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I've assembled my projections for turnout along with a baseline of goals for the SINK/SMITH campaign to win the Florida Gubernatorial race.  It may help you understand the results as the come in tomorrow night.

Mario Piscatella is a political consultant with extensive experience working with federal campaigns and training activists for organizations including Democracy for America.

This is cross posted from my website at www.mpapolitical.com.  Charts with data appear within the text in the original post.

The following data and commentary should assist some in following and understanding the returns tomorrow night, focused on the Governors race.  I will include historical data and some formulas that create history based projections.  There is also a bit of “art” in the shaping of performance based on the perceived focuses (geographically and demographically) of the campaign/party activity, and some notes will be provided explaining those below.

Traditionally, history for the previous 2-3 similar races for the office would be used, in addition to other offices for the same “district”, in this case statewide.  For my projections, I am rejecting the use of any data prior from 2004 or prior, as too many significant changes impacting the electorate of the state have occurred, making the data inapplicable for future elections.  Further effects on the precinct or sub-district level might also be applied on a more intense projection, taking more of the down ticket (US House, State Senate/House, County and Municipal races) impacts in to account.  The need for such is minimized by the absolutely minimal showing of Democrats even competing for down ticket races, despite huge deficits in the State House and Senate.

Democrats hold 44 of 120 State House seats, with just 11 Democratic Challengers financially competitive for Republican held seats while 7 Democratic seats have competitive Republican challengers.  Best possible outcome would be a 65 to 55 Republican majority.  In the State Senate, there is a competitive Democratic challenger in just 3 races, while the Republicans have a strong challenger for one Democratic seat.  The current balance of the State Senate is 26 R’s to 14 D’s, leaving the best possible outcome at 23 R’s and 17 D’s.  Neither of these best outcomes are going to happen.  There is a significant chance to fall below super-minority status in the Senate, and while we are losing some of our strongest voices, few of the challengers running to replace Democrats, or as red to blue challengers have demonstrated such leadership and vocal capacity.  For reference, financially competitive is defined as roughly 50% of the incumbent’s capacity to spend (donations, loans and in-kind contributions), using data posted in the 10/29/2010 reports.

Given this “undercard” it makes it very challenging for the statewide Democrats to overcome the “local advantages” Republicans hold.  Each incumbent or competitive challenger for State House/Senate is a powerful local surrogate and vote driver for the top of ticket campaigns that cannot be everywhere every day.  These local campaigns provide infrastructure, communication, energy and urgency at a more focused level, neighbor to neighbor, friend to friend, something hard to replicate with paid staff or volunteer organizers.  This was one of the key components of Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy, and a big part of the significant gains nationwide in 2006 and 2008.

The impacts of a thin under card are exposed to greater extent when you focus your resources heavily in one geographic region, reducing the levels of staffing, media and candidate time in other regions significantly.  If you have a strong under card with supportive candidates down ticket, they can carry your campaign through the reduced effort to some extent.  In this situation, with the 2010 Democratic Co-ordinated/Alex Sink for Governor campaign focused heavily on the “I-4 Corridor” (really Tampa/St. Pete and Orlando), the burden placed on the rest of the state is tremendous.  In south Florida there is a strong risk of having not motivated the largest Democratic populations in the state sufficiently, either by policy/rhetoric or by lack of effort.  Alex Sink herself cites this failure as the main reason her husband, Bill McBride, failed to win his campaign for Governor.  In northern Florida, there is far less infrastructure and institutional support on the Democratic side, making it harder to deliver results, but there are significant voting populations, and a large number of Democrats, particularly in Alachua and Duval, that must be turned out to compete statewide.  The difference between Obama winning and Gore and Kerry losing Florida can be summed up by Obama’s ~48% in Duval versus Gore and Kerry in the 30′s.  Less than 39% in Duval makes it nearly impossible to win statewide, this makes for a strong indicator to watch tomorrow night.

Here we see a comparison of the 2006 Democratic results for Governor and for CFO in the General election.  In most of these key counties, Alex Sink’s campaign for CFO outperformed Jim Davis’s campaign for Governor by between 4 and 15%, most of them falling right around 9% better.

When you look at the actual votes, the spread of more than 17,000 votes between Davis and Sink in Duval County, roughly 10,000 votes more in each of Lee, Leon, Palm Beach,  Sarasota, and Volusia Counties, with more than 15,000 in Pinellas County and 20,000 votes in Orange County.  The Davis campaign is often discussed as having been an uninspired and poorly executed adventure, which accounts for some of the gap, some is accounted for in the differing appeal of Alex Sink as a candidate, the oddity of recently created office of CFO, and some by the quality and focuses of her campaign in a year of significant Democratic gains nationally and here in Florida.

The final total puts a difference of 301,572 votes between Davis at 45% and Sink at 53.5%, the difference between victory and defeat, 162,236 of those votes are shown in the chart to the left, 13 of Florida’s 67 counties accounting for more than half the differential.

To make performance goals and projections, the first objective is to establish a turnout projection.  To do this, we rely on historical data, in particular the 2006 Governor and CFO, the 2008 Presidential campaign and current registration data as of the 2010 General Election October book closing.  Further projections are made with adjustments based on a variety of effects impacting turnout and support, as discussed above.

The 2010 Projections is math factoring the 2006 Governor’s race five times, the 06 CFO race once, and the 2008 Presidential race once.  The second column provides a goal for the Alex Sink/Rod Smith campaign that is based on the 2006 Governors race, increased by between 0 and 9%, based on the Sink/Smith’s campaigns strengths and focuses from external perception and public polling data where available, filtered through an analytical filter (my head).  In the next column you find the actual vote count the percentage equates to, should the turnout projections hold true.

The next two columns present the book closing total of Registered Democrats in each county followed by the percentage of all registered voters the 2010 Projections represent.  The final column of data is the percentage of all registered Democrats Sink would need to hit her vote goal, should no Republicans/NPAs/Others vote for Democratic ticket.  This shows where the campaign needs to experience greater cross over voting, or really run up the numbers with the base.  What gets interesting is comparing the Sink 2010 goals to the Sink 2006 Performance, where in many cases, Sink 2006 outperformed the goals set here for 2010.  The heavy lifting for the Sink campaign is within the geographic regions they have set as their focus point from the beginning, the I-4 corridor, Hillsborough and Orange County, if they fail to make those goals, the fate of the Democratic ticket will follow the same path as the 2006 Jim Davis campaign.

There are some other effects in play, Rick Scott’s tremendous negatives, the reluctance of AG Bill McCollum to endorse the man who beat him in the primary, and the Crist as Indy vs Meek vs Rubio US Senate Contest, which could cause tremendous upheaval down ticket should Crist’s “reject both parties” message result in significant ‘one shot voting’.  As I posted previously, I don’t understand how any Democrat can think voting for Charlie Crist is a good idea, he screwed you for his entire career, bragged about his conservative values, but now he’s claiming to be a sensible moderate interested in helping women, students and teachers he screwed over so many times before?  You must have been born yesterday.  And shame on the media for allowing him to get away with this crap, for supporting it and justifying it.  What happened to Journalistic Integrity anyway?  Oh yes, media consolidation.

Could all my numbers be wrong? Absolutely.  Could the goals set internally by the Sink/Smith campaign and/or Florida Democratic Party be vastly different than what I have presented in these models?  Yes, of course.  We will find out the results tomorrow night, everything else will be dominated by speculation and rumormongering.  Win or lose, we MUST do better in 2012.  We must have more competitive Democrats running for US House, State House, State Senate and County offices around the state, particularly for Republican held seats.   We need to do a better job of training our candidates and staff, of hiring dedicated professionals rather than friends, family and “big names”, and a much better job of being proud and loud about our values.  Now, if you haven’t voted yet, GO DO IT.  If you already voted, spend election day finding people to get out and vote Democratic, AT LEAST FIVE.

Mario Piscatella is a political consultant with extensive experience working with federal campaigns and training activists for organizations including Democracy for America.

Originally posted to mp on Mon Nov 01, 2010 at 04:49 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (9+ / 0-)

    Are you a Proud Progressive running or thinking about running for office? Visit www.mpapolitical.com.

    by mp on Mon Nov 01, 2010 at 04:49:05 PM PDT

  •  Well I voted for Sink (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mp, MartyM

    Turnout in my district was incredible. First time ever in 5 years I had to actually stand in a line. It was out the door of the library.

    Talking to a poll worker, she told me that it's been like this every day of early voting. So we are definitely going to set a record for turnout. Given the "enthusiasm gap" thing, I'm not feeling optimistic.

    After getting my slip, I sat in a chair to wait for my name to be called to get a ballot. Our slips say "Dem" or "Rep" on them, and, glancing to my left, there was a heavy-set woman with her jaw jutted out, eyes squinted, and her slip said "Rep" on it.

    The republican GOTV has been fierce and they are turning out in force. Trying to scan the crowd and guess affiliation, it certainly looked majority conservative.

    No, I don't buy the media narrative that "Americans are angry about government spending" blah blah blah. That's just propaganda. But on the ground, looking at who's showing up, obviously Democratic voters looked outnumbered.

    The Evil Breed are turning out their middle-to-upper-class, Fox-viewing minions in force. They want Teabag. They demand Teabag, and the Meek-Crist split is handing this Senate race to Rubio on a platter.

    I had no choice, I had to vote my conscience and fill in the oval for Meek, but damn him for being such a weak, pathetic little nothing of a candidate. We never had a chance in this one. Debbie Wasserman-Schulz could have run and she could have taken it.

    Anyway, Go Sink! She's got a shot.

    Every day's another chance to stick it to The Man. - dls.

    by The Raven on Mon Nov 01, 2010 at 05:09:36 PM PDT

    •  Turnout won't set any records... (8+ / 0-)

      ...but Republican utilization of early voting will.

      They have traditionally not performed nearly as well in early voting as Democrats, but have crushed us in Absentee voting.  This year, Republicans are voting early in much higher numbers, but they are still the same voters we expected to turn out (in one of the 3 ways), based on preliminary research.  They are just voting early instead of voting at the polls, or voting early instead of absentee.  Why this is, I'm not really sure.

      Overall I expect turnout to be fairly low - much as you expect in a first term President's midterm.

      Some have theorized that Democrats have been waiting out the Meek/Crist battle to see if something changes.  Not excited about voting for either, but wishing to defeat Rubio.  The media has failed to educate people that even if one or the other did drop out at this point, the votes that have been cast are cast, they don't shift with an endorsement...and that Crist is a worthless lying valueless snake oil salesman.  A whore for votes and nothing more.

      Are you a Proud Progressive running or thinking about running for office? Visit www.mpapolitical.com.

      by mp on Mon Nov 01, 2010 at 05:19:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Okay, so (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greatdarkspot, draa

    who are you projecting as winner? Sink should have campaigned more in Dade and Broward counties. That's where the Democrats live in this crazy state. We hardly saw her. That doesn't make sense to me.

    •  Why would she campaign in mostly Democratic areas (0+ / 0-)

      unless you think she needed to. Just asking. I would think she would be in the red districts trying to sway them. Like the panhandle. Most Dems are pretty loyal down here, though I sometimes worry about white Dems and black canidates (if you know what I mean). St. Aug here.

      It's simple - Vote and we win.

      by draa on Mon Nov 01, 2010 at 05:58:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Turnout is the result of energy and motivation... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CocoaLove, greatdarkspot

        ...to get that, you need to show up and you need to have a message that motivates people to work on your behalf.  I do this for a living and I don't know what her message is.  "Rick Scott is evil" is the closest thing to a message I've heard out of Sink supporters.  That isn't a good way to win or get volunteers to work for you.

        As I discussed in my analysis, Sink herself stated many times that her husband lost by not motivating progressives/Democrats in South Florida, the "base" didn't turn out for him, they didn't door knock, they didn't make calls.  It will be sad if the same results befall her campaign.

        Campaigns are rarely won by winning votes from the other side, picking up a seat from the other side is the result of turning out a higher percentage of your people than they turn out of theirs.  If you look at my charts, this may be easier to see.  Registration is typically around 60-75% registered R's or D's and the rest other/npa's, if its 42% R and 32% D and the rest other/npa, you take the seat by driving out 70% of your D's while they get 40% of their R's.  If you create that kind of energy, the npa/others will break your way most of the time as well.

        Campaigns typically fail when they try to appeal to the opposite side, which is extremely common for Democratic challengers.  You end up shedding more of your votes than you could possible recover from the other side.

        Are you a Proud Progressive running or thinking about running for office? Visit www.mpapolitical.com.

        by mp on Mon Nov 01, 2010 at 06:07:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Alex Sink is no friend to black folks (0+ / 0-)

        Your post is indicative of the wrong-headed thinking by white liberals ... don't assume you have the black vote and just ignore us. We can just as easily ignore you. It's not like these elected officials are approving policies that help us.

        I don't like Alex Sink, but I held my nose and voted anyway because I don't want Rick Scott. I figure I will be fine regardless who is the governor, but I care about others who are scared crapless about what he might do.

        If anything, we need to vote out the goopers who have ruled unimpeded for the last 12 years. Things are worse since Lawton Chiles' days. No one seems to have noticed that, though.

        Sigh.

        Ugh!

        •  I'm slightly offended... (0+ / 0-)

          ...as a white liberal, but really I'm not arguing you are wrong, just that I'm a little embarrassed by how Democrats assume they will get Democratic votes.

          Though I find it has less to do with white vs black vs brown vs glbt vs etc and more to do with Democrats being proud of their democratic values, asking everyone for their vote, and not taking anything for granted.

          Are you a Proud Progressive running or thinking about running for office? Visit www.mpapolitical.com.

          by mp on Tue Nov 02, 2010 at 08:54:47 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Where did the white liberal come from (0+ / 0-)

          How do you even know what I am really? I never said. I did say that the Democratic base in Fl normally votes Democrat. The only thing that I constantly fear, here in Florida where I have lived for 45 years, is that even though you may identify yourself as Democratic canidate, if you are black, many white Democrats shy away from you. My grandparents were two that I can think of. I'm sure there's many others still alive. The Old Democratic Party was Neo-Conservative, Racist, Sexist, and Gay haters just like todays Republican/Teabagger crowd. There are still MANY of those people in Florida. We have been trying to defaet THEM, as well as Republicans, for years. Thanks.

          It's simple - Vote and we win.

          by draa on Tue Nov 02, 2010 at 04:03:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I'm predicting Sink by a hair... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CocoaLove

      ...she didn't do enough to motivate progressives or minorities, and they put far too much focus on Tampa/Orlando with too little effort on South Florida and North Florida, but in the end Rick Scott sucks enough that they should be able to overcome a shitty campaign to win by a couple thousand votes.

      Are you a Proud Progressive running or thinking about running for office? Visit www.mpapolitical.com.

      by mp on Mon Nov 01, 2010 at 05:59:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sorry to say (0+ / 0-)

        Sorry to say, I'm seeing a Scott victory. :(  He's a lousy candidate in a GOP year.  Sink needed to be a great candidate, but she's just fair-to-good.  I think she should have talked about a few more issues and not just Rick Scott's fraudulent past.

        Currently Top Ten in Slate's Lean/Lock game!

        by greatdarkspot on Mon Nov 01, 2010 at 06:54:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Voting tomorrow (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mp

    I will vote in the AM for Meek.  I am sick that Rubio will win but I am hearing that the true Repubs are gonna TRASH the teapartiers come Wednesday morning.  So I will vote Dem as I have done now for 42 years but I wish there was a lever to pull that would flush the entire Senate, Congress and President down the toilet and we allow the newbies to each spend $10,000 of their own money to campaign for 1 month and then go back to vote on December 2nd. I can dream . . .

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