TALLAHASSEE, Florida – Florida enters election day with around 9 million votes already cast. The A-List zigzag replaces the peninsula and a flurry of television commercials is still spinning. The Sunshine State faces yet another nail biter.
“Florida is a really tough state,” Kevin Sheekey, advisor to former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, told reporters on Monday. “It is clearly a state too difficult to name.”
On Monday, in an 11-hour messaging campaign, Democrats and Republicans dissected Florida’s diverse constituencies from nearly every angle to write a victory narrative in a president that Donald Trump won in 2016 with less than 113,000 votes. A record wave from the start the vote has delivered amounts of data that both Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are using to gain the upper hand in the final vote.
For Democrats, the good news is: Broward County, a stronghold of the party, is showing voters at a rate 3 percentage points higher than the national turnout. The electorate has become more diverse, by election day around 100,000 registered Democrats will have voted as Republicans, and the party has around 200,000 more “sporadic voters” – people who don’t always vote – than Republicans, giving Democrats greater potential to expand their base.
“There are definitely places where I feel good,” Steve Schal, who runs pro Joe Biden Super-PAC Unite the Country, told reporters on Monday. “I feel good most of the I-4 corridor. Broward and Palm Beach Counties, turnout is looking good. “
Republicans counter that they have 150,000 “super-voters” – people who cast ballots every year – who have not yet voted, meaning the GOP is likely to outperform Democrats again on election day. The Democratic turnout in liberal Miami-Dade County was 8 percentage points behind Republicans on Monday afternoon, and on most polls, Biden won, but not marginally, the Hispanic vote that Hillary Clinton scored in 2016.
“Every year they are overly optimistic,” said Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, a former leader of the Florida Republican Party. “They base their assumptions on things that never happen.”
Ingoglia said the Democrats had asked voters to have a plan and vote early.
“Everyone has a plan until they’re punched in the mouth,” he said, borrowing a saying from boxer Mike Tyson. “One more day, they’ll be slapped in the mouth by the Republicans regarding the turnout.”
Clinton’s 2016 loss continues to cast a shadow over democratic optimism. Their campaign started election day by around 240,000 votes in Florida, but lost after Republican super-voters appeared in droves.
“He’s incredibly effective at gathering his base, and his base makes up a huge percentage of this land, especially in places like Florida,” Sheekey said of Trump.
In one of the biggest twists and turns in a chaotic election cycle, Bloomberg pledged $ 100 million to Florida in September to prevent Trump’s return to the White House. Spending played a crucial role in shaping the race, but it was just part of a 2020 tapestry that spanned countless candidate and replacement visits, boat parades, auto rallies, and $ 404 million in advertising spend – most of all states land, according to data firm Advertising Analytics.
Bloomberg’s money is funding a traditional floor game operation, including partnering with Somos PAC, a Democratic super-PAC, to identify black and Hispanic voters in South Florida. State Democrats had gotten to grips with Biden’s lack of traditional voter turnout, a decision made in the heat of the coronavirus pandemic, but that effort has increased in the days leading up to the election.
“Most of the people are out there today and actually knocking on doors,” Sheekey said. “They know very well that they are knocking on the doors of people who have not yet submitted the ballot.”
While the Democrats continue to quench their hangover from 2016 onwards, the Republicans who take advantage of the latest election cycle are confident.
“The returns will come from Florida and they will not be what the media wanted,” said Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at a Trump rally in Miami-Dade County late Sunday. “It’s going to show that it’s pretty close and close, and then comes the panhandle and oh my god, it’s four years again, 2016. And you have to admit that Donald Trump carried the state of Florida.”
As of Monday morning, registered Democrats had 8.8 million votes cast in Florida, a lead of 108,000, one point ahead.
The narrow margin means the focus is on non-party voters, nearly 2 million of whom had cast ballots on Monday morning. While there is no specific data on how these people vote, both parties make the case that they win the coveted independent vote.
Shell said nearly a third of new non-party voters are under 27, which makes them much younger than the rest of state voters. It’s an age range that is generally democratic.
“These new voters could well decide on the election,” wrote Dish in a voting update on Sunday. “Right now they are younger and more diverse than the universe of all voters.”
In creating a model of the electorate based on voter demographic profiles, Democratic data firm Hawkfish, which works with the Shell-run super-PAC, estimated that 53 percent of early and absent votes were for Biden and 47 percent for Trump. Neither Democrats nor Republicans expect these margins to be held on election day when voters are expected to support Trump far more than those who cast early ballots.
So the choice depends on how many voters turn out and how hard they break for Trump or Biden. By Monday morning, about 62 percent of Florida registered voters had cast ballots.
Ingoglia of the GOP said around 165,000 super-voters have no party affiliation. The fact that they have not yet voted suggests that they support Trump, who has baselessly claimed that voting via email is a means of fraud. He has encouraged his supporters to vote in person on election day.
Ingoglia expects 78 percent of those super voters to break for Trump.
“There’s a reason they’re voting too late. They listen to @RealDonaldTrump and vote in person,” he said tweeted Monday.
The fight for every vote takes place against the backdrop of possible irregularities and intimidation of voters, both of which occurred.
Hundreds of emails went to Florida voters last month threatening those who did not support Trump. Days later, social media messages threatened voters, the Biden, den Miami Herald reported. The Justice Department said so on Monday will send election observers to Broward, Duval, Palm Beach, Miami-Dade, Hillsborough and Orange Counties.
Despite the irregularities, the fact that nearly 9 million people have cast ballots is a good sign that voters will not be discouraged, Shell said.
“You can only control what you can control,” said Shell.