As one party moves up, the other party also moves up. This has been the story of the 2018 general election in Florida. Days where it seems that Democrats have made gains, Republicans offset those gains, and vice versa. One thing is for sure, a polarized political climate turns voters out. And yes, this election shows that having a base candidate does make a difference, though I would argue that Andrew Gillum wanted to be Hillary Clinton before the primary, Bernie Sanders during the primary, and Barack Obama after the primary. At least Ron DeSantis has stayed true to his character and issues, which is scary.
Yesterday, the Democrats took the lead, and they continue to have the lead today. However, this weekend might be make or break time for both parties. With a larger percentage of the electorate voting in pre-Election Day polls, there is a possibility of Election Day voting going down.
As I mentioned on Twitter, I have created a new conflated model. What does that mean? Well, let me explain both models I have for vote choice. The first model I created, and the one that has been used to this point, looks at voting behavior by voting method. Basically, it says that, for example, an independent voter in County X has a 63% chance of voting Democrat if they are an early voter. That percentage might change to 56% if they vote by mail. The reason why I did this is because Early Voting usually trends Democratic and VBM usually trends Republican. This was the original model (and I still have it available on Tableau).
The new model, called the conflated model, does not look at method of voting when determining vote choice. It simply says, for example, a NPA voter in County X has a 59% chance of voting Democratic, regardless of voting method. Basically, it assigns all voters the same value. The previous model assigned values based on method.
The reason I have made the change is because of the erratic behavior of Early Voting and VBM. Also, I realized that it might be a problem assigning current VBM, EV, and Election Day voters the values by methods of previous elections because it assumes that the current voters selected the same method as in previous elections. The new conflated model takes that bias away. The model is also more parsimonious. With that, I think the conflated model is a better predictor of voting behavior.
Turnout Summary: As of today, 4,470,548 voters have turned out, which results in a turnout rate of 33.67%. Republican turnout rate is at 39.44%, while Democratic turnout rate is at 36.16%. NPA/Minor party voter turnout is at 22.9%. The Enthusiasm Gap is currently at -3.29%, favoring Republicans.
Bottom Line – Method Model: The voting method model shows a slight improvement for Democrats. A generic Democratic statewide candidate would receive 48.52% of the vote, while a generic Republican candidate would receive 48.43%, a margin of .09%, a .05% increase from yesterday.
Bottom Line – Conflated Model: The conflated model shows that a generic Democratic candidate would receive 48.69% of the vote, while a generic Republican candidate would receive 48.45%, a .24% advantage for the Democrats.
Details: The only detail has to do with turnout. All but four counties in Florida have surpassed their 2014 Pre-Election vote turnout. The four that have not are Washington, Calhoun, Liberty, and Union. The turnout rates in North Florida and the Panhandle (minus the counties between Escambia and Walton) seem to be lacking in turnout. These small counties can decide the margins in many races. But this year, they might not.
What to watch: Will Election Day have lower turnout? With so much Pre-Election polling, I am starting to wonder if Election Day will be lackluster (which is another reason I created the conflated model). If so, what we are seeing now is a real indication of how the vote might look. However, if the turnout is really increasing, this could actually result in a vote that favors Democrats on Election Day. For example, in Lee County in 2014, only 33% of votes cast in that county happened on Election Day. But in Palm Beach County in 2014, 57% of votes cast were on Election Day. That equates to a lot more votes from Democrats than it does from Republicans. Therefore, don’t be surprised if Election Night is Democratic.