Posts tagged turnout
This is the first in a series discussing the newly drawn US House district boundaries in Florida. Despite Florida voters passing Amendments Five (State) and Six (Federal) in 2010 (Fair Districts), the new map is rife with partisan gerrymandering. Who cares about the wishes of the people when the RPOF has super majorities? Data for Obama/McCain, Sink/Scott, party registration and racial composition is pulled from the Orlando Sentinel.
UPDATE: DailyKos Elections put together a great grid of information here.
US House District 1: Resembles the old first district, is composed of the western half of the panhandle. This is a strong Republican seat with over 50% Republican registration. John McCain’s 2008 Presidential campaign and Rick Scott’s 2010 Gubernatorial campaign both pulled in well over 60% of the vote in this district.
US House District 2: This seat resembles the old second district, composed of the eastern half of the panhandle with Tallahassee composing a huge chunk of the population. Democratic registration is over 54%, but this isn’t the super safe territory that would imply. Obama took just 47% of the vote here, bested by McCain’s 52%. Alex Sink fared better versus Rick Scott, netting a 52% to 45% victory. Prior to 2010, this seat was held by Conservative Blue Dog Democrat Allen Boyd. With a strong minority population (23.5 Black, 5% Hispanic) this seat is absolutely winnable by a progressive Democratic candidate. It should end up in Democratic hands in 2012. With a strong campaign effort and help down ticket, Barack Obama could win this district in 2012.
Incumbent Republican Steve Southerland will seek re-election and a gaggle of Democrats have already jumped in the fray to challenge him for this enticing seat. State Rep. Leonard Bembry, Former Bay County Democratic Chair/Lawyer Alvin Peters, and Environmental Activist Jay Liles are in, rumors of additional candidates exist. Ex-Republican Nancy Argenziano, former State Senator, former State Rep and former Charlie Crist appointed Public Service Commissioner and party revolution activist first indicated she might seek the seat as a Democrat last summer, but has filed for the seat as an Independent.
US House District 3: A gigantic swath of land spanning from the Gulf Coast to the Saint Johns river just outside Jacksonville, this seat is absolutely criminal. It skirts around a variety of cities, avoiding urban/minority populations and progressive neighborhoods. The intent appears to be to drown out the Yellow Dog Democrats that dominate this region with rural and suburban engaged conservative voters. Democrats outnumber Republicans in registration, 43.5% to 39% but neither Obama (39.5%) nor Sink (40.5%) performed in line with the registration. This district combines parts of the old 4th, 5th, and 6th districts, all of which were held by Republicans in 2010 and prior.
If Sink’s performance was slightly better, this would be easily identified as a ripe target for Democrats, but at 40.5% it was pretty abysmal, only 1% better than Obama’s in 2008. However, Sink’s campaign was horrific statewide and lacked any field effort in these rural counties. There was no support down ticket in this region in 2010 and Rick Scott funded a heavy field operation throughout these rural counties. My conclusion is that this is territory we should be working for aggressively in 2012 and beyond. If we fielded quality candidates at the State House, State Senate and US House levels for (several) consecutive cycles, we could likely revive the Yellow Dog base that already exists and turn this region of the state at least purple.
Incumbent Republican Cliff Sterns has announced he will seek this seat in 2012, joining a primary adventure with Clay County Clerk of Court James Jett and State Senator/Former Alachua Sheriff Steve Oelrich and one or more some guys.
US House District 4: This seat resembles the old district 4, wrapping around Jacksonville while avoiding Democratic neighborhoods and minorities as much as possible. Currently held by Republicans, likely to remain so with a 10.5% registration advantage and the history of both McCain and Scott breaking 60% in the district.
Incumbent Republican Ander Crenshaw will seek re-election here, a parade of some guys may or may not challenge him the primary and/or general election.
US House District 5: Possibly the most criminally gerrymandered seat in Florida, though not really any worse than it’s former incarnation as District 3. Held by long time Democratic Representative Corrine Brown, this is a majority-minority seat (49% Black, 11% Hispanic) that stretches from Jacksonville to Gainesville and then down to Orlando’s urban community. Don’t think it is criminal? There are multiple places where you can stand and have this district North, South, East and West of you, while not being in this district. Conversely you can say the same about some of the districts that are wrapped around the 3rd. There is no reasonable argument that this district is compact. It at times gets narrow enough to be filled with a moderate sized high school marching band (though some of them would need to be on rafts) and expanding as wide as is needed to pack in large urban/Democratic populations. This is what ‘packing’ is all about. Make adjacent districts better for the opposing Republican Party by packing as many Democrats in to one district as is possible. As it is constructed, 60.5% of registered voters are Democrats, Obama cleared 70% and Sink mustered a healthy 65%. I’m all for honoring the Voting Rights Act (VRA) but we must also preserve compact and contiguous communities – it isn’t either or, we can do both. If this district were redrawn honoring the intent of Amendment 6, it is extremely likely there would more more opportunity for minority representation and CERTAIN that the region would be better represented in Congress.
Incumbent Corrine Brown will face a variety of some guy Republican and 3rd party candidates.
US House District 6: This is primarily what used to be the 7th Congressional district. The Atlantic coast from just south of Jacksonville, including St. Johns, Flagler, and Volusia counties. Incumbent John Mica is redistricted out, joining his two friends from Winter Park in a game of ‘which seat looks best?’ Mica announced recently he will run in the new 7th District, which lines him up for a primary with Representative Sandy Adams. The open 6th district is pretty tough territory for Democrats, with a 40% to 36.5% Republican registration advantage and decent performance numbers from both McCain (53.4%) and Scott (54.6%). Though to be fair, in neither 2008 nor 2010 was there much effort by challenger campaigns in these counties. This seat is well within range to be picked up with a 2-3 cycle effort and with the right circumstances it could be won by Obama and a strong Democratic challenger candidate in 2012.
The lack of major media markets within the district make it more challenging, like much of Florida this seat will require an expensive and high quality field effort to be flipped.
Craig Miller recently dropped his US Senate bid to run for this open seat, he has been joined in the primary by a Jacksonville area lawyer/Iraq Vet Ron DeSantis and more are expected to join the fray. Several Democrats have expressed interest in running for this seat, only Vipin Verma is currently filed for the old 7th (who?) and will presumably refile for the new 6th where he lives.
State Rep Fred Costello (Ormond Beach) is also running as a Republican.
Summary for Districts 1 through 6: There are currently five Republicans and 1 Democrat representing this territory. With no major changes to the map as passed by the legislature, it is highly likely we will regain District 2 in 2012, and there is an outside chance at picking up Districts 3 and 6 over the next three cycles. To swing these six seats from 5R/1D to 2R/4D would be a huge coup, particularly when you consider the lengths to which Republicans went to protect themselves with gerrymandering. If the DOJ/Courts find fault with the maps as drawn, particularly with regard to the abomination that is District 5, the chances of Democratic gains in north Florida grow significantly.
If you are a progressive Democratic candidate already filed or considering running for US House, please contact us ASAP.
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
Conventional Un-Wisdom: We lost because they beat us at Vote by Mail (or Early Voting), next year we will focus on closing the VBM (EV) gap.
This Un-Wisdom was heard in a number of states following the 2010 elections, often spoken by prominent establishment figures as part of recapping the 2010 elections and setting the agenda for 2012. I can’t know that they weren’t just trying to put forward a positive tone coupled with an easily quantified and correctable problem. What I do know is that this is a dangerous path to follow if we want to actually do better (which would include winning) in 2012.
Why? Deficiencies in Vote By Mail and Early Voting GOTV efforts are real, and should be taken seriously and corrected/improved wherever possible. However, in many cases you will find it wasn’t the GOTV programs that were deficient, it was the inputs to the GOTV program. What are these inputs? Quality candidates and campaigns that motivate people to want to volunteer and vote. If people are not motivated to volunteer, not enthusiastic about the candidate/campaign, they don’t transfer their energy to others, successfully activating them to vote and volunteer. Hence, they don’t Vote by Mail, nor Early Vote…because they don’t vote at all.
That makes the correction even more obvious, and yet infinitely harder to enact. Present conviction and activate the base, by spending the early phases of your campaign identifying, energizing, and empowering those most inclined to support the campaign. Too often Democratic candidates are or project themselves to be moderate, or soften their stances on key issues, making them less appealing to the Democratic Base, less likely to activate and energize. The end result is less support of all types and a greater reliance on expensive media efforts, particularly negative advertising.
That is why we, as the base, must get more engaged at influencing the process much earlier. Like now. Whether a candidate emerges from being “pushed forward” by the establishment or “from the grassroots,” or they just stumble (or charge) on to the stage seemingly from nowhere, we must aggressively vet them, for their values, their capacity to campaign and for their conviction. We must think about what inspires candidates to run and how we can improve the quality of their candidacy and campaign, should they prove worthy of our support. We must speak out and challenge flawed candidacies early, and demand primary challenges of both challengers and incumbents when they fail to measure up. Primaries are good, they make good candidates better.
We must help all candidates running as Democrats run better campaigns, be better candidates, it is our brand they are diminishing when they flounder. We should trust that in the end, the voters will judge their worth, and we will likely play a role in influencing that process later in the campaign. From the onset, we must direct all candidates interested in running as Democrats to taking the right first steps. Once they have built their foundation and given us something more quantifiable to judge, we can choose among them the strongest and best voice of our values. Polling in the early stages should be ignored, or even mocked. It has little bearing on the outcome unless you give in the credence to sway hearts and minds. It is a flimsy campaign that focuses on insignificant factors to trumpet their strength. Look for the candidate/campaign the portrays confidence without expressing disdain for their opponents in diminutive terms.
When we empower all those willing to step forward and put their names on the ballot as Democrats to run higher quality campaigns, we as a party emerge victorious. We will have activated more voters, more volunteers and more donors. We will strengthen the candidate and campaign that wins the nomination for the rigorous challenges of the general election. They will already be on a steep upward trajectory when the flag drops to start the general election campaign, volunteers and staff moving at full speed all the way to the finish line. The emotional bonds from supporter to candidate will be thick and durable, a strong deflective shield for the upcoming attacks of their opponent and even potential missteps of your own campaign/candidate. Or you could coronate your candidate as the nominee two (or four) years out, ignore the issues that motivate the base, and lose to a billion dollar thief.
Vote by Mail and Early Voting should absolutely be a part of your GOTV Plan, but the first component to your GOTV plan should be to remember that it is “Get out THE vote,” which should indicate to you that you need have already identified and motivated people to want to vote. Otherwise it should be “GORV”, Get out Random Voters. Before you can GOTV, you must know who your voters are and that there are more than enough of them to hit your win number. To get your win number, a GOTV plan and to be sure you are doing it right, contact MPA Political now.
Focus on closing the vote gap — be less concerned with how people vote and more concerned with getting them to vote at all. It would be great for your entire universe to vote the first moment they can, but you keep working for more votes and get them in by whatever method you can anyway.
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.
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!
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.