Quick Election Takeaways

I will save the long narrative about Florida’s citizens and media for later today. Here are some quick thoughts about what transpired last night.

  • Given the national mood I would caution the critics of the Florida Democratic Party from shooting their mouths off today. I would argue the failure in past election cycles under different leadership who failed to take a long view handicapped this current leadership and staff. That having been said, an evaluation must be done and changes made. But I would strongly urge everyone to take a few days and calm down before shooting off wild emails and texts that “this one must go” or “that one must go.”
  • Charlie Crist lost the election by under-performing in Hillsborough, Miami-Dade and to a lesser extent Palm Beach. Hillsborough County is becoming more and more troubling for Democrats. I discovered this during the cycle working for George Sheldon. The growth of bedroom communities like Brandon and Riverview have negated the once strong progressive bent of Tampa. Ultimately, Crist did carry Hillsborough but not by nearly the margin Alex Sink did four years ago. In the process, he became after Sink only the second person to win Hillsborough and lose the Governorship.
  • Crist’s views on Cuban embargo and the decision of Miami-Dade Democrats to field a full slate of legislative candidates appears to have hurt the Democratic ticket in the county.
  • Crist won Palm Beach by 20 points but the margins in that county continue to be reduced every election cycle it seems. Moreover, the rest of the Democratic ticket did poorly there. George Sheldon barely carried the county and Will Rankin who of course did not have a campaign actually lost the county.
  • Broward County continues to be a stronghold for the Democrats but concerns are apparent. The county did vote D up-and-down the ballot and speaking from the Sheldon perspective it was the single place in the state where we had enough of a ground operation going that I could leave it alone (hence my last three week of the election move to Orlando). However, Broward has problems – turnout continues to underwhelm and the complete control the Democrats enjoy over the county has led to a class of political operatives and paid hacks making decisions based on their own financial considerations or that of clients. The emphasis on factional politics and Democratic primaries over activism and a common goal continue to haunt the county.
  • Speaking of Broward we should note that our efforts on this site to flip the city of Coral Springs back to blue were successful as three Democrats were elected in the three commission races last night. Most importantly, Skip Campbell, my former Senator whose campaigns I have always supported and whose Mayoral race saw my parents working day and night was elected Coral Springs Mayor.
  • The State House races were disappointing but it is worth noting that the margins that St Pete Polls and Saint Petersblog projected in most of the races were nowhere near accurate. Linda Stewart, Carl Zimmerman, Joe Saunders and Karen Castor Dentel did not lose by double-digits. Jose Javier Rodriguez actually won. Congrats to Peter Schorsch on calling the winners, since I firmly believed the Democrats would stay above 40. But it should be noted the margins in these polls were all way off, and each race was exceedingly competitive into the last hours. Still congratulations to Peter for getting the right final numbers in the House, unlike me.

  • Charlie Crist performed better than expected in Sarasota County. This is worth watching for the future.
  • Orange County has now voted for a Democrat at the top of the ticket in four consecutive elections, the longest streak in the counties post World War II history. That is significant. It was also significant that George Sheldon won Orange (a personal plug here). In recent years down ballot races have seen drop-off in the county, but this year the voting patterns were more consistent.
  • The Democrats may have picked up another State House seat or two in Pinellas if resources were available. Steve Sarnoff in particular ran a strong campaign against Chris Latvala and was very competitive. Sarnoff became one of my favorite candidates in the state this year and I hope he runs again soon for something.
  • At some point Democrats must address the deficiencies of the party in southwest Florida and along the Space Coast to be competitive in midterm elections. ¬†Furthermore, Volusia County appears lost to the party. Once the most reliable Democratic population cluster outside southeast Florida, Volusia is drifting further and further away from the Democrats in every cycle.
  • Congratulations to Gwen Graham and TFS’ Ryan Ray on the biggest Democratic victory of the night in the state.
  • Rep, Dwight Dudley’s victory shows what can happen if you pick a local issue and stick with it – Duke Energy was the issue in Pinellas and Dudley’s well crafted media campaign on the matter allowed him to buck the night’s GOP tide.
  • Finally, I want to thank readers for being indulgent with me. When I jumped on the Sheldon Campaign I knew my blogging capability would be limited. As time went on and I assumed more responsibility on the campaign, and became defacto Campaign Manager the last month (for internal reasons I care not to share here) I had no time to write about anything other than Coral Springs and responding to what I felt were flawed polls. But now with the election over, I will be blogging here far more regularly.


  1. The party threw Senator Nan Rich under the bus for CC. Had Senator Rich been treated with respect, included in the primary debates, and brought in as an adviser she would have been a factor in vote turn-out in south Florida. for some reason the party ignored her 200K supporters. Senator Rich’s supporters were told “get over it” w/o any recognition that bringing them in as partners would have been smart. Instead turnout in south Florida was tepid.Loyalty was a factor.


  2. Patti Lynn · · Reply

    I have to disagree with kimccook. Supporters of Nan Rich DID turn out to support Charlie…we DID vote for Charlie…we DID canvassing, phone banking, and everything else that we could. We are NOT to blame. The Broward County Democratic Party did more than I have ever seen to try and get out the vote. Not only did they cooperate with the campaign, but on their own, created events to rally the troops. They are not to blame either.
    If I were more politically astute, perhaps I would have an answer, but I don’t. Kartik’s advice is good advice. Cool off for awhile before trying to assess blame or deficiencies.


    1. I was speaking statewide. There were 200K votes for Senator Rich statewide in the August primary. Had CC reached out to Senator Rich and included her in his GOTV effort I believe it would have made a difference. As things went she was disregarded. There seemed to be complete disregard for long-time Democrats in this election. We were taken for granted.
      I do not understand why it is so hard to acknowledge. Democrats seem to disregard blocks of voters who could make the difference and then try to explain away why they disregarded them. Does not seem to be working for us.


      1. Patti Lynn · ·

        I know that Nan did speak out for CC and urged her supporters to support him…but, that may have only happened in Broward, I don’t know. I do know that Charlie was very dismissive and disrespectful to Nan prior to the primary. That may have left a bad taste in the mouths of many supporters. It was uncalled for.


  3. what happened to you at the Sheldon camp? Are you now shilling for Arceneaux and others? Can you please remind everyone he has been there and leading those past admins that sucked so badly? The way the party dealt with nan was a disgrace. Shame on the party leaders. And shame on you for commenting a few weeks ago on the stellar performance of the house democrat’s campaign committee. Bring back the old Kartik!


    1. Arceneaux is one issue…he’s been around since 2009 and the malaise while it predated him has not been arrested by him. I agree time is up for him. It was up long ago. But on other fronts I am not sure chopping and changing is needed. I saw a lot of new staff this cycle that were better than the people they replaced. Allison Tant did a good job of finding more enthusiastic, ideologically driven people to replace those who did such a poor job in the past. So I think a detailed and thoughtful analysis is needed not simply “fire everyone.”


      1. The State Party did it again! We can now be proud that the widely recognized Worst Governor in Florida History has beaten us in a reelection.

        In Miami Dade, the decision to run a full slate hurt the Democrats? You mean, like surrender so they don’t beat up on us and make us look like a dysfunctional bunch of Larry’s, Curly’s and Moe’s. That was an analysis by (really good) blogger, Elaine Del Valle in what she described as Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs.

        The truth is that in Dade, the State Party chose to support the wrong candidates. Look at the dollar cost per vote attained in all those races. The truth is that the Florida Dems and the local DEC threw the 7 Dwarfs under the bus in order to support two candidates in particular. Jose Rodriguez earned the respect and the right to get the support as an incumbent. And so did the other incumbents. But, we did not pick up not even one seat.


  4. Sorry Patti but I was a nan support (gulp) outside of precious Broward or Miami. I saw nothing. Maybe we should stop relying on lazy Broward and MIAMI in midterms, accept that turnout can only be increased by a small percentage and get votes elsewhere. Did you see the county breakdown of Florida? It looked like a crime scene covered in red.


    1. Patti Lynn · · Reply

      I like your points, Chelsea. Not being out in the field, I thought that there were strong efforts throughout the state. As I’m reading, I’m seeing that that wasn’t true. More input to digest to figure out who did what. This is, truly, a disaster for the State of Florida.


  5. democrats on the ground · · Reply

    Dude! Good stuff other than the shot at Broward.. Relative to 2012 Broward still performed for Crist better than any other large county except palm beach which you correctly note is trending away from huge dem margins.


  6. concerned voter · · Reply

    Crist choose to neglect Hillsborough and it showed. Hey Kartik Sheldon got SMASHED there in his home county! Any explanation???


  7. The only way Dems can win, due to the gerrymandering, is by increasing the base – and that means voter registration. We can’t do much about the apathy of Dems during midterms, but finding more voters will help. A lot of the races were fairly close – VR is the best way to increase turnout.


    1. Gerrymandering has no effect on state-wide races. In the last 14 years only one Democrat has been elected to the Florida Cabinet. Alex Sink in 2006 was the only one.


      1. We have now lost 17 of the last 18 races for cabinet the worst record of any state in east of the Mississippi.


      2. Bruce Borkosky · ·

        Sorry to misspeak. What I meant to say was that, due to gerrymandering, only a few races (FL house, FL senate, US house) are competitive. A small investment in VR in those areas could make a huge difference. Castor lost by 1335 votes – what would it have taken to get 1-2000 new voters?

        Regarding statewide races – I wonder what difference 100K new D voters would have made? Let’s say that each VR costs $5, so a total cost of $500K… Now, compare that to how many millions spent on advertising?


  8. Tampa Bay Demo · · Reply

    Well it is obvious that the state party has to change completely and that the leadership must go. They have failed miserably. Also Rouson MUST be reinstated as house leader. That’s where all these problems derive from. Pafford was a disaster.


  9. the old guy sitting on the green bench · · Reply

    Coulda … Woulda … Shoulda in the light of dawn is meaningless. I had to go to my Dentist this morning and got into a conversation regarding the election. I asked the lady, who I did not know, a question – Given the huge amounts of money spent over the past weeks and months what is a republican and what is a democrat? She could quickly define a republican and could not define a democrat. I would suggest we have an identity crises, people don’t know what we are about. Who are we needs to be set in the electorates mind..


  10. So you won in Coral Springs by waging a campaign of fear and demogogary . The pages of this particular blog were full of lies about the current springs commissioners.

    Congratulations Kartik! You proved slander works with dumb sheep voters.


  11. Also I love how the florida squeeze was quoted on every single mail piece of Skip Campbell’s.

    Coordination anyone?


  12. Dems in Action · · Reply

    Not only do we need to educate the electorate, including Democrats, as to who we are and what we believe, it is our opinion that we need to start listening to average citizens and care more about them than the candidate. Middle and low income citizens need to feel a part of the elections process. It doesn’t matter who the candidate is if you don’t have the confidence of the people, the people stay home. A lot of democrats told our workers that they couldn’t trust Crist because he didn’t seem to have any core values. What party will he be with next week?


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