Last week, I had an opportunity to visit Pebble Beach outside Carmel, California.
As I basked in the glory of the extraordinary West Coast scenery, I just couldn’t stop thinking about Cambridge Analytica and its micro-targeting techniques, as well as the disruptive and deceptive Internet Research Agency and the trail of havoc and misinformation created in the last presidential election. (The sarcasm button is on, clearly.)
For a couple of days, I didn’t even check email. It was a grand escape, indeed.
If you have never visited Carmel/Big Sur, get there ASAP.
In fact, the only political thought on my trip was when John Dailey called to discuss his campaign for Tallahassee mayor.
“Can’t talk now, how about next week?” I replied.
Anyway, I am back in the swing of things and thought we could look around the political landscape and see what tech folks are using to get themselves into office – without fake ads and stealing/borrowing data.
During his last run, Ted Cruz used a very innovative suite of mobile apps called uCampaign. The app actually makes campaigning a game (to some, it already is) and you are awarded points for reaching specific achievements.
“Political Pokémon,” I call it.
Apps like uCampaign can really change how a supporter engages with those they support. His fans were (literally) all tied together in a digital community. Very cool.
Here in Florida, Sen. Bill Nelson is doing great things with his digital presence. Last year, I gave him a hard time about his website in a column; I just retook a look and it is actually pretty slick. He integrates a photo album, videos and several other calls to action right on the home page.
The past two presidential elections have been outstanding examples of tech usage. President Barack Obama was the first to use Social Media (Twitter – 102 million followers) aggressively in a campaign. President Donald Trump’s use of social media and firms like Cambridge Analytica during the election was also aggressive. And we all know about his use of Twitter in the White House.
Also, doing the little stuff, like making sure to send out e-newsletters is a strong way to keep your constituents and or supporters in the loop during and after an election.
In 1812, Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry signed into law legislation redistricting his state to help his party with an election. With that, the term “Gerrymandering” was born, describing the activity of redistricting areas.
Some experts argue that the fact the U.S. is the only democracy on earth where the politicians are involved in the process of drawing boundaries is terrible – causing even more party division.
For example, England has a “Boundaries Commission” which claims to be “independent.” Which I am sure it bloody is, mate (British accent).
Even more interesting is throwing “big data” into the gerrymandering equation to see what that looks like. There is a ton of information here on that. However, this also might veer back into the shady side of things vs. cool. But it is a reality.
Back to cool tech, have you heard of Nation Builder? It’s software to run every facet of an election.
Check out the story of Alabama’s Randall Woodfin Nation Builders to help capture the Mayor’s office in Birmingham. Nation Builder puts social media, finances, emails all in one place.
Also, check out ActBlue, it is an exciting fundraising platform that gathers together small donors all in one place to support Democrats.
“ActBlue is an invaluable tool not only to the DCCC but to the whole party,” says Julia Ager, Chief Digital Officer of the DCCC. “They make it easy for supporters to give with a single click.”
So, there you have it – some cool tech to help get you or your favorite aspiring politician elected.
Keep in mind, all the tech in the world can’t replace a phone call or face to face dialogue.
Nice work, Mr. Dailey, pounding the phones, and best of luck with your campaign. I hope everyone is having a wonderful day and thank you for reading.
Florida’s aerospace agency praised the long-delayed confirmation Thursday of Oklahoma Republican Congressman Jim Bridenstine as the next leader of NASA, pointing to further growth coming to the private space industry.
Space Florida officials said they anticipate Bridenstine will reinvigorate the industry, noting that he’s been hands-on in Congress.
“We look forward to working with him as the nation moves to leverage the relationships between government and the private sector and between states and federal agencies,” Space Florida President and CEO Frank DiBello said in a statement after the Senate confirmed Bridenstine in a vote along party lines.
“His leadership of a NASA focused on research and exploration will be critical to reinvigorating U.S. leadership in space by bringing the true strengths of all facets of American ingenuity together for the expansion of human activity in space,” DiBello added.
But President Donald Trump’s choice of Bridenstine for the job was controversial, drawing opposition from lawmakers such as U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat who as a member of Congress traveled as a payload specialist aboard the space shuttle Columbia in January 1986. Nelson maintained that Bridenstine is too partisan for the post.
“The NASA administrator should be a consummate space professional,” Nelson said while on the Senate floor Wednesday. “That’s what this senator wants, a space professional, not a politician as the head of NASA.”
Nelson said the administrator should also be “technically and scientifically competent and a skilled executive.”
“More importantly, the administrator must be a leader who has the ability to bring us together to unite scientists and engineers and commercial space interests and policymakers and the public on a shared vision for future space exploration,” Nelson said.
NASA’s administrator position has been vacant since Charles Bolden, who led the agency under President Barack Obama, stepped down in January 2017. The vacancy was the longest the federal agency has gone without an administrator.
Before the confirmation vote, Gov. Rick Scott tweeted his support for Bridenstine, who was named to the job last September by Trump.
“I hope Jim Bridenstine gets confirmed,” Scott, who is running for U.S. Senate, tweeted. “It isn’t helping NASA to have obstructionist Senate Democrats delay the confirmation process. Like me, he served in the Navy and will fight for our space program — not just talk about helping it like so many of the career politicians in DC.”
Bridenstine’s confirmation was able to advance after Republicans Jeff Flake of Arizona and Marco Rubio of Florida agreed to support the confirmation, which had been deadlocked in the Senate.
“While I wish the president would have nominated a space professional to run NASA, the unexpected April 30 retirement of the acting administrator would leave NASA, an agency whose mission is vital to Florida, with a gaping leadership void …,” Rubio said in a prepared statement.
Sen. Brian Schatz, a Democrat from Hawaii, called it “terrifying” to have Bridenstine in the job as the Republican is a climate-change “denier” and doesn’t have a scientific background.
“Either Mr. Bridenstine has not bothered to read up on the scientific consensus on the most pressing scientific issue of our generation or he does not agree with that consensus,” Schatz said on the floor. “Either explanation makes him unqualified to run NASA.”
However, Sen. Mike Lee, a Utah Republican, said Bridenstine, who has served on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, will help bring a “renaissance” needed at NASA, as the U.S. has been “retreating” from space since astronaut Neil Armstrong walked on the moon in 1969.
“From that position (Bridenstine’s) been a thoughtful leader on American space policy as it relates to national security, commerce and weather forecasting,” Lee said.
“His record got him both a great title for his book … and a one-way ticket back home, since centrism and compromise aren’t exactly trending in Washington,” is how the event’s promotional material described his voting history.
Altmire was speaking before a receptive audience — a sell-out crowd of 160 people and a group dedicated to providing a forum for civil discourse. The Village Square mascot is a flying pig and, if the commentary should get a bit testy, offenders are reminded to be nice by a ringing bell.
That bell stayed silent throughout the evening as Altmire conversed with pollster and political strategist Steve Vancore. The pair have a history that dates back to 1990, when they met waving campaign signs during the first Congressional campaign of Pete Peterson.
Altmire said the impetus for his book was the Pulse shooting in June 2015.
“The Pulse nightclub was really the inspiration to turn random writings that I had into the book,” he told the group. “This horrific tragedy used to be something that would bring the country together in a shared sense of grief. But in this instance, it touched on every hot-button issue that exists,” referring to the fact that most of the victims were gay, the shooter was an American-born Muslim and that he had amassed an arsenal of weapons.
While the outpouring of donations and vigils and the actions of first responders showed “the best side of America,” he said, “you also saw the worst of America mostly through the social media of people who immediately took a tragedy and tried to find a way to gain political advantage.”
Altmire outlined a few common tropes about why Congress is so polarized, including closed primaries that effectively lead to representatives being elected by hyper-partisan voters on either end of the political spectrum — effectively shutting out the broad swath of moderate voters in the middle.
The Democrat also spoke about his personal experience, such as the challenge of representing a diverse district that encompassed Rust Belt Western Pennsylvania and the wealthy suburbs of Pittsburgh. One vote, in particular, would follow him throughout his time in Congress. Despite courting from as high as President Obama, he voted against the Affordable Care Act and got punished by his own party. While the president seemed to understand that Altmire’s vote “was the right vote for my district … Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi did not speak to me for three years after that,” he said.
When Pennsylvania lost a seat in reapportionment, the new district pitted him against another Democratic incumbent. The party supported his opponent, and he lost in the primary.
But he also offered solutions.
One would be to not limit primary voters to party members, opening them to the growing number of NPA voters or giving a vote to members of the opposing party in deep red or blue districts.
An even more radical solution would be to switch Florida to a “Top 2” primary, similar to what’s being done now in California, Louisiana and Washington state. In these elections, all those running for office are on the primary ballot, and every registered voter is eligible to vote. The top two vote-getters move on to the general election.
“If you are someone who runs in that primary and you only appeal to your narrow extreme within the base of your party, you are going to lose,” he told the group. “In order to win that primary, you have to appeal not just to your own people, but the people in the center and even members of the other party. It totally changes not only the way you campaign for that seat but the way you legislate and the way you carry yourself when you vote and the way you talk.”
He also suggested that House should require 60 percent of votes to elect a Speaker rather than the 50 that is required now. “That means you’re going to have to get members of the other party to support your nominee for Speaker to have any chance to win,” he said. “When you build that coalition to get that 60 percent, you build it from the center out rather than from the extremes in. And you would start with somebody who knows how to work with both sides and accomplish something.”
Born in Pennsylvania, Altmire attended and played football for Florida State University in the mid-80s. After Peterson’s election, he worked him as a congressional aide, becoming an expert in health care policy. He worked as a lobbyist in Pennsylvania before challenging and beating a Republican incumbent. After leaving Congress, Altmire moved to the Jacksonville area, working as a lobbyist for Florida Blue. He left the company to promote his book.
Day now will open a new office in the Tampa Bay area with CCC partner Dan Newman.
It’s the first satellite office for INFLUENCE Magazine’s 2016 Lobbying Firm of the Year, which is looking to have a greater statewide presence and will continue to grow in other local markets.
“With CCC’s strong growth over the few years, a local office in Tampa is a natural progression,” said NickIarossi, the firm’s founding partner. “In fact, we have an eye toward future offices in key local markets to expand the services we can provide clients.”
Added RonLaFace Jr., another founding partner: “Local market expansion has always been a goal to enhance our client services, but finding the right people is paramount.
“Justin is a great fit for our firm’s culture, and to enhance our capabilities,” LaFace said. “We are excited to have him and Dan representing us in the Tampa Bay market.”
Day’s departure from The Advocacy Group was an amicable one and the two firms will continue to partner on local and state work, they said.
“We wish Justin the best of luck with CCC’s new Tampa Bay Office,” The Advocacy Group’s SlaterBayliss said. “We look forward to a mutually beneficial strategic relationship with CCC to better serve current and future clients.”
Day said, “I enjoyed my time at TAG and appreciate the smooth transition the great professionals provided me. Opening CCC’s first local office in Tampa Bay with Dan is an exciting endeavor and I’m very happy to be part of such a well-established and growing organization.”
And Newman said, “With our combination of public affairs, campaign and lobbying experience, Justin and I will bring an impactful team to Tampa Bay.”
Day has over 15 years of experience in the political and governmental fields to the firm. He provides guidance to clients that perform business with state, county, and municipal governments, as well as public-private partnerships, public transit, airports, and seaports.
He also assists clients in all aspects of government affairs and business development including: procurement, regulations, legislation, solicitations, negotiations, teaming, and strategic planning. Day’s clients have interests in the areas of transportation, construction, education, public works, technology, consulting, affordable housing, and the environment.
Prior to joining CCC, Day worked with several Tampa Bay based public entities and private businesses.
He also worked in senior finance roles on various political campaigns in Florida including U.S. Senate, Governor, Attorney General, and various local campaigns. Day has raised over $13 million dollars for local, state, and federal candidates.
He is active in national Democratic politics serving on Secretary HillaryClinton and President BarackObama’s National Finance Committees, and as the Tampa Bay Regional Finance Chairman for President Obama’s re-election campaign.
In addition, he was a National Co-Chair for the Democratic National Committee’s Gen44 program. Currently, Day is the Deputy Treasurer for the Democratic Governors Association.
Day has an undergraduate degree in International Affairs and a Masters Degree in Applied American Politics and Policy from Florida State University.
He is a graduate of Leadership Tallahassee, and sits on numerous community boards including, Hillsborough Community College Foundation Board of Trustees, the Greater Tampa Chamber Board of Directors, AMIkids Inc, Board of Trustees. Additionally, Day serves as an Advisor to Avant-Garde Growth Capital, LLC. He resides in Tampa with wife Elena.
Fresh off a Cuban visit last week, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor is calling on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to return consular officials and diplomatic personnel to the U.S. Embassy in Havana as soon as possible.
Tillerson withdrew 60 percent of diplomats from the embassy in Havana last fall after unexplained attacks harmed at least 22 American government workers and family members. Investigators explored the possibility of a “sonic attack” injuring diplomats through sound waves; they discovered no device nor a culprit.
“While I appreciate your overriding concern with the health and safety of our diplomats following the unexplained health incidents, it is time to increase staffing and re-establish an American presence to serve our interests and our citizens,” the Tampa Democrat wrote in the letter to Tillerson sent Wednesday.
The State Department is scheduled to decide the status of the embassy by next week.
Shortly after Tillerson ordered the removal of U.S. diplomats from Cuba, the State Department then opted to suspend all visa processing in Havana, moving that function to Bogota, Columbia.
Castor, representing a district that is home to one of the largest Cuban-American populations in the country, said it’s “unreasonable and unaffordable” for Cubans who want to travel to Tampa or Miami to go to another country to do so.
The U.S. had provided 1,100 visas a month to Cuban immigrants last year before the diplomatic imbroglio; that number has since trickled down to just 350 per month.
In 2013, Castor became the first member of Congress from Florida to call for removing the Cuban economic embargo, a decision that can only happen via a congressional vote. She has consistently championed the liberalization of the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba since the early part of this decade.
But the diplomatic breakthrough started by President Barack Obama in late 2014 came to a screeching halt when Donald Trump was elected in 2016. Among the policy changes his administration rolled back from the Obama White House was travel.
Last summer, Trump announced that Americans would no longer be able to plan their own private trips to Cuba, and those who did had to go through authorized educational tours, subject to strict new rules and audits to ensure that they are not going just as tourists.
Castor calls that plan “overreaching.”
“This is counterproductive and complicates America’s ability to support everyday Cubans and promote the exchange of ideas,” The Tampa Democrat complains.
Castor visited Cuba earlier this month with fellow Democratic Reps. James McGovern from Massachusetts and Susan Davis from California, as well as Senators Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Gary Peters from Michigan and Ron Wyden from Oregon.
The entire delegation, except for Castor, chose to meet with Cuban President Raul Castro during the visit. Castro will step down in April.
State Rep. Kim Daniels, a Jacksonville Democrat, got national publicity on Monday for the kind of prayer that no other Democrat in the state would deliver.
Namely, as Patheos observed, Daniels delivered with “rants against witches” and a prayer for President Donald Trump.
“God, I lift up President Donald Trump before you,” Daniels intoned during a daybreak sermon off the shoulder of an interstate. “I plead the blood over him. I plead the blood over his family.”
“Over Capitol Hill, over the White House … wherever that first family is travelling in Jesus’ name,” Daniels observed, “over the office of the President of the United States will not be disrespected.”
Daniels inveighed against “witches and warlocks … trying to bring confusion to this great man,” calling for them to — appropriately enough — be “fired.”
“God, when it comes to the place where witches are bold enough to come out and declare that they will have authority over who’s the President of the United States, I think it’s time for the saints of God to take a radical position, and we send every curse back to the vortexes of Hell where they came from, in the name of Jesus,” Daniels contended.
“We thank you God for Donald Trump. We thank you for his family. We thank you for his possessions,” the Representative continued.
Daniels has made a habit of praying for Presidents.
Her prayer for President Barack Obama, documented in Charisma, was less salutary and more skeptical than the tribute to Trump.
“Lord, expose the work of every witch, sorcerer, spiritualist or person from the dark side operating through his cabinet members or through anyone else closely associated with him. We block the power of the influence of the Yorùbá religion and all other groups of black people who worship their ancestors, in Jesus’ name. We put barriers around the United States that will bind and block the witchcraft coming from Kenya to influence our president in Jesus’ name. Let the power of every dedication of his past be broken, in Jesus’ name,” Daniels urged.
“We break every soul tie and vow that has been established between him and Harvard, secret societies and the Illuminati,” Daniels added.
Daniels, per another blog, once said that she wouldn’t vote for Obama for a billion dollars; however, that archive apparently was scrubbed.
Florida political observers, of course, recall Daniels for her commentary on current events.
Her most celebrated declaration in recent months: an October contention that “prophets foretold” Hurricane Irma.
We asked Daniels about these comments, and her responses were worthy of quotation in full. To sum, she stands by the claim.
“I wouldn’t post it on Facebook if I didn’t believe it,” Daniels said, feet away from where a massive relief fund was being rolled out for the storm she said prophets knew would happen.
Jimmy Carter had a nuclear sub named after him. Lyndon Johnson has the space center in Houston named in his honor. And, of course, there is the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. Even Richard Nixon had a couple of schools named after him – before he resigned in disgrace.
They overlook that a huge part of his legacy is the work he and his wife, Michelle, did to promote childhood literacy in this country. He started the open e-books program for special education and Title I teachers, giving access to $250 million worth of books.
So, this is just me, but I think naming a library after a president who was a relentless champion of learning and raising literacy rates, particularly in the neediest areas, is a fine thing to do.
St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman is getting knocked around by some about this.Critics are calling it a thank-you to Obama after he campaigned for Kriseman’s successful re-election campaign. They’re asking what Obama has ever done for this area.
Well, you could ask the same about a lot of those other dedications across the country to former presidents. Obama was a frequent visitor to the Tampa Bay area and carried Florida in both of his campaigns, so it’s not like he was a stranger to the people here.
In a nation as divided as this one now, finding middle ground on these issues is impossible. It will be the same way a few years when some locales decide to name things after Donald Trump. (Note to self: resist the urge to say something snarky … must resist … must resist … keep it positive).
But Barack Obama was the president for eight years, and his popularity rating was 59 percent when he left office. He must have done a few things right.
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman announced Monday morning his administration is renaming the city’s main library after former President Barack Obama.
Not everyone was pleased.
Kriseman made the announcement on Presidents Day in front of the library at 3745 9th Avenue North. The renaming is to coincide with the library’s planned $6 million in renovations, using funds from the Penny for Pinellas sales tax recently re-upped for another decade by Pinellas County voters.
While naming public buildings after past presidents is hardly unusual, the move sparked controversy on the internet, with Tampa Bay Times political editor Adam Smith weighing in on hisFacebook page, saying Obama has nothing to do with St. Pete.
“Mayor embracing his hyper-partisan image,” Smith wrote. “What if next mayor changed the name to Donald J. Trump Library?”
Predictably, the decision set off an exchange of responses (both pro and con) on the Times website as well, with some comments hinting of racism.
Detractors complained the library should be named for a local figure; supporters noted that Martin Luther King Jr. was not a local figure either. King, of course, has a major street named after him in St. Pete.
“It’s not like anyone is going to forget about Barack Obama (whether your opinion is positive or negative),” wrote Cliff Perkins. “So why waste resources to name a local library after him? He has no connection to St Petersburg. If it needs a name, pick someone local who has contributed to literacy or scholarship in the region.”
Pinellas County Democratic Executive Committee Chair Susan McGrath thought the decision to name the library after the nation’s 44th president makes perfect sense. One of Tampa’s main streets is named after former President John Kennedy, she noted, and McGrath often flies a few times a year into Reagan-National Airport in Washington D.C., which is named after former President Ronald Reagan.
While partisanship divides the country (as well as some quarters of St. Pete, apparently), the controversy honestly surprises McGrath.
“It’s not an issue before that we expect the legacies of presidents to be carried forth and reflected in the naming of buildings,” she said, adding the election of the first black president in the U.S. was historic and significant.
The Kriseman administration began discussing with community leaders as far back as last spring about renaming of the main library, and the enhancement of the library’s programming to include an emphasis on presidential history, civics, and the contributions of both Obama and Michelle Obama.
Obama endorsed Kriseman in his bid for re-election last August, just days before the primary. In the race against former Mayor Rick Baker,Kriseman took home the most votes in the Aug. 29 primary, going on to win re-election over Baker by two points in November.
For Presidents Day, activists in downtown St. Petersburg rallied to criticize congressional Republicans who they say have been silent or actively working to end special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Mueller laid out charges Friday against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities in a sweeping indictment describing in detail a years-long effort by Russians to interfere with the U.S. political system.
The indictments confirmed the conclusions of the country’s intelligence community but flew in the face of President Donald Trump‘s questioning of the probe.
In the eyes of some Republicans (like Marco Rubio), the indictments confirmed that Russia did attempt to disrupt the election — and are likely to do so again. Others, like Panhandle Representative Matt Gaetz, have been pushing to fire Mueller. In November, Gaetz introduced a nonbinding resolution calling for the House to endorse Mueller’s dismissal.
“These Republicans see their only role as protecting the president, and not the country,” said Andrea Hildebran Smith with the group FACT (Floridians against Corruption and Treason).
“We call them the ‘Cover-up Caucus’ … We expect members of Congress to use every tool at their disposal to protect this country.”
The liberal activists also are unhappy with Trump for announcing that he will not impose additional sanctions on Russia for its meddling in the 2016 U.S. election as well as its aggression in east Ukraine. Congresspassed a law last year calling on the president to do so.
“We want protection for this special counsel to finish his investigation,” said Karen Berman with Fired Up Pinellas, who along with MoveOn.org organized Monday’s protest in front of the federal building on First Avenue North in downtown St. Pete.
“We want to see the latest Russian sanctions enforced, and we want to see the state and federal government take steps to protect our elections from any interference,” Berman added.
Over the summer, amid reports that Trump was considering firing Mueller, members of both parties were compelled to introduce legislation to prevent that from happening.
While four bills have been filed in Congress to protect Mueller’s investigation, none will likely go anywhere in the GOP-led House and Senate.
Two bills have been introduced in the Senate, both bipartisan. Sponsored by North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis and Democratic Sen. Chris Coons, the Special Counsel Integrity Act would only permit the firing of a special counsel in the event of “misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity or conflict of interest.”
The Act has been stuck in the Senate Judiciary Committee for the past couple of months.
There are similar bills in the House of Representatives, which have a little more support. One, introduced by Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, has 31 co-sponsors, all Democrats.
One Democrat who hopes to make it to Congress later this year is Chris Hunter, a former FBI agent now running in the District 12th Congressional District Democratic primary.
“Our democracy has been compromised, and it will happen again,” he predicted, “because some of our elected officials are running their same type of disinformation campaign against our own country that Russian intelligence services have run.”
Hunter served in the Department of Justice under the administrations of both Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Barack Obama.
Not once, Hunter said, did political officials in either of those administrations “purposely set out to destabilize our democratic institutions.”
“Not only has our current president fail to protect our country, the Republican Congress has been complicit in that failure,” he added.
The winner of the Democratic primary in CD 12 will face Republican incumbent Gus Bilirakis this November. Bilirakis has not publicly commented on the Mueller investigation, according to statements published on his congressional website over the past year.
As a former FBI agent, Florida Politics asked Hunter what he thought of Gov. Rick Scott‘s comment last week that FBI Director Christopher Wray should resign in the wake of revelations that the bureau ignored a tip last month about Nikolas Cruz, who killed 17 people after he opened fire on a Parkland school on Valentine’s Day.
“I think it’s disgraceful to politicize the massacre in Parkland,” Hunter said.
No matter what candidates said or did, or whether they ran embracing themselves with the president, or running as their own style of Democrat, it just didn’t matter. Voters were looking to send a message, and people who had Democrat on their name tag were the only vessel that existed.
My model for Sarasota going into Election Day said that if Republicans turned out between 2,000 and 2,500 more voters than Democrats during the day, Margaret Good would hold on, but it would be tight.
In terms of turnout, that’s what happened.
If you look at what happened with turnout, in 2010 or 2014, the Republican Party wins easily, in a normal election (do we have any of those) — with this electorate, the Republican Party probably would have won, or the Good would have won a real close one.
But as the margin demonstrated, this wasn’t a normal election.
Yes, Margaret was a good candidate, and yes, candidates and the campaigns they run matter. Yes, it helped that there was a national focus on the race, Vice President Joe Biden endorsing, grassroots money from everywhere — nor did it hurt that Corey Lewandowski came to town to reinforce that message.
All of these things mattered.
In 2010, a lot of fantastic candidates lost, and lost for reasons outside their own control. The lost because voters wanted to send a message, and since the president wasn’t on the ballot, they used the only proxy they could.
Not all special elections are created equal, and not all outcomes matter the same. This one probably matters more than most.
Here’s a few of my reasons why.
First, let’s go back to a little reminder about Florida. Most of Florida mirrors someplace else in America. Why did Donald Trump go to Pensacola to do rallies for Roy Moore? Well, that part of Florida is very similar to the deep south.
Go to a Jets/Dolphins game in Miami, and you might think you are at a Jets home game, or a Steelers/Jaguars game in Duuuval, and in addition to seeing Blake Bortles lead the almost-AFC Champions, you will get a good sense of where a lot of Duval comes from.
Sarasota, like much of Florida from Tampa south to Naples, has a Midwestern feel, a result of migration that came down from the parts of America accessed from I-75.
So, the voters here, in large part, have more in common with voters from suburban communities in the Midwest. In other words, these are the kinds of voters who voted for George W. Bush, voted for Barack Obama — at least in 08, and in many cases, also in 12, then voted for Trump. There are red states and blue states.
There are also Trump Republicans and Old Guard Republicans. These are Old Guard.
This district is very white and has an older average age than most. For evidence, among the voters who voted early, 94 percent were white, and 90 percent were over the age of 50 — two numbers that based on the overwhelming Republican Party advantage on Election Day will likely only rise.
In fact, out of the 27,000+ voters who have already cast a ballot, just over 900 are under 35. In other words, this is not a district where change comes from younger ethnic voters surging, as it has in many other specials around the country. Change comes here two ways: Democrats voting, and swing voters sending a message.
Personally, I’ve always been a bit obsessed with this district. Besides being a great community to visit, when I first worked for the legislature, this district was represented by a Democrat, Shirley Brown, and in 2006, when I ran the Florida House Democratic Caucus, winning this seat back was one of my personal goals.
In 2008, we laid down a real marker here during the presidential campaign, putting a real operation on the ground, sending in both Obama and Biden, and almost winning the county for the first time since FDR.
Why? Because if we are doing the things we need to do well here, we are going to do well in a lot of other places.
One other factoid about the district: The last two times the Democrats won this seat in an open seat: 1992, and 2006, both pretty good years.
Last time Republicans won it from a Democratic incumbent: 2010, not exactly a great year for my team. You get the idea.
So, here are a couple of my takeaways.
Largely the story of special elections around the country, women were the story here in Sarasota. Before Election Day, women were driving turnout, and while we don’t have Election Day data yet, I assume this pattern continued. Democratic women make up 19 percent of registered voters, but make up 26 percent of voters so far in this special election.
In fact, while district-wide turnout for the early vote was 21 percent, turnout among Democratic women is 30 percent. And these weren’t just super voters: Good was turning out a lot more Democratic women who had little or no primary voting history.
I thought Good was up somewhere around 8 points going into Election Day (her pollster told me his model had her up 11, and yes Tom, I said that seemed a little “rosy”) — and that was based on her winning about 15 percent of Republicans and winning a sizable majority of NPA voters.
She ended up ahead after Early Vote by 12 points, which means she had to be winning NPA voters by a margin of close to 2:1. In addition, Republicans had roughly a 16-point advantage on Election Day in terms of voters, and for her to maintain a strong win, she needed to maintain similar margins.
If you go back to 2006 or 2010, one of the signs that the wave was coming was chunks of NPA voters began to really perform as partisans. You’d see it first in the self-ID question in polls, where polling was coming back more Democratic or more Republican than it should, and same in the early voting.
Not all NPA voters are created equal, but if older white NPAs — driven by women turning out — are performing more Democratic, that’s going to be a good sign for 2018.
I’ve argued for some time Trump fundamentally misread his own election (something Democrats have also been guilty of). Trump has been gambling he can be a 40 percent president and appeal to a small segment of hard-right voters and be sustained by them, but last night was just the next proof point that this is toxic for the Republican Party, at least among swing voters.
Nights like this require two things: the “Blue Wave” and the “Red Revolt.” I lived the opposite in 2010, where Republicans came out of the woodwork, and elements of the Democratic coalition either stayed home or sent a message with their vote.
Republicans outnumbered Democrats by 13,000 in this district, and by roughly 2,500 in terms of people who voted in the special election.
Two things — final partisan model will be a few points more Democratic than registration — and several more Democratic than 2016. In other words — Democrats showed up, and Republicans didn’t. But at the same point, in a seat where, again, 2,500 more Republicans voted, Good doesn’t win by winning a sizable number of Republicans.
Putting a finer point on it: On Election Day, Republican voters outnumbered Democrats by over 2,000. They only won the day by 110 votes. A bunch of Republicans chose to revolt today — both by not voting and by voting for Good.
In years like this, when swing voters are frustrated with the incumbent president, their only vehicle to express their frustration is through members of the incumbent party. And in HD 72, that revolt happened with center-right voters — which in some ways, is why this matters more than some other races.
Just as Democrats struggled in 2010 and 2014, when their base voters stayed home, as Obama proved in Florida in both 08 and 12 — and in a lot of states in the Midwest in both cycles, Republicans face real math problems if they can’t run up the score with voters like these.
So yes, this matters. It matters for confidence, but more than anything, it matters because this shows center-right moderates felt the need to send a message — and the only way they could send a message is to vote against the president’s party.
And trust me, having lived through 2010 and 2014, this is the biggest challenge Republicans will face in the coming months, figuring out how to navigate their own base, while still talking to voters who are dissatisfied with the direction of the presidency.
Energy around this race was ridiculous.
Good received almost 3,000 contributions in the last month, which is pretty much unheard of in a State House race. I had Democratic friends from literally every corner of the country asking how they could make phone calls or help out.
The folks on the ground did a great job of harnessing grassroots energy. I remember in 08, sometimes it is hard just to guide the mob of supporters in the same direction, and just like in the Miami race, the party folks from House Victory, the FDP, and the rest of the progressive groups are working together, not against each other.
Terrie Rizzo, the FDP Chair; State Rep. Kionne McGhee, the incoming Democratic Leader, and Reggie Cardoza, who runs House Victory, all deserve real credit in sticking the sword in the ground here and seeing it through. In addition, congratulations to one of my best friends, pollster and strategist Tom Eldon, who I think is now 5-1 lifetime in this seat.
And to the GOP team that lost, I’ve been there. In 2010, more often than not, all you could do was never enough.
Nine months out, the win matters for what it says about politics now, but it in some ways, it matters less about Florida than it does about those parts of the country where these Florida voters come from.
But more than anything, I do think we are in this for a while.
Voters keep voting for change, but as long as Washington keeps reading their calls for change as a mandate for one way, just as we’ve seen a lot of this for the last decade, I think we will see more nights like this for some time to come.