Last week’s Q-poll had one big surprise: Adrian Wyllie, the libertarian candidate for Governor, got 9% of the vote in the most recent poll. This puts Crist and Scott at a virtual tie, with Crist taking more of a blow due in the non-party candidate side. There were several colorful articles about it: I particularly enjoy this one from Panama City, which uses witty animal comparisons and attempts to speak southern. While there is little chance of Wyllie pulling of a win, 9% of the vote matters and in a race as close as this it could very well be a spoiler if his numbers continue to rise. He may be far from victory, but Wyllie could very well pull a Nader in the general election if the trend continues. The common theory is that libertarian voters traditionally take away from Republicans, however, these results question that. While most would expect Wyllie to peel votes away from Scott, the big surprise is that Wyllie hurts Crist more than he does Scott.
If this continues, it could be a big deal.
As I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, Charlie Crist is a moderate and the progressive sale-tag just comes off as disingenuous and it is obviously effecting his trust levels (as is reflective in the same poll). This is clearly shown in his troubles finding a true base of support. If this ‘trustworthy’ poll continues to go down and he continues to have a shaky hold on the Democratic base, he will have to look to other constituencies for votes.
But who could Crist turn to? While everyone is talking about minority voters and with Taddeo’s pick and the FDP pushing Perry Thurston, it seems like minority voters are the deciding factor. However, by placing an overemphasis on minorities and catering to their issues, you lose part of the independent voting block, which is growing faster and faster every year. Non-party voters on on the rise all over the nation and especially in Florida. Currently, almost 30% of Florida is NPA.
There is a brilliant article that the Miami Herald did a few weeks ago included an interview with my very own professor:
“Daniel Smith, a University of Florida political scientist who closely studies voting patterns, said the biggest drop in early voting between the 2008 and 2012 elections in Florida was among voters of no party. He said that’s because the major parties direct political messages at their own voters, not independents. “They’re not getting steered to cast absentee ballots. They’re not getting mobilized on Election Day,” Smith said. “If you’re registering as an NPA, the two parties are less likely to think that you can be persuaded.”
Since rise of the ‘Hyper-Data’ campaign, this middle ground is completely left out of data targeting because they are expensive to motive and even more costly to get them to the polls. While VAN and other programs will give you access to these numbers of super-voters, this young and unsure demographic has unknown voting patterns, so it makes them a poor target for campaigns. But the sharp rise in their numbers mean that this group cannot be ignored.
Here is the lynchpin of the article: “Since 2010, Florida’s voter roll has expanded by more than 500,000 voters, to 11.7 million, and nearly 90 percent of the growth is in unaffiliated voters. During the same period, the size of the two major parties has remained relatively stagnant.
Combined with voters who belong to minor parties, no-party voters now outnumber Republicans in the state’s big three counties of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, in addition to Orange, the heart of the I-4 corridor in Orlando. They account for 3 million voters or one of every four voters in Florida, making them potentially decisive in a close 2014 race for governor — if they vote”
So while the Q-poll is surprising with the higher-than-expected Wyllie turn out, the real challenge comes when you factor in NPA voters that this could effect. With the fast-growing demographic that is not being targeted, it is prime game for Wyllie to come along and connect with these voters in these D areas. While the FDP is off chasing South Florida Hispanic voters, eventually someone is going to need to come up with an effective way to target these anti-party people and get them to the polls. Which is a big unknown factor that has not been dealt with before.
Also, the geography is a big deal. The fact that in the areas where Ds are going to have to turn out the votes is the same areas that have rising numbers of NPA means trouble for Crist. If Wyllie continues to cut into any advantage Crist has and considering the areas effected by NPA registrations, this could significantly cut into Crist’s numbers IN democratic territory. This will mean that Crist is going to have to play more areas, which is going to cost more money.
Should Rick Scott worry about Wyllie? Perhaps, yet the geography is on his side – he can afford to lose some rural votes to him because they are few and far between in low quantities. Because Scott is depending less on the highly populated areas, the potential for damage is reduced significantly.
So while you won’t be looking at Governor Wyllie anytime soon, there is a real chance he could make things harder for Crist.