In theory, Governor Scott has a shot at winning reelection. Public polling indicates the race is a dead heat, but the public polls are less relevant than the early and vote by mail totals as well as the actual developments on the ground in advance of Election Day. Three days ago, Steve Schale wrote a memo that was spot on yet was mocked by Republicans and questioned by many in the press.
The reality is this – as Democrats have closed the VBM Republican advantage with an early vote surge in larger urban counties over the past five days, Governor Scott’s margin for error in this race has disappeared. Scott needs virtually everything to go perfectly for him over the next nine days in order to stay in office beyond early January. The items Governor Scott depends on include some very suspect things:
- Lower than anticipated African-American turnout.
- An uptick in Republican early votes in Hillsborough and Orange Counties.
- The almost statistically impossible continuation of a Republican vote advantage in Miami-Dade.
- Scott and RPOF’s negative ads have to pay off in a way they have not yet to this point in time. While this seems improbable it is at least in theory quite possible as many voters are just beginning to pay attention closely to this race.
- Perhaps Scott needs bad weather in the three southeast Florida counties on Election Day that prevents a large voter turnout?
The combination of all or even most of these things seems improbable. When the postmortem is written about Rick Scott’s failure to win reelection it will be down to the contempt the Governor showed for this state, its history, its institutions and its ordinary people. It will be down to the fact that as an incumbent he felt the need to tear down his opponent due to petty personal spite rather than to tout his own record. It will be remembered as well that Governor Scott was quick to jettison political supporters when they became a liability and allowed his office to be run with a ruthlessness and pettiness that failed to engender loyalty even among many leading Republicans. It will be remembered that his campaign resorted to slanderous and borderline libelous commentary about Governor Crist, a man who has served the public good in this state for over twenty years and has sacrificed much of his adult life to better the lives of ordinary Florida citizens (irrespective of what you think of Crist’s flip-flops on issues unlike many leading politicians in this state in both parties he has never enriched himself financially off the public dole). In time, Governor Scott could be remembered as the accidental and inept Governor whose reign of terror ushered out the era of Republican dominance in Florida and helped to create a competitive two-party system in this state for the first time since the mid 1990’s.
The Republicans have allowed themselves to become completely noncompetitive at the top of the ticket in the large urban counties in this state by advocating a strict corporate agenda and radicalized view of American society when it comes to social issues. While the GOP continues to enjoy a large advantage in the legislature the party’s failure to reign in special interests and arrogance combined with a sense of entitlement in governing could, if demographic trends continue make it virtually impossible for the party to win statewide elections when the Democrats are motivated and well-funded.
This election should be a wake-up call for Florida’s Republicans. Let’s see if they get the message.