Steve Schale: Florida 2016 in the rearview mirror – Florida Politics (blog)
Give any Florida strategist with statewide experience the following data points: by 7:15 p.m., the Democratic candidate has a 10-point lead in Hillsborough, a 100K vote lead in Orange, a 200K vote lead in both Dade and Broward early voting, and is ahead in Duval, and everyone would think the same thing: that Democratic candidate is going to win. Certainly, that is what I thought, and what everyone, R and D, who texted me around that time thought too.
Back in October, I had looked at several different models. Most of them played out with a narrow Clinton win, one of them came back a tie (not in percentages — an actual raw vote tie), and in one of them, where I assumed in most counties that Trump would earn the higher of Romney or Bush ’04 vote share, and in that one, Trump won by a point. I sent it to a few friends on both sides, who generally dismissed it. Going into Election Day, pretty much everything was lining up with one of the models that had her headed to about 1.5-2-point win.
I have a plan every election night: check Pasco early vote, then hit refresh until Hillsborough, Pinellas, Duval, Orange, Dade, and Broward report; followed by a swing through I-4 suburban and exurban counties. Sure, the initial Pasco and Pinellas numbers didn’t look too good, but they looked survivable, especially considering pretty much everything else was at or above my target. Then I went and looked at Volusia … Hernando … Brevard … Sarasota … Polk … then back to Pasco. The last of my models was more than playing out.
I slammed down the rest of my beer, and called a buddy in Brooklyn to report the bad news. It was done. CNN could have called it at 8 EST — she wasn’t winning Florida. In fact, looking back at my texts, I told a guy at CNN around 8:15