Not that it matters, but Andrew Gillum has decided that the gubernatorial race in Florida isn’t over after all. On Tuesday night, Gillum had offered a gracious concession to Ron DeSantis, who held the office for the GOP in Florida despite Democratic expectations of victory in a blue wave that never materialized. Less than two days later, Gillum joins Bill Nelson in holding out for a recount to rescue him:
All eyes were on Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum on Thursday, as vote margins in Florida’s close contests for governor and Senate tightened.
Gillum’s campaign stoked intrigue by releasing a statement about “counting every vote” — but not explicitly asking for a recount. …
The Gillum statement said that since the concession speech “it has become clear there are many more uncounted ballots than was originally reported. Our campaign, along with our attorney Barry Richard, is monitoring the situation closely and is ready for any outcome, including a state-mandated recount.”
It continued, “Mayor Gillum started his campaign for the people, and we are committed to ensuring every single vote in Florida is counted.”
Recounts will take place in Florida, ordered by the secretary of state, in the Senate race between Nelson and Rick Scott, as well as for the agriculture commissioner race. Thus far Ken Detzner has not announced whether it will also encompass the gubernatorial race, but it might be more efficient to rerun the machine ballots for all the statewide races at once:
Florida’s chief legal officer, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, told county election supervisors Thursday to plan for as many as three statewide recounts and for extraordinary public and media scrutiny in the state with the singular status of unusually close elections.
“The recounts will be nationally watched … [we’re] under a microscope,” Detzner said on a conference call with counties.
Statewide races for U.S. Senate and commissioner of agriculture are within the machine recount window of half of 1 percent, according to incomplete and unofficial statewide returns. A third race, for governor, is at present slightly outside that threshold.
At the moment, the races are fairly close, but the gubernatorial race doesn’t quite cross that threshold:
The Senate race is already likely headed to a machine recount, which is triggered when the margin is less than 0.5 percentage points. Nelson trailed Scott by 0.26 points, or less than 22,000 votes. A hand recount, a more thorough process than a machine recount, would happen if the race was within 0.25 points.
Nikki Fried, the Democratic candidate for agriculture commissioner, was also likely headed to a hand recount with Republican Matt Caldwell, who she trailed by 0.06 points, a little more than 4,000 votes.
In the governor’ s race, Democrat Andrew Gillum was 0.52 percentage points behind Republican Ron DeSantis, a margin of just less than 43,000 votes, just 0.02 percentage points away from a machine recount.
Even the Fried-Caldwell race might not be close enough for a recount to matter. After its 2000 debacle, the state shifted to electronic voting machines, but later changed again to optical-scan paper ballots, the most reliable technology. The error rate on these systems approaches zero, and recounts will likely only change the numbers in the low three-digit range in any direction. Unless a recanvass of precincts exposes a a serious mathematical error, Caldwell will likely remain the winner.
There is zero chance that a recount will reverse a gap in the ranges of either the senate or gubernatorial races. Since the senate race crosses the threshold of the machine recount option, the political environment pretty much requires Detzner to conduct one — and as long as he’s doing those two races, he may as well machine-recount the gubernatorial race, too. It won’t change things, but it will put paid to the conspiracy theories that are already floating in Georgia over the election process there.
The result will end up being another concession by Gillum either way, who might have been better advised to wait a little on Tuesday night — and to skip the unconcession today. Both of them will end up leaving egg on Gillum’s face in the end, and making not one whit of meaningful difference in the eventual ballot count.
Addendum: The recount demands aren’t likely to make Democrats more popular in a state where they’ve already proven less competitive than previously thought:
Florida solidified its status as Trump Country this week, reinvigorating Republicans and dispiriting Democrats as the consummate swing state sets the stage for a possible three-peat in 2020.
“I’m calling this right now: Unless Trump is getting taken down easily in his re-election, he is winning Florida in 2020. It’s not a tossup. It’s Lean-R,” said Matt Isbell, a Democratic data analyst based in Florida. “The Florida election map is changing under Trump. It’s the data.”
Isbell said a variety of factors that increasingly favor Republicans in Florida became clear Tuesday, chiefly the “consolidation of the conservative and white vote in Florida that started in 2016 and continued Tuesday.“ It’s not just retirees voting Republican.
“Voters in white working-class areas are becoming more conservative — and hard-line conservative — and more Republican-aligned,” Isbell said. “ And that’s erasing Democratic improvement in the suburbs.”
Maybe Gillum and Nelson should move on. Quickly.