In the outcome of Florida’s most recent gubernatorial race in 2006, registered Republican voters had a 64% turnout rate, whereas registered Democratic voters had a 52% turnout rate, according to the Florida Division of Elections. Republican Charlie Crist won the contest with a margin of about 400,000 votes (52% to 45%). Two reasons explain why the margin of victory is not as great as the difference in turnout, 7% and 12%, respectively. First, even though Republicans had a greater turnout rate, the margin of victory was not as great because Florida had about 300,000 more registered Democrats in 2006. Second, Florida had close to 10 million registered voters in 2006, but 2 million of these voters did not register with either of the major parties, so the independent wildcard is constantly at play in Florida elections. What does this mean for the 2010 governor’s race between Republican candidate Rick Scott and Democratic candidate Alex Sink?
As of October 2010, Florida has about 600,000 more registered Democrats than registered Republicans. If the turnout rate of registered Democrats and registered Republicans is the same in 2010 as it was in 2006, Rick Scott would receive 176,970 more votes than Alex Sink, or a 3.5% margin. As a result, Alex Sink would have to win a greater share of the Independent vote in order to have a logistical chance of winning. The most recent polls of the race each show Sink with a distinct double-digit lead among Independent voters. Therefore, since Sink has a high likelihood of winning the Independent electorate of 2.5 million Floridians, she is favored in this race.