Over the last few days, there has been a momentous swing toward the Democrats in the latest projection model. Many might think that this is because the Democrats have performed well in early voting. But that really isn’t the case. Yes, Democrats are outperforming the Republicans by 2.28% on the early vote model, but Democrats have closed the gap when it comes to VBM ballots. Yesterday, it seemed as if the Democrats hit a wall when it came to VBM, with the model gap staying at 2.94%. Today, that gap is now down to 1.19%, still favoring the Republicans. Part of the reason for this is that the highly Republican counties are starting to see VBM ballots trickle in, while the Big Three in South Florida still see more VBM ballots coming in, usually favoring Democrats.
To give you an indication how things are trending for Democrats in the VBM, in Miami-Dade County, Democrats have now submitted more VBM ballots than Republicans. In 2014, Republicans actually submitted more ballots. If this trend continues, Democrats chances of winning will improve drastically. This also may indicate that Election Day turnout might be lower than usual, but stay tuned on that one.
Turnout Summary: With the book closing numbers finally published by the Division of Elections, we can finally get an accurate turnout rate. As of this morning, 13.23%, or ~1,756,111 of voters have submitted their ballots. The turnout rate for Republicans is 16.01%, while for Democrats it is 14.11%. The Enthusiasm Gap is now down to -4.92%, still favoring Republicans.
The Bottom Line: The gap between Democrats and Republicans has drastically dropped over the last few days. The gap between a generic Democrat and generic Republican is now down to .41%, swinging to the Democrats by 2.53% over the last four days. In a hypothetical generic race, a Republican candidate would win 48.6% of the vote while a Democrat would win 48.19%. The Enthusiasm Gap continues to somewhat mirror the overall swing gap at 2.58, indicating that it is still a base race. But it being a little bit off indicates that some NPAs are starting to favor Democratic candidates.
Details: We already mentioned Miami-Dade, but the margin in Broward County continues to climb. While it has been argued by many in Democratic party circles that Democrats shouldn’t “rely on the Big Three”, it looks like they might be the key to pulling off an election win for the Democrats especially with other Democratic counties, like Orange and Osceola, under-performing for Democrats..
On the flip side, early voting is heavily favoring Republicans in Sarasota County (as it has in the past). At the rate in which early voting is influencing the electorate, Sarasota could flip to the Republican side by the end of the day.
Seminole and St. Lucie Counties continue to be slightly Republican.
What to watch: We, as observers of Florida politics, have to ask ourselves is if Hillsborough County can be considered a “swing county” anymore? The margin for Democrats continues to increase during the vote projection, with Democrats never seeing a real threat by the Republicans in Hillsborough County. Yes, the races can be close, but the vote continues to trend Democratic.
Also, Alachua County might be challenging Broward County and Gadsden County as the “most Democratic county” in the state. Right now, Alachua has a better Democratic performance than Gadsden County, and is only slightly off of Broward’s performance. Additionally, the Enthusiasm Gap in Alachua County is at 11.27, strongly favoring Democrats.