Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott strategist Tony Fabrizio blasted out a memo to the St. Petersburg Times predicting record turnout for the former health care executive running for the Republican nomination for governor:
Given that as of Saturday, August 21st nearly 520,000 Florida Republicans have already voted by absentee or early vote, we expect overall turnout of at least 1.7 million in the Florida Republican gubernatorial primary. … This would represent roughly 41% of registered Republicans, a 70% increase over the 2006 gubernatorial primary. This is consistent with the increased turnout we have seen in Republican primaries across the country, where outsiders have shocked the establishment candidates.
A bold statement, but it’s filled with holes.
The turnout that Fabrizio expects is actually closer to at least 43 percent, based on voter registration statistics, or at least 10 percent higher than even an above-average primary turnout. The Orlando Sentinel’s Aaron Deslatte notes that more people voting early doesn’t necessarily mean that a proportional amount of people will vote on primary day. Election officials have observed that voters are more comfortable with voting early.
And about increased primary turnout when “outsider candidates” won? In the Kentucky and Nevada Republican Senate primaries, when Rand Paul beat Trey Grayson and Sharron Angle beat Sue Lowden, turnout was only about 34 percent in both cases.
Anecdotal evidence also suggests that turnout will be light. The Miami Herald reported that voters were “scarce” at polling stations this morning. Duval County Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland wrote on his Facebook page that turnout was “very slow.” Elections officials told the Orlando Sentinel that they expected turnout to be closer to 1-1.3 million. It’s also raining throughout much of the state in big cities like Tampa and Orlando — a factor that will likely depress turnout.