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Ted Cruz is NOT the real hypocrite.

While declaring himself a candidate for U.S. President at the self-proclaimed “largest Christian University in the world”, Ted Cruz said he would not just overturn Obamacare, but would repeal “every word” of it.

Every. Last. Word.

And then a few hours later – seriously, less than a day – we learned that Senator Cruz is signing up his family for health care using the dreaded, socialist, competition stifling, Affordable Care Act.

The need comes, ironically, because Cruz’s wife is taking an unpaid leave of absence from her job to help on his freshly minted presidential campaign and is need of health insurance.  Just like millions of Americans.

And with predicted outrage – OUTRAGE, I TELL YOU – the Dems are pouncing.

“He’s a hypocrite!” they virtuously and angrily extoll.

But I think they have it all wrong.

Look, Cruz is just doing what is in the best interest of his family. Yeah, sure it looks ridiculous and there is no doubt it was bad strategy. I mean the ink wasn’t dry and the electrons hadn’t quite settled in on the news that he was officially a candidate for president when he made the boneheaded statement.

So can we agree that it was a dumb move on day one of his candidacy?

But a shocking hypocrisy? From a member of Congress? Oh, come on.

No, the real hypocrisy comes from the right wing of the right wing, which has reacted with a deafening roar of silence and even a stand-by-your-man defense.

Where is the good old-fashioned Tea Party outrage? Where’s the “get the government out of my Medicare” anger we have come to know and love?

Isn’t Obamacare the end of capitalism, as we know it? Isn’t it one of the signs of the apocalypse? Plagues, famines, earthquakes and state established health exchanges. It’s all right there after all.

C’mon guys. You were THE power a mere five years ago. You were the force that flipped dozens of U.S. House seats and hundreds of state legislative seats. Are you really going to sit idly by while your poster boy tucks tail back to the cozy confines of the Senate and buys for his family what he wants to repeal – every last word – for everyone else?

Some (like The Daily Caller) are even defending him saying he has no choice. Really?  A U.S. Senator and serious candidate for President of the United States a victim?

Of course, the reaction from the left was entirely predictable and not all that genuine. (I can envision the scene; “Hey guys, Ted Cruz just announced he’s signing up for Obamacare, see if we can get someone to be outraged about this. Okay, what’s next on the agenda?”)

I guess Ted Cruz probably had to do what he had to do for his family. It’s a dumb move poorly timed and yes; it’s a wee bit hypocritical.

But the real hypocrites, the ones who deserve a good old-fashioned calling out are those Tea Party leaders who like to shove their POV in everyone’s face at every possible chance.  The object of ire here should be those self-appointed guardians of American values and the so-called defenders of the Constitution.

Let’s save the outrage for those who truly deserve it.

Discuss

Gov. Rick Scott’s prohibition on the term “climate change” has now claimed its first casualty, says an environmental responsibility group.

On March 9, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) suspended a state employee for speaking about climate change at an official meeting, which made its way into the record of the meeting, according to a complaint filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

Barton Bibler, a long-time DEP employee, received a letter of reprimand ordering him to take two days personal leave. The agency also instructed Bibler not to return without medical clearance.

Bibler currently serves as Land Management Plan Coordinator in DEP Division of State Lands.

On February 27, Bibler attended a Florida Coastal Managers Forum, where a number of attendees discussed climate change and sea-level rise, among other environmental topics.

Bibler’s official notes reported all of that conversation.

DEP superiors directed Bibler to remove any “hot button issues,” such as explicit references to climate change. The letter of reprimand, dated March 9, accused Bibler of misrepresenting the “official meeting agenda (so it) included climate change.”

Bibler was instructed to take two days off, which was charged against his personal leave time. He later received a “Medical Release Form” requiring his doctor to provide the agency an evaluation of unspecified “medical condition and behavior” before being allowed to return to work.

“Bart Bibler has fallen through a professional looking glass in a Florida where the words ‘climate change’ may not be uttered, or even worse, written down,” said Florida PEER Director Jerry Phillips, a former DEP attorney.

Phillips pointed out that Bibler currently has “no idea” whether he will ever be allowed to return to work.

“If anyone needs mental health screening it is Governor Rick Scott,” he added, “and other officials telling state workers to pretend that climate change and sea-level rise do not exist.”

PEER is calling on the DEP Office of Inspector General to open an investigation, to determine the propriety of handling Bibler, including forced leave and the directive to waive privacy rights to allow the DEP to review a physician evaluation.

Philips is also asking for the agency to explain on what basis are they banning the use of the terms climate change,” “sustainability” and “sea-level rise.” He also claims the orders to censor meeting summaries is a violation of Florida law forbidding alteration of official records.

“Not just the employees but the citizens of Florida should demand a full investigation into what the heck is going on inside DEP and whether we can expect more cases like this,” Phillips said. “Under Governor Scott, the Department of Environmental Protection functions like a gulag where those in servitude who show any spark of honesty are simply made to disappear.”

Discuss

The era of Charlie Crist has come to an end.

On Monday, the man who has been on a statewide general ballot six times since 1998 took to Facebook to say 'no mas.' And while Crist may one day again run for office, his time at the center of Florida politics is officially over.

Sure, Jeb Bush served for eight years as governor and probably made a more lasting impact on state government than Crist. And Marco Rubio, who shattered the myth of Crist's political invincibility, could dominate state politics for the coming decade. But for the last twenty years, Crist has helped define Sunshine State politics like no other politician.

As 'Chain Gang Charlie,' Crist helped usher in the era of modern Florida politics -- one driven by sound bites and TV news-ready moments. Running for governor in 2006, Crist shattered fundraising records, transforming how candidates run for statewide office. And in the two defeats he suffered in 2010 and 2014, Crist came to exemplify a brand of politics no longer applicable in the rapid, social media-driven atmosphere.

"Less government, more freedom," Medi-scare, Orimulsion, Jim Greer, "Drop like a rock," George LeMieux, "The People," Fan-gate and so many other disparate people, issues, and events colored the Crist era that there really is no one moment that defines the twenty years from when Crist was first elected to the state Senate to his loss to Rick Scott in the 2014 gubernatorial election. The high-water mark for Crist has to be the brief time he was on John McCain's short list of possible running mates. And in all honesty, Crist never recovered from being passed over for that slot.

Still, it's amazing to think now, with Crist a cautionary tale for aspiring politicians, that had he just run for re-election as governor in 2010, he very likely would have been a or the frontrunner for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

On Monday, Crist said he would not be a candidate in 2016, not necessarily because he doesn't want to be, but because Crist-fatigue has never been stronger. The trial balloon about Crist running for the U.S. Senate was shot down within hours of it being floated to the media.

The brutal reality is Crist was indirectly muscled-out of running by his friend, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, whose camp was saying that Murphy was running for the Senate no matter what Crist decided to do. For Crist, this likely would have been deja vu all over again -- his statewide name ID would at first show him leading Murphy, but he likely would have ended up losing to the more disciplined younger candidate.

Crist running in 2016 would have been like watching Willie Mays as a New York Met stumble along the base paths or Joe Montana as a Kansas City Chief throw interceptions.

The world shifted right under Crist's feet. Through much of his career, he acted as his own press secretary, handing out his cell phone number to any reporter who asked. Yet he never adjusted to the social media environment that requires an authenticity Crist has struggled to demonstrate. In this period of geeks and data-driven arguments, Crist could not get past bullet points when discussing policy. He infamously switched parties in a time of fierce political polarization.

And yet Crist once was so powerful, he all but swung Florida's presidential primary to McCain with his endorsement. He could persuade Big Sugar to sell its land to the state. He could outshine Jeb Bush. He palled around with Arnold Schwarzenegger. The White House seemed a possibility,a albeit distant.

But no more. The most recognizable figure in Florida politics has no race to run. And the two decade era he defined is over. What Crist does next is really anyone's guess.

Discuss

I admit it, I fell for it hook, line, and sinker. But so, too, did Marc Caputo of Politico and Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times.

The con? That U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has developed an elaborate fall-back plan to run for Florida governor in 2018 if he a) runs for president and does not win or b) chooses not to run for president and runs for re-election to the Senate in 2016.

Caputo, Smith, myself and the rest of the political media have made Rubio sound more like a high school senior deciding which college to attend rather than the Machiavellian political operator we all know him to be. "Well, if I don't get into Swarthmore, I can always go to Brown, but Dartmouth is my backup."

As if.

Not that Caputo and Smith don't have sources telling them Rubio is, in fact, thinking about one day running for governor, but my band of sources is saying this is a wolf ticket, one perpetrated by Jeb Bush's camp to diminish Rubio's standing as a presidential aspirant.

"It does not come up in discussions," says a well-known Republican strategist who is close to Rubio's decision-making process.

And about those media reports to the contrary? "Everyone rolls their eyes."

In early January, devout Rubio-watcher Caputo wrote that there is “increasing political chatter that Rubio is well-positioned to run for governor in 2018 … And then, if he wins, there’s a good chance Gov. Rubio will run for president — 2020 would be attractive if a beatable Democrat is president. The next presidential year, 2024, an open-seat year, would be more likely. He’ll only be 52.”

Smith doubled down on this analysis, writing recently that GOP activists’ recent snubbing of Gov. Rick Scott’s choice for chair of the Florida GOP “could be the first big power play by Rubio’s political team to position him to run for governor in 2018.”

The chatter Caputo refers to, and the chess-boarding Smith describes, is background noise, my Rubioworld sources contend.

Instead, they point out, look at what Rubio is actually saying and doing.

-- He's planning trips to Iowa and Nevada, and not to sell books, by the way. Rubio's supporters admit his second book is not selling very well, so even if they quadrupled sales of "American Dreams: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone," they'd barely crack 10,000 units. Yippee.

-- He's making significant hires, including this week's splashy retention of Jim Merrill. Jonathan Martin of the New York TimeswritesMerrill, who directed both of Mitt Romney’s New Hampshire primary bids, is joining Rubio’s political action committee as a senior adviser, a position that would put him at the helm of the Rubio's campaign in the first-in-the-nation primary state. In landing Merrill, Rubio has not only brought on a strategist with deep experience organizing in New Hampshire, but also someone who was being pursued by other Republican presidential hopefuls. Merrill, who is based in Manchester, was sought out by a number of potential candidates, including Bush.

-- He's making the intellectual case for why he can run in a primary that also has Bush in it. “I wouldn’t be running against Jeb Bush," Rubio said Monday on the Hugh Hewitt Show. "If I ran, I would run because I believe I’m the right person for the right time in our country’s history.”

-- Perhaps most important, Rubio is identified as rational for running: that he's best-equipped to lead the country in these extraordinarily tumultuous times. On foreign policy, Rubio contrasts well against not only Bush, but Chris Christie, Rand Paul and Scott Walker.

I won't pretend to know whether Rubio is going to pull the trigger on running for president or if he will one day run for governor, but his people are insisting that what's being sold right now is a wolf ticket. Caveat emptor!

Discuss

Despite his impending book tour with its planned trips to Iowa and Nevada, an increasing number of signs point to U.S. Senator Marco Rubio forgoing a full-scale presidential run, seeking re-election in 2016 and running for Florida governor in 2018.

In early January, devout Rubio-watcher Marc Caputo of Politico wrote that there is “increasing political chatter that Rubio is well-positioned to run for governor in 2018 … And then, if he wins, there’s a good chance Gov. Rubio will run for president — 2020 would be attractive if a beatable Democrat is president. The next presidential year, 2024, an open-seat year, would be more likely. He’ll only be 52.”

The Tampa Bay Times‘ Adam Smith doubled down on this analysis, writing today that GOP activists’ recent snubbing of Gov. Rick Scott’s choice for chair of the Florida GOP “could be the first big power play by Rubio’s political team to position him to run for governor in 2018.”

Were he to run for governor, Rubio would likely face a field of formidable opponents for the GOP nomination, including Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, former House Speaker Will Weatherford, and whichever Rick Scott-like billionaire who decides he’d like to occupy the Governor’s Mansion. Beyond that, Rubio would have to defeat the Democratic nominee, which could be Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham or U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy.

Yet, no matter who Rubio runs against, no obstacle to him becoming governor may be larger than the scenario which would present itself were he actually to win in 2018.

To run for governor, Rubio, as a federal officeholder does not have to “resign-to-run,” but if he wins in 2018, he would need to resign his U.S. Senate seat before assuming the Office of Governor. The next governor will take office at midnight on January 8th, the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January 2019. Therefore, theoretically, Rubio must resign no later than 11:59 p.m. on January 7th.

In that minute, guess who gets to fill Rubio’s seat?

That’s right, Rick Scott.

Article IV, Section 1(f) states that it is the responsibility of the governor to appoint Rubio’s successor upon his resignation. Florida politicos are familiar with this appointment process because then-Governor Charlie Crist made a mockery of it after Mel Martinez resigned in 2009 from the U.S. Senate.

If the idea of Scott getting to appoint someone to the U.S. Senate isn’t frightening enough, consider that Scott could very well appoint himself to the world’s most exclusive club. After all, Scott flirted with running for the Senate in 2010 before deciding to run for governor.

What better way to preserve his legacy — and continue to push his scandalous turn as CEO of HCA down a few paragraphs in his obituary — then to be a governor and a U.S. Senator? What’s to keep him from writing another eight-figure check, like he has done in two previous campaigns, in 2020 to all but guarantee his re-election?

And, after having served two-terms as governor and nearly six years as a U.S. Senator, why wouldn’t billionaire Rick Scott run for president in 2024?

For opponents of Scott, the prospect of him serving beyond January 2019 may indeed be a nightmare scenario.

For Marco Rubio, it may be the ultimate reason why some voters, even those who generally support him, may not vote for him if he runs for governor in 2018.

Discuss

I received Sunday morning the documents cited by a circuit judge as a reason why he ruled this summer the GOP-controlled Florida Legislature violated a state law that says congressional districts cannot be drawn to favor any political party or incumbent.

READ THE DOCUMENTS HERE.

Gary Fineout of the Associated Press recaps what's so special about the so-called Bainter Documents.

State legislators were forced to hold a special session in August to redraw the districts although the changes won't take effect until the 2016 elections.

But the emails and documents have remained sealed as lawyers paid by the Republican Party of Florida have asserted that disclosing them would violate First Amendment rights and trade secrets.

The state Supreme Court earlier this month ruled that the documents should be released to the public and chastised the consultants for not raising First Amendment questions until six months after the documents were first requested.

Justices on Thursday reaffirmed that decision, although they said they would agree to keep the 538 pages of documents sealed until Dec. 1 in order for an appeal to be filed.

Justice Barbara Pariente said that time had come to release the information.

"This court has unanimously concluded that the documents and testimony must be unsealed, and the public's right to view these materials that the trial court relied on in rendering its final judgment has been delayed long enough," Pariente said in a concurring opinion.

However, in their petition to Thomas asking for an emergency stay, Bainter's lawyers contended they would be harmed if that happened.

You can judge for yourself if that's the case.

READ THE DOCUMENTS HERE.

Lawyers who represented the groups challenging the districts said the records will reveal the "shadow process" they said existed between the consultants and the Legislature.

Voters in 2010 passed the "Fair Districts" amendment. The League of Women Voters of Florida and other groups that sued contended that the congressional map adopted in 2012 violated these new standards.

Judge Terry Lewis in July agreed there was enough evidence to show that consultants helped manipulate the process and ruled that two districts were invalid. Legislators in August adopted a new map that alters seven of the state's existing 27 districts and shifts nearly 400,000 voters in central and north Florida.

--

Material from the Associated Press was used in this post.

Discuss

Charlie Crist will win today's election for Florida governor because, well, he's been winning and Republicans won't do enough today to catch up.

I know, I know, that runs counter to almost every model and theory that's out there. But my theory benefits from one strength: I probably have access to more of other people's theories than anyone else in Florida politics. I talk to the Republicans and the Democrats, to the RPOF and the FDP, to the statewide business associations and NextGen Climate. I talk to the best consultants in the business, most of the leading statewide pollsters, and the other reporters crunching numbers. I even run, with the help of St. Pete Polls, my own surveys to test my theories against other theories.

All of that said, my theory could be way wrong. My theory is also heavily weighed down by my own wishful thinking for a Crist win. But, I've been riding a pretty good streak these last couple of years, finishing second in POLITICO's competition for predicting the outcome of Florida's presidential primary, betting my own money on an Obama win in Florida in 2012, and nailing the final margin of victory in the special election for CD 13. Of course, I also predicted Amendment 2 would not make it on the ballot, so what the hell do I know?

Anyway, here's my theory, based on a slew of back-of-the-napkin math.

First off, Crist is already winning.

This Quinnipiac poll said he's leading 44 to 40 percent. So did this Q-poll, albeit it was Crist 40, Scott 39. As did this St. Pete Polls survey showing the race deadlocked but Crist leading by two points among those who say they have already voted. The final poll from the Tampa Bay Times showed Crist leading by five among those who already voted, although a survey paid for by the Florida Chamber of Commerce said the opposite.

The very idea that Crist could be leading among those who have already voted flies in the face of the GOP's core argument -- that it has banked a lead going into Election Day, as evidenced by its approximate 98K returned-ballot advantage over the Democrats. To Republicans, the idea that they are leading in Early and Absentee Voting (EAV) is an article of faith.

But at least four out of the five polls which asked about early voting suggest something otherwise. To this, GOP'ers say, "Heresy!"

One prominent Republican lobbyist who I have had the pleasure of going back-and-forth with this cycle has consistently framed the election around three principles. Scott is winning. If the election ended tomorrow, Scott would still be winning. And Republicans will turn out more than Democrats on Election Day.

So how can Crist be leading Scott in EAV despite the partisan ID advantage in returned-ballots? The only way this can be happening is, assuming that Crist and Scott are both at equal strength with their base, that Crist is winning Independents by a bigger lead than the one taken as conventional wisdom. If this is so, and there is conflicting evidence to support this part of my theory, than Crist should win by a point-and-a-half because, while Republicans will beat Democrats on Election Day, they won't beat Democrats and the spread of Independents who go for Crist.

The other weakness of the Republican argument, as made by Tim Saler, is that Democrats caught up with Republicans in EAV because they cannibalized Election Day voters, meaning they simply shifted voters who normally cast a ballot on Election Day to the EAV column. While that may be somewhat true, so have Republicans. Also, and more important, Cristworld's Omar Khan says that there is a separate concerted effort to turnout Democrats on Election Day. And after backing up his promise to (mostly) catch up to Republicans in EAV, how can we not take Khan at his word?

Republicans are also making the case that they have a larger pool of 100% and/or high propensity voters left to turnout today. There's no denying that. But one has to wonder, why haven't these so-reliable voters already cast their ballot? They have received more than a dozen mailers. They've literally had canvassers outside their door every weekend since Labor Day. Jeb Bush has begged them to turn in their ballot.

Yet, tens of thousands of these high propensity Republican voters have yet to vote. Maybe, just maybe, they are the South Florida Democrats of this election. Maybe they don't want to vote for Rick Scott and against medical marijuana. Maybe the base is turned off by the tens of millions of dollars in negative ads.

If these voters do not turn out today, it's over for Rick Scott. It may already be over even if they do.

Regardless, the traditional narrative of Republicans win EAV, Democrats try to catch up on Election Day, and each side waits and prays may be over.

And wouldn't that make sense ... a former Republican getting the Democrats to win an election by acting like Republicans.

Discuss

After reading the spin memos from Rick Scottworld's Tim Saler and Charlie Crist adviser Steve Schale, it's clear that Scott has Crist right where he wants him -- and vice versa.

Right now, the GOP returned-ballot advantage is approximately 100K votes. In shorthand, the GOP partisan advantage is 3.3%.

A year ago ... six months ago ... right after Labor Day, if you had asked each campaign if they would feel good about their chances of victory if the Republicans held a partisan advantage of just over three points, I think both Scottworld and the Crist campaign would have agreed to that parameter. That's what's really fascinating about this race: both sides could be very right about the dynamics of the election, but their guy could still lose.

As a Crist supporter, my nightmare scenario is not a big loss or a recount, it's seeing Crist's campaign essentially change the course of a midterm election in Florida and still come up short five thousand votes.

That said, Saler's most recent memos have a tinge of newspeak to them. A month ago, he was trumpeting the GOP's partisan advantage. But now, with the gap between Republicans and Democrats less than it was in 2010, Saler is arguing that the gap no longer matters because Democrats are cannibalizing their voters from Election Day.

In other words, Saler and Scott have Schale and Crist right where they want them -- and vice versa.

Discuss

The Florida governor’s race goes down to the wire, with Democrat Charlie Crist at 42 percent of likely voters to Republican incumbent Gov. Rick Scott’s 41 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie has 7 percent, with 9 percent undecided the day before election.

This compares to results of an October 30 survey by the independent Quinnipiac University, showing Crist with 43 percent of likely voters to Gov. Scott’s 40 percent, with Wyllie at 8 percent.

With Wyllie out of the race, Crist gets 44 percent to Scott’s 42 percent.

Scott leads Crist among men 47 – 34 percent, with 8 percent for Wyllie, while Crist leads Scott 50 – 35 percent among women, with 6 percent for Wyllie. Independent voters go to Crist 39 – 32 percent, with 16 percent for Wyllie. Republicans back Scott 81 – 8 percent, with 4 percent for Wyllie. Democrats go to Crist 84 – 6 percent, with 2 percent for Wyllie.

Among those who already have voted, Crist gets 44 percent to Scott’s 40 percent.

“After an incredibly expensive, extremely nasty campaign, the Florida governor’s race is too close to call. The winner will be the candidate best able to get his voters to the polls. Turnout, turnout, turnout,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Poll.

One day before Election Day, 95 percent of voters who name a candidate say their mind is made up, while 5 percent say they might change their mind.

Florida likely voters give Crist a negative 43 – 50 percent favorability rating, compared to Scott’s negative 42 – 49 percent, while 83 percent of likely voters still do not know enough about Wyllie to form an opinion of him.

From October 28 – November 2, Quinnipiac University surveyed 817 likely voters with a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percentage points.

Discuss

A jump in support from independent likely voters in the Florida governor’s race leaves Democrat Charlie Crist with 43 percent, inches ahead of Republican incumbent Gov. Rick Scott with 40 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie has 8 percent, with 9 percent undecided.

This compares to results of an October 22 survey by the independent Quinnipiac University, showing Gov. Scott and Crist tied 42 – 42 percent, with Wyllie at 7 percent.

With Wyllie out of the race, Crist gets 45 percent to Scott’s 42 percent.

Men and women remain divided in the three-way matchup. Scott leads Crist among men 47 – 37 percent, with 9 percent for Wyllie, while Crist leads Scott 49 – 35 percent among women, with 6 percent for Wyllie.

Independent voters go to Crist over Scott 47 – 29 percent, with 16 percent for Wyllie. This compares to last week’s result, showing Crist taking 41 percent of independent voters, to Scott’s 38 percent, with 11 percent for Wyllie.

Republicans back Scott over Crist 81 – 8 percent, with 4 percent for Wyllie. Democrats go to Crist over Scott 83 – 7 percent, with 3 percent for Wyllie.

Among those who already have voted, Crist gets 40 percent to Scott’s 39 percent.

“Independent voters are often the difference in swing states like Florida, but the size of former Gov. Charlie Crist’s lead among them is truly remarkable,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

“Crist, who always has sought to portray himself as a pragmatist rather than an ideologue, seems to have sold that message to independents who historically have favored problem-solvers who are less politicaI,” Brown added. “It may turn out that Crist’s change from Republican to independent to Democrat branded him as the kind of less political politician with the most important voter group. If Crist can win independents by 20 points on Election Day, he will be difficult to beat.

“It would be a reasonable hypothesis that the candidates’ debates made a big difference in this race. Scott was ahead going into them and behind after them. It could be a coincidence, but it would be a pretty large coincidence. Crist has long been thought of as an excellent campaigner and he used those skills to his advantage.

“Wyllie is holding on to his 8 percent and if those voters decide to leave him for a major party candidate they could also make a difference.”

Just five days before Election Day, 90 percent of voters who name a candidate say their mind is made up, while 10 percent say they might change their mind. Their mind is made up, say 91 percent of Crist voters, 92 percent of Scott supporters and 67 percent of Wyllie backers.

Florida likely voters give Crist a split 45 – 45 percent favorability rating, compared to Scott’s negative 41 – 46 percent, while 81 percent of likely voters still do not know enough about Wyllie to form an opinion of him.

From October 22 – 27, Quinnipiac University surveyed 817 likely voters with a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percentage points.

The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts public opinion surveys in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Iowa, Colorado and the nation as a public service and for research.

Discuss

As the first full weekend of early voting approaches, Democratic voters have been steadily chipping away at the traditional GOP early vote and absentee ballot lead, according to Democratic advisor Steve Schale.

Schale, who works with the Charlie Crist Campaign, now provides nearly daily vote number updates as part of the campaign memo war with Tim Saler, his counterpart over at Republican Rick Scott’s camp.

It’s all about momentum, he says, particularly compared with 2010 numbers, when Scott won by just over 61,000 votes.

Schale points out that Republicans went into Election Day 2010 with a 12-point lead in early voting; this time around, that lead is shrinking fast, with a 4-point drop in the last four days.

The most significant takeaway from this week, he says, is that Democratic turnout is starting to heat up. Votes are coming in faster than they were in 2010. As of Oct 26, 2010, there were 1.45 million votes cast, giving the GOP an advantage of about 240K or a 17-point advantage.

Today, the margin runs about 130K or 9.6 points.

In addition, the first few days of early voting in 2010 had a steady GOP advantage. This cycle, the margin dropped significantly, down 4 points in only 4 days.

Democratic participation, as a percentage of the electorate, is up 3 points versus the same point in the 2010 election.  NPA participation is also up 3 points.  GOP is down six points from this day in 2010.

Democrats are taking a larger share of “sporadic voters” – those who have not regularly cast ballots in the past four General Elections. More than a quarter of Democratic voters did not vote in 2010, compared to 17 percent of Republican voters.  Over 30 percent of NPA voters are infrequent voters.

Schale’s analysis: an expanding electorate in 2014 is favoring Democrats, the opposite of what happened in 2010.

Going into Election Day in 2010, Republicans had a 12-point advantage. Rick Scott won by a single point or 61,500 votes.

Today it is 9.6 points.

This being Florida, Schale concludes, the governor’s race is going to be close.

Discuss

The Florida governor’s election between former Gov. Charlie Crist and incumbent Gov. Rick Scott is statistically tied, according to a new poll from the Saint Leo University Polling Institute.

With less than two weeks before the election, Crist leads, 43-40 percent, with Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie pulling 8 percent, and 9 percent of likely voters saying they are undecided. Crist’s lead is within the poll’s margin of error, and the race can be described as a statistical tie.

With speculation about what effect Libertarian Wyllie may have on the final outcome, Saint Leo University also asked voters to imagine Wyllie were not on the ballot. Given a choice of voting for only Scott or Crist, the two candidates deadlocked at 45 percent each, with 10 percent undecided. A majority of voters say they have either never heard of Wyllie (46 percent) or don’t know enough about him to offer an opinion (11 percent).

“It appears as though Charlie Crist’s attacks against Rick Scott are working, as the race has swung away from the incumbent in the last few months,” said Frank Orlando, instructor of political science at Saint Leo University. According to Orlando, Crist’s lead is still tenuous. “Pre-election polls tend to overstate support for third party candidates. When it comes time to cast their ballots, voters seem to settle on one of the two main parties for fear of ‘wasting’ their vote. It appears that Wyllie is drawing more support from Scott than Crist, and, if Wyllie is removed from the race, Scott gains 5 percent of the vote, while Crist only gains 2 percent and the poll is a dead heat,” stated Orlando.

Orlando also thinks voter turnout is critical to the election’s outcome. “Despite the negative nature of the campaign, voters’ valuations of candidates haven’t really changed. This suggests that voters have had their minds made up for a while and that there is a very small group of undecided voters. The election seems certain to hinge on mobilization and the amount that Wyllie can pull voters from Scott,” concluded Orlando.

Discuss
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