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Sunday, May 19, 2024
HomeNewsElectionsFlorida Governor Rick Scott Holds Early Voting Advantage Over Charlie Crist

Florida Governor Rick Scott Holds Early Voting Advantage Over Charlie Crist


Republican Gov. Rick Scott (left) and Republican-turned-independent-turned Democrat Charlie Crist (right). (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images; Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) leads his challenger and former governor Charlie Crist (D) in early voting totals with just over two weeks to go before Election Day. PPD’s 2014 Governor Map Predictions model currently gives Scott a tenuous edge over Crist, with the incumbent enjoying a small 56 percent chance of reelection.

The race remains Leans Republican, but the low probability of reelection reflects a clear volatility in the race.

(UPDATE: Crist and the Democrats have whittled away at Scott’s and the Republicans’ lead in early voting. However, GOP ballots still make up 43.2 percent compared to 39.1 percent for the Democrats. That translates into an early voting lead of approximately 223,884-vote lead for Governor Scott, still comfortable roughly 70,000 votes higher than Crist needs it to be if he wants to match historical margins.)

Let’s take a look at the commentary, analysis, polling, state data and, of course, you can always get an idea of the overall political landscape by checking out the 2014 Senate Map tab on the end.

Incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott entered the 2014 midterm election cycle as one of the most vulnerable GOP governors on the map. Democrats decided to pick a once-popular former governor, Mr. Charlie Crist, to unseat Scott in November. Crist, a Republican-turned-independent-turned Democrat, left the Republican Party after he failed to secure the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate in 2010, and was badly defeated as an independent by now-Sen. Marco Rubio.

Both campaigns have invested heavily in GOTV operations, which Democrats claim will get them over the top, and the raw average of polls show Crist holding a tenuous 1.2-point lead. However, we have good reason to doubt both.

Let’s take a brief look at both variables before moving on to the analysis, beginning with GOTV efforts.

Tim Saler, Scott’s deputy campaign manager, is correctly arguing that early statistics show Republicans comprise 48 percent of the early-vote total, while Democrats represent just 35 percent. Not only is that nearly identical to the advantage Scott held in 2010 — when Republicans outnumbered Democrats 49 percent to 37 percent among early voters — but Republicans haven’t even put their best foot forward yet. Republican-leaning counties in Florida don’t open their early voting locations until this Saturday.

It is worth noting that Scott won the 2010 election by just over one percentage point with early voting performances at roughly the same levels. Meanwhile, Crist is underperforming 2010 Democratic nominee, Alex Sink, which we will discuss further in the analysis. But he is far underperforming President Obama in 2012 — when Democrats had a 4-point advantage on early voting at this point — and the president won the state by roughly just 70,000 votes (under 1 percentage point).

On polling, PPD’s tracking, which factors in early voting totals, now shows Scott holding just above a 1-point lead over Crist. The two candidates are deeply disliked by the electorate, with Scott’s average favorability rating slightly overtaking Crist by a 3-point spread. In such cases, digging a little deeper into the electorate is needed to decide what factors may determine how people will vote, or voted.

When asked whether the phrase “provides leadership” describes Crist, 43 percent said it does, while a far larger 50 percent said the phrase describes Gov. Scott. Another danger sign for Democrats is that Scott peels off more Democrats than Crist does with Republicans. In elections, there is a strong correlation between expectations and outcomes, and nearly half of respondents expect Gov. Scott to win reelection, while under a third say Crist will win. A slight majority of Democrats (52 percent) say Crist will win, while 76 percent of Republicans and 65 percent of independents expect Scott to win.

Let’s go to analysis to look deeper into the GOTV operations.

In the weeks leading up to the primary election, Crist openly and frequently touted the fact his campaign had President Obama’s GOTV operation on-loan, an advantage that Democrats said would close the Republican enthusiasm gap and take Gov. Scott by surprise.

“The president’s campaigns, in both 2008 and 2012, have really rewritten the book on how you get out the vote,” Crist said in an interview. “I can tell you, since I used to be one, Republicans don’t know how to do this.”

However, in politics, what people say in public about the state of a campaign is rarely the truth. The primary results suggested the Obama operation did not translate into energy for Crist, which is now being reaffirmed by early voting results.

Crist defeated Democratic challenger Nan Rich with 620,689 to 214,111 votes, or 74.4 to 24.6 percent. In 2010, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink not only defeated her primary challenger by a slightly larger margin, but she earned roughly 43,200 more primary votes than Crist, or 663,802 (76.9 percent). That was a huge disappointment for Democrats who had spent two months leading up to the primary listening to the Crist camp claim their efforts in the vote-rich, Democratic bastion of South Florida exceeded Alex Sink’s.

Scott not only won his primary with more votes — or, 833,593, approximately 210,000 more votes than Crist — but he won it by a larger margin, suggesting the governor solidified his base to a greater extent than Crist and, perhaps more important, Republican enthusiasm was not blunted by the on-loan Obama machine.

Unlike Crist, Scott built his GOTV operation from scratch, which currently boasts more than double the number of field offices Crist has borrowed from the Obama campaign. In August, the Scott campaign said they estimated that their volunteers had already knocked on the doors of 700,000 Floridians, blowing the 200,000 doors that the Romney camp had knocked on by that point in the 2012 election out of the water. Now that we have some early voting data to digest and put into perspective, it would appear that Gov. Scott may just be one of the few Republicans to outdo his Democratic challenger on the ground game front.

Poll Date Sample MoE Crist (D) Scott (R) Raw Spread PPD Poll
PPD Average 9/12 – 10/13 44.0 43 Crist +1 Scott +1
TB Times/Bay News 9/News 13/UF* 10/7 – 10/12 781 LV 3.2 40 40 Tie
SurveyUSA* 10/10 – 10/13 566 LV 4.2 45 41 Crist +4
CNN/Opinion Research* 10/9 – 10/13 610 LV 4.0 44 44 Tie
St. Pete Poll 10/8 – 10/11 3,128 LV 1.8 44 45 Scott +1
SurveyUSA* 10/2 – 10/6 594 LV 4.1 44 42 Crist +2
UNF 9/29 – 10/8 471 LV 4.7 47 42 Crist +5
CBS News/NYT/YouGov 9/20 – 10/1 5689 LV 2.0 44 47 Scott +3
SurveyUSA* 9/26 – 9/29 584 LV 4.1 46 40 Crist +6
SurveyUSA* 9/19 – 9/22 588 LV 4.1 42 43 Scott +1
Quinnipiac 9/17 – 9/22 991 LV 3.1 44 46 Scott +2
SurveyUSA* 9/12 – 9/15 571 LV 4.2 39 44 Scott +5

(Please note: Our model uses separately calculated averages from weighted polls based on PPD’s Pollster Scorecard. Above is the raw spread and the PPD weighted average that includes PPD tracking polls.)


Florida National Average
% Republican/Lean Republican 39 39
% Democratic/Lean Democratic 43 43
Registered Republicans 4,172,232
Registered Democrats 4,628,178
Unaffiliated/Undeclared 2,778,547
% Conservative 33 36
% Moderate 37 36
% Liberal 25 23
Presidential Job Approval
% Approve 40 40.6
Partisan Voting Index
Barely Republican R+2


Written by

Rich, the People's Pundit, is the Data Journalism Editor at PPD and Director of the PPD Election Projection Model. He is also the Director of Big Data Poll, and author of "Our Virtuous Republic: The Forgotten Clause in the American Social Contract."

Latest comments

  • The problem with your analysis: the early voting totals are exclusively for absentee ballots. Republicans have always led in that category. The PHYSICAL early-voting begins in most counties today. Also, according to Dem commentators, a significant percentage of the Democrat absentee ballots are coming from NEW voters. Thus, the decline in the Republican lead from 2010 to 2014 (yes – there is a significant decline) is due to an increased number of new Democratic voters. If this holds in the early-voting and election day voting, the Dems should win.

    • With all due respect, each election cycle the losing side (or side that believes they are losing) claims the opposition is banking Election Day votes while their campaign is pulling in “new” voters. That may very well turn out to be the case, and I suspect it is in states like Iowa. But, as of now, the data simply don’t support that argument in Florida.

      Bottom line, the gap between registered Republicans and Democrats was roughly 750,000 just two years ago. Today, it is just over 450,000, which suggests the Democrats’ “new” voter argument is lacking in empirical evidence. If anyone is registering new voters, it’s the GOP, which is why everyone was stunned when David Jolly defeated Alex Sink in FL-13, a district Sink carried against Scott by 2 points in her failed 2010 bid. Today, Scott leads Crist by 3 points in FL-13.

      Further, Crist is underperforming juxtaposed to both Alex Sink and Barack Obama in SE Florida, which historically, is where the majority of new Democrat registrations have come from.

      Absentee ballots are how more than a third of Floridians will vote this year, if not more, and is the preferred early voting method by far. It is not the case that the GOP always leads, as Democrats outperformed Republicans in 2012 by 4 points. Yet, even with a larger pool of voters, Crist is underperforming Sink in this area.

      You can compare ballot requests from Democratic-leaning counties to Republican-leaning counties here.


      • BUT…many of my Republican friends are NOT voting for Scott and voted early or absentee so the theory that ALL or MOST of the early/absentee Republican voters actually voted for Rick Scott doesn’t hold water – MANY Republicans can’t stand Rick Scott including me – he is not popular with anyone but staunch party loyalists.

  • ..By far, this is the easiest voting decision I have ever made in my

    lifetime.. Adrian Wyllie, you have my vote. Also, Bill Wohlsifer

    No on 1

    Yes on 2

    No on 3

    • Its you IDIOT third party clowns that are the reason we got Scott in the first place. Stupid morons wasting a perfectly good vote on someone with ZERO chance at winning! There is literally a better chance of the 22nd amendment being repealed and Obama being elected to a third term than your precious third party candidate has of winning this election! When Scott wins re-elction and destroys what’s left of Florida, it is not the undecided voters who we’ll be blaming, it is YOU IDIOTS.

      Hey how about you just write in SANTA CLAUS in the write in box? He has exactly as much chance of winning as Adrian Wylie or whatever that clowns name is.

      • Wow, you sound hostile.

        • It is you third party voters who are hostile towards Florida having a good Governor.

          • And what ‘good Governor’ is that?

          • Charlie Crist.

          • Hahaha, ok, whatever. You are the biggest fool of all to fall for that trick. He is not a democrat buddy, he is out for himself and using you like toilet paper. I even feel for you. I’ll let you in on a secret, the best you can do is vote for Adrian Wyllie and then wait until the next election. It’s hard for me to stop laughing, that you have fell for it, MAN that’s so sad.


          • Scott wasn’t my choice, so no I’m not happy now, are you? You will see the next 4 years will be not much different than the last 4 or 8 years. We all lose with Scott and as we would if Crist won. It’s called the status quo, same old crap. We had a chance to make a difference with Wyllie, but everyone is so dumbed down, so we are stuck with the same old garbage, yet again. One day people will finally wake up and see both the D’s & R’s are the same and are not good for us. Until then, we will continue to suffer. I wish you the best.

          • But it’s not the status quo, that’s just the thing. Rick Scott will move to the far right now that he has no elections to worry about anymore and he will begin doing all the same horrible things he did during his first two years! He was just asked a few days ago if he would support legalizing medical marijuana, since the amendment did get 58% and he said NO. 58% of the state wants medical marijuana, and this man said NO! Charlie would have pushed the Legislature to expand it. Wyllie never had a chance, Charlie did. If those 3.25% of voters would have picked Charlie instead of Wyllie, he would be Governor and this state would be moving forward (not by much but at least a little).

  • People in Florida wake up. Anyone who goes r to d cant be trusted. Criss is another stuped oboma clone. He does not give a damm about you. Jews in florida dont forget how oboma has turn his back wirh Israel. I love you guys dont be fooled with criss. I have 3 words for you can kiss my ass

  • ***Vote For Bill Wohlsifer*** Florida Attorney General 2014
    #YesOn2 #Hemp4Water

    • We have a better chance of Jesus coming down from heaven and appointing himself Governor than we do of any third party candidate winning, period.

  • I believe Crist wanting to impose a State Income Tax on the people of Florida has already decided this race. NO CRIST AND NO STATE INCOME TAX!

  • All you need to know about this race is the fact that Rick Scott spent tens of millions of his own money to buy the election the first time and he has spent tens of millions in this election trying to buy it again – the problem is, ANY THINKING PERSON knows that no sane persons spends tens of millions of dollars of their own money to get elected to an office without expecting BIG returns on the money they spent (sweetheart, blind trust deals!)…you surely don’t think Rick Scott spent all this money of his own out of his desire for public service do you??!! Come on people, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this one out!!! Crist is not perfect but he is not BUYING the election!!!

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