Adam C. Smith, Times Political Editor

Adam C. Smith

Political editor since 2001, Adam Smith was named the best political writer in Florida by and one of the country's Top 10 political reporters by the Columbia Journalism Review. He focuses on state and national politics.

Smith has been with the Times since 1992 and has covered local and state government, as well as general assignment and investigative beats. He appears most Sundays on Political Connections on Bay News 9, is a primary contributor to The Buzz political blog. Smith grew up in New York City, graduated Kenyon College in Ohio, and when he's not chasing politicians tries to keep up with his wife, three kids and basset hound.

Phone: (727) 893-8241


Blog: The Buzz

Twitter: @AdamSmithTimes

  1. GOP vote lead over Dems in Fla stays fairly static


    About 2.4 million Floridians have cast in-person early and absentee ballots as of Thursday morning and, as in the past week, Republicans still hold an advantage over Democrats in ballots cast but the GOP's margins are still slipping a bit, in terms of percentage.

    GOP lead over Democrats: 140,123, or 5.9 percent. Yesterday, the spread was 141,363, or 6.4 percent.

    Since in-person early voting began, Republicans have alternately (but barely) increased their overall vote lead but seen their advantage in terms of rate slip. That's in part because Democrats and independents (a shorthand for no-party-affiliation and third-party voters) have begun casting ballots at higher rates....

  2. Fla Chamber says Rick Scott up 5 in its poll


    Press release from the pro-Rick Scott Florida Chamber:

    The latest Florida Chamber of Commerce Political Institute poll shows likely voters supporting Governor Rick Scott over Charlie Crist and Adrian Wyllie. In head-to-head matchups, the poll of likely Florida voters shows Governor Scott with 44 percent, Crist with 39 percent and Wyllie with 4 percent.

     “While the only poll that really matters is the one that takes place on Election Day, the Florida Chamber’s most recent poll shows Floridians are listening to the candidates and appear poised to keep Florida moving in the right direction,” said Marian Johnson, Senior Vice President of Political Strategy.

    The poll, conducted October 27-29, surveyed 508 likely voters through telephone interviews by Cherry Communications. Of those surveyed, 42 percent were Republican, 41 percent were Democrats and 17 percent were other parties. The margin of error is +/- 4 percent.

    Key polling results also show, voter confidence is strengthening.  More Floridians, 43 percent, believe Florida is headed in the right direction as compared to 40 percent in September’s poll. Voters who believe Florida is headed in the wrong direction has dropped to 38 percent from 44 percent one month ago.

    Additional poll results show:
    •    Governor Scott leading Crist  by 47 percent to 42 percent among Floridians that have already voted.
    •    Governor Scott leads in all age categories 40 and above.
    •    Governor Scott is leading among males, while Crist leads among females.

    In the race for Attorney General, Agriculture Commissioner and Chief Financial Officer, incumbents Pam Bondi, Adam Putnam and Jeff Atwater appear headed for victory.
    •    Attorney General Pam Bondi leads challenger George Sheldon by 48 to 32 percent,
    •    Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is leading Thaddeus Hamilton by 46 to 30 percent, and
    •    CFO Jeff Atwater leads challenger William Ranking 50 to 32 percent.

    In terms of amendments on the ballot, the poll shows Amendment 2 failing to reach the 60 percent threshold for passage with 55 percent supporting and 40 percent opposing.

    Please note: The samples for the polls conducted by the Florida Chamber of Commerce Political Institute are consistently drawn from likely voters, meaning those voters who have the propensity and past performance of voting in elections, rather than simply including registered voters. Voters are again screened for likelihood of voting....

  3. The Villages developer, GOP mega donor Gary Morse dies


    The Villages Daily Sun:

    THE VILLAGES – Harold Gary Morse, the ambitious and creative driving force behind The Villages for more than 30 years, died Wednesday night. He was 77.

    Morse was a visionary who took over a small mobile home park from his father, the late Harold Schwartz, and turned it into the world’s premier retirement community. A former advertising and marketing executive, he assumed leadership of The Villages in 1983, when it was still called Orange Blossom Gardens and had just 386 manufactured homes, a clubhouse and a few shuffleboard courts....

  4. Fla Insider Poll: The most depressing campaign ever?


    We've already reported the results of the latest Florida Insider poll but the comments for those who participating were striking. Over and over, participants lamented the state of Florida politics and leadership based on this election cycle. We asked if the election taught us anything. A generous sampling of answers:...

  5. Florida Insider Poll: Democrats, Republicans equally optimistic on governor's race

    State Roundup

    This is Florida, so maybe we shouldn't be surprised by the results of our final Florida Insider Poll of the 2014 election cycle: More than 140 of Florida's most sophisticated political operators view the neck-and-neck gubernatorial race between Charlie Crist and Gov. Rick Scott in starkly partisan terms.

    Democrats overwhelmingly (76 percent) expect Crist will win, and Republicans overwhelmingly (78 percent) expect Scott to win a second term. The Tampa Bay Times Florida Insider Polls have never before broken down along such clear partisan lines, but it appears both sides have returned to their respective political corners in the final week of a tie race....

  6. Final '14 Florida Insider Poll: Confidence reigns for both Scott and Crist


    This is Florida, so maybe we shouldn’t be surprised by the results of our final Florida Insider Poll of the 2014 election cycle:  More than 140 of Florida’s most sophisticated political operators view the neck-and-neck gubernatorial race between Charlie Crist and Rick Scott in starkly partisan terms.

    Democrats overwhelmingly (76 percent) expect Crist will win, and Republicans overwhelmingly (78 percent) expect Scott to win a second term. The Tampa Bay Times Florida Insider Polls have never before broken down along such clear partisan lines, but it appears both sides have returned to their respective political corners in the final week of a tied race....

  7. Ralph Nader weighs in on Fla gov race


    Ralph Nader has a complicated relationsship with neck and neck Florida races (See President Bush, George W), but that doesn't mean he is skittish about weighing in on our current race for governor. Here's the statement Nader put out today:

    Statement by Ralph Nader on Florida Gubernatorial Election
    “9 Florida Values Rick Scott Opposes”

    Over the years, I’ve observed that Floridians want their politicians to be driven by Florida values. This election season, voters must be wondering: how has Governor Rick Scott lived up to key Sunshine State commitments?
    1. FLORIDA VALUE: Rewarding Hard Work
    Floridians don’t want handouts they believe in working for a living. That’s why they believe in a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work. Rick Scott has dodged questions on the minimum wage and has even said that the push for a raise in the minimum wage makes him “cringe.” He sees no problem in the fact that Florida’s $7.93 minimum wage has eroded, adjusted for inflation, by three dollars over the past decades.
    2. FLORIDA VALUE: The Inviolable Vote
    Floridians defend democracy’s inviolable institution: the vote.Rick Scott has pursued a purge of voter rolls and early voting restrictions. It took a federal court and a revolt from county elections supervisors to put a stop to his attempts to
    disenfranchise Florida voters....

  8. We consulted an astrologist about the Florida governor's race


    Tired of daily campaign memos telling you which way the Florida governor's race is going? Well, we went to a loftier source than Tim Saler or Steve Schale. We consulted ZOLAR, "the Dean of Astrology," aka Don Papon of Tarpon Springs.

    Before we give you his findings, though, we should note that Papon is a registered Democrat. If anyone knows of a Republican astrologer - besides the late Joan Quigley - who might review Crist and Scott for us, please let us know. Also, ZOLAR told us he wants everybody to vote regardless of his prediction....

  9. Here's Charlie Crist's schedule for the final stretch


    This is tentative and sibject to change, but here's where you're likely to find Charlie Crist over the coming days.

    Thursday, 10/30:
    Morning - Campaign Stop in St. Petersburg
    Afternoon - Campaign Stops in Broward County

    Friday, 10/31:
    Morning - Canvass Event in Pasco County
    Noon - Daytona Beach Early Event
    Late Afternoon - Orlando Early Vote Event

    Saturday, 11/1:
    Morning - FAMU Homecoming Event in Tallahassee
    Afternoon - Early Vote Events in Palm Beach and Broward

    Sunday, 11/2:
    Souls to the Polls Events in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties

    Monday, 11/3 - Bus Tour Starting at 10AM:
    Miami -> Broward County -> West Palm Beach  -> Orlando -> Tampa...

  10. Team Rick Scott: Dems failing to dent our lead


    Here's the daily spin memo from Rick Scott's deputy campaign manager. We'll add Democrat Steve Schale's offering to this space if he sends one...


    UPDATE: Here's Schale's take, followed by Salers's:


    To:  Friends of the Campaign, Members of the Press, My Mother Judi Taylor who Favorites all my Memos on Facebook, People searching "Fred Taylor Hall of Fame" on the 'Internets', my friends Mac and Travis, and Greg Blair

    From:  Steve Schale

    Re: Sleep is for the Weak - 6 days to go

    Topline Results:

    Tuesday's early voting continues the trend we have seen since Day 1 of early voting, the gap between Republicans and Democrats continues to drop, now standing at 6.4%.  This gap compares to 16.6% on this day of the election in 2010. 

    The GOP advantage stands at 140K, which is 100K votes lower than the margin that the GOP held at this point in the election in 2010.  
    Another way of looking at it, after yesterday, roughly 2.2 million have voted. The 2010 election reached this level on day 3 of the election, on which day the GOP held a 12.6% advantage. In real votes, the GOP held a 275K vote advantage, compared to 140K today.  

    To put both of these in perspective, Rick Scott won the election in 2010 by just over 1 percent, or 61,500 votes.

    Looking at a Vote Model

    To dig a little deeper into the vote margins, I continue to believe that we are tracking towards an election where Republicans will have a 1.5 to 2 point advantage among registered voters after everything is counted -- compared to 5% in 2010.  As Marc Caputo reported a few days ago, this would be an election where neither party would have a real advantage. 

    Even if the two parties essentially tie in all remaining votes, the final vote tally would be just under +2.5% Republican in terms of the people who vote. So how does Crist win in this scenario?  Its pretty simple:  If Crist receives roughly 2% more of the Democratic vote than Scott wins of the GOP vote, and wins the NPA by a few points points, Crist would win a narrow election.  And again, it is important to keep in mind that at this point, +2.5% GOP appears to be a worst case scenario at this point.

    Other Observations

    Not all of the data reports timely, but it appears that Democrats won vote the day yesterday, driven by more Dems voting by mail than GOP.  

    The top five counties where Democrats have improved the vote margin over the Republicans are all places where Democrats win, showing that our base turnout effort is very strong. These include:  Osceola (+16.4), Dade (+15.3), Palm (+14.5), Broward (+14.1) and St. Lucie (+13.7).

    For example, in Dade County, Dems are up from 52,000 in 2010 to nearly 87,000 today and Broward from 47,000 to 88,500.

    The gains are not limited to just Democratic counties.  Traditionally Republican counties in the Tampa media market also show real gains for the Democrats, like Sarasota, where Democrats have cut the gap by nearly 13%, Hernando by nearly 13% and Pasco by 12%.  

    One county worth mentioning is Manatee, where a small but spirited local Democratic operation there has turned out 111% more Democratic voters than voted at this point in 2010, closing the gap by 11%. These changes matter, as they go right to the core of those counties where Republicans need big margins to win statewide.  We are expanding our support in base counties, and cutting into their support in counties they win. 

    Responding to a Question from Scott Campaign. Answer: 600,000

    Finally, I wanted to take a moment to answer a question posed to me via a blind copy email to members of the Florida Press Corps, by Greg Blair, the Communications Director for Governor Rick Scott.  Asked Greg to me: "Would you say that having to tell your donors that it’s okay you’re losing every single day has had a negative impact on your fundraising late in the campaign? And as your fundraising lags, how much money are you able to put behind that Clinton ad you’re touting so much?

    Since October 4th, the Crist for Governor campaign has out-raised the Scott for Governor campaign by $600,000.  This is largely due to a growing optimism among Crist supporters that the combination of good public polling and early voting numbers provides Governor Crist with an excellent chance to win.  Now in fairness, our candidate can't stroke him a $TBA million check to run 10,000 negative ads this week, but nonetheless, we are doing well.

    I hope by answering this question that Greg and his friends in the press corps can help me get a very simple answer out of my memo writer partner in crime Tim, will he join me in endorsing in a bipartisan manner Fred Taylor's bid for the Hall of Fame?  It may be a silly question, but no more silly than the GOP's constant suggestion that this race is just like 2012.

    A quick thanks

    My ability to crank out these daily missives is made possible primarily due to the help of one person, Ben King.  Ben is one of the smartest data guys that you have never heard of.  Every morning and evening, I pepper Ben with questions and instead of writing back "Old Man -- Go Home," he replies back with spreadsheet after spreadsheet of data. I owe him more bourbon than even my Republican operative buddies Kirk Pepper and Kevin Sweeny could consume in a lifetime for his hours of work. So Ben, thank you for your help and more importantly your friendship.
    I will admit these memos are silly.  But we write them because if we don't, the media will say we are hiding and not responding.  So I will be billing the Florida press for my future carpal tunnel surgery. 

    But it boils down to this: all that matters are the votes. This race is nothing but close.  I do believe Crist is ahead -- as I am sure anyone who saw the Rick Scott campaign Giuliani ad would agree -- or their increased TV buy from yesterday, and I am confident that he will win.  But Democrats need to go vote, like right now. 

    We vote, we win.  It is that simple. I for one, will be canvassing this weekend.  

    Until tomorrow's memo volley.

    From: Tim Saler
    Date: Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 11:06 AM
    Subject: Another day in the books...

  11. Latest GOP ad says Crist takes zero responsibility


    The Florida GOP says their latest ad about Charlie Crist being "helpless" about job losses on his watch will run in every TV market.


  12. Bill Clinton featured in new Charlie Crist TV ad


    Bill Clinton stars in the newest statewide ad campaign for Charlie Crist.

  13. Republicans have cast 143k more votes than Democrats in Fla.


    Marc Caputo crunches the numbers:

    More than 1.9 million Floridians had cast pre-Election Day ballots as of Tuesday morning as Republicans slightly increased their raw-vote margin over Democrats while the GOP's proportional lead ticked down a notch.

    The total GOP lead over Democrats in ballots cast is 142,787, or 7.2 percentage points. On Monday morning, Republicans were up 138,572, or 7.6 percentage points....

  14. Flashback: When Marco Rubio had never heard of Rick Scott


    When I heard that Marco Rubio is scheduled to join Rick Scott's early vote bus tour Saturday in Hillsborough County it reminded me the first time I ever heard the name Rick Scott. I was sitting on a Marco Rubio campaign bus somewhere in central Florida on April 13, 2010.

    Someone called me to say a multi-millionaire businessman was about to announce for governor. Considering Attorney General Bill McCollum had the GOP nomination all but locked up (Paula Dockery showed little traction), it didn't sound like much of a tip until they mentioned this fellow Rick Scott would begin a $1-million ad buy the next morning....

    Rubio and Scott earlier this month
  15. Newest anti-Charlie Crist ad features Rudy Giuliani


    The Florida GOP has turned Rudy Giuliani's appearance last week in south Florida into a new campaign ad, which it says will air in every TV market.