For most of the week, Nate Silver has whipsawed Florida between light blue for Hillary Clinton or light red for Donald Trump. But a poll of early voters in the Sunshine State suggests that Trump may have his work cut out for him if he has any hope of winning Florida–and with it, the election.
Political data firm TargetSmart has teamed up with the College of William & Mary to take the pulse of a number of battleground states. On Tuesday, TargetSmart teased a poll of early and likely voters in the biggest swing state of all, Florida. The results are nothing short of staggering. Based on TargetSmart’s access to real-time voter data, more than 55 percent of Floridians who have already voted cast their ballots for Hillary, compared to 38 percent for Trump.
These figures were so staggering that TargetSmart CEO Tom Bonier decided to roll them out early, on MSNBC’s “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell.”
— Tom Bonier (@tbonier) November 1, 2016
Watch the rollout here. Bonier noted that the main reason behind Hillary’s massive bulge among early voters in Florida is that she has the support of a whopping 28 percent of Republican early voters.
Bonier told O’Donnell that it has been clear from the beginning that there was “a significant universe” of Republicans who had stated they could not support Trump. The big question was whether they were willing to hop the fence and vote for Hillary. Based on these results, the answer is yes. He also thinks it proves there is significant enthusiasm and “intensity” for this election. O’Donnell wondered if this was “the voter personification” of the #NeverTrump movement.
Ron Rappaport, a government professor at William & Mary and a member of the team that conducted this poll, said this effort is different from other polling initiatives. He said that while people’s willingness to respond to surveys depends a lot on the current news cycle, using real-time data “allows for better predictions of state results.”
Even with this to consider, I was a little skeptical when I saw the the full crosstabs. When those who haven’t voted yet are factored in, Hillary presumably has a 48-40 lead, based in part on her picking up 20 percent of Republicans. Trump has a one-point edge among those who haven’t already voted.
New @_TargetSmart/@williamandmary FL poll: HRC 48 – DJT 40
Early voters from FL SoS: 55 – 38
Likely voters, haven't voted yet: 42 – 43
— TargetSmart (@TargetSmart) November 2, 2016
At the same time, though, it has Marco Rubio with a sizable lead among all voters. He takes 49 percent of the vote to Democrat Patrick Murphy’s 43 percent, mainly on the strength of an 18-point lead among those who haven’t voted.
But then I had a look at the partisan breakdown–35 percent Democratic, 34 percent Republican, 30 percent independent. That’s not too far off from the latest state voter registration figures–38 percent Democratic, 35 percent Republican, 23 percent none/independent. I also noticed that a more conventional poll by Tarrance Group and Bendixen & Amandi found Hillary polling at 60 percent support among Florida’s Hispanics–a near-exact match to the 59 percent support TargetSmart found.
Additionally, both Pollster and the Princeton Election Consortium have Florida as leaning Democratic. Every aggregator that doesn’t include this poll–including FiveThirtyEight–has Florida seesawing between Hillary and Trump.
The biggest factor, though, is Trump’s silence on this poll. While he has been very quick to jump on any signs that those librul media elites are trying to rig the election, he hasn’t said a word about this on social media. Does his own internal polling (assuming he’s done any) match this?
While it’s definitely believable that a lot of Republicans will cross over to Hillary when all is said and done, I wasn’t convinced that it would be as many as 20 percent. That was borne out when I looked at the geographic breakdown. Most of the Republican early voters come from the bluer areas of the state–Miami, Orlando, and Tampa Bay. Republicans in nasty-red areas like Pensacola, Jacksonville, Panama City, and Fort Myers haven’t voted early in nearly as many numbers.
Still, based on TargetSmart’s methodology, Hillary’s advantage among early voters looks large enough that Trump will literally need everything to break right in Florida if he has any hope of overcoming this early voting deficit. As we all know, Trump literally cannot win without Florida. If you add Florida’s 29 votes to the 242 votes that have gone Democratic in every election since 1992, Hillary will have 271 electoral votes. End of ballgame.
Don’t take this as an invitation to be complacent. Democrats in Florida, and everywhere else, need to get out and vote, and help people get to the polls where we can. If these numbers are any indication, we’re part of the way to making history. Let’s finish this.
(featured image courtesy DonkeyHotey, available under a Creative Commons BY-SA license)