crist leading by an average of 0.6 percentage points — after nearly $77 million in TV spending by Scott and his GOP allies and $40 million by Crist and his allies.

2. Early voting has redefined Florida elections.

The trend has been building over the past decade, but it looks like this will be the first statewide general election where a majority of votes are cast before Election Day, which has turned into Election Month. You can’t overstate the difference.

3. The uncertain risk of negativity.

Florida has never before seen a race so negative. The constant attacks left marks on the candidates and on the state’s climate for governing that we can’t fully gauge yet.

4. Convenient voting makes a difference.

This is the first election in several cycles where Republican leaders in Tallahassee did not try to make it harder to vote. That’s in part because their efforts back-fired in 2012 and motivated Democrats to turn out in the face of obstacles while also giving Florida another black eye in terms of running elections.

“There is a clear choice,” Scott said. “We know Charlie.”

STREAMS OF CHECKS FROM BIG DONORS BREAK RECORDS IN FLORIDA via Mary Ellen Klas via the Tampa Bay Times

It’s now official: This year’s state elections are not only the costliest in Florida history, but are also the nation’s most expensive.

Republican and Democratic candidates for statewide and legislative offices and their political parties in the 2014 election cycle raised a staggering $345 million, according to a preliminary analysis by the Times/Herald and the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics.

Campaign finance reports filed with the Florida Division of Elections by Friday’s deadline show that huge contributions from out-of-state mega donors helped to make 2014 the most expensive Florida governor’s race on record. The Center For Responsive Politics has concluded that, as a result, Florida has the most expensive mid-term election in the nation.

The flood of cash helped to fuel unprecedented spending on a barrage of mostly negative ads. Records show that Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Democrat Charlie Crist have spent at least $104 million on television alone.

The largest single out-of-state contributor was Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas casino magnate and owner of the Las Vegas Sands, who has been on a four-year mission to bring resort casinos to Florida.

His total: $7.5 million, including $5 million to oppose Amendment 2 on medical marijuana. The citizens initiative is vigorously opposed by Adelson as well as the governor and Republican-controlled Legislature — who also control the fate of Adelson’s casino initiative. Adelson also gave $1.5 million to the Republican Party of Florida. Supporting the amendment is Orlando Attorney John Morgan, who has spent $6.5 million.

George Soros, the wealthy left-leaning investor, gave the Florida Democratic Party $1 million in the final days of the election. Many of the largest Democratic Party checks come from smaller-dollar contributions from union members across the country. More than $3 million came from the state and federal unions — nearly all of it steered to the party and Crist.

WHY IS AMENDMENT 2 LOSING? via Michael Ames of Slate

Florida was supposed to change the way the South thinks about medical marijuana. In late July, a full 88 percent of the state supported legalizing medical cannabis, and in early October 67 percent supported Amendment 2 specifically. Instead, that wide margin has all but disappeared, and rather than join the 23 other states with similar laws on the books, the amendment appears to be bleeding support by the hour.

A private trend poll commissioned by an out-of-state company has shown a clear downward tick in the final week before Election Day, and a Tampa Bay Times “insiders poll” of state political experts has more than 80 percent expecting a loss. It’s still too close to call, but if the initiative fails on Tuesday, Florida will make a different sort of history: It will be the largest state to ever reject legal medical marijuana by popular vote.

Opinions and frustrations over the amendment’s nosedive are not in short supply, and blame is already being widely ascribed. But in conversations with those involved, one common culprit is revealed: dysfunctional partisanship.

United for Care, the group promoting the amendment, is a strictly Democratic affair, and the campaign’s financial burden has been carried almost entirely by one man—Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan, a household name in Florida for his ubiquitous television commercials.

Morgan has made compassion a hallmark of his “Yes on 2” campaign, and he points to his brother, who was paralyzed from the chest down at 18 years old and suffers from chronic pain and spasms, as an example of a patient in need. Nevertheless, the campaign that Morgan has bankrolled with roughly $4 million of his own money has become inseparable from party politics and Charlie Crist, the Democratic candidate for governor who happens to work at Morgan’s Orlando law firm.

Since it launched, Florida Republicans have suspected that Morgan’s campaign is actually an effort to pump voter turnout in an off-year election and help Crist eke out a win against incumbent Gov. Scott. Morgan denies he’s playing politics, telling the Tampa Tribune that he’s “not as smart or devious as they think I am.” And yet, when he hired a campaign manager, he picked Ben Pollara, an operative who describes himself as “one of the premier Democratic fundraisers in Florida.” Pollara served on President Obama’s 2012 National Finance Committee, was the state finance director for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential bid, and has represented Democrats including Sen. Bill Nelson, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

“It has not been a bipartisan campaign,” says Pollara. “The opposition has been run entirely by Republican operatives and funded by Republican mega-donors.”

FLORIDA LCD CONSUMERS GET SETTLEMENT CHECKS IN TIME FOR ELECTION DAY via Michael Van Sickler of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi last week had good news for about 15,000 consumers who bought a liquid crystal display television, computer or monitor between 1999 and 2006.

They were being reimbursed between $43 and $87 for each product they bought, thanks to a settlement with electronics manufacturers, including Toshiba and Mitsubishi, which were accused by Florida and seven other states of price rigging.

That the checks from the 2-year-old settlement arrived in Florida the week before Election Day was no mistake. According to the company that issued the checks, Rust Consulting, Bondi’s office requested that Florida consumers be paid before the other states. The Florida checks were mailed Oct. 25.

But that meant other states had to wait, since the 230,000 checks being mailed nationwide couldn’t all be printed at once, said Robin Niemiec, Rust’s client services director.

Lizabeth Brady, an attorney in Bondi’s office, made the request in mid October, Niemiec said.

Michigan’s checks were mailed Oct. 27, also in time for pre-Election Day delivery.

Michigan and Florida are the only two of the eight states in the settlement to have competitive attorneys general races that will be decided today.

ON EVE OF ELECTION, HOUSE DISTRICT 64 RACE STILL IN LEGAL LIMBO via Kathleen McGrory of the Tampa Bay Times

If you cast a vote in the state House race between Rep. Jamie Grant and challenger Miriam Steinberg, it might count. Then again, it might not.

The two Republican candidates — and write-in candidate Daniel John Matthews — are mired in a complicated lawsuit that grew even more complex on Election Day eve.

Grant filed an emergency motion requesting that votes cast in the House District 64 race not be counted.

A judge has yet to weigh in on Grant’s request.

Steinberg’s husband Michael filed the original lawsuit, alleging Matthews did not meet the requirements to run because he did not live in the district, which includes Carrollwood, Citrus Park, Oldsmar and Safety Harbor. A circuit court judge agreed, and withdrew Matthews from the race.

Without a write-in candidate, the primary election between the two GOP candidates was declared open — meaning all voters could participate — and was pushed from Aug. 26 to Nov. 4.

Last month, a panel of judges at the First District Court of Appeal reversed the lower court, saying the law requiring write-ins to live in the district at the time of qualifying was unconstitutional. Grant said he assumed the primary would again be postponed.

But the decision was never finalized, in part because Steinberg asked for a hearing in front of the full appellate court.

HERE’S HOW TO AVOID GETTING FOOLED ON ELECTION NIGHT via Brendan Nyhan of the New York Times

First, beware of exit polls. While they can be a useful way to estimate the composition of the electorate, they are less reliable as a forecasting metric, especially if something goes wrong.

Most notably, early — and erroneous — exit poll results showing John Kerry ahead were widely leaked online in 2004, misleading many people about the likely outcome of the race. It wasn’t just voters and journalists who were fooled: An analysis by the economists Erik Snowberg, Justin Wolfers and Eric Zitzewitz found that the leaks temporarily drove the expected likelihood of a George W. Bush victory down to 30 percent in the Tradesports prediction market and sparked a decline in stock market futures of nearly 1 percent.

Second, beware of glitches in the creaky and decentralized American electoral system, which frequently become fodder for conspiracy theories. For instance, a YouTube video of a single miscalibrated electronic voting machine in 2012 has been seen more than 10 million times, reinforcing unfounded fears about election theft. Similarly, a memory card error in a Florida county in 2000 contributed to conspiratorial speculation about the networks’ premature decision to call the election for Mr. Bush before it became clear that the state was headed to a recount.

A third problem is anecdotal and unverified reporting of voter fraud and intimidation, whose prevalence and significance are often exaggerated. In 2008, the McCain-Palin campaign publicized a handful of anecdotal reports along these lines even though the evidence suggests voter fraud is quite rare. Or consider the disproportionate media attention to a case of suspected voter intimidation by a few members of the New Black Panther Party in 2008, which led to the bizarre spectacle of obsessive Fox News coverage of a single party member standing outside the polls on Election Day in 2012.

Finally, watch out for biased reasoning in how experts interpret information as it comes in on Election Night. If you’re not careful, you run the risk of getting inaccurate information from partisans like Karl Rove, who dissented on the air against the correct verdict by the Fox News decision desk to call Ohio for Barack Obama in 2012, possibly helping to delay Mitt Romney’s concession speech. (In the end, it wasn’t even that close — Mr. Obama won the state by three percentage points.)

RUNDOWN OF ELECTION NIGHT PARTIES here.

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SHAKEUP AT UNIVERSITY OF WEST FLORIDA via the Associated Press

Dramatic changes are underway at the University of West Florida in Pensacola.

The university announced that Martha Saunders has been promoted to executive vice president and will assume daily operations and budget management. The move came in response to a vote of no confidence in President Judy Bense by the university’s faculty senate in September.

The Pensacola News Journal reports Bense and faculty union president Steve Belko hashed out the details in a meeting on Friday.

Saunders will continue in her role as provost and vice president of academic affairs. All other vice presidents will report to her.

Bense says the move will allow her to focus on external matters such as fund-raising and the state’s new performance based funding metric.

SUPREME COURT TO HEAR FLORIDA-GEORGIA WATER SUIT via the Associated Press

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a lawsuit filed by Florida that seeks to limit the amount of water Georgia can take from a shared river system.

The nation’s high court agreed to hear the states’ long-simmering battle over the Apalachicola River and its tributaries.

Florida has argued that Georgia is guzzling more than its share of water at the expense of the Apalachicola Bay oyster fishery, which relies on fresh river water mixing with the salty sea to thrive.

Florida Gov. Scott appealed to the Supreme Court to limit Georgia’s water use after the oyster industry’s near collapse, which caused a federal disaster declaration.

Georgia opposed the court’s intervention, saying the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is already working on a new allocation plan.

CONTEXT FLORIDA

Today on Context Florida: Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services may be the most undervalued, overlooked race on the Election 2014 Florida ballot, says Daniel Tilson. The choice between Adam Putnam and Thad Hamilton would seem to be clear for a majority of Florida voters, he adds, but voters can still have the final say — today. Kellen Winslow is a man on a mission, writes Chris Timmons. He wants to right what’s wrong with the athletic situation at Florida A&M University. Although more than half of Florida’s voters are deciding not to vote this year, Mark Wilson says that your vote matters more than ever. Martin Dyckman reflects on the strengths of Tom Slade, the former Florida Republican chair who died Oct. 20, which included a talent for recruiting good candidates for offices the party had not won before. Catherine Durkin Robinson calls for everyone to get out and vote. We are the only ones who can directly alter the news that is covered, the stories that get attention, and the laws that get passed.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Carlos Cruz, Angela Dempsey, and Joe Marino.

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.