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‘We’ve got to stop the bleeding’: Democrats sound alarm in Miami

The share of vote cast by Black voters in the county is a point lower today than at this point in 2016, while the overall Black vote statewide is only negligibly higher, according to the Democratic data firm TargetSmart.

Overall, statewide, 7.4 million of Florida’s 14.4 million active registered voters had already cast ballots by Thursday morning: 41 percent from Democrats, 38 percent from Republicans and 22 percent from independents. The Democrats’ lead in total ballots cast was a record 206,000 as of Thursday morning, but that’s down 57 percent from its all-time high last week.

In-person early voting ends Sunday, which is when Democrats are massing for a final push.

Though election officials count ballot returns by party, they don’t tabulate the votes until Election Day.

“I would rather be in our position than theirs,” said Joshua Geise, Florida director for America Votes, an independent organization coordinating with 50 groups on the ground to turn out voters for Biden.

Geise acknowledged some of the turnout issues in Miami-Dade and said his group ramped up in the past week and had 100,000 conversations at people’s doors in the county, a third of all the face-to-face interactions they had in the entire state. He said Democrats will make a huge push this weekend to halt the Republican gains in early voting.

“We’ve got to stop the bleeding,” Geise said.

One veteran Democratic organizer from South Florida expressed concern that winning Florida looks more difficult by the day as Republicans turn out in big numbers and the pace of Democratic momentum in casting early ballots slows. It’s a sign the party is exhausting its high propensity voters — and the hard-to-motivate voters are tough to turn out.

“Look, our people hate Trump and they like Biden. But not enough of them love Biden,” the organizer said. “It also doesn’t help that the campaign reacted so late here and they didn’t help us with voter registration when we needed to be doing it.”

Our must-read briefing on what’s hot, crazy or shady about politics in the Sunshine State.

Steve Simeonidis, Miami-Dade’s Democratic Party chair, contended the GOP is running out of voters and Democrats have far more — and they are just beginning to turn out. Considering how independents are breaking, he said, “we’re going to continue building on our lead down here and if we keep working, we will have more record Democratic turnout on Sunday and Tuesday.”

Braynon, the Miami state senator, said that Biden isn’t doing as well as Clinton because the Clintons had a special “bond” with the region that was built over decades.

“You have to remind people Biden was Obama’s vice president and have to tell people he has policies similar to those supported by Hillary and Obama,” Braynon said. “It’s important to emphasize it’s the same type of platform.”

Beyond presidential race intrigue, Miami-Dade is home to five down-ballot races for Congress, state senate and county mayor. In each of those races, Republicans have fielded Cuban-American candidates.

State Sen. Annette Taddeo, a Miami Democrat, said she wasn’t too worried about Hispanic voters in the county because, she said, they’re notoriously late to cast ballots.

“We are Hispanics, we leave everything for ¡mañana!,” she said. “Also, if the 80 percent turnout in Miami-Dade being predicted by our supervisor of election comes through, that is great news for Democrats.”

But in Rep. Wilson’s congressional district, there’s still worry. She knows many have voted by mail and therefore aren’t at the polls. Still, she would like to see more voters showing up at the polls before in-person early voting ends Sunday night.

“I’ve been going to the different polling places,” she said, “and you know, I never dreamed that Black people would be reticent at this point in Mr. Trump’s administration about voting.”

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