Going into the final days of the election, some think that even with all of the scandals, Republican Chris Dorworth is a shoe-in for reelection to the Florida House. While the Republicans continue to make this claim, Democrats continue to pump money into this race. First, on October 16th, the Democrats conduct a $3,200 poll. The next day, the FDP spent $18,000 on a direct mail piece. The day after that, the FDP dished out another $18,000 for another direct mail piece.
So why are the Democrats doing this? Obviously, the poll numbers must have given them enough good news that they were willing to pump $32,000 over a two day period into this race. But beyond the possible polling numbers, the Democrats have a good reason to target this race.
First, the two candidates. We don’t need to go into Dorworth’s problems, as most people already know about them. But Mike Clelland is the kind of Democrat that Republicans could consider voting for. Republicans like voting for “heroes”, and what says that more than a former firefighter. Therefore, he just might have the résumé that can sway moderate Republicans in the district.
Second, the raw numbers in the primary shows that Dorworth doesn’t have much support, even in his own party. While not a large number, 8% of those that voted in the congressional race between John Mica and Sandy Adams didn’t vote in the Dorworth primary. Second, Dorworth only won 58% against two opponents that were unknowns and spent very little.
So, let’s take a look at the numbers and apply them to a possible general election scenario. First, let’s look at the projected turnout. Conservatively, we can expect a turnout of about 74% in Dorworth’s district, though the number will probably be higher. This leaves about 69,000 people voting in this district for this race. Next, let’s apply Dorworth’s support in the primary. If we were to apply Dorworth’s hard numbers to the expected turnout, that only comprises 9% of the total vote. Therefore, we know that 9% of the voters will definitely vote for Dorworth.
Now let’s turn to the projected turnout by each party. Many people might not know this, but Republicans don’t have a majority in this district. In fact, in 2010, 34% of voter registration was Democratic, only 42% was Republican, leaving 24% as others. Let assume, like usual, that NPA/other turnout drops to about 65%, which it usually does, with Democrats having a turnout of 73% and Republicans a turnout of 80%. This, actually, doesn’t change the composition of the district much on Election Day. Of the electorate, 45% will be Republican, 34% will still be Democrats while the NPA/Others drops to 21%. Therefore, Republicans gain from the lack of NPA turnout. This is what we have for voter turnout so far:
So, with all that being said, let’s assume (which is a industry standard), that 92% of Democrats will vote for Clelland. The Clelland vote is a given.
It is the NPA and Republican votes that might be tricky. The NPA usually breaks for the challenger in races which the incumbent has a scandal. And with Dorworth only getting 58% of the vote in his primary, the NPAs will break more toward Clelland. Projecting 60% of the vote for Clelland with NPAs is a good, conservative guess.
Now we come to the Republican votes, which will more than likely determine this election. As was stated, 42% of Republicans didn’t vote for Dorworth in the primary. Let’s say that half of this number returns to Dorworth for the primary. That leaves 21% of Republicans, which isn’t a large number, voting for Clelland in the general election.
So, with the numbers that we have come up with, let’s look at what we have:
Dorworth (R): 32,412 – 47%
Clelland (D): 36,589 – 53%
And there you have it, Clelland wins. In fact, Clelland’s Republican support can drop down to around 15% and he can get a close 50.3% victory. Any number higher than 15% gives Clelland a larger win.
Even with all of this, one thing that has been mentioned is Republicans skipping the race. This, in reality, means voter turnout actually falls in this specific race. If Republican turnout numbers drop to 70%, Dorworth would still need to get 90% of all Republicans to vote for him, which could be a possibly. The lower the turnout number in this race, the higher the percentage goes up for Dorworth.
The only possible way for Dorworth to win this race is if he can solidify the Republican vote. If there is even a small break in the ranks, it is Clelland’s to lose. And even with that being said, don’t expect Dorworth to break 56% in this race. In order for him to do that, he will need 80% Republican turnout with 95% of Republicans voting for him. Everything would have to go flawless, which it won’t.
That is why we continue to say that this is a race that Clelland can win. If Republicans in the district are just slightly mad with Dorworth, Clelland wins.