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GOP enthusiasm edge: 275,000 early voters

Polls show a neck-and-neck gubernatorial race between Republican Rick Scott and Democrat Alex Sink, but here's one number that has to make Sink more than a little anxious: 275,000.

Of the more than 1.9 million Floridians who had voted through Friday, nearly 275,000 more Republicans than Democrats had cast their votes either by absentee ballot or at an early voting site. No, we don't know how those people voted, and a Mason-Dixon poll last found that Scott was drawing significantly fewer Republican — and Democratic — votes than Republicans Charlie Crist and Jeb Bush did in their gubernatorial campaigns.

Still, those are ominous numbers for Florida Democrats, who clearly have a major enthusiasm gap. At this point in 2006, Republicans had a lead of just 145,000 early and absentee votes. Four days out in 2008, Republicans trailed Democrats in votes already cast by nearly 563,000 voters.

"Somewhere in Florida (Saturday), the 2 millionth person cast their ballot in Florida and the 1 millionth Republican did," said Republican consultant David Johnson, noting that Democrats account for roughly 35 percent of the votes cast to date and independents about 15 percent.

"It bodes well for Republicans up and down the ballot," said Johnson, who is working on the state party's early and absentee voting program. "Rick Scott is going into Election Day with a significant lead, no question about it."

Endorsement landslide

Newspaper editorial boards don't decide elections, of course, but if they did Sink would be running away with the governor's race. As she mentioned more than a few times in last week's debate, every major newspaper in Florida backed her over Scott, who never sat down with any editorial boards.

This year has brought an unusual amount of consensus among Florida's editorial boards. Republican agriculture commissioner candidate Adam Putnam of Bartow fared next best, winning every major paper's support except the Tallahassee Democrat, which went with Democrat Scott Maddox of Tallahassee.

In the race for attorney general, Democrat Dan Gelber of Miami Beach won every paper's nod, except the Tampa Tribune and Tallahassee Democrat, which went with Republican Pam Bondi of Tampa.

Republican chief financial officer candidate Jeff Awater of North Palm Beach won every major paper's recommendation except the Ledger in Lakeland and the Tallahassee Democrat, which backed Democrat Loranne Ausley of Tallahassee.

The U.S. Senate race was more closely divided, with Republican Marco Rubio receiving six major paper endorsements: the Miami Herald, Tampa Tribune, Fort Myers News-Press, Florida Times-Union, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and the Orlando Sentinel. Independent Charlie Crist received five recommendations: the St. Petersburg Times, Tallahassee Democrat, Florida Today, Sarasota Herald-Tribune and the Naples Daily News. Democrat Kendrick Meek got one, the Ledger.

'Political Connections'

Check out today's one-hour special edition of Political Connections, featuring candidate interviews, analysis and a wide-ranging discussion with nine Tampa Bay voters brought together for a project by the St. Petersburg Times, Bay News 9 and WUSF.

Most voters want it over right now. Six of them are optimistic about where the country is going, and two are totally undecided about the governor's race.

Political Connections airs at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Meet Rep. Cliff Stearns for $500 to $1,000

U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Ocala, has a re-election cakewalk next week, but that's not stopping him from raising money. On Friday, he won't even be in Florida.

Stearns will be holding court at Capitol Hill Club Grill in Washington, where $500 or $1,000 will get you a cup of coffee and 30 minutes of his time. A flier, obtained thanks to the Sunlight Foundation, advertises that Stearns is a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and a ranking member of one of its subcommittees. If the House flips to GOP control, Stearns moves up.

Alex Leary contributed to this Week's Buzz.


of the week

Jim Norman. The Hillsborough County commissioner and Republican state Senate candidate is seriously damaged goods after being exposed and booted off the ballot for neglecting to disclose the $500,000 that businessman Ralph Hughes gave his wife to buy an Arkansas home. The feds aren't done with Norman yet, but an appellate court put him back on the ballot, and he's likely on the way to the Senate.


of the week

Brian May. If Alex Sink loses the governor's race, it will be hard to dispute that May, a Miami lobbyist and Sink adviser, helped her lose with his boneheaded decision to sneak a text message to her during last week's debate — violating rules he helped negotiate. Cheating during a debate is the last thing Sink needed to be talking about in her campaign's final days.

GOP enthusiasm edge: 275,000 early voters 10/30/10 [Last modified: Saturday, October 30, 2010 8:37pm]
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