Over 130,000 people early voted in Florida on Saturday, including 60,000 absentee ballots, in the last full day of early voting in all 67 counties statewide, g about 60,000 absentee ballots.
However, 12 counties will continue early voting today, Nov. 2: Bradford, Broward, Charlotte, Duval, Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Orange, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Seminole, St. Lucie and Suwanee
As of 8 a.m., five counties did not report Saturday’s results, but that is not stopping Rick Scott for Florida Deputy Campaign manager Tim Saler from drawing some conclusions about the early vote.
“Crist-Obama team is desperately trying to catch up,” Saler says in his latest update memo, “And they’re doing it with their voters who were already the most likely to cast a ballot in this year’s election.”
As for the most reliable voters, those who regularly cast ballots in General Elections, Republicans have a turnout advantage over Democrats. On the other hand, the GOP is also boosting the vote of those “sporadic” voters, who have not regularly voted (or at all) in the past four elections.
In each category of voters, Republicans are outpacing turnout over Democrats by 2 percent or more.
Traditionally, Republican turnout advantage was strongest in the most-reliable voters, those who voted in 4 out of 4 general elections, but now, Saler says, the GOP position is stronger with sporadic voters.
“Time is running out for the ‘Crist-Obama’ team to put together the numbers they needed to elect Barack Obama by less than 75,000 votes two years ago,” he notes.
At the same point in 2012, there were 155,000 more Democrats voting than Republicans, and Obama’s margin of victory would end up being less than half that.
Compared to the same point in the last gubernatorial race, held in 2010, roughly 800,000 more people voted. Despite the massive shift of voters, Sales says, Republicans still lead Democrats by more than 125,000 citizens. Sunday is a big day for the Crist-Obama team, he adds.
Of the 12 counties continuing to vote, many of them have strong Democrat support, with no in-person early voting in nearly every Republican base county.
Saler says it is possible that Democrats could “completely neutralize” the Republican lead in absentee and early votes. In 2012, the only Sunday of early voting brought more than 100,000 Democrats out to early vote.
To illustrate how important today is to Democrats, Sales notes Vice President Biden will be in Miami for early voting events.
To date, Republicans still lead mail-in ballots by 8 percent, while Saler believes the Democrats “failed to build a massive early voting lead,” with Democrats leading by only 1 point over Republicans.
“They needed to do both things in order to implement the Obama model that won a close race in 2012,” Saler says.
In his regular voter updates, Steve Schale, Saler’s Democratic counterpart at the Charlie Crist Campaign, consistently argues that comparing 2014 to 2012 is like “apples and oranges” because of traditionally lower turnout numbers in midterm elections.
Only Tuesday will tell.