Sunburn for 11/6 — A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

… also first a shout-out to Eric Deggans, who is, in my opinion, the most interesting writer at the Tampa Bay Times (dude writes about everything from race baitin’ in the media to the latest episode of the Walking Dead). Happy birthday, Eric.

Also, thank you to Susan Goldstein, for these kind words about Sunburn: “Thank you for your efforts, and for making it so easy to catch up so thoroughly in such a short period of time. Exceptional and diverse summary today.”

Now, on to politics…

HAPPY ELECTION DAY!

Polls in Florida are open in Florida from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday for the General Election that will decide the next president of the United States, a Florida U.S. Senate seat, 27 congressional seats, 140 seats in the Florida Legislature, retention votes for three Florida Supreme Court justices, 11 constitutional amendment questions and myriad local races across the state.

FULL ELECTION NIGHT PARTY LISTING here.

‘BIGGEST PARTY IN THE CAPITAL CITY’

The Leon County Democratic Party will host an election night party at The Moon.  Local Democratic candidates and their supporters will join President Obama’s supporters to participate in a final phone banking activity and to watch the election returns.

ELECTION NIGHT AT THE FLORIDA CHAMBER

The Florida Chamber of Commerce hosts a General Election Night Watch starting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Florida Chamber headquarters, 136 S. Bronough St.,Tallahassee. Attending the event will be leading political strategist and Florida Chamber Senior Vice President Marian Johnson, members of the Florida Chamber Political Institute, candidates for office, and members of the Florida Legislature. The event is for Chamber members, media, candidates and friends of Florida’s business community. Members of the media are asked to RSVP to Edie Ousley at eousley@flchamber.com.

FINAL LAST WORDS

Why not quote Nate Silver one more time, who ends his book, “The Signal and the Noise” with this sermonette: “[O]ur bias is to think we are better at prediction than we really are. … May we arise from the ashes … beaten but unbowed, a little more modest about our forecasting abilities.”

FINAL NATIONAL POLLS

American Research Group: Obama 49%, Romney 49%; Democracy Corps: Obama 49%, Romney 45%; Gallup: Romney 49%, Obama 48%; Monmouth: Obama 48%, Romney 48%; Public Policy Polling: Obama 50%, Romney 48%
Rasmussen: Romney 49%, Obama 48%

UPI/CVoter: Obama 49%, Romney 47%

HOW MUCH BIAS WOULD THERE HAVE TO BE FOR THE POLLS TO BE WRONG?

Kevin Drum accounts for polling error: “[S]uppose there is a systematic bias in the polls. How big would it have to be in order for Romney to win? This is what Sam Wang’s “meta-margin” tells us, and it currently stands at 2.72%. That’s how far off the polls would have to be—either because undecideds break heavily for Romney or because the pollsters’ likely voter screens are wrong—in order for Romney to win, and it’s a pretty big number. It’s unlikely that either of these effects is anywhere near that large.”

HOW TO KNOW WHO WON THE ELECTION

The New York Times counts 512 paths to the White House — 431 ways for President Obama to win, 76 ways for Mitt Romney to prevail and 5 ties.

LARRY SABATO FORECASTS OBAMA WIN

Sabato elieves Obama wins with 290 electoral votes and Romney gets 248. He sees a 53-47 Democratic Senate (no change) and 239-196 R House (D +3). “While Romney surged after the first debate, he never quite closed the deal in the key swing states. And now, we believe he has run out of time,” the University of Virginia political scientist writes.

WHAT TO WATCH

Harry Enten has a fantastic guide to the 8 key swing states, complete with past results, final polling averages and poll closing times.

WHICH WAY WILL UNDECIDED VOTERS BREAK?

First Read makes one last point about the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll: “The survey found that 9% of the likely voters are up for grabs (meaning they’re undecided or just leaning to a candidate), and these folks have more positive feelings toward Obama than Romney. Obama’s job approval with them is 48% approve, 41% disapprove. What’s more, Obama’s fav/unfav with them is 46%/29%, vs. Romney’s upside down 22%-49%. Bottom line: Our pollsters see more of an opportunity for Obama among these voters and more of an uphill climb for Romney.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY #1 – “If I hear anybody say it was because Romney wasn’t conservative enough I’m going to go nuts. We’re not losing 95% of African-Americans and two-thirds of Hispanics and voters under 30 because we’re not being hard-ass enough.” — Sen. Lindsey Graham, saying that demographics would be the only reason for a hypothetical Mitt Romney loss Tuesday.

LESSONS LEARNED FROM 2012 by Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen of POLITICO

1) The GOP has a big-time Senate problem: In two consecutive elections, the party had a clear shot at a majority and blew it – blew it because the party bosses in Washington have lost control over nominating contests in swing states, and seem impotent in engineering the selection of the most electable candidates.

2) Democrats have a liberal problem

3) All white, mostly male won’t cut it

4) Speed kills: … The Obama campaign heavily front-loaded its advertising, seeking to undermine Romney’s biggest credential – his track record as a businessman and turnaround artist. … ‘The early-definition strategy came from expecting that we were going to ultimately be outspent by a great deal,’ an Obama adviser said. ‘If we were going to get this contrast drawn, and the lines of the narrative drawn, we figured that money spent in May, June, and July was going to be a lot more effective in getting that across to people, than waiting until September and October, when the debates and the conventions were dominating things.’

5) Precision matters, tooWin or lose, the Obama strategy in Ohio will be a case study in the politics of precision for years to come. They told us one year ago they would go nasty and narrow and could care less if people found the approach cold and calculating. They pounded Romney early on his Bain record, to raise serious doubts about his job-creating credentials. And then they started dropping the auto-bailout bomb early, consistently and relentlessly.

6) It’s Hillary 2016

7) Ryan more powerful than ever (but for how long?)

8) Ryan v. Rubio, 2016.”

OBAMA GAINS IN SWING STATES AS ENTHUSIASM APPROACHES 2008 LEVELS

The final USA Today/Gallup Poll of swing states finds voters “have become as enthusiastic and engaged in the 2012 presidential election as they were in the historic contest four years ago.”

President Obama and Mitt Romney are tied in these battleground states, 48% to 48%. However, the results indicate a surge for Obama as he’s closed a four-point deficit from early October.

Also important, most of the interviews were completed before Hurricane Sandy hit, and the president’s disaster response may have bolstered his standing a bit since then.

EARLY VOTE WATCH  by the Associated Press’ Stephen Collinson

About 30 million people have already voted in 34 states and the District of Columbia, either by mail or in person. No votes will be counted until Tuesday but some key states are releasing the party affiliation of those who vote early.

Colorado: Votes: 1.6 million … Democrats: 35% … Republicans: 37%; Florida: Votes: 4.3 million … Democrats: 43% … Republicans: 40%; Iowa: Votes: 614,000 … Democrats: 43% … Republicans: 32%; Nevada: Votes: 702,000 … Democrats: 44% … Republicans: 37%; North Carolina: Votes: 2.7 million … Democrats: 48% … Republicans: 32%; Ohio: Votes: 1.6 million … Democrats: 29% … Republicans: 23%

OBAMA PROBABILITY OF RE-ELECTION BOUNCES BACK

The latest FiveThrityEight forecast finds Obama’s probability of winning 270 votes in the Electoral College has hit 86.3%, nearly recovering to his previous high of 87%, which came before polls started capturing the effects of the first presidential debate in Denver.

TWEET, TWEET: @FiveThirtyEight: Obama unlikely to win by anything like his post-DNC margins. But Romney has no momentum, Obama’s state polling is robust, and time is up.

LEGAL SKIRMISHES BEGIN ALREADY

Obama and Romney “hunted for last-minute support on Sunday in a frenetic sprint across battleground states, even as their parties faced off in the first of what could be a growing number of legal disputes over presidential ballots and how they are counted,” the New York Times reports.

“Together, the pre-election legal skirmishes were a potential preview of the clashes that could emerge in as many as a half-dozen swing states over Tuesday’s voting. The closeness of the races in those states has intensified the stakes of voter turnout, smooth operations at polling places, ballot problems and recounts.”

“In the battles, Republicans are mobilizing to defend against what they say is the potential for voter fraud, and Democrats are preparing to protect against what they say are efforts to suppress voting rights.”

*** The Florida Health Care Affordability Summit, taking place in Orlando, Fla., on January 10-11, 2013, will bring some of the most knowledgeable stakeholders in health care to the table – from health plans, hospital executives and health care providers, to some of Florida’s biggest employers and elected officials – to discuss how to make Florida healthier and bring affordable, accessible, quality health care to Floridians. To register to attend or for more information, please visit www.healthcareflorida.com ***

MARCO RUBIO, SUPER SURROGATE via James Hohmann of POLITICO

Republicans don’t have a Bill Clinton, but they do have Florida’s junior senator.

Marco Rubio is scheduled to do a primetime cable tour tonight, including CNN’s Erin Burnett, FOX ‘s Sean Hannity, and CNBC’s Larry Kudlow.

At Romney’s big rally in West Chester Friday night, nearly 100 top GOP surrogates took the stage before fanning out to swing states in the final days. Many were introduced by loudspeaker. No one from outside Ohio received louder cheers. It was Rubio’s 70th campaign event for the Romney campaign, and it came at the end of a 12-hour campaign swing through Ohio with Josh Mandel.

Rubio has visited every key swing state, including a 1,000-person rally last Thursday in Philadelphia. He’s also campaigned with or raised money for Republican Senate candidates in Massachusetts, Indiana, Ohio, Nebraska, Nevada, Florida and Virginia. Notably, much of this activity happened after he was passed over for VP.

GOVERNOR SCOTT WILL CAST HIS BALLOT at St. Ann Jubilee Center, Precinct #477, in Naples at about 7:15 a.m.

INSIDER ADVANTAGE POLL OF FLORIDA: ROMNEY 52%, OBAMA 47%

Romney’s lead with independent voters has propelled him to a 5-point lead in Florida two days before election day, according to a Times-Union/InsiderAdvantage poll released Sunday night.

Likely/registered voters favored Romney 52 percent to 47 percent for Barack Obama, but Romney holds a 25-point lead with independent voters.

“Romney’s lead is made possible by the substantial advantage he enjoys among those who identify themselves as independent voters,” said InsiderAdvantage CEO Matt Towery. “Independent voters have been the determining factor in Florida political contests for many years.”

TWEET, TWEET: @julieinjax: A #GOP operative conducts a “poll” and this is the TU’s front page headline? I’m reading @SaintPetersblog #Sunburn for ALL the news.

FINAL PPP POLL OF FLORIDA: OBAMA 50%, ROMNEY 49%

Public Policy Polling’s final poll of the cycle in Florida … suggests that, along with NC, this may be the closest state in the country this year. Obama leads 50/49, but to be more specific 473 respondents chose Obama and 472 picked Romney.

PPP has conducted 4 polls in Florida over the last three weeks and found a 1 point race every time — Obama has been up slightly twice and Romney has been up slightly twice. There is a massive generational gap in the state with Romney leading 61/38 among seniors while Obama leads within every other age group. The Paul Ryan selection didn’t hurt Romney with Florida seniors as some had thought it might. Obama’s up 52/47 with women, 53/47 with Hispanics, and 91/9 with African Americans while Romney has a 53/47 edge with men and a 59/40 one with white voters.

FLORIDA CHAMBER’S MARIAN JOHNSON ON ELECTION 2012

“I’ve been in the political arena for many, many years. I started out as a high school senior mesmerized by the 1964 presidential election between Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater. And this year, at age 65, I am still in awe of the process. This election season is like one I haven’t seen in decades.”

FIVE THINGS THAT COULD GO WRONG ON ELECTION DAY IN FLORIDA by Michael Van Sickler of the Tampa Bay Times

1. Long ballots. There are 11 constitutional amendments on this year’s ballot, making it the longest in Florida history;

2. Provisional ballots. Four years ago, 30,000 Florida residents voted regularly despite not informing elections officials that they had moved until they arrived at the polls…But a 2011 elections law forces Florida voters who move outside their county without updating their registration by Election Day to vote by provisional ballot…About half of all provisional ballots were rejected in 2008, mainly because voters didn’t bother coming back to verify their status.

3. Absentee ballots. In Florida and across the nation, more people than ever are voting by mail ballot. Yet these ballots average a rejection rate double that of voting in person.

4. Challenges. Groups like True the Vote and Tampa Fair Vote will have poll watchers ready to stop anyone they suspect as ineligible to vote. Florida law requires those challenged to vote by provisional ballot.

5. Confusion. Every 10 years, many voters get assigned a new precinct because of redistricting. This is one of those years.”

LOCAL STAT OF THE DAY: In Pinellas County about 20 percent of the 626,000 registered voters have new polling locations.

SUSAN MACMANUS SAYS RACE WILL COME DOWN TO … AGE?

“It really looks like it’s going to be a generational thing,” MacManus said in an interview. “The 50 and over vote is leaning Romney, and the 50 and under vote is leaning Obama.”

On Tuesday, she said she will be looking toward a key group of voters who could sway the outcome this time around.

“What I’m watching this election are the suburban counties with a lot of financially pressed 30- to 49-year-olds,” MacManus said. Last time around, many of those voters went with Obama. In 2010, many of them helped Republicans sweep the midterm elections.

“The real story here,” MacManus said, “is who flipped from 2008.”

KNOW WHO LOOKS SILLY TODAY?

The guy from Suffolk University who stopped polling in Florida.

David Paleologos, the Director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center, on October 9, told Bill O’ Reilly that the center would no longer be surveying Florida or Virginia because the states were clearly going for Romney.

“I think in places like North Carolina, Virginia and Florida, we’ve already painted those red, we’re not polling any of those states again,” Paleologos said.

While Romney may indeed win Florida and/or Virginia, the two states are far from locked down for Romney. Sure, the most recent Times/Herald poll of Florida shows Romney with a six point lead for Romney, but a Marist/NBC poll has Obama with a two point lead, as does the most recent Reuters pollA third poll, this one conducted by the Mellman Group, has Obama with a two-point lead over Romney.

Then again two other polls, one by YouGov and one by Zogby, have Romney in the lead, but just by two points or less.

The point is, Florida is clearly not “painted red” — or blue, for that matter — and the state certainly merits the attention of any pollster worth his crosstabs.

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PPP: BILL NELSON 51%, CONNIE MACK 46%

According to Public Policy Polling’s final poll of the Sunshine State, Bill Nelson is in good position to be reelected, leading Republican foe Connie Mack 51/46.

Nelson’s lead has bounced around in the 4-7 point range in our polling over the last few weeks. Floridians narrowly approve of the job he’s doing, 44/41. They don’t care for Mack, with 38% rating him favorably and 43% holding an unfavorable opinion. Nelson’s up 56/40 with independents.

MUST-READ PREDICTION FROM SUNSHINE STATE NEWS’ NANCY SMITH

Nancy Smith at right-leaning Sunshine State News jumps out on a limb to predict what she calls the closest and most interesting races in Florida. Her conclusions might surprise you. For a start, she calls Connie Mack “the low-energy, virtually invisible ‘Fredo’ of the Florida Republican Party — the one man who makes incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson look like he’s alive.” And she predicts he loses to Nelson by as many as 8 points. Check it out here.

BLOOMBERG POURS MORE MONEY INTO DEMINGS-WEBSTER RACE via Mark Matthews of the Orlando Sentinel

New reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show Bloomberg has spent at least $2.3 million in the campaign’s final days to support Demings, a former Orlando police chief who shares many of Bloomberg’s opinions on how to curb gun violence.

That’s a sharp increase even from last week, when it was revealed Bloomberg planned to help Demings with $1.1 million in TV ads. The latest figure of $2.3 million — most of which is being spent in the final week before Election Day — is roughly double the amount of money that Webster has raised all campaign.

ALLEN WEST EYES FINISH LINE

Just two days before the election, US. Rep. Allen West stood under downtown Stuart’s gazebo Sunday afternoon and urged a crowd of more than 100 to help him win.

After being introduced by Sen. Joe Negron, West took the stage at Gazebo Park and compared the last 48 hours of the election race to a half marathon he recently ran in Jensen Beach.

“The last three miles were in a 30-mile-an-hour headwind,” he told the crowd. “But even if you’re a little bit tired, even if you’re going up hill into a headwind, you’ve got to know the finish line is up ahead. What’s at this finish line? A constitutional republic.”

FRANKEL-HASNER RACE EXPECTED TO BE CLOSE

Political analyst Robert Watson says, “This is one of the most contentious races in the country, one of the most expensive, and one of the most important.”

He adds that both parties are trying to gain more representation in congress, and are spending a lot of money to help their candidate win. Watson says, “They’re seeing the millions of dollars that we used to see reserved for governor’s races or senate races just in a congressional race.”

FLA. SUPREME COURT JUSTICES HAVE RAISED A COMBINED $1.5 MIL

Trying to fend off a challenge to their jobs, Florida Supreme Court justices R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince received about $166,000 in contributions between Oct. 13 and Nov. 1 — bringing their combined overall total to more than $1.5 million.

Pariente collected $59,506 during the period, bringing her total to $538,331. Quince received $55,848, giving her a total of $494,686. Lewis collected $50,847 and had a total of $496,541. The justices are trying to win merit-retention votes after being targeted for defeat by some conservative groups and the board of the state Republican Party. An outside group supporting the justices also has raised about $3.2 million and has run television ads.

***Today’s SUNBURN is also sponsored by Corcoran & Johnston Government Relations. With more than 45 years of combined legislative and regulatory knowledge and experience, Corcoran & Johnston’s ability to navigate through the processes and politics of government and deliver for their clients is unmatched.***

IS REPUBLICAN INCUMBENT KEITH PERRY IN DANGER OF LOSING IN HD 21?

If the numbers from absentee and early voting are any indication, the answer is yes.

Through Sunday, 40,576 HD 21 voters have cast a ballot. Of those, 20,286 — 50% — are Democrats, while 13,847 — just 34% — are Republicans. Independents make up the other 16% of the vote.

By that measure, it will take a lot of ticket-splitting for Perry to return to Tallahassee. Not saying it’s not possible, but the numbers don’t lie.

FRANK FARKAS HAS BIG FINAL HAUL FOR HD 68 RACE via the News Service of Florida

Former Rep. Frank Farkas collected $71,345 between Oct. 13 and Nov. 1 and widened his fund-raising lead over Democrat Dwight Dudley in the competitive House District 68, according to newly filed records via the News Service of Florida.

Farkas, who is seeking to return to Tallahassee after six years out of the Legislature, reported raising an overall campaign total of $252,041. Dudley, a St. Petersburg attorney, collected $14,245 during the latest period and had an overall total of $87,430.

***Today’s SUNBURN is brought to you in part by Tucker/Hall — a top-notch public affairs and public relations firm. Visit TuckerHall.com to read about their team, success stories and case studies.***

5 SOCIAL MEDIA QUESTIONS THE ELECTION WILL ANSWER: After Tuesday, the political world will start looking back to see whether the use of social networking – sponsored ads, advocacy campaigns, peer pressure from Facebook “friends” – helped deliver votes. Which social media channels mattered most? Is email still the king of online fundraising? Where does mobile fit in the campaign ecosystem?

CAN’T WAIT TO READElection Night: A Television History 1948-2012, for the Kindle with audio and video.

SORRY TO SEE YOU GO: “Tomorrow is my last day in elected office. It has been an honor and a priveledge to serve in the House and Senate. Thank you for allowing me that opportunity.” State Senator Paula Dockery on her Facebook page.

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.