An open letter to Nikki Fried: Wishing upon a star is great, but this isn’t a fairy tale

Relying on ballot initiatives to drive voter turnout is an exciting dream, but it's not an actionable plan.

Dear Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Nikki Fried:

I write to you with a simple concern and a bit of unsolicited, but apparently much needed, advice: A wish is not a plan!

A wish is hoping something happens. A plan is systematically working toward an achievable goal. A wish is passive. A plan is active.

With that in mind, kudos to you and the Florida Democratic Party for dedicating — finally — what appears to be a decent down payment on a sustained voter registration effort. That makes sense.

However, your recent declaration that you are hoping two prospective ballot items will drive turnout among Democrats is more of a close-your-eyes-and-tap-your-heels-together-three-times dream than an actual outline. And it makes no sense.

Let’s start with pot. You seem to be operating under past assumptions that Democrats hold that torch when in reality, this is an issue that now subverts partisanship and is not guaranteed to tilt the scales in your favor.

In case you haven’t seen the polling, expanding the use of cannabis to adults in Florida is popular among Democrats, Republicans and independents. Not a single credible poll shows GOP voters below 50%.

Further, one could make a very good argument that turnout would increase among GOP voters who are tired of former President Donald Trump, but believe in the freedom to consume cannabis for their own use.

That brings us to abortion, where the story is similar.

Passions are high on the topic of women’s reproductive health and how, where and when it should be accessible. But relying on that as a driver for the type of turnout needed to move the needle in Florida politics, like the cannabis initiative, is foolhardy.

First of all, the passion goes both ways. While polling suggests a majority of voters support a woman’s access to abortion, there is still a sizable portion who agree with lawmakers in Tallahassee who approved a restrictive six-week ban.

Furthermore, this issue has already been tested, and if you’re in the pro-abortion access camp, it failed in Florida. Unlike much of the nation, where GOP candidates underperformed historic expectations in a Midterm Election with an unpopular Democratic President occupying the White House, the abortion issue did not play out that way in the Sunshine State. Republicans overperformed, with historic wins at the top of the ballot for Gov. Ron DeSantis’ and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s re-elections.

Expecting 2024 to be any different might be a bet that pays off. But you see, it’s still just a bet.

Finally, show me evidence, any evidence, that turnout in a Presidential Election increases due to ballot initiatives. Sure, that can and has been the case in off-year elections and even in Midterms, but Presidential Elections are already a huge draw. I’m not just spitballing. I’ve spoken with smart people, people who analyze these things for a living, and no one has been able to point to real data suggesting this phenomenon occurs during Presidential Election years.

If those things help Democrats, good for you. But we’re staring squarely at an “all your eggs in one basket” sort of scenario here.

Instead, why not stick to the plan to register more Democrats and fully commit resources? I know it’s hard. It’s definitely expensive. And it’s annoyingly tedious. But if Florida Dems are ever to rebound from the red flood that has inundated the state and regain relevance, registration needs to be a top priority.

In the words of The Mandalorian, “This is the way.”

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.


  • Terri

    August 1, 2023 at 4:12 pm

    I totally agree with this article.

  • Dont Say FLA

    August 1, 2023 at 4:32 pm

    Rhonda and Trump will be the ones who are primarily responsible driving Democrat voter turnout.

    Nikki just gotta do something, anything, whatever it is, so if Democrats win she can say “look we did this and it brought out our voters.”

    But on weed, sure, GOP voters like weed, but GOP politicians? Not so much. Anybody wants weed, they can’t vote GOP. GOP is still all-in on weed being the police’s golden ticket into any car any where at any time: “I smelled the aroma of marijuana” … “The K9 stood up on the door which, umm, yeah, that’s an indicator that the K9 smelled weed. Never mind I also trained my K9 to stand up on car doors to get a biscuit. The dog is trained to stand up on the door when it smells weed. Therefore, if the dog stands on the car door, that means weed! lol but the courts accept this nonsense.”

    Yes you can train a dog to smell weed and indicate. But the indication can NEVER be proven to have indicated weed. There’s no facing your accuser with a K9. That’s why GOP loves them and loves weed being outlawed.

    Q: “Hey dog, why did you stand up on that car door? Did you smell weed like you were trained in police dog school, or did your patrol officer and handler subsequently train you to stand up on doors on command?”
    A: “Woof woof woof, woof woof woof, woof woof.”

  • Al Satian

    August 2, 2023 at 2:53 pm

    You can get two more woofs for the same price.

Comments are closed.


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