Palm Bay Special Election: Analysis and Projections

Today from 7am to 7pm is the much anticipated Special Election for the City of Palm Bay’s City Council seat 5. The seat was vacated with the resignation of Jeff Bailey last year. There are 4 candidates running for the open seat to finish out Bailey’s term until November this year, and likely run for re-election for the same seat.

The 4 candidates are Alfred Agarie, Jimmy Backus, Phil Moore, and Pete Filiberto. It is a non-partisan race however the party affiliations for the candidates are as follows.

Alfred Agarie who ran for Mayor in 2020 was an NPA that switched to Democrat just before filing to run for this seat.

Jimmy Backus is a registered Republican.

Phil Moore is a registered Democrat who has run against Randy Fine for State Representative of District 53. He is endorsed by the Democratic Party.

Pete Filiberto is a Republican who ran in 2020 for City Council against current councilman Donny Felix. He is endorsed by the Brevard Republican Executive Committee and Randy Fine.

Turnout

I anticipate a turnout of approximately 13.5%. Up until election day, Democrats were leading Republicans by nearly 400 votes in turning in mail ballots. The total turnout for mail ballots before election day came out to 8.09% of registered voters. A total of 7,262 votes with Democrats leading Republicans by 6%.

Historical data shows approximately 30% of total votes cast come on election day. Because of the publicity surrounding this race, I estimated 35% of the vote would come on election day however, the weather forecast predicts heavy rain from noon until the polls close at 7pm tonight which will definitely influence turnout.

Approximately 15% of votes come from early voting, however there is no early voting for this special election.

Given that information and historical turnout by each precinct, I anticipate a total of 4,424 votes cast on election day, separate from mail ballots. I predict a total of 12,114 votes. But again, the weather may shrink that number. As of the publishing of this article at 10am, a total of 723 voters have turned out for election day thus far.

Who Wins?

Given the lead Democrats hold with mail ballots, it can be estimated that the endorsed Democrat Phil Moore is in the lead amongst all candidates. However, Republicans traditionally have a higher turnout on election day that Democrats. The endorsed Republican Pete Filiberto has an opportunity to make up the difference today, but it comes down to turnout.

State Representative Randy Fine sent out a hit-piece robotext yesterday on Filiberto’s behalf to registered Republicans, attacking opponent Phil Moore. The text message that featured a collage of photographs was described by Phil Moore as bigoted and homophobic.

A second, more positive robotext went out this morning on behalf of Filiberto, absent of the attacks. It did not include a disclaimer to show who paid for it.

It appears from what I’ve seen in campaigning form all sides, that Filiberto has focused on targeting Republican turnout. Phil Moore appears to have targeted Palm Bay’s significant number of Non Party Affiliated voters, which are your swing votes. Democrats lead Republicans in voter registration in Palm Bay.

I believe that the race will come down to Precinct 516. That precinct, which votes at Palm Bay City Hall is heavily favored Democrat, and historically one of Phil Moore’s best performing districts. However, the turnout thus far in 516 is second to the lowest of the 16 precincts in Palm Bay at just 6.13% In order to meet the 13% turnout, 598 voters from that precinct would need to show up and vote today. That is not likely to happen. Turnout for 516 will likely be around 9-10% which would be an extreme advantage to Filiberto.

All things considered, here is my prediction: (margin of error +/- 2%)

Agarie: 10% or 1,211 votes

Backus: 7% or 848 votes

Filiberto 40% or 4,846 votes

Moore 43% or 5,209 votes*

*Given that precinct 516 meets 13% turnout, if not it is a virtual tie between Filiberto and Moore.

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