Barack Obama Archives - Florida Politics

Race to replace Ron DeSantis in Congress a sprint to the center

The race to replace Ron DeSantis in Congress is on, and it’s looking more like a race to the center between two former White House staffers as the 30-day mark before the primary approaches.

“Let’s bring the warring parties together and get things done,” asserted Democrat Nancy Soderberg early in a debate televised last week on WESH TV.

Soderberg, who won her primary in August with more than 55 percent of the vote, worked in former President Bill Clinton’s administration on the National Security Council and as Ambassador to the United Nations.

Those roles brought her high-profile endorsements, including from former colleagues like Paul Begala and from former President Barack Obama.

The latter endorsement, a boon in the sense of national visibility, became a talking point for Republican Mike Waltz (who won his own primary with 42 percent of the vote) during their debate.

“This choice is about America moving forward,” between “individual liberty” and a “government that piles on regulation and taxes,” Waltz (a former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney) said, framing the debate before at least once conflating the name Nancy Soderberg with Nancy Pelosi and reminding CD 6 voters that Obama endorsed his fellow Democrat.

“In the [Obama] administration, the military really floundered … their funding was cut year over year … incredibly restrictive rules of engagement,” Waltz chided.

“This President and this Administration have reasserted American leadership,” Waltz said, framing that as necessary given the problems established by the Obama and Clinton administrations. “It may be unconventional what he’s trying to do, but heck, what [was done] for the last 35 years didn’t work.”

Soderberg identified foreign policy affinities with the Trump administration, including moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, advocating the “two-state solution,” and the “new NAFTA accord.”

“I believe the President is fighting for American interests abroad in a way that is unconventional for sure, but I wish him well in that,” Soderberg said, trying to pivot the debate midway through to a major campaign talking point for her: a Republican health care plan that would be bad for people with pre-existing conditions.

Waltz said he opposed any plan to limit coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, before saying “Obamacare has been a failure.”

“You need to stop distorting my positions,” the Democrat protested.

Just as Soderberg didn’t want to get identified with the Washington left (including going so far as to say she wouldn’t vote for Pelosi for party leader), Waltz (despite the historic GOP lean in the district, which went with President Trump in 2016), realizes that post-primary base appeals come with diminishing returns.

As POLITICO Florida reported Thursday night, Waltz rebuffed an invitation from President Donald Trump to rally for him in his district. A Trump fundraiser was more agreeable to the candidate, but that fell through also.

For Waltz, a candidate pilloried during the primary for being #NeverTrump, the chance to hit the reset button wasn’t worth the optics of the rally. A fundraiser closed to the press was worth the risk, in no small part because Soderberg has already raised more than $2 million, a number Waltz’s team realizes it can’t match.

A rally though, with potentially pyrotechnic quotes? Not worth it given the dynamics of this contest, very much a swing race at this point.

CD 6 is a Republican-leaning seat, a Daytona-centric district that hugs the Atlantic Coast, including territory in St. Johns, Flagler, Volusia, and Lake counties.

The 2016 race between DeSantis and Democrat Bill McCullough was not competitive, with DeSantis winning by 17 percentage points.

This one should be closer.

A survey from St. Pete Polls released Sept. 20 revealed just a five-point lead for Waltz.

Both candidates are consolidating support within their respective parties. Soderberg is the choice of 74 percent of Democrats, Waltz of 76 percent of Republicans. Independents skew slightly to Soderberg (46-43).

However, with the district showing a strong GOP plurality (205,633 Republicans, compared to 177,345 Democrats and 152,330 independents), these results suggest Soderberg will need to further strengthen her appeal to independents to make up for the realities of party loyalty.

She has the resources to do so. DeSantis, according to Soderberg polling, was underwater in his district when he resigned. And yet, despite running a textbook centrist campaign, Soderberg may find the lean of the district proves prohibitive.

Consultants on both sides bring the spin. Those close to the Waltz campaign paint a picture of Soderberg burning through hundreds of thousands of dollars on TV yet not moving polls. Those close to Team Soderberg counter that Waltz isn’t communicating with voters and use phrases like “campaign in crisis” to describe the Republican effort.

New polls and Q3 fundraising reports will soon enough paint a picture of the race that is less impressionistic and more realistic.

Former President Barack Obama endorses Andrew Gillum

Is there a bigger ‘get’? President Barack Obama announced Monday he’s supporting Andrew Gillum to become Florida’s first African-American Governor.

“Andrew is a proven fighter with the courage and determination to stand up for Florida families,” Obama said in a statement supporting the Tallahassee Mayor. “As Governor, Andrew will expand access to affordable health care, protect Floridians with pre-existing conditions, invest in education, protect the environment and build an economy that works for all.”

Obama, whose legacy is in part marked by the passage of the Affordable Care Act, commended Gillum’s stances on health care, saying, “Andrew believes that healthcare is a right, not a privilege, and he will make expanding Medicaid a priority on day one as governor.”

Responded Gillum: “As Governor, we’ll build on his legacy by making healthcare a right, not a privilege, investing in our children’s education, and protecting the environment for our future generation of Floridians.”

He also commended Gillum’s tenure as mayor of the state’s capital city.

The former President’s support was announced on Monday in his second wave of midterm election endorsements. Joining Gillum were running mate Chris King and U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, who also received on Monday the endorsement of Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló. Rosselló also is expected to endorse Gillum later on Monday.

Other down-ballot candidates also received nods from Obama. According to the former president’s press office, he’s weighed in on 260 midterm races this cycle.

“The Democratic Party has always made the biggest difference in the lives of the American people when we lead with conviction, principle, and bold, new ideas,” Obama said in a statement announcing the endorsements. “Our incredible array of candidates up and down the ticket, all across the country, make up a movement of citizens who are younger, more diverse, more female than ever before.”

He added that he was “eager to continue making the case for why they deserve our votes this November.”

Also included in the endorsement wave: Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy and Democratic congressional hopefuls Nancy Soderberg, Stephanie MurphyChris Hunter,  Lauren Baer and Debbie MucarselPowell.

Soderberg, who faces Republican Michael Waltz in the race for Florida’s 6th Congressional District, said she was “excited” to have Obama backing her Congressional campaign.

“I am deeply honored to have earned the support of President Obama who has been an extraordinary testament to what we can achieve when we work together to live out our American values,” she said. “President Obama continues to inspire millions in this country and around the world with his vision of and work to build a more inclusive society that enables all of us to reach our full potential.”

In races for state Senate seats, Obama announced endorsements for Sen. Annette Taddeo, along with Senate candidates Kayser Enneking, Janet Cruz, Bob Doyel, Lindsay Cross and David Perez.

In the House, incumbents Margaret Good, Nick Duran and Javier Fernandez received 44’s backing. So too did candidates Anna Eskamani, Fentrice Driskell and Emma Collum.

To Florida House Victory, a the state legislative arm of the Florida Democratic Party, those endorsements signal that the down-ballot races are getting national attention.

“President Barack Obama’s endorsement of Florida House Victory candidates goes to show that the success of Democrats in the state House is a crucial part of moving Florida forward,” said Marisol Samayoa, spokesperson for Florida House Victory. “As a former state legislator himself, President Obama recognizes the role that legislatures can play as the first line of defense against Republican attacks on health care, public education, and the environment.”

Former Secretary of State John Kerry endorses Lauren Baer in CD 18

Former Secretary of State John Kerry is stepping into the race for Florida’s 18th Congressional District, backing Democratic candidate Lauren Baer.

Baer had previously worked as an adviser in the Barack Obama State Department.

In his endorsement, Kerry said the qualities he saw in Baer make her the right choice for CD 18 as she tries to oust Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Mast.

“Lauren provided trusted counsel on a range of critical national security issues,” Kerry said, “and I witnessed first-hand her fierce advocacy for our values on the world stage

“She speaks out and fights for what’s right. I know that Lauren is a woman of principle who will do exactly the same in Washington.”

Joining Kerry in throwing support behind Baer were two other former Obama administration officials: Former U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power and former State Department Deputy Chief of Staff Jake Sullivan.

“I watched her every day fight for what was right, promoting the kind of U.S. leadership abroad that our children can be proud of,” Powers said.

“She has the knowledge, experience, and grit to take on our country’s biggest challenges. She has the strong moral compass and the resolve to cut through Washington’s red tape and improve the lives of her constituents. When I worked with Lauren, she didn’t rest until she got the job done, and as a member of Congress, I know she won’t rest until Washington is working for all of us again.”

“As a trusted senior advisor to the Secretary, [Baer] provided guidance that helped to keep our country safe and advance American values around the world,” Sullivan added.

“At a time when the threats to our national security are grave, and the need for U.S. leadership is great, her knowledge, experience, and judgment will be an asset to the people of Florida’s 18th District and the country as a whole.”

A recent survey from Public Policy Polling showed Baer within just three points of Mast. However, election analysts still see Mast as the favorite in November, rating the seat as “likely Republican.”

Bill Nelson ‘died three years ago,’ Roger Stone quips to Palm Beach Trump supporters

Longtime Donald Trump ally Roger Stone was his usual self in remarks to Trump Club 45 PBC Monday night, spouting several attention-grabbing comments to the audience of Trump die-hards.

Stone dropped several eyebrow-raising one-liners (mostly in jest) during his speech at the Palm Beach Kennel Club, one of which concerning a prominent Florida contest.

“You have a U.S. Senate race between Gov. Rick Scott and Bill Nelson,” Stone started. “Bill Nelson died three years ago. Somebody forgot to tell him about it.”

As for Stone’s famous tattoo of Richard Nixon on his back: “I’m the only guy you know that has a dick on the front and the back.”

In addition to punchlines, Stone offered the Trump-loving crowd plenty of red meat.

First, there was media bashing: “I don’t get my news from CNN for the same reason I don’t eat out of the toilet.”

Next, about The New York Times, Stone harped on the fact that the paper’s top shareholder is Carlos Slim, the Mexican billionaire who made hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to the Clintons.

“Why would we believe a single word that is printed in The New York Times?” Stone charged.

He then moved into the realm of the conspiratorial. On the recent anonymous op-ed printed by the Times, Stone argued it was all a fabrication.

“Folks, I can tell you right now who wrote that editorial. No one. It’s a fraud. It’s a MacGuffin. It’s a con job on the American people.”

He once again called into question whether Russia even hacked the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 election.

“There’s more forensic evidence that would indicate that the DNC was never hacked at all by anyone.”

Stone also touched upon the recent abuse allegations lobbied against Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Stone framed the “dastardly accusations” as a “smear” against Kavanaugh, shredding the media for even reporting on them given the lack of a corroborating witness.

Stone, rumored to be a potential target of the Robert Mueller investigation, further elaborated on his current legal situation.

While describing claims of any sort of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign utter “bullshit,” Stone maintained: “I will never roll on Donald Trump. Michael Cohen, I am not.”

Toward the end of his remarks, Stone injected a minutes-long pitch for his legal defense fund.

“Everything you can send will be a godsend. This threatens to bankrupt my family. They have systematically attempted to ruin my business.”

Stone saved some of his most fiery comments for Republicans 2018 midterms strategy. He parroted the notion that the real wrongdoing of the 2016 election was the Barack Obama administration’s investigation into Russian collusion, rather than any potential collusion itself.

Midterm voters need reminding of that fact, Stone said, calling for some high-profile arrests.

“We need to expose the constitutional abuses, far worse than Watergate, of the administration of Barack Obama. And we have to demand the prosecution of Bill and Hillary Clinton.”

Of course, that elicited chants of “lock her up” from the audience, with one member suggesting Hillary be sent “to Guantánamo.”

With a closing shot, Stone clarified there’s no love lost between him and the Clintons.

“Bill and Hillary Clinton are the penicillin-resistant syphilis of the American body politic.”

Integrity Florida report questions Donald Trump judicial nominations

Donald Trump‘s nominations for judgeships are ensuring a federal bench that looks like the president, according to Integrity Florida: Older, white and male.

The Tallahassee-based ethics-in-government watchdog’s latest report, released Thursday, also questions Trump’s assertion that he would prioritize “qualifications” over diversity. The group says that in fact the 72-year-old president is focusing on neither.

“Trump has already nominated more federal judicial nominees than three of his four predecessors did in their entire first two years,” the report says.

At the same time, “Trump has put forth a lower percentage of ‘well qualified’ nominees (as defined by the American Bar Association) than each of his four predecessors,” it said.

The report, “Courts at the Crossroads” (posted below), examines how the “quality and diversity of judicial nominations has changed under the Trump administration, and what those changes mean for the country and for Floridians who rely on the courts for the fair administration of justice in criminal and civil cases,” a press release said.

Key findings include:

— Ninety-one percent of President Trump’s nominees for federal judgeships have been white, compared to 57 percent of President Obama’s nominees and 80 percent of President George W. Bush’s nominees.

— Only 1 percent of Trump’s nominees for federal judgeships have been African American and only 4 percent have been Hispanic.

— President Trump’s nominees for federal judges have been 77 percent male. In contrast, President Obama’s nominees were 55 percent male and President George W. Bush’s nominees were 80 percent male.

Todd Marks unleashes attack ad on Aakash Patel

Hillsborough Commission candidate Todd Marks has already attacked Republican opponent Aakash Patel for past donations to Democrats, but now he’s doing it over the airwaves.

Marks, a Tampa attorney, is out with a new ad that intersperses clips of Patel’s first ad with his Jan. 28 interview on LeaderCast Tampa, where the Tampa businessman said he doesn’t have a “Republican or Democrat philosophy. I’ve given money to Democrats. I’ve supported Democrats.”

That line, which comes halfway through the 36-minute interview, was highlighted in an attack email sent out by Marks back in April. The new ad is trotting it out again, and Marks uses it to label the Tampa businessman as Aakash “Too Liberal” Patel.

The 30-second spot begins with the portion of Patel’s ad where supporters say, “My county commissioner should be a trusted conservative, who protects our values,” before a narrator interrupts and says “Aakash Patel betrays those values” and rolls the aforementioned interview clip.

The back and forth continues with a woman from Patel’s ad saying, “I don’t want a career politician,” followed by the narrator asking “Then why does Patel brag about meeting with Barack Obama and other liberals?”

“Aakash Patel donated to Democrats as they bashed President [Donald] Trump,” the voiceover continues as pictures of Patel with Obama and U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist fill the screen. “Aakash Patel: Two-faced and too progressive.”

According to campaign finance records with the Florida Division of Elections and the Federal Elections Commission, Patel did not donate any funds to Obama. Nor did he donate to Crist — either personally or through his business, Elevate Inc. — during the Pinellas politician’s independent run for U.S. Senate or his campaigns for Governor and Congress as a member of the Democratic Party.

However, Patel did donate to Crist’s opponent, then-U.S. Rep. David Jolly, last cycle as well as in 2014.

Patel has donated to dozens of Republicans over the years, among them Jeff Atwater, Pam Bondi, Richard Corcoran, Matt Gaetz, Adam Putnam, Jimmy Patronis and Ross Spano. Bondi, Corcoran and Gaetz are among the many conservative politicians who have endorsed Patel in the county commission race.

As far as Democrats go, six have received a check from Patel according to state and federal database searches: State Attorney Dave Aaronberg, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, state Rep. Ben Diamond, state House candidate Rena Frazier, former state Rep. Ed Narain and former CFO Alex Sink.

All told, those Democratic donations totaled $1,853, while his contributions to Republican candidates and political committees clocked in at $21,875. A similar search for past political contributions from Marks found no indication he’s given to any politician or political committee.

Florida Politics reached out to Patel for a response after the ad was released.

“I’m disappointed that my opponent decided to use his campaign dollars to attack me rather than focusing on the issues that matter to Hillsborough County,” he said.

Patel and Marks are the only Republicans running for the countywide District 7 seat currently held by retiring commissioner Al Higginbotham. Both men were previously candidates for the District 1 seat held by Commissioner Sandra Murman but they switched races after she decided to serve out the remainder of her term rather than make her own run for District 7.

Also running for the seat are Democrats Ray ChiaramonteMark NashKimberly Overman and Sky White as well as Green Party candidate Kim O’Connor.

Through July 6, Patel led the money race with more than $364,000 raised for his campaign and about $130,000 in the bank. He has also raised another $124,000 via affiliated political committee, Elevate Tampa, and had $43,500 of that cash in the bank on July 20.

Marks is the only other candidate to break the six-figure mark in fundraising. As of July 6, he had raised $108,768 in hard money and had $99,365 in the bank.

The ad is below.

Frank White

New website slams Frank White as ‘liberal’ using ‘family money’

While Frank White continues pumping money into his campaign, newly formed political committee Truth in Politics is up with a new website blasting the Republican Attorney General candidate as a ‘liberal’ using his ‘family money’ to seek the statewide seat.

The website, FamilyMoneyFrank.com, promises to be updated daily and the first round of attacks shows the financial connection between White’s Attorney General campaign and liberal politicians and organizations — namely, U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and former President Barack Obama.

The connection: The Automotive Free International Trade PAC.

White’s father-in-law and employer, auto dealership mogul Sandy Sansing, donated to the fund during the 2008 election cycle. The fund later made contributions to Democratic politicians. During the 2018 cycle, Sansing Holdings has contributed $150,000 to his son-in-law’s political committee, United Conservatives, while several of his businesses have chipped in $3,000 apiece to White’s official campaign account.

“The same shady money that has bankrolled liberals like Obama into the White House and Pelosi into the Speaker’s chair is now bankrolling liberal Frank White as he attempts to go from the showroom to the Attorney General’s office,” the website says. “We can’t trust this salesman with his family’s money. Florida shouldn’t trust him as Attorney General.”

The website also highlights a recent complaint filed with the Florida Elections Commission accusing White of accepting political contributions outside the legal limits.

That complaint, filed by Raymond Mazzie of Tallahassee, seeks to source the large cash infusions White has made to his campaign —his first month in the race saw him pump $1.5 million into his campaign account, and he followed that up with another $1.25 million in May.

Citing White’s 2015 and 2016 financial disclosures, the complaint alleges White would have had to liquidate all of his assets to come up with that money. The White campaign says his wife, Stephanie White, contributed the money from a stock dividend.

White is running against former circuit court judge Ashley Moody in the Aug. 28 Republican primary. Current AG Pam Bondi cannot run again due to term limits. The winner of GOP nomination will likely face Tampa Democratic Rep. Sean Shaw in the Nov. 6 general election.

Florida Politics reached out the Frank White campaign and it responded by sending a press release about an unrelated attack on Moody.

Images from the website are below.

#4 on list of Tampa Bay’s Most Powerful Politicians — Rick Kriseman

As the 2017 mayoral race ramped up last year, re-election was never a sure thing for incumbent St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman. It was far from it at times.

Yet despite a significant challenge from former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, who was often ahead in the polls, he and his allies pulled it off.

Whether it was a sign of a blue wave or the result of constant door-knocking or one of many other potential factors, we’ll never know. But Kriseman’s re-election helped solidify the city’s status as a (mostly) progressive haven.

A former state Representative who’s a lawyer by trade, observers say Kriseman is as likable as he is serious about policymaking.

“It’s not often you meet an elected official you want to go to a Jimmy Buffett concert with and also work with on major policy issues. Mayor Kriseman is that guy. Faced with many challenges, Rick has shown that he is not only extremely well-liked but is leaving behind a legacy of progressive leadership,” said Southern Strategy Group’s Laura Boehmer.

Since sworn in for his second time, Kriseman has championed a proposed ban on offshore drilling, joined a lawsuit against Governor Rick Scott over a 2011 barring cities and counties from passing local gun laws and renamed the main branch of the city’s library after former President Barack Obama. While he and other mayors’ hands are tied on gun laws per se, he’s also vowed to divest city dollars from gun manufacturers and vendors.

The city (downtown in particular) is seeing an influx of development under Kriseman’s watch. While Chamber of Commerce types herald these projects for their economic development potential, some are concerned that the diverse population that made downtown appealing are being priced out of their neighborhoods and Central Avenue storefronts.

Remaining to be seen is whether the Pier will finish on time. There’s also that little thing that almost cost him his re-election: whether the city’s wastewater system overhaul will be completed in time to prevent any more sewage dumps.

What significantly boosts Kriseman’s power factor is the fact that the majority of St. Petersburg City Council members support his agenda. It can’t hurt to have the bulk of the Pinellas County Commission generally on his side, either.

Unlike Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who terms out in early 2019 with an uncertain, Kriseman has more than three-and-a-half years to go as mayor. That gives him room to step up as a regional figure. We saw that potential in his willingness to let the Rays look at potential stadium sites in Tampa (even though he seemed to think team officials would ultimately stay in St. Pete) and in his ability to get Pinellas and Hillsborough counties to pitch in for a ferry service pilot in 2016.

Kriseman ranked seventh in 2017.

For a complete explanation of how this list was created and who made up the panel that amassed it, please read here.

Steve Schale: Florida, persuasion or turnout, or both?

In the never-ending quest to simplify Florida, one of the ongoing debates about winning the state is whether Florida is a state won by winning persuadable voters, or whether it is all about turning out one’s base.

I remember when I started with Barack Obama, I got a ton of advice — most of it unsolicited (much was helpful), though a significant portion went something like this:

“Steve, nothing matters but I-4 … Steve, if you don’t maximize the Jewish vote, you can’t win … Steve, the field is dumb, it is an air war state … Steve, TV is dumb, it is a field war state … Steve, you have to do better with absentees … Steve, don’t waste money trying to convince Democrats to vote by mail … Steve, you have to watch your floor in North Florida, or you can’t win … Steve, you have to take Obama to Condo X, or you won’t win … Steve, you have to pay for bus benches in Miami, or you can’t win.”

You get the point.

Here is the secret — all of it matters. Florida is neither a persuasion state or a turnout state. It is, in my honest opinion, both. It doesn’t matter if it is a presidential cycle or a midterm year, Florida is a state about managing margins, everywhere.

Avid readers of my blog (thank you to all three of you) have read me refer to Florida as a self-correcting scale. The bases of both parties do a nice job of balancing — or canceling themselves out, almost regardless of population or demographic shifts.

Before we go any further — it is important to note that this phenomenon is almost exclusively a result of my party losing vote share among non-Hispanic whites. If we were winning non-Hispanic whites at a level anywhere near Obama 2008, based on the demographic shifts in Florida, we would be a leaning to likely Democratic state.

At the same time — if Florida wasn’t experiencing demographic changes — and the Republicans weren’t losing share among voters of color — particularly Hispanics, we would be a predictably Republican state. Functionally, if either party can broaden their own coalition, Florida quickly gets less competitive.

But these two factors have largely canceled each other out — hence the self-correcting scale.

Let’s review quickly how Democrats and Republicans win Florida.

Because I am a Democrat, let’s start there. Democrats earn their votes in a handful of counties, specifically: Leon, Gadsden, Alachua, Hillsborough, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Broward, and Dade.

Winning Democratic candidates typically do a few other things: win Pinellas, win St. Lucie, win a few North Florida counties like Jefferson, maintain reasonable margins counties like in Duval, Sarasota, Volusia, and Seminole. They also maintain a reasonable floor in North Florida, suburban/exurban counties around I-4 and the Fort Myers media market.

For Republicans, their math is a little different — they win a lot more counties but by relatively smaller counties. Their win comes from winning in places like Pinellas and St. Lucie as well as running up the score in places like Duval, the suburban and exurban counties around I-4, and in southwest Florida.

I’ve written extensively about this dynamic in presidential cycles. You can read my primer on Florida here, or my 2016 debrief here and here, but in short, I would argue there was a lot of misreading of the Obama wins in Florida.

Yes, they were driven by significantly increasing the margins in the Democratic base counties over John Kerry and growing them in 2012. But here’s the thing — that alone wouldn’t have won the state. In both 08 and 12, Obama generally kept the margins in check in the GOP counties — and he won the few battleground counties that exist in Florida.

Take Obama 12 and Hillary Clinton 16 — both races decided by a roughly 1 percent margin. For all the chatter about a “less than enthusiastic” Democratic base, Clinton won the base Democratic counties by more than Obama did.

Her problem wasn’t turnout. Her problem was Trump winning the few battleground counties and setting records in both share of the vote and actual vote margins in those places where they must run up the score to win, and where we need to keep it in check.

I can read your mind — “That’s interesting Steve, but this is a midterm cycle, and you know it is different.”

Yes, it is — and no it isn’t.

Yes, it’s different because the electorate is smaller, and at least in the last two cycles, been more Republican (a fact impacted by two consecutive midterm waves for the GOP), which was a change from 06, where turnout marginally leaned Democratic (and Dems won 2 statewide races).

But there are a lot of similarities between the presidential and midterm cycles. Both Republicans and Democrats still need to carry their margins in the same counties as they do in presidential cycles. While the vote totals are different in individual regions and counties are different, the functional roadmaps for winning isn’t.

Rick Scott won two elections by a point. However, the shape of those wins was quite different, and in those differences lies the path to how the Democrats can win in 2018.

In 2010, the Democratic struggles were a creature of three real problems: Hispanic drop-off from 2008, lower participation among white Democrats particularly in Central Florida, and a wave of GOP and GOP-leaning NPA voters who saw voting for the GOP as a way to send a message to President Obama.

From a math standpoint, this led to lower than necessary margins in South and Central Florida base counties. But here is the thing, Scott ran up some very large margins in parts of the state, Alex Sink kept him in check in many others. In fact, she kept him in check by more than enough in many GOP counties to have a winning coalition if the Democratic counties had performed well. But they didn’t.

The lesson of Sink: Florida isn’t alone a persuasion state.

Charlie Crist’s math in 2014 was quite different. Crist ran on a far more progressive platform than Sink, with a fairly robust turnout operation — certainly not the size of Obama, but the largest in midterm cycle history for Florida Democrats, and as a result succeeded to run up the score in the base Democratic counties, winning the three South Florida counties by almost 100,000 more votes than Sink. He also did well enough in the “Crist counties” — the stretch from Pasco through Sarasota, where his brand is most established, winning those counties by almost 2.5 percent, where Sink lost them by a half of a point.

But the floor fell out for him in North Florida. Despite North Florida shrinking as a percentage of the electorate from 2010 (20 percent) to 2014 (19 percent), Crist lost the region by 8 percent more than Sink did, netting Scott’s margin roughly 107,000 more votes, more than wiping out the gains Crist made in the base Democratic counties (97,000 votes).

One other way of looking at it, Crist won the base Democratic counties by 92,000 more votes than Sink did. He lost everything else by 95,000 more votes than Sink. The lesson of Crist, as was also the lesson of Clinton: Florida isn’t alone a turnout state.

If Clinton has her margins in the base counties, plus Obama’s elsewhere, she wins by a point or two.

If Sink had her math, plus Crist’s margins in the base counties, he wins by about a point. If Crist has his margins, plus Sink’s margins only in North Florida, he wins by almost a point.

2018 will be different yet.

The Democratic nominee will benefit from an electorate that is more diverse, meaning the base county margins should rise, and I think there is a lot of room for growth in the Orlando urban core. However, at the same time, they will be unlikely to be able to count on some the margins Crist won in his corner of the state and will have to contend with areas where the GOP population is growing.

The questions aren’t as simple as how do we turnout more voters, but also have to include questions like how do we keep Duval looking more like it did for Obama, Clinton, and Sink than it did for Scott in 14 or Rubio?

For Republicans, they must deal with the fact demographics are changing in a way that helps the Democrats, and that 2018, unlike 2010 and 2014, will almost surely not be a very good Republican year, as we’ve seen in each of the competitive special and off-cycle elections this year.

I believe that in Scott/Nelson, as well as in the Governor’s race, Florida starts this year somewhere around 47-47 — maybe even 48-48, and we will be fighting over the path to that remaining 150,000 votes or so that a winning candidate will need.

Some of those votes are found by increasing turnout, others won and lost in the persuasion fight. The candidate who wins in 2018 won’t find those votes by getting just one of those things right, they will succeed in building the right answer to a puzzle.

That is just how Florida works these days.

Blake Dowling: Latest in political campaign tech

Last week, I had an opportunity to visit Pebble Beach outside Carmel, California.

Pretty gal and some clown at Pebble Beach.

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.

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. He can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

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