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Good Thursday morning.

A national analysis of voting trends and data offers a pretty somber snapshot of Florida’s commitment to democracy.

A WalletHub study of the most and least politically engaged states in 2022 puts Florida second to last in overall voter registration.


It ranks Florida 42nd in the nation (read: only eight states are worse) in voter turnout in the 2020 election.

Double ouch.

It gets worse. Though better, Florida still ranks below average, at No. 28 in the nation, for voter turnout in the 2018 Midterm Election, and 33rd in the percentage increase among the electorate from elections in 2016 to 2020, which means the voting public did not significantly turn out in greater numbers when Donald Trump was on the ballot for re-election.

Some bad news about Florida voter engagement.
This is even though Florida ranks best (thankfully, there’s some good news here) in the nation for civic education engagement.

An expert questioned on the survey by WalletHub, Washington and Lee University Professor of Politics Rebecca Harris, said education is a “long-term predictor of political engagement.”

Further, the state came out fairly average as it relates to voter accessibility (No. 18) and political contributions per adult population (13th.)

So, Florida should be doing better, right? Wrong.

Despite the state’s apparent dedication to civil rights education, which has been strengthened in recent years under Gov. Ron DeSantis, Florida ranks middle-of-the-pack in overall education, at No. 26.

Combined, the data raises some important questions about voter engagement.

Aside from questions about the state’s education system, analysis within the study pointed to turnout being a function of perceived competitiveness, which all the experts interviewed for the study mentioned.

DeSantis has consistently polled ahead of, if not well ahead of, Democratic challenger Charlie Crist. FiveThirtyEight gives Republican Sen. Marco Rubio a 7-point edge against his Democratic challenger, Val Demings. If voters perceive those races as noncompetitive, Florida may well see a repeat of these trends after Nov. 8. But if they think it might be close, maybe Florida may yet see a bump in democratic engagement.

As they say, only time will tell.

Here are some other thoughts tPolarization on the ballot: This year’s Midterm Elections could feature the smallest median gap between Senate and gubernatorial races since 1900, according to a FiveThirtyEight analysis. That is, a similar amount of people voting for a partisan candidate in one race are likely to cast a ballot for a member of the same party in the other, thus reducing incidences of split-ticket voting. While Vermont is an outlier in that (the state’s Republican Governor and the Democrat running for Senate are both heavy favorites to win), most states can expect to see voters side with the same party in both top-of-ticket races. That includes Florida, where the difference between DeSantis and Rubio’s respective advantages at the polls (DeSantis at R +9.6 and Rubio at R+ 7.1) is just 2.5.

How far would a Republican majority go?: Whether you agree with it or not (and whether you think what is meant as a warning is more cause for celebration than grief), The Atlantic’s Norm Ornstein offers an interesting, if not dystopian, take on what would be if Republicans accomplish what is expected this Midterm Election — a takeover of both the U.S. House and Senate. “The country will face a series of fundamental challenges much greater than we have had in any modern period of divided government,” he wrote, noting a “direct and palpable threat of default and government shutdown.” While that threat is universal, he also offers a cautionary tale that, for many on the right, will be a cause célèbre — that the hyper-conservative Freedom Caucus would be empowered to fulfill their wish list of impeaching Joe Biden, banning abortion, repealing the Affordable Care Act, getting tough on immigration and blocking any further Trump investigations.

How the Latino vote could decide the Midterms: There is little question that a majority of Hispanic and Latino voters will continue to support Democrats, but the size of that margin could make all the difference, posits veteran Washington Post reporter and regular New York Times columnist Thomas Edsall. In an exhaustive analysis complete with numerous inquiries to experts, Edsall points to myriad research that points to a swing in either major political party’s favor but notes several trends that could favor Republicans. That includes polling among Hispanic and Latino communities showing support for abortion restrictions, a top-of-mind talking point this cycle. Further, research shows the community feels taken for granted among Democrats. Yet, at the same time, they also report higher support for gun control and increased concern over voter suppression, both issues that should favor Democrats. But unlike Republicans, as the analysis points out, “this is not a contest the Democrats can afford to lose.”

Does anyone even answer pollsters’ phone calls anymore? Simmer on this for a second. Just 0.4% of the dials made in a New York Times poll currently on the ground have been answered and the subject interview actually completed, according to the outlet. That means a call center interviewer would have to spend two hours dialing numbers to get a single interview done. YIKES. The New York Times tackled lingering questions about how polling is conducted and noted that screened calls are “getting pretty close to ‘death of telephone polling’ numbers.” But, they answered, weighting responses helps and they’re not there yet. Read more here.

Barbecue buds for a day: Each year, the U.S. Senate hosts a bipartisan luncheon in Washington, where lawmakers cross the aisle in search of a unifying force — good ol’ fashioned BBQ. Sen. Chris Coons, who organizes the event, charges fiscally cheap admission, even if these days the emotional cost is great: “Sit next to someone you don’t know or ever talk to.” While that doesn’t necessarily mean Democrats and Republicans will kumbaya over pork sliders and spareribs, it did bring together Coons, fellow Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Sen. Roy Blunt and Lindsey Graham to lead the luncheon. And the wafting smells of smoked meats and tangy barbecue sauce is sure to put everyone in a good mood, if only for a day. Read more here.


—@JoeBiden: Senator Rick Scott has made it clear that he thinks Social Security and Medicare should be on the chopping block every five years. But we won’t let him and the MAGA Republicans try to get their way:

—@RobFinnertyUSA: Everyone is making a HUGE deal about @jaketapper helping the President pick up his notes when he dropped them during an interview — forget that. I interviewed Donald Trump over the Summer, and he didn’t have a single note … meaning there was nothing TO DROP.

—@MKRaju: The Senate was supposed to be in session this week and next, but under a deal cut by both sides, they only are adopting a motion today by voice vote to formally take up defense authorization bill. Senators are back home instead campaigning and won’t return until after Midterms

—@DaveTrotter101: It’s official, over 200,000 voters have cast their ballots in Florida.

—@JeremyH418: It’s very early but worth noting that while Democrats have returned a greater number of ballots, Republicans have returned a higher percentage of ballots vs. ballots mailed. Interested to see if this is an early tell of an enthusiasm gap.

—@MaryEllenKlas: @KevinGuthrieFL tells legislators convened to provide $360 million in additional emergency funds that it’s still another 3 weeks before floodwaters recede in Central Florida to do road repairs and home debris removal.

—@ChristinaPushaw: EXCLUSIVE BREAKING NEWS: My job is political communications, and I am a conservative. Therefore, I talk to a lot of media and influencers, particularly conservatives. This is literally public record, and my interactions with them on Twitter are also public.

—@Eric_Jotkoff: Humanity does not need Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck … We have Florida man & NASA Administrator @SenBillNelson to save us …

—@JacobOgles: I drive in my Lee County neighborhood and see so much debris and destruction from the storm. Then I see this tiny little sprig growing up through the cracks in my driveway, reminding me that nature has no use for mankind and always hated us and everything we ever made.

—@JBarro: I get a lot of nonsense pitches based on garbage data, but “83% of Americans have tried a butter board” is a new one


NBA season tips off — 5; Taylor Swift’s ‘Midnights’ release — 8; the Gubernatorial General Election debate — 11; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 11; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 12; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 12; City & State Florida Digital Summit — 14; Early voting begins for General Election — 16; 2022 General Election — 26; ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ premieres — 29; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 29; FITCon 2022 begins — 35; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 35; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 39; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 42; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 51; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 51; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 54; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 64; final Broadway performance of ‘The Music Man’ with Hugh Jackman — 80; Bruce Springsteen launches his 2023 tour in Tampa — 111; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 127; final performance of ‘Phantom of the Opera’ on Broadway — 128; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 145; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 162; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies ’23 conference begins — 187; 2023 Session Sine Die — 204; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 204; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 232; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 281; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 386; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 533; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 589; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 652; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 652; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 694; ‘Deadpool 3’ premieres — 757; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 855; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 932. ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,121.


“Legislative panel approves additional $360M for Hurricane Ian response” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Florida will spend another $360 million on efforts to recover from Hurricane Ian after the Joint Legislative Budget Commission unanimously approved the transfer of funds from the state’s $17.4 billion reserve fund. “The loss of property, homes, businesses, critical infrastructure and significant agriculture assets has been tremendous, and as sad and as difficult as those losses are, we know that nothing compares with the loss of life,” said Commission Chair Kelli Stargel, a Lakeland Republican, at the start of the meeting before holding a moment of silence for the more than 100 victims of Hurricane Ian in Florida.

State lawmakers decided to pony up another $360M for Hurricane Ian relief.
“Marco Rubio requests $33B in supplemental spending for Hurricane Ian” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Rubio requested an initial $33 billion in major disaster supplemental spending in response to Hurricane Ian’s impact. The requested $33 billion comes from an initial assessment of need, according to the request, and that figure is expected to change as assessments continue. The largest portion of funding requested comes from the Army Corps of Engineers for Civil Works projects, about $12.38 billion. Of those funds, $12 billion would be directed to the rehabilitation and repair of damages caused by the hurricane, as well as the construction of authorized coastal storm risk management/shoreline protection, flood control and ecosystem restoration projects.

“Rick Scott blames Joe Biden’s inflation for hurricane recovery ‘roadblock’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Though Hurricane Ian has brought an end to some of the partisan sniping in Florida politics, the post-storm aftermath is seeing a return of the predictable back and forth. Scott is redoubling his arguments against the current high cost of living, blaming Biden for “skyrocketing inflation” that has impeded hurricane recovery itself. “Skyrocketing inflation has been hurting Florida families every day for nearly two years. But, when times get tough, inflation becomes an unbearable kick for families trying to get back on their feet,” Scott lamented.


“Rough times ahead: Hurricane Ian batters Southwest Florida economy” via The Associated Press — Hurricane Ian might have come and gone but it could deliver prolonged blows to the local economy, walloping small businesses heavily dependent on tourists and seasonal residents. The scenes of destruction in southwestern Florida will keep many winter tourists and snowbirds away as well as tasking local residents with rebuilding for months or more, said Michael Maguire, a manager for a group of family-owned restaurants, including a couple on hard-hit Fort Myers Beach. “It will not be the same,” Maguire said, standing outside the Pinchers seafood restaurant in the Fisherman’s Wharf area of Fort Myers.

Hurricane Ian deals a massive blow to the Southwest Florida economy.
“Ian’s blow to DeSoto citrus termed ‘devastating’” via Ted Carter of Sun Newspapers — The despair of DeSoto County citrus growers in Hurricane Ian’s aftermath is as wide as the flooding and destruction in their groves. They don’t know whether they have a crop left worth harvesting. The days ahead will tell with more certainty whether Ian delivered a fatal blow to this year’s citrus crop, but for a number of growers, the verdict is already in. “In DeSoto County, some growers are estimating they lost 100% of their crop,” said R. Roy Petteway, Chairman of the Arcadia-based Peace River Valley Citrus Growers Association. The first Category 4 hurricane to hit Florida since Charlie in 2004, Ian made landfall at Cayo Costa State Park near Sanibel Island packing 150 mph winds.

“Hurricane Ian debris removal ongoing in Southwest Florida; Lee County has collected 5%” via Jon Santucci of the Fort Myers News-Press — Lee County has collected a little more than 5% of the estimated 4 million cubic yards of debris from Hurricane Ian. The goal is to have as much debris as possible collected within the first 60 days of when Hurricane Ian hit on Sept. 28 so the federal government will pay for it. “FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) provides 100% reimbursement for collection costs during the first 30 days and has extended that time frame to 60 days for this event,” Lee County’s Public Information Office wrote in an email to the USA Today Network. “We have already collected more than 205,000 cubic yards of the estimated 4 million cubic yards of debris in unincorporated Lee County.”


“Ron DeSantis says he’s nostalgic for Donald Trump supply chain” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Though Biden has extolled “hand-in-glove” cooperation with DeSantis in Hurricane Ian’s wake, the Governor is wondering what the supply chain might look like if Trump were still in office. “We’ve done our part in Florida to try to mitigate that with our ports and everything, but the reality of it is we’re in a challenging economic environment in terms of supply chain; that’s just the reality,” DeSantis said in comments kicking off a roundtable in Cape Coral Wednesday. “I mean if there’s things we can do more to push levers in the state we will do so. But I do think that if this had happened three years ago, you’re looking at probably a little bit different in terms of how some of this stuff would have worked. That’s just the reality.”

Assignment editors — Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried will serve food with the team from Jose Andres’ World Central Kitchen in Ft. Myers, followed by a press event to discuss transmitting a declaration of disaster to the USDA: 3:30 p.m., Lipman Farms, 1068 Nine Mile Road, LaBelle. RSVP to; the news conference will also be livestreamed at

“FEMA opens Disaster Recovery Center in Daytona Beach to help Tropical Storm Ian victims” via Mark Harper of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has opened a Disaster Recovery Center in Daytona Beach, where victims of Tropical Storm Ian can apply for FEMA aid, get information and more. A Volusia County news release stated local governments and social service agencies will be on-site to help residents whose lives and businesses have been disrupted by Ian. The office is at the Volusia County office of the Florida Department of Health at 1845 Holsonback Drive. It will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week. The individual assistance program covers disaster-related costs including temporary housing, emergency home repairs, uninsured and underinsured personal property losses, and medical, dental and funeral expenses.

FEMA sets up another Disaster Recovery Center on the state’s east coast.
“Despite state and federal efforts, Cape Coral business owners request additional help from DeSantis” via Danielle J. Brown of Florida Phoenix — DeSantis convened a round table discussion in Cape Coral Wednesday to assess the lingering damage from the Category 4 Hurricane Ian, saying that he was “here to listen” to the concerns and suggestions of the business community. Those business owners provided a considerable list of concerns. Robbie Roepstorff, the president of Edison National Bank, told DeSantis that the small businesses she works with are worried about meeting payroll for their employees. “They need to make payroll, first and foremost. They’re scared and concerned to death about it,” said Roepstorff.

“After life’s storms: Sarasota’s Resilient Retreat offers a place to heal from trauma” via Saundra Amrhein of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — In the days after Hurricane Ian roared through Southwest Florida, Longboat Key Fire Rescue got a request for help from their therapy dog from the Sarasota County Emergency Operations Center. “These people were working nonstop,” said Longboat Key Fire Chief Paul Dezzi of the first responders. “It was traumatic for them.” Dezzi’s deputy chief, Sandi Drake, brought therapy dog Hunter to the center to lend support. But as the area settles into long-term recovery, there will be a new place for first responders and other trauma survivors to go to begin to heal.

“Seminole asks residents to be courteous, citing ‘very rude’ post-Ian calls to info line” via Martin E. Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — Seminole officials are asking residents to mind their manners and show a bit of patience when calling the county’s community information line after receiving dozens of angry calls from “very rude” residents asking about when their storm debris will be collected. Officials said, “name-calling, cursing and yelling at Seminole County phone operators [are] never acceptable, will not be tolerated and will not expedite services.” Regarding the rude calls, county spokesperson Ashley Moore said she could not repeat many of the obscene names that employees have been called by residents who demanded that their yard debris caused by Ian’s tropical-storm winds be collected.

“Hurricane Ian: Fundraising concerts and events in Southwest Florida” via Charles Runnells of the Fort Myers News-Press — After Hurricane Ian, many of us could use some live music or other entertainment right about now. So how about this two-for-one deal? You can take in a nice concert or watch a laser-light show. But at the same time, you’ll be helping some of the worst-hit victims of the hurricane, too. Many hurricane-related fundraisers are happening over the coming weeks in Southwest Florida. Here are some of the top ones.


“Statewide effort restarts classes at all the state’s hurricane-hit higher ed institutions” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Florida SouthWestern State College restarted classes Wednesday, becoming the last state institution of higher education to resume its core mission since Hurricane Ian’s Category 4 wrath upended normal life from coast to coast. The state Department of Education sent out a release Monday highlighting the milestone just two weeks after the storm’s landfall, “thanks to round-the-clock work,” it said. All 40 public higher education institutions are back in operation because of the collaborative efforts that drew together not only the state colleges and universities but also state agencies and local communities around the state working, said state Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr.

Ian isn’t slowing down Florida SouthWestern State College.
“Vet your charities: 5 ways to make sure hurricane help goes to a good cause” via Amy Bennett Williams of the Fort Myers News-Press — With all the post-Ian pleas for money, it’s good to know where your charitable dollars are going and how they’ll be used. With social media fundraising platforms — GoFundMe, GiveSendGo and the like — you can check the FAQs to see fees per donation, but if you’re giving to a nonprofit, you must do a little digging. Fortunately, watchdog groups like Charity Navigator and Candid (the merged GuideStar and Foundation Center) can help with the legwork. Both national organizations, themselves nonprofits, evaluate charities. Their sites can help you check a group’s financial health, accountability, and transparency. You can do your own homework as well.

“Florida bee colonies that were destroyed by Hurricane Ian are smashed, drowned and starving” via Kerry Sheridan of WUSF — Some 380,000 registered Florida bee colonies were in the path of Ian, according to the University of Florida. Researchers are still calculating how many were destroyed. The storm hit at a critical time in the farming cycle, just as many beekeepers from the East Coast had brought their honeybees to Florida to pollinate Brazilian pepper trees, make honey popular with bakers, and build up their numbers for the winter crops out west. “I’ve been through Charley, Irma and quite a few other little freak storms. But I’m telling you this is the worst I’ve seen,” said beekeeper Robert Hill. “I’ve got 250 colonies and I’m not even sure how many I’ve got alive right now.”

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