Posts tagged projections
I got up early this morning to appear on WJCT’s First Coast Connect, hosted by Melissa Ross. I was joined by Republican political consultant Jim Varian and Abel Harding of the Jacksonville Times-Union, we discussed Jacksonville’s Mayoral election results featuring Alvin Brown, Audrey Moran, Mike Hogan and Rick Mullaney.
Here is the link to the audio via MPA Political’s Media Archive: 3/23/2011 WJCT with Melissa Ross: Jax Mayor’s Race
OK, you are considering a run for public office, now what do you do?
At this point, many first time candidates expect support and knowledge to come to them. It rarely happens, like anything else, you must seek it out and work for it. The first step should always be an unbiased and realistic evaluation of the potential candidate and their capacity to fulfill the requirements of a campaign for the district. This involves basic questions about time commitment and financial situations. Dishonesty at this point is common, that is, candidates lying to themselves about what they can and cannot put in to a proposed race. Common factors to look at:
* Why does the potential candidate want to run?
* Why is the potential candidate a Democrat (and progressive/liberal)?
* How many hours per week will this campaign require now, next month, three months from now and for the remainder of the campaign?
* Financially can the candidate and their family survive the costs of the campaign, including any loss of pay, time and energy?
* What will the average day look like for the candidate at various points during the campaign, is the candidate prepared to commit to that? Are there health concerns that might impede such a commitment?
* How will the geography of the district, weather and transportation impact the candidate in this campaign?
Once we have all those physical/logistical (and additional related questions) answered and written down, we move on to the campaign finance aspects:
* What is a realistic cost of a minimally competitive campaign for this race? A strong campaign?
* How much money will the candidate themselves put in to the race, and in what form? (I personally restrict candidates to less than $50k in “loans” to the campaign, as startup cash only, anything else should be contributed with no expectation of repayment from donors.)
* What is the contribution limit and any related fundraising rules (like public financing, matching funds, etc)?
* What is the strength of the candidates social networks, is 300 donors in the first month possible? 500 in the first quarter? Refer to this exercise: Conventional Un-Wisdom: Fund Raising and further detailed here: Tools for a Better Organized Campaign
* Reinforce the reality that 80% of the candidates time will be fund raising, phone to face, in a closed room. It isn’t all fairs and pig roasts.
If the candidate has the desire to run and the answers to all of the above questions indicate the candidate has the capacity to run, the next question to assess is whether or not they have the temperament and traits to be a good candidate. Some weaknesses can be overcome with training, others cannot. If the candidate isn’t interest in improving/changing, it isn’t going to get any better later in the campaign. Creating an honest assessment at this point in the process allows periodic review throughout the campaign, charting progress and allowing for adjustments to correct or compensate. Too often, heavily “recruited” candidates are led in to the race under the impression they are perfect as they are, they hold on to that belief to the bitter end and everything invested in them throughout the campaign (money, time and sweat) is thrown away. Weeks later someone tells them, “By the way John, you probably lost 5,000 votes to your halitosis, didn’t anyone ever offer you a breath mint?” (Yes, this is a simplified issue, they are rarely this easy on a campaign.)
For (potential) candidates, one of the biggest struggles is finding people to serve as their campaign advisors and staff. They often fall in to traps of paying large sums for minimal returns, consultants and advisors that are more hype and reputation than experience and performance. There are a few good email lists and websites that are of some use, such as Jobs That Are Left, but the best place to start is right here at MPA Political by contacting us and reading Conventional Un-Wisdom: Hiring Staff. Really, any potential candidates should read everything on our How To’s and Training page. Lower tier and long time elected officials running for higher office often stick with the people who have worked on their previous campaigns and worked in their government offices, this often creates a closed campaign, where no new thoughts or talents are brought in and the campaign is unable to compete on the larger playing field of higher office. Campaigns should include new thoughts, differing experiences and ideas. If your campaign strategy meetings result in everyone agreeing 100% with everyone else, you need to find some thought-diversity for your team.
Somewhere in these early stages, there needs to be a compliance check with all applicable laws, rules and authorities. Is the potential candidate legally qualified to run for the office they are planning to seek? Do they understand the finance rules and regulations and have a plan to comply with all required reporting procedures? If elected, what actions are they required or recommended to take, for legal, ethical or public relations reasons? This might include turning control of a business over to a blind trust or resigning from Boards or similar positions. Are they restricting from fundraising or campaigning due to the Hatch Act (or any similar state/local law)? In Florida there is a “resign to run” law that impacts state level elected officials, it is important to know how and when that impacts your campaign. You can and will be thrown off the ballot for failure to comply with related laws and procedures. If you are seeking Federal Office, filing with the FEC is mandatory.
The last of these first steps is to build a timeline for the campaign including goals and benchmarks. To do this, one must have a complete understanding of the candidate and landscape, including vote goals and turnout expectations. If you haven’t figured this out, and haven’t already brought in a professional for all of the processes listed above, you absolutely need a professional for this, for smaller races it might be a one time fee for a week or two of work, or it might be the first payment beginning a monthly relationship with a general consultant.
This is a discussion of the first steps, which doesn’t include all of the steps of learning to sit up and crawl…the process can begin as early as middle school and as late as however old you are today. This would be a good time to look over What Inspires Candidate to Run? if you haven’t done so already.
As promised, here is the complete breakdown of performance versus the democratic performance goals I had projected for the Florida Governors Race. I will use the same sorting I used yesterday for the turnout breakdown, but I have adjusted the reference of the turnout – each county is reported by what percentage of expected turnout it experienced ie. Sumter is reported as 127.5%, or 27.5% over expected turnout.
Starting with the highest performance counties in the state, we see that in only one of the nine overachieving counties did Alex Sink take greater than 50% of the vote, Gasden County, where Sink/Smith took a whopping 72%, 3.88% over my projected goal. In Union County, Sink/Smith exceeded the goal by just over 7%, with 46.6% of the vote – a small positive negated by the higher turnout assisting Rick Scott’s majority of the vote.
Performance wise, Sink didn’t fare terribly in any of these counties, with Calhoun being the farthest under the goal, by 4.6% with 13.5% increased turnout. But as was discussed in the turnout analysis, these were mostly Republican base counties, so any increase in turnout was very beneficial to the Scott/Carroll campaign.
On the right, is the chart of counties that experienced high turnout, 105-110%. Look at the Sink % column, we again can note that nearly all of these are counties Sink lost, the only exception is Orange county. Orlando delivered for Sink/Smith with 108% turnout and nearly 4% better than the goal. Sink over performed in six more of these counties, but four of those just resulted in higher scores in the 30′s and one just pushed the score out of the 30′s to 44.8% (Seminole). All of these increases are offset by the higher turnout delivering a greater increase in votes to her opponent.
In ten of these 18 counties the Sink performance was within 2.2% of goal, the biggest differentials were Taylor, Seminole, Santa Rosa, Walton and Duval. The 4.6% over performance in Duval was very unexpected, north east Florida was seen as a dead zone for the statewide Democratic campaigns with minimal candidate time and very little staffing. Without additional data I would wager the most influential actor in this was the Kendrick Meek campaign, led by local organizer Tyler Fort and driven by several visits by Kendrick Meek in settings and events focused on driving out minority and union voters. I would further posit that had President Obama visited Jacksonville at any point in the last six weeks of the campaign, Alex Sink would be Governor-Elect Sink right now, particularly if his visit to north east Florida included a pop at Bethune Cookman (or nearby).
I won’t forget that certain Democratic nominees scheduled and cancelled stops in the Jacksonville area throughout the campaign – get your scheduling in order before making commitments and don’t forget your base organizations in the opponents base regions, 40% performance is bad, falling to 25% because you didn’t bother to show up or do anything to engage the activists – that’s just sad. Play the whole field, not just the area between the hash marks.
Sink gets one short smile for this bit… in Collier County, home of Rick Scott, turnout was 109.36%, but Sink out performed historical Democratic performance there by 1.29%. The smile ends fast though, that 1.29% over goal is still an abysmal 32.4%.
In the thirty four counties that performed within 5% of historical projections for turnout, it is a mixed bag for Alex Sink, the bottom seven counties on the chart (Left, yellow) shows under performances by the Sink campaign compounded by lower than expected turnout. Among the seven is Hillsborough, home of the Sink for Governor HQ in the city of Tampa, this was supposed to be a highlight of the campaign, part of the famed un-wisdom “I-4 Corridor” focus. The FDP/OFA/Sink coordinated effort had a large number of staff working the county and put a great deal in to media in the region. To have finished under 50% is a huge let down, and even worse when compounded by reduced turnout (96.5%). Pinellas (St. Petersburg), also part of the corridor/focus, also experienced low turnout (97%) and slight under performance (1%). If you are going to make one region your focus, you need to significantly over perform in both percentage and turnout, Sink/Smith went under both ways in these two key counties. Knowing there is a significant GLBT community in this region, one must wonder how different these results would be had Alex Sink been less reluctant to talk about GLBT issues and been more supportive of GLBT rights. The same can be said for Miami-Dade and a number of the counties in the next (lower) segment of turnout performance.
At the top of this chart, it is notable that five of the top six counties, while mild over performers in turnout, were significant under performances for Sink/Smith. Flagler county went for Obama in 2008 (as did Volusia and Monroe) and produced just 43% for Sink while experiencing 103.7% turnout. This is one of the counties hardest hit in the nation by foreclosures and should have been an opportunity to over perform for Democrats. The lack of support for (and recruitment of) the “under card”, challengers for open and Republican seats is certainly a factor in Flagler and most of north and eastern Florida. This is one aspect severely neglected by the FDP and a significant departure from the 50-State Strategy employed under the growth years of Howard Dean’s DNC. All 50 States, all 67 counties, we need to put up strong challengers to every seats, we need primaries and coordinated messaging — that is how you win.
Both Osceola and Leon are striking bright spots for Sink/Smith, slight over performances in turnout with significant over performance to the goal (5 and 8.7% respectively). Dixie was an oddity, as pointed out by the St. Pete Times crew in this geographic Sink v Scott breakdown, produced 7.1% of the vote for independent candidates, more than double their statewide performance, while turnout remained just a smidgen under projection (99.13%).
Gulf county was a significant under performance, 7.6% below goal, 35.3%, with slightly low turnout (97.9%). Gilchrist clocked in 4.7% under goal (33.2%) with 96.5% turnout and Brevard and Putnam were also 3.7 and 4.9% under goals as well, both just outside the boundaries of the “I-4 Corridor”.
Alachua experienced both low turnout at 95.1% and under performed for Sink, 1.7% shy of the goal at 59.2%. This is a strong progressive county that a few months back elected an openly gay mayor, Craig Lowe, and is the home of Sink’s running mate, Rod Smith. This is another instance of where Sink’s positions and reticence on gay rights may have hurt her campaign.
Finally, we have the poorest performing counties with regard to turnout (chart on right). Massive under performance in Palm Beach is a huge obstacle for a Democratic candidate running statewide in Florida, this is one of our strongest base counties and a source of large numbers of high energy volunteers and activists. Not to mention donors. Turnout flopped at 93.8% and Sink/Smith fell 5.1% short of the performance goal at 58.1%. Broward, another crucial Democratic Base county showed close to goal performance at .2% under, but was nearly 10% under turnout projections. Joining the south east Florida turnout collapse are St Lucie (90.4%) and Martin (above chart left, 97%), St Lucie was a 2.3% under performer (50.9%), while Martin, a Republican base county, went slightly better for Sink/Smith at 1.5% over goal (40.5%). Glades, Okeechobee and Highlands are adjacent to those four counties in south central Florida, all Republican base counties, and all well under turnout expectations in the low 90′s. Sink/Smith under performed in south central as well, down more than 7% in both Glades and Okeechobee and a slightly more respectable 1.4% below goal in Highlands.
We also see the statewide totals on this chart, white text on blue background, turnout was right at the projection (off 0.26%), but Sink’s performance was 5.6% below the goals, and just short of victory.
This campaign was a massive undertaking planned well in advance and executed pretty much on the tracks laid years in advance. The FDP made a concerted effort to project Alex Sink as the party nominee well in advance of the primary, often regurgitating the same tired un-wisdom about the primary date being too late for a Democrat to win after a primary. News flash, many states have later primary dates and both parties are able to have primaries and win competitive elections. Rick Scott and Bill McCollum…brutal primary, that must have made Scott a sure loser in the general…Governor-elect Rick Scott…wha? Three Republicans engaged in a fairly fierce primary for the Attorney General nomination, surely that made it impossible for one of them to defeat Dan Gelber who only had to defeat one primary opponent to get the nomination…oh, oops again. How about that US Senate race where Charlie Crist got challenged for the Republican nomination…surely Marco Rubio had no chance….oh…damn. The gaggle of Republicans who fought to run against Alan Grayson…surely that ensured a second term for one of my favorite Congressmen… dammit. This logic sucks.
We need to adhere to our own rules and processes at the very minimum, the Democratic nominating process needs to be…well…DEMOCRATIC. I am a supporter of moving the nominating contest earlier, even if it means bearing the cost at the party level, a number of other states are able to do that and utilize the process as an excellent party building and candidate quality improvement opportunity. I would support using a caucus over a primary in that situation to reduce cost and increase the quality of participation, though one must acknowledge that it would potentially reduce the quantity of participation.
Had Alex Sink had a strong primary challenge, her campaign would have had greater urgency earlier, they would have been tested and improved, had she emerged victorious, it would have given her additional momentum forward in to the General election. What we can’t have is crappy primary challenges. We can’t have candidates that argue over petty things instead of the real substance, I like both Dan Gelber and Dave Aronberg but watching them in the primary was more akin to a contest for Junior High Class President than Attorney General. Arguments over who is more or less supportive of this and more or less qualified because of that. Less about me vs him and more about what you will do if you get the job to solve x,y,z problems and make life better for the people. More narrative, more message. No ageism, racism, sexism or arrogance/patronizing towards your primary opponents. Bring it real and elevate the level of debate of Democratic issues for a change.
One of the other commonly noted flaws of the Sink for Governor campaign was her presentation and engagement at events and the lack of emotional attachment/passion in her speaking. I don’t know if they hired any consultants or advisors for this aspect of the campaign**, I don’t know if Alex Sink herself thinks she’s great at this, but it was a huge flaw and a big reason she failed to motivate volunteers and activists throughout the campaign. Many times people have said Sink does not like “working rooms”, I have observed her at many events bounce between the 10-15 people she has preexisting relationships with in rooms of 200-500 people. That does not get the job done, you need to shake every hand and speak to every person who took the time to come out and hear you speak. A number of young women commented to me at one major event how she was a hero to them and she didn’t even acknowledge their presence as she walked by them. That cost Sink a few hundred volunteer hours, at least, and she had another hour or so at the event to make up for it, but it was never a consideration.
Alex Sink was often over dressed, creating an unneeded barrier for attachment to many attendees. Nearly every time, or both times, I saw her dressed casually, her speech was also more lively and passionate and audience reaction was much stronger. This is a frequently delivered un-wisdom, we need to put an end to it.
The level of competence displayed by your staff will be heavily reflected in the level of volunteering, contributions and actual votes you receive. They should be properly considered before hiring and paid well for their work, which is a brutal commitment to dedicate their lives to your candidacy 24/7 for as long as you have until election day. They should be paid until two weeks following the election, win or lose. The last thing you need on a tight race is staffers looking for work during crunch time. The pay offered by campaigns in Florida Democrats is generally bordering on embarrassing, with highly qualified people taking lower level jobs in other states for higher pay (and benefits!). Of course, given the level of performance demonstrated, maybe paying crappy wages is justified…or is it the cause? The FDP should provide training to candidates and staff early and throughout the campaign season, they should provide assistance with hiring, providing the resources and knowledge needed to avoid candidates who dump a bundle of money on a consultant, staff, etc that produces no/little benefit. They should provide these resources to any candidate who qualifies as a candidate and is a member of the party in good standing for no fewer than two years. It is not the FDP’s job to decide who is and who is not a viable candidate, it is not the FDP’s job to decide who the best candidate is. It is the FDP’s job to make every Democratic campaign better and deliver Democratic victories in the general election.
The amazing but sad truth to Alex Sink’s campaign is that she ran exactly the campaign she said she was going 18 months out, and the results are almost identical to her husband’s campaign, which she discussed in the early part of this campaign…was lost by failing to turn out liberals in south Florida. Just as you can’t play half the game and expect to win, you can’t play half the state and expect to win. Trying to be more moderate to appeal to independents and Republicans doesn’t work either.
Join the conversation about how to improve the Florida Democratic Party with Twitter hashtag #FDPideas – we don’t know if anyone will listen, but it needs to be said. Take a bigger step and come out to RootsCampFL.
On Sunday, I posted my turnout projections for the Florida Governor’s race, let’s see how I did…
First, the ugly – counties where I was off by 10% or more either direction:
Nine of 67 counties had projections off by 10%, all experience greater than 10% more turnout than expected. No counties showed >10% less turnout than projected. Sumter was the worst with 9,021 more people showing up than were projected, a whopping 27.5% difference. Nearly all of these nine counties are Republican base counties, with Democratic performance goals at or under 40%, the exceptions are Gadsden (65% Democratic performance) and Calhoun (45% performance).
Next, let’s look at the counties that fell between 5% and 10% difference from projections:
Twenty four of Florida’s 67 counties fall in this category, of all types and sizes. The surprises in this category include Duval (Jacksonville), where local activists, media, etc were decrying the horrifically low turnout during early voting, particularly among Democrats and minorities. In the end, Duval exceeded historical projections by 5.5%, roughly 13,000 votes – and Alex Sink significantly over performed in the county at around 45% as well.
Orange county was more than 20,000 votes over projection but was more than offset by under performance in Democratic strongholds Broward (42,000 voters short) and Palm Beach (24,000 voters under). Some of these may see some upward correction with full canvasses of absentee and provisional ballots, and Broward is still reporting a couple precincts unreported — but it wont erase a deficit of 42,000.
Lee county saw 10,000 more voters than expected with slightly better than expected performance for Sink (.85%) — I’ll give the credit to the Lee County Young Democrats for that. On the other side, it looks like another county where the Republicans were able to turnout a large number of “unlikely voters” for Rick Scott. This is the demonstration of a campaign with unlimited funding that puts the money to good use. Seminole, Lake,, Collier and Marion are all strong Republican counties as well. St. Lucie, 7,388 votes under projection is a Democratic county, joining Broward and Palm Beach.
The sheer win:
These are counties where turnout performance was within 5% of projections, 34 of Florida’s 67 counties. Ten within 1% – more counties were within 1% than were off by 10% or greater.
This is the largest segment and has a wide range of counties, spanning the spectrum. Miami-Dade saw nearly 12,000 more voters than expected, probably due to the significant effort put up there by Kendrick Meek and Dan Gelber. Hillsborough and Pinellas, homes of Tampa and St. Petersburg were key focus points for the Alex Sink and FDP/OFA coordinated campaign – both under performed in turnout by roughly 10,000 votes each. I was pretty shocked by that, clearly the quality of the campaigns and particularly their GOTV efforts need to be looked at with great scrutiny. Just throwing bodies at it doesn’t work, you need training and focus to deliver results. Having a campaign/candidate with a message and appeal would probably help as well.
At nearly 5% under turnout projections, Alachua was a huge let down – home of Rod Smith and one of the most progressive counties in the state, we needed those 3800 voters to show up. Volusia was a strong performer for Obama in 2008, 2010 was a different story, 7,000 voters under projections and they voted slightly more Republican than we needed.
Overall, I nailed it. 13,510 move votes were cast than projected, a difference of 0.26%. I’m generally happy with anything inside of 3.5%, though I prefer to be over rather than under, but inside of 1%, it shouldn’t matter either way. I do wish more of the people that had shown up were Democrats or voted for Democrats, but that is the fault of the campaigns and candidates, not the voters.
UPDATE @ 3:20AM — With additional numbers in from Hillsborough showing VERY POOR (sub 50%) performance by the Sink/Smith campaign, this one looks over pending recount. Very disturbing results and tragic for the people of Florida if this isn’t overcome by massive turnout in the remaining outstanding precincts/absentees/provisionals tilted heavily in Sink’s favor or a successful recount flipping it over.
…when Palm Beach and the rest of South Florida is fully counted, we should have a victory for Alex Sink.
I previously posted turnout projections and vote/% goals for Sink’s campaign, here are some comparisons, NOTE!! these numbers are unofficial and incomplete, we are still waiting on additional votes to be counted in several counties. Additionally it appears the Florida Division of Elections lops off Write-in votes in the election night process, so there are a few additional votes in every county not included in these totals.
If you focus on Palm Beach and Broward you will note they are under projections while the adjacent large Democratic County of Miami-Dade is over projections. This is where the Bulk of Sink’s votes need to come from to close the gap. Significant over performance in Duval, Leon, Orange and Seminole counties bodes well for Sink, under performance in Palm Beach is dragging her down, if that is corrected with the remaining precincts, we should see the race flip over to a narrow Sink victory.
The negative side is that turnout exceeded expectations in many of the smaller counties, and it was purely “unlikely voters” who pulled the lever for Scott, the impact of outspending your opponent 6 to 1. Santa Rosa is a good example of this, and you can also see significant under performance in turnout and slightly less than the goal percentage in the strong progressive county of Alachua, home of Sink’s running mate, Rod Smith.
The under performance currently reflected in Hillsborough is the most striking, home of the Sink HQ and basically her home community, the focus of her campaign’s efforts and home to a number of fantastic activists. Maybe there are more votes to be counted there as well that could impact the outcome significantly. One has to wonder how much the ‘Charlie Crist’ factor contributed to the outcome in the greater Tampa area, where he performed well and Democrats underperformed.
ALL NUMBERS ARE UNOFFICIAL!!! INCOMPLETE RESULTS!!! ENTIRE POST MAY BE INVALIDATED BY DATA RELEASE DURING POSTING!
Following up to yesterday’s FL-Gov turnout projections, I’ll start with the Governor’s race — Alex Sink will eek out a narrow victory more on the strength of people voting against Rick Scott than for Alex, despite the fact that she will likely make an excellent Governor, she has not been a terrific candidate and her campaign has been sub-par at best.
The US Senate race will go to Marco Rubio, a very tragic outcome for Floridians, though there was no option for a non-tragic outcome. We must work harder to get better candidates. The media must do more to demand higher quality candidates, the Democratic Party must be more aggressive in utilizing primaries to both screen and improve candidates and campaigns.
I would love to have Gelber, Ausley and Maddox win the cabinet offices, but I expect none of them to prevail, though Gelber has the best shot at an upset, particularly if South Florida turnout outperforms expectations.
Joe Garcia will take US House district 25, a great victory that should be celebrated. Alan Boyd and Susan Kosmas will be ejected from the House, and I won’t cry a bit about that. The rest of the Florida US House seats will stay in the control of the incumbent party. I hope Heather Beaven will take another shot in 2012 and the state and national party will be more receptive and supportive of her effort.
The brightest spot for Florida Democrats will be the defeat of John Thrasher by Deborah Gianoulis in North East Florida. Thrasher is the Chair of the Republican Party and has abused his power on both ends to feed his corruption. He is the champion behind SB6, a bill that would take Florida’s schools from worst in the nation to….worst in the industrialized world. The defeat of the RPOF Chairman should be the #1 talking point out of the state, but given the propensity to favor Faux New’s talking points, we will probably be talking about Boyd and Kosmas being defeated as a sign that Democrats are doomed in Florida. One article appeared with a headline indicating that the 2012 Presidential election hinged on the outcome of the 2010 Florida Governors race…how exactly? In 2006, Republican Charlie Crist won the Governors office and in 2008 Barack Obama won Florida and the Presidential Election by pretty strong margins. Does that mean Democrats should be rooting for Rick Sc—-… I can’t even finish that. It is all pure idiocy, go vote, vote the people you believe should win, not the person you think will win.
With the lack of candidates for State House and Senate, Democrats will shed a couple seats in both, losing both quality and quantity in both houses, a sad setback we MUST work hard to recover from in 2012.
Nationally, I expect Republicans to win quite a few US House seats we should have never won in the first place and a few others within the margins, bringing the House to a pretty even balance, 3-5 seats either direction. I’m optimistic but not confident. Democrats will hold the US Senate with 53-55 seats.
Democrats will gain Governorships in several states, lose them in several more, and one Charlie Crist-like valueless chameleon “Independent” will take Rhode Island — The balance will be a Republican gain of 3-5 Governorships.
The national media and right wing pundits (aren’t they the same?) will decry this as a Republican triumph and a “Democratic Collapse” – rhetoric that was rarely pushed forward in reverse in 2006 or 2008. In reality it was just the result of a first term President’s midterm in the aftermath of a devastatingly bad eight year reign of terror by W – he and his cronies destroyed the economy and even though President Obama and the Democrats have made great strides to recover and a had a historically productive two years, the messaging was not effective, it is the great success no one knows happened. The media should be embarrassed, the DNC and White House should be embarrassed. I am embarrassed. We must do better.
“If you don’t vote, you don’t get to bitch” – My mom.
The following data and commentary should assist some in following and understanding the returns tomorrow night, focused on the Governors race. I will include historical data and some formulas that create history based projections. There is also a bit of “art” in the shaping of performance based on the perceived focuses (geographically and demographically) of the campaign/party activity, and some notes will be provided explaining those below.
Traditionally, history for the previous 2-3 similar races for the office would be used, in addition to other offices for the same “district”, in this case statewide. For my projections, I am rejecting the use of any data prior from 2004 or prior, as too many significant changes impacting the electorate of the state have occurred, making the data inapplicable for future elections. Further effects on the precinct or sub-district level might also be applied on a more intense projection, taking more of the down ticket (US House, State Senate/House, County and Municipal races) impacts in to account. The need for such is minimized by the absolutely minimal showing of Democrats even competing for down ticket races, despite huge deficits in the State House and Senate.
Democrats hold 44 of 120 State House seats, with just 11 Democratic Challengers financially competitive for Republican held seats while 7 Democratic seats have competitive Republican challengers. Best possible outcome would be a 65 to 55 Republican majority. In the State Senate, there is a competitive Democratic challenger in just 3 races, while the Republicans have a strong challenger for one Democratic seat. The current balance of the State Senate is 26 R’s to 14 D’s, leaving the best possible outcome at 23 R’s and 17 D’s. Neither of these best outcomes are going to happen. There is a significant chance to fall below super-minority status in the Senate, and while we are losing some of our strongest voices, few of the challengers running to replace Democrats, or as red to blue challengers have demonstrated such leadership and vocal capacity. For reference, financially competitive is defined as roughly 50% of the incumbent’s capacity to spend (donations, loans and in-kind contributions), using data posted in the 10/29/2010 reports.
Given this “undercard” it makes it very challenging for the statewide Democrats to overcome the “local advantages” Republicans hold. Each incumbent or competitive challenger for State House/Senate is a powerful local surrogate and vote driver for the top of ticket campaigns that cannot be everywhere every day. These local campaigns provide infrastructure, communication, energy and urgency at a more focused level, neighbor to neighbor, friend to friend, something hard to replicate with paid staff or volunteer organizers. This was one of the key components of Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy, and a big part of the significant gains nationwide in 2006 and 2008.
The impacts of a thin under card are exposed to greater extent when you focus your resources heavily in one geographic region, reducing the levels of staffing, media and candidate time in other regions significantly. If you have a strong under card with supportive candidates down ticket, they can carry your campaign through the reduced effort to some extent. In this situation, with the 2010 Democratic Co-ordinated/Alex Sink for Governor campaign focused heavily on the “I-4 Corridor” (really Tampa/St. Pete and Orlando), the burden placed on the rest of the state is tremendous. In south Florida there is a strong risk of having not motivated the largest Democratic populations in the state sufficiently, either by policy/rhetoric or by lack of effort. Alex Sink herself cites this failure as the main reason her husband, Bill McBride, failed to win his campaign for Governor. In northern Florida, there is far less infrastructure and institutional support on the Democratic side, making it harder to deliver results, but there are significant voting populations, and a large number of Democrats, particularly in Alachua and Duval, that must be turned out to compete statewide. The difference between Obama winning and Gore and Kerry losing Florida can be summed up by Obama’s ~48% in Duval versus Gore and Kerry in the 30′s. Less than 39% in Duval makes it nearly impossible to win statewide, this makes for a strong indicator to watch tomorrow night.
Let’s look at some numbers:
Here we see a comparison of the 2006 Democratic results for Governor and for CFO in the General election. In most of these key counties, Alex Sink’s campaign for CFO outperformed Jim Davis’s campaign for Governor by between 4 and 15%, most of them falling right around 9% better.
When you look at the actual votes, the spread of more than 17,000 votes between Davis and Sink in Duval County, roughly 10,000 votes more in each of Lee, Leon, Palm Beach, Sarasota, and Volusia Counties, with more than 15,000 in Pinellas County and 20,000 votes in Orange County. The Davis campaign is often discussed as having been an uninspired and poorly executed adventure, which accounts for some of the gap, some is accounted for in the differing appeal of Alex Sink as a candidate, the oddity of recently created office of CFO, and some by the quality and focuses of her campaign in a year of significant Democratic gains nationally and here in Florida.
The final total puts a difference of 301,572 votes between Davis at 45% and Sink at 53.5%, the difference between victory and defeat, 162,236 of those votes are shown in the chart to the left, 13 of Florida’s 67 counties accounting for more than half the differential.
To make performance goals and projections, the first objective is to establish a turnout projection. To do this, we rely on historical data, in particular the 2006 Governor and CFO, the 2008 Presidential campaign and current registration data as of the 2010 General Election October book closing. Further projections are made with adjustments based on a variety of effects impacting turnout and support, as discussed above.
The 2010 Projections is math factoring the 2006 Governor’s race five times, the 06 CFO race once, and the 2008 Presidential race once. The second column provides a goal for the Alex Sink/Rod Smith campaign that is based on the 2006 Governors race, increased by between 0 and 9%, based on the Sink/Smith’s campaigns strengths and focuses from external perception and public polling data where available, filtered through an analytical filter (my head). In the next column you find the actual vote count the percentage equates to, should the turnout projections hold true.
The next two columns present the book closing total of Registered Democrats in each county followed by the percentage of all registered voters the 2010 Projections represent. The final column of data is the percentage of all registered Democrats Sink would need to hit her vote goal, should no Republicans/NPAs/Others vote for Democratic ticket. This shows where the campaign needs to experience greater cross over voting, or really run up the numbers with the base. What gets interesting is comparing the Sink 2010 goals to the Sink 2006 Performance, where in many cases, Sink 2006 outperformed the goals set here for 2010. The heavy lifting for the Sink campaign is within the geographic regions they have set as their focus point from the beginning, the I-4 corridor, Hillsborough and Orange County, if they fail to make those goals, the fate of the Democratic ticket will follow the same path as the 2006 Jim Davis campaign.
There are some other effects in play, Rick Scott’s tremendous negatives, the reluctance of AG Bill McCollum to endorse the man who beat him in the primary, and the Crist as Indy vs Meek vs Rubio US Senate Contest, which could cause tremendous upheaval down ticket should Crist’s “reject both parties” message result in significant ‘one shot voting’. As I posted previously, I don’t understand how any Democrat can think voting for Charlie Crist is a good idea, he screwed you for his entire career, bragged about his conservative values, but now he’s claiming to be a sensible moderate interested in helping women, students and teachers he screwed over so many times before? You must have been born yesterday. And shame on the media for allowing him to get away with this crap, for supporting it and justifying it. What happened to Journalistic Integrity anyway? Oh yes, media consolidation.
Could all my numbers be wrong? Absolutely. Could the goals set internally by the Sink/Smith campaign and/or Florida Democratic Party be vastly different than what I have presented in these models? Yes, of course. We will find out the results tomorrow night, everything else will be dominated by speculation and rumormongering. Win or lose, we MUST do better in 2012. We must have more competitive Democrats running for US House, State House, State Senate and County offices around the state, particularly for Republican held seats. We need to do a better job of training our candidates and staff, of hiring dedicated professionals rather than friends, family and “big names”, and a much better job of being proud and loud about our values. Now, if you haven’t voted yet, GO DO IT. If you already voted, spend election day finding people to get out and vote Democratic, AT LEAST FIVE.