Tim Saler: Any way you cut it, GOP leads early vote race

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If anything else, Tim Saler wants supporters to know one clear fact: no matter how you count it, Republicans still lead the early vote and absentee ballot race.

Gov. Rick Scott’s deputy campaign manager, in an early-vote update memo, says 190,000 Floridians cast ballots yesterday, with more than 120,000 early voting and another 70,000 absentee ballots. Those numbers will change, he says since as of Friday morning, Polk County has not reported data for yesterday.

According to Saler, the “Crist-Obama team” has not yet brought a breakaway day of early voting turnout, and they are “running out of time to do it.”

Of 120,000 early votes on Thursday, there was a 0.1 percent margin between Republicans and Democrats — only 982 votes.

“High-propensity” Democrats have been returning absentee ballots while Republicans are pulling votes from our least likely (or “sporadic”) midterm voters.

Saler points out that of those who did not participate in the last four General Elections — or those who only voted once or twice –the GOP turnout rate has outpaced the Democrats by at least two percent.

Across the board, Republicans are turning out at a higher rate than the Democrats, Saler says, but Democrats are closing the gap with those most likely to show up on Election Day anyway.

In the voter memos from Steve Schale, Saler’s Democratic counterpart, the focus has been on the 2010 election. But Saler suggests a more accurate estimate of the electorate can be found through 2012 figures.

Thirty percent of all Democrats on the voter file meet the “sporadic” criteria – having voted in 2012, but not 2010 – compared to 23 percent of Republicans.

Saler says that although Democrats have a raw voter advantage, nearly half a million people, Republicans better at boosting turnout, producing a higher percentage of highly-targeted voters at the ballot box than Democrats – 17 to 15 percent.

In 2012, Republicans trailed Democrats in pre-election day voting, nearly 75,000 voters.

Turnout this year has been remarkable, Saler adds, as 775,000 more voters cast ballots today than at the same point in the 2010 campaign.

An interesting note: in this memo, Saler mentions Obama much more than he does Charlie Crist, the person Scott is actually running against. Such is the GOP strategy seen throughout the country, where Obama has become the prime target, even though the President is not on the ballot.

For example, Saler blames the changing electorate on “Obama-generated absentee ballot requests and changes in the early voting laws.”

Saler also notes that Republican counties will have five or six fewer days of early voting versus Democratic counties in 2014.

“Despite all of that,” he concludes, “we’re still winning – about 135,000 more Republicans than Democrats have voted so far this year.” And anyway you cut it, those are the numbers that count.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.