House Democrats and campaigns

FlaDemsWe wrote on Tuesday about the massive strides being made by House Democrats in the legislative arena, but did not focus closely on the campaign side. Today, House Democrats sit on 39 seats, the same number the party entered the 2012 election cycle with. But the 2010 cycle which reduced Democrats to 39 seats was fought on a much more partisanly drawn map than the 2014 election was fought on. While the plan for 2012-2020 House elections is not perfect, it did draw well over 50 districts that lean Democratic yet the party returned to the Tallahassee with under 40 seats.

In 2010, Alex Sink carried just 44 House districts on the map that was in place at the time, despite nearly winning the election. However, on a much more favorable map in 2014 Charlie Crist who got roughly the same percentage of the vote as Sink statewide won 55 House districts. Based on this metric House Democrats performed WORSE in 2014 than in 2010.

Much of the blame for the failures in 2014 can I believe be placed squarely at the feet of the tumult that consumed the Democratic Caucus for much of the period between February 2013 and May 2014. Caucus infighting made it difficult for the party to ever truly unite. Still fundraising was better in 2014 than it had been in previous cycles and the party was able to win two critical House elections (Rep. Dudley and Rep. Rodriguez) that keep important marginal-seat beachheads for Democrats in critical counties.

The campaign operation for 2016 and beyond should be better than anything that came before. The House Caucus which for years made excuses about poor performances have this go-round undertaken a major data driven assessment of what went wrong –  something badly needed in the past that was simply not done. Additionally, the House Caucus staff both in the Capitol and at House Victory is more proactive and competent than ever.

Outside forces often determine what happens down-ballot particularly in legislative races. 2014, was a baptism by fire for many, a contracted cycle because of all the tumult which was in retrospect always going to end badly. Whether of not House Democrats perform up to expectation in 2016 remains to be determined. But I feel it is fair to say at this early juncture that they will be far better prepared for 2016 than they were for 2010, 2012 or 2014 (2008 stands out as the last cycle when the House Democrats targeting and action plan made perfect sense).

The impressive freshman class led by Rep. Evan Jenne along with the likely leader-designee Rep. Janet Cruz, the impressive Rep. Katie Edwards and the equally impressive Rep. Amanda Murphy have a strong idea on what must be done for 2016. Leader Pafford has made the right political staff appointments to drive the train forward in the future.

Things are looking up for the House Democrats. Both politically and legislatively 2015 and 2016 appear to be different than recent years.




  1. Nice one!


  2. Concerned Democrat · ·

    Hey Kartik,

    I read the whole article waiting to hear ANY specific reason why the House Dems would be better and you said nothing!

    You said data is better, but who is working and running data and what are their qualifications to do so and MOST importantly…what us their track record???

    Cause what I have found universally about braggy Democratic “consultants” is when you get to the nitty gritty and ask what their won-loss record is .. it’s astonishing that some lost every single race in the last cycle and those are the ones that the party keeps on the payroll

    Same and most especially goes true…and you’ve said it several times now…they raised more money this cycle than last…us readers would like to see exact dollar figures cause the Reps outspent Dems by huge margins…..and the bottom line is we lost 6 seats!!!

    So your statements are a bunch of hooey with no specific information to back it up.

    Well when you make these broad brush statements about specific internal workings of the party you need to give names of specific persons who are doing specific jobs and compare them to their Republican counterparts on the other side

    And your equally broad based statement us also a home cause if you dug down to specific races like the incumbent Democrat Carl Zimmermann loss to a young nobody Republican we can clearly see a microcosm of the typical slaughter that takes place between the R’s and D’s in a 2 to 1 hard and soft money advantage in mail, TV, phones and targeting and paying people on the ground to knock on doors and drive voters to the polls and overall drive the message home.

    We won in 08 and 12 simply because we had a huge money advantage over the Republicans that was spent on every aspect of the campaign and we lost in 10 and now again in 14 for the exact same reason that the Republicans outspent us….big…and the result us crystal clear


    1. Fair points. As I said 2014 was actually worse than 2010 if you look at the districts we were running in and the types of seats Dems lost. Charlie Crist carried 4 of the 6 seats Dems lost. Every seat that flipped in 2010 was carried by Rick Scott.

      I am not going to get into specific names, but the party has a crop of savvy young kids that haven’t been that closely associated with past failures who are taking a very aggressive approach – unlike past post-election periods they are not in denial about the defeats but are actually at what went wrong and why. The RFP process will be opened up and no consultant will have a lock on business I am assured.

      Don’t let the spin from the top take away from the good work being attempted by staff at the House and Senate Victory level.


      1. Concerned Democrat · ·

        Kartik, I know you mean well and I know your trying but this isn’t brain surgery!

        You have failed reporting and commentating 101.

        Unlesss I have the names of those “twentysomethings” at the FDP with little or no experience that you are bragging about and I see the basic bottom line of fundraising between last year and the year before that you “claim” that the Democrats’ did better and then tell me what the Republicans did during the same period, then, with all due respect, this article is all BS!!!


  3. […] we discussed over the weekend, when you consider that House Democrats ran in 2014 on a much more favorable map than 2010, the […]


  4. […] to take advantage of decent performances at the top of the ticket in legislative races. We’ve written about this extensively in the past but given some new data it bears […]


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