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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Romney camp predicted early/absentee Fla lead by election day. So far Dems lead by 76k



UPDATE: Doster clarifies his comments at the bottom of this post.

The problem with bold predictions is that they're often wrong. Two weeks ago, the Mitt Romney Florida campaign predicted to Bloomberg that  Republicans would head into election day leading Democrats in early and absentee votes already cast:

...Brett Doster, a Romney campaign consultant in Florida, said Democrats voting by mail likely are the ones who otherwise would have voted early in person. Republican voters still will cast more ballots in Florida before election day polls open, he said. “I’m confident we’re going to have that advantage,” Doster said...

Whether Democrats are building enough of a lead in early votes to win Florida is entirely uncertain. But it's ighly unlikely Republicans will be ahead when the polls open Nov. 6. The latest numbers crunched from Marc Caputo:

About 3.5 million Floridians have already cast absentee and in-person early voting and Democrats have an edge of about 76,000 ballots cast so far.
Expect that to continue to grow over the next two days of in-person early voting, which Democrats dominate, especially in South Florida, which is why the GOP Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott effectively shortened early voting days. Democrats have rolled up a 156,000 early vote edge while Republicans lead in absentee ballots case by about 80,000. If every Democrat and Republican who requested an absentee ballot voted it, the GOP absentee-ballot lead would be cut by half.
Most polls show Mitt Romney's winning, and Republicans note that Democrats won't have the early vote advantage they had in 2008 (when they led by anywhere from 250,000 to 363,000 ballots, depending on how you analyze the data).
Well, shortening early voting days from 14 to eight will, by definition, help shorten the number of early votes. Understand also that, relative to the actual early voting hours available in South Florida in 2008, early voting time has been cut 20 percent, or 24 total hours. And South Florida favors President Obama the most.
However, Democrats are barely matching their raw early vote numbers compared to four years ago. So there's an enthusiasm gap relative to 2008 as well.
Democrats also point out that Republicans have been talking a better game than they've produced on the ground. Republicans predicted they'd be up in early ballots cast on Election Day. It's pretty clear they won't be. The Democratic total vote margin increases with each day of early voting.
So what happens on Election Day? May the best ground game win.
Early votes
Party         EV Total           %
DEM        770,892 46%
REP        614,988 37%
IND        286,988 17%
Total      1,672,868

UPDATE: Doster says he was taken out of context in that Bloomberg piece and was only talking about absentee ballots: " I (said) that although Dems had increased their overall requests, we were still going to have the advantage on absentees returned. And in fact we do. We are up more than 70,000. I will also add that although the Dems do and should have the advantage on overall AB/EV combined, they are off their 2008 mark by about 70%. Intensity is on our side, and we will win next Tuesday."

Absentee votes
Party        AB Total             %
REP        781,043 44%
DEM        700,970 39%
IND        308,646 17%
Total      1,790,659

Cumulative EVAB
Party           EVAB           %
DEM      1,471,862 42%
REP      1,396,031 40%
IND        595,634 17%
Total      3,463,527

Outstanding absentee ballots:
Party    Outstanding           %
REP        362,920 36%
DEM        406,634 41%
IND        230,042 23%
Total        999,596

[Last modified: Friday, November 2, 2012 3:43pm]


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