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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Doing some pre-primary analysis? Here's one smart guy's take



What should politicos watch for as results come in during Florida's presidential primary? Matt Isbell, who first made headlines with his analysis of the last year's redistricting maps, has put together an exhaustive look back at how Florida performed in the last two presidential primaries and what those results tell us about what to expect tomorrow. 

Isbell is a political data guy who works for Democrats and is distinctly partisan but his numbers aren't and he has become one of the most interesting numbers crunchers to watch in Tallahassee in years. (See his historical look at the "no" votes against removing the Confederate general from the U.S. Capitol.)

Here's some highlights from his Florida Primary Review at 

 *The math doesn't work for Bernie Sanders: Sanders needs youth voters and "...the problem for Sanders is that with early/mail voting so far, those under [age] 35 only make up 8.5% of the Democratic primary. For Sanders, the campaign must count on a major youth turnout surge for early voting or election day. Right now, under 35 make up 10% of the Democrats voting early (excluding mail). The youth vote should rise as mail voting (which skews older) wraps up.  One benefit for Sanders is spring break was last week and many students are more likely to vote on election day as a result."

*Democrats are drawing a more diverse electorate but will they vote? "Looking at the current turnout among early and absentee voters, the Democratic primary is on pace to be more diverse than recent primaries.  65% of current ballots cast are white, below the 67% white share of the 2008 primary.  In addition, history shows the election day vote in Democratic primaries in Florida is less white than the early/absentee figures." and "The Hispanic share of the vote is notably up, with more Hispanics voting already than they did in the 2012 or 2014 state/federal primaries."

*Clinton needs Democrat rich suburbs in Tampa, Orlando, and Southeast Florida to boost her delegate count. "While Clinton is likely to win Florida, the margin will matter due to the Democratic Primary allocating delegates by Congressional District.  Each candidate gets delegates that are proportionally allocated based on the margins in each district.  For Clinton, the goal is to rack up as massive a delegate lead as possible by scoring major wins in Congressional Districts....Many of the Democrats in these regions are middle/upper class, liberal but not as active, commuters."

*Trump dominates rural vote but key will be his appeal to suburbs and cities: Trump "has done well with conservative and rural voters, but in Florida they are outnumbered by suburban and city Republicans.  North Florida itself was only 20% of the primary in 2012. Even if turnout increases, it won’t move the needle that much for small counties. 

*Rubio must win suburbs in Southeast and Southwest Florida. "For Rubio, his goal must be to follow a similar path to Romney, winning big in the suburban counties that have lots of Republican votes.  Southeast Florida and the western coast are key territories for Rubio. ... One thing is for sure, if Lee, Sarasota, or Collier County come in with weak Rubio wins or even a Trump win, then the night will go very bad for the Florida Senator. 

 *Bad omen for Rubio is the Hispanic GOP vote is dropping off:  "Most Florida GOP Hispanics are concentrated in Dade, Rubio’s home county.  Right now, Hispanics make up 10.8% of the GOP vote in early/mail ballots, but are 11.2% of registration.  Worse off for Rubio, just a few days ago Hispanics where 12.3% of votes cast.   In 2012, the GOP share was only 7.8% of the vote, so the current 10.8% is an improvement.  However, the 2012 early vote was 9.3% Hispanic and fell due to a low election day share."

*Trump will sew it up. "The GOP primary is likely to result in a Trump win.  Rubio is often placed in distant second and in some polls has found himself close to Cruz.  Rubio’s only chance is to defy the polls with turnout in suburbs that show up to reject Trump (and stick with Rubio, not Kasich).  Rubio would also need Cruz, who is doing well right now, to take more rural voters from Trump than he takes Hispanics from Rubio."

[Last modified: Monday, March 14, 2016 7:54pm]


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