Katy’s Election Take-Aways and First Impressions

Tuesday night stung on a few different levels.  I took a moment for the data to start coming out and marinated a little over various bits coming out.   As I’m sure we will all discuss over the next few months.

My main take-away lessons and observations:

– The fact that that while African Americans turned out better than 2010 but also also voted for Rick Scott more often  is worrisome.  With the fact that Progressive Choice spent months attacking Charlie Crist in predominantly black communities, it seems that this may have been an effective tactic for the Republican party. This sets a dangerous president for state-wide candidates in Florida and dangerously exposed an effective tactic to suppress turnout. While the rhetoric driven by the Nan Rich fans – and the continued use of “true democrat” – may have been valid, in the end everybody will suffer with the return of Scott and the super-majority in the house.  Progressive Choice was a no show since the primary (as I wrote about here), clearly showing it was created to just attack Crist from the left.  If Republicans can effectively pit progressives against mainstream Dems, we all loose and this is something that will have to be carefully avoided in the furture.

– Crist built a huge field team, the biggest of any state-wide candidate ever – but he did so in September. Because of the primary, many of his field offices did not go up until after the primary and this especially hurt in Tampa and Orlando. While South Florida was the focus, many thought that turn-out would be a problem there after the primary and turn-out in other areas could have been increased to compensate. Field takes time, which is something that both the FDP and the Crist campaign did not put in. Field should have been in place in large areas in June – most places simply started to late to be as effective as they should have been. While the “Nan Rich Factor” had a varying influence on the campaign, it seems like the attacks on creditability may have been too much for Crist to overcome.

– Democratic messaging focused on urban issues, which hurt Crist in rural areas more than it should have. His rhetoric left nothing for rural voters to connect too, which may explain his exceptionally poor numbers in the panhandle. Sink did much better in rural areas, especially in the panhandle, and messaged to rural voters in a more effective manner. Women, minimum wage, and social issues dominated the messaging and those did not resonate with rural communities.  It showed.  Democrats cannot rely on large urban areas alone – the numbers are simply not enough to win.

– The Democrats made headway in Southwest Florida and knocked some of the wind out of Scott’s home turf, which was surprising. Greg Para actually made a good showing, despite a small under-funded campaign and my guess would be that if Larry Aguilar had made in on the ballot and had found a little bit of support, he may have given Matt Caudwell at least a run around. While the area will not not turn purple for years, it may make sense to at least run candidates here (and get them on the ballot!) to keep a thermometer on the area.

– Issues and policy were lacking and the voters took notice. When issues dominated, candidates did better, like Dwight Dudley. Rick Scott’s message of jobs was clearly a hit with the voters, yet many state representative candidates lacked strong policy messages. This is a weakness that should be looked at in the future. Voters like policy and serious issues, but it needs to be as local as possible.

– Some groups are going to pay for this more than others. Unions and public education are my particular points that are going to really take a hit in the next two years. Watch for more sit-ins, stand-ins, and strikes over the next two years, as that will be the only way to draw attention to these issues.

– Lawsuits will dominate policy-making instead of lawmakers, which will be interesting.   Environmental groups, education groups, and watchdog groups are surely going to be busy.

– Democrats have to win a state-wide election and this has to be #1 priority. Anything. With the exception of Bill Nelson for Senate, Alex Sink is the lone example in a very long time. Even though Obama carried the state twice, no other Democrat can manage. This has to change.

– The failures of the party are many. I will follow up with a post on this, but the biggest area of failure was no voter registration drives over the summer. Obama won because he increased the democratic voting base and this simply did not happen. This was one of the biggest oversights.

– In case anyone else has noticed, 2016 has already begun and Republican candidates are already declared and fund raising and while the condolences are still flowing, Florida Democrats are already falling behind.   Candidate recruitment for 2016 needs to be much better than this cycle.


  1. Good analysis. I would just add one more thing: Charlie Crist is unelectable for any office because of his past. I wrote a book about his past and not only is it unsavory, his party-changing rang well with only Blacks and there are not enough of them.


  2. Dems in Action · ·

    What I read here is that you don’t want primaries. You want FDP to pick our candidate for us to follow blindly to the polls. You’re blaming Nan Rich, just as I expected, for bringing up issues that Crist couldn’t get around. I was a Nan fan but I worked just as hard for Crist. The real problem with this election IS that FDP picked the candidate and there was a lack of communication and coordination until the last 2 weeks. That’s when we got any handouts, so we made our own door hangers to hand out. I anxiously await a report from FDP as to how they are going to fix these problems.


  3. Susan McGrath · ·

    Generally, I agree with most points. However, the biggest area of failure for the party is not in voter registration. To my knowledge, there’s not even been a study to see how the registration translates into votes. The greatest failure is the party’s inability to fundraise. Candidates who can’t get their message to voters are doomed.


  4. Tampabayvoter · ·

    Allison Tant put Allison Morano in charge of registration. Epic failure

    Allison Morano should never be placed in charge of anything in the party. I’ve worked with her, she in incapable of managing or free thinking. She is a task person.


  5. Better Candidates!!!!


  6. Jay Michael Burton · ·

    I warned on this site before the election
    that just running a urban campaign as I feel Crist did would not allow him to get elected, Scott attended house gatherings many times in our area and
    urged everyone to get the vote out and
    all of the other aspects call friends etc
    I remember a story President Clinton told here in Daytona Beach that his people said he didn’t need to visit the smaller areas of 1-4 in his reelection as he did in his first election , he calmly said if it wasn’t for those people I wouldn’t be President now, The state has many folks that are still shall we say folksy, the urban concept doesn’t work for them, all politics aka elections are local, not sure if my party will ever get that concept.


  7. The FDP didn’t choose Crist, they were stuck with him. The power brokers and the White House chose him. From what I hear, a deal was struck with Crist after the 2010 election.


    1. Pinellas Democrat · ·

      Susan you are WRONG! The FDP used Crist to make money. If they thought you could raise money and they could leach off of you, they would have supported you for Governor. It was and still is not Democratic values, it is the dollars those ___ make!

      I am amazed at your complete blind faith in the Chairwoman. What is it going to take for you to open your eyes? I get it, we all want to support women in leadership roles BUT we can not blindly support her just because she is a woman. She needs to go…..


  8. New Deal Needed · ·

    Here is an idea: there is nothing functional about the Florida Democratic Party. Nothing. Let’s ignore it, find some candidates & help them by building their infrastructure and raising their money. And then win. Like the few successful candidates did for themselves working directly with the key funders & outside interests. After all, there are only two: trial lawyers & labor unions. After the FDP’s squandering of their millions this election and putting them on the chopping block for the next 4 years, I would think they would be all in to help. I have heard alot of grumblings all over those circles about Tant, Ulvert & Arceneaux. Hard to have a Democratic Party without Labor & Lawyers at the Party. I think they got burned pretty bad this time. And I bet they both will have to spend whole legislative session begging what’s left of House D’s to vote with them on their big issues. Because the House D’s think that the same Big Business interests that just took out their colleagues are their “real” friends.


  9. I agree with New Deal Needed. You need some real leaders in the party. The only one that can run statewide in South Florida is Gelber. You have Democrats trying to get rid of the ethics commission, increasing insurance and sponsoring FRACKING legislation. We just need to get rid of all of them on a state level and start fresh. This people suck!


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