'Souls To The Polls' Boosted Democratic Showing In Weekend Early Voting

Oct 29, 2012

The scorecard from this weekend's early voting in Florida is unclear this Monday morning but there was a persuasive impression -- subject to fact-finding -- that Democrats had at least won the initial show-up competition. But the Miami Herald reports Republicans excelled in their own specialty, absentee voting:

Some early voters got their cars towed and had to pay heavy fines. There were isolated cases of equipment glitches at some polling places. But elections officials across the region generally reported a smooth weekend of early voting.

The Democrats turned out in force, casting about 49 percent of the roughly 300,000 votes in just 12 hours across the state. Republicans cast 35 percent of the in-person ballots.

Republicans prefer to vote by absentee ballots, which are typically mailed in. The GOP led Democrats by a whopping 66,000 ballots cast on Saturday. Democratic early voting cut that lead by 60 percent in a single day.

All told, 1.6 million Floridians had voted by Sunday morning.

Helping The Early Vote: MSNBC show host and activist Al Sharpton helped to organize a Souls to the Polls caravan from New Generation Baptist Church in Opa-locka.
Credit Rev. Al Sharpton on Twitter

Unambiguously, President Obama got a significant boost from the reinvigorated Souls to the Polls movement that brought African-American churchgoers to the precincts after Sunday services. It fascinated the Wall Street Journal in its early editions:

In Sunday sermons, Florida clergy invoked Biblical parables and the civil-rights struggles of the 1960s to persuade congregations to vote during the eight-day early-voting period that ends next Saturday. Pastors at black churches in Miami, Orlando and Jacksonville arranged caravans of buses to help people get to the polls after services ended.

Anything that boosts African-American turnout is a boon for President Barack Obama's re-election campaign. A recent Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll showed his support among black registered voters was 92%, compared with 5% for Mr. Romney.

And, speaking of polls, it's still a one-point race in Florida but the latest survey from Public Policy Polling, as reported by the Tampa Bay Times,  puts Obama back on top by one inexplicable point.

Floridians actually trust Romney over Obama to deal both with the economy (50/46) and foreign policy (49/48) so something else is driving Obama's razor thin lead in the state. When asked to consider who won the debates as a whole voters pick Romney by a 47/46 margin, indicating that Obama's wins in the last two debates mostly made up for his overwhelming loss in the first one.

Hurricane Sandy, momentarily eclipsing the election as the news of the day as it threatens the Eastern Seaboard, is causing change in the Florida campaign schedule. President Obama has canceled this morning's Orlando appearance to monitor storm preparations from Washington. The event itself will still take place at the University of Central Florida, only Bill Clinton will be the headliner, not the president.

Vice-President Joe Biden, last we heard, was still planning to campaign on Wednesday in Ocala and Sarasota.