Sorry elites. Florida proved again it is Trump Country.

Di Michael Vadon – Opera propria, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51236080

Florida’s 2018 Election confirmed one thing – a closely polarized state it remains, but that Donald Trump can rally the GOP base and carry Republicans through close elections better than any member of his party in this era.  Trump, a part-time resident of the state is more popular and connected in this state than any other “purple” one and it showed as the Democratic mini wave of November 6 stopped at the Florida border.  

The conventional national wisdom was that a Trump-inflicted Democratic wave would wipe out the President. Instead he rallied his base and Republicans nationally performed better than Democrats did in EITHER Obama midterm election. In fact, as a progressive I am frustrated looking at the electoral map – while Democrats picked up the majority of low hanging fruit, in a supposed wave election, far too many endangered Republican incumbents, ( and marginal open seats) hung on. Thank you Trump, should be the mantra of the Republicans left standing today. 

Here in Florida, where Trump’s most recent political mentor Rick Scott won a US Senate seat and Ron DeSantis running closely to Trump, bucked the polls, conventional wisdom and the snickering of elites to claim the Governorship. Trump aligned candidates for Congress and legislature won up and down the peninsula.

It was always a foolish strategy to believe a President, who won Florida by more raw votes than Scott ever had and his supporters carried DeSantis, a previous unknown statewide to a resounding primary victory and marginally comfortable (by Florida standards) General Election win, was a liability for Florida Republicans. On the contrary, he’s the best thing they have going for them. He fires up the GOP base like no Republican in this state since Jeb and George W. Bush – more critical now than in the Bush era since the Democrats have found a formula to at least run close in statewide races, something that wasn’t the case in the early 2000’s. 

What about the President’s low approval training? First off, the national media and many Democrats proved again this cycle they have little idea how to read and interpret polling results. The intensity of Trump’s support among hard-core backers never wavered. Those supporters were always likely to cast ballots for Republicans WHO STUCK WITH TRUMP, rather than for Democrats or Republicans like Carlos Curbelo who made distancing himself from Trump while remaining a Republican into a mini art form. The voters opposing Trump tepidly were never as likely to turn out or find inspiration from a Democratic Party that stands for something different policy wise every day. 

David Jolly might be the new favorite of the DC chattering classes and politically-tinged talk shows but he’s a political dead man at this point for opposing Trump with the venom he has – Congressman Jolly has no path back to elected office except in the circa 2018 Democratic Party which has made hatred of Trump and opposition to anything associated with Russia, it’s core policies (The obsession with Russia has led some Democrats and to begin meddling on behalf of anti-Putin neo-facists in Eastern Europe, but we will save that discussion for another time far into the future). 

This is Trump country. Governor Rick Scott  reportedly engineered Trump’s invitation to the 2011 Correspondents Dinner from WaPo (I’ll admit this is a bit of urban legend but one that has persisted so maybe it is actually true?) and his closeness to our Attorney General Pam Bondi seems to be the newest national media obsession (funny however is that outside The New York Times no national outlet cared about Bondi’s ties to Trump during her 2014 reelection )*. but Trump’s ties Florida have an impact. Not only do his adherents control primaries as Adam Putnam found out the hard way, he can motivate just enough voters to win general elections. It’s not a coincidence the majority of close competitive races around the state and the Congressional and State House level were won by the Republicans on November 6, or in subsequent recounts. That’s Trump, plain and simple. 

CNN and MSNBC  and various print news outlets spent the entire cycle trying to find evidence that Trump was hurting Republicans.  They created focus groups that from outside observer appeared imbalanced. They asked leading questions in polls that were sure to make Trump-backed candidates defeats look inevitable. They pulled every subtle trick in the book.

Yet the evidence, at least here in Florida was on the contrary. Trump-backed candidates won the Governorship and US Senate seats. The President’s appearances in Estero and Pensacola stimulated large Election Day turnouts in those critical counties for the GOP, stifling what had been previously Democratic over-performance there in early voting and VBM.

The Trump trade policies which actually resemble the traditional views of many Democrats also appear to be a motivating factor (need more data on this but it’s likely IMO) for why so many Trump adherents reside in our state. A feeling elites have shipped jobs overseas and collected the profits for themselves permeates any trade discussion. It does not matter that Trump is a billionaire whose family keeps company with those same elites, he’s fighting the fight for the little Florida farmer who feels crushed by “unfair” trade deals negotiated by the last four Presidents.  

Trump’s allies like Newsmax publisher Christopher Ruddy and Roger Stone have a great deal of influence on local politics in the southern tier of the state as well a credibility to impact certain statewide races *(2). The Trump network may be something elites and progressives like myself sneer at it but it’s a winning hand in Florida. Donald Trump’s 2016 Presidential Election victory margin in Florida was the largest at the top-of-the-ticket since 2016, and Ron DeSantis’ Gubernortial win owes itself to Trump popularity. Never mind DeSantis’ post-election dash to the middle to placate critics, he WON AS A TRUMP REPUBLICAN, even if he governs as a Curbelo-Jolly moderate. In fact, if he distances himself too far from Trump it might be good for the state but bad for his own reelection prospects. This is something he will have to weigh carefully in office. 

We need to wait for all the data to come in from this election and TFS we will be crunching the numbers. But the early returns indicate instead of a wave, it was a simple electoral correction which almost always happens in midterms. Why was a potential wave, just a correction? Trump is the simple answer, the more complicated answer is probably some sort of Democratic incompetence that fuels Trump’s deceptively effective influence.

Most thinking Americans rightly dislike our President, but we don’t have a poll tax these days or limit voting to large landowners. Winning over the masses is critical and the Democrats have shown once again they really don’t understand how to do that. Onward to 2020 and another new hope for the future, and maybe a better day for the Democrats here in Florida and around the country. 

*Kartik Krishniayer served as Democratic nominee George Sheldon’s Deputy Campaign Manager in 2014 against Attorney General Bondi. 

*2 Roger Stone’s strong opposition to Ron DeSantis in the GOP Primary was well known. But Stone was unable to stem the tide and DeSantis was nominated. However, Stone retains influence with other Republicans in the state. Whether he mends fences with DeSantis remains to be seen. My guess is DeSantis smartly wants no part of Stone.

16 comments

  1. I would like to see emphasis placed on identifying and cultivating the newly enfranchised voters as a result of Amendment 4. That is potential game changer. Roughly 8 million FL citizens voted this month but 1.5 million also gained the right to vote. That could change the Florida electorate. We need a deep dive into how that changes the electorate. By all accounts this reform of the criminal justice system could have an impact on future elections. One account I read susggested that 50% of these newly enfranchised voters were Democrats and just 15% were Republicans. Many of the NPAs were likely minorities. Too bad this amendment wasn’t passed in 2014 because 2016 and 2018 may be different for Florida and the USA.

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    1. Agreed.

      Democratic aligned groups need to start NOW to organize for January to rally these newly enfranchised voters to the causes they care about.

      It’s a potential game-changer for those of us on the left, but potential is the key word right now. Must be played right and without the arrogance and entitlement the elites and consultants connected with the party and aligned groups have demonstrated the last several election cycles.

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      1. I don’t know how different the electorate will be in 2020 compared to 2018, but let’s say it’s similar. If only 10% of the newly enfranchised voters cast a ballot, that’s 150,000 new voters. If 75% cast a ballot for a Democrat that’s 112K votes for the left and only 37.5K votes for the right. That’s a difference of roughly 75K votes which changes the outcome. I would think that we can get 10% to register rather easily. My hunch is 10% will register to vote on their own. If we could get 25% to register through voter registration drives and voter education campaigns we could flip the state in a couple election cycles. I would like to see blogs from you about what you’re hearing from Democratic operatives about this. By all means, we need to cut the margins in SWFL and other areas but we have a treasure trove sitting right in front of us in the form of about 1.2 million new Democratic voters.

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  2. Mike Coleman · · Reply

    Since Kartikworked for George Sheldon a very fine man and candidate who is missed by many.
    I thought a review of the Cabinet elections in 2014 was in order.

    Here’s some things to review from 2014(and yes a loss is a loss) but the margins do reveal movement and change.
    In 2014 Democratic Cabinet Candidates were facing incumbents and a lack of funding.
    George Sheldon lost by 765,207 votes.
    Our CFO Candidate lost by 1,016,170 votes.
    The Ag Commissioner Candidate lost by 986,214 votes.

    The 2014 combined losses averaged 922,530 votes.

    In 2018 Nikki Fried won a close race ending a long drought in the Cabinet.
    This is something to celebrate!

    Our Atty General Candidate Sean Shaw, was on the short end of funding and lost by 487,620 votes which is a far better showing than 2014.
    Jeremy Ring lost his CFO race by 279,681.
    These losses average 383,651 and many differing speculative reasons can be put forth about their losses.
    I can attest that they were everywhere in Florida working hard to find the votes to win and I admire their resolve.

    My point is that the 2018 election saw a much better outcome than any other midterm election held in Florida. (Feel free to point out a loss is a loss)

    It is true we do not have complete data and many things are left to be analyzed but 2018 saw many gains in the FL House, one more State Senator, two more Dems in Congress and a better future for the Democratic Party going into 2020 than many analysts portray.

    It is a fact that Republicans went into election day with 150,000 more voters who voted on election day in 2014 than Democrats had.

    I look forward to Kartik noting that a half empty glass is also half full and from my perspective that pitcher of water is pointing toward the glass that’s half full. ( Someone has to point out the weaknesses and failures and Kartik is really good at it)

    Metaphorically I see Democratic Volunteers being the hand holding that pitcher and it is up to every Democrat to give some time every week to do the work of Voter Maintenance (renewing expired VBM requests) and finding as many new Democrats to register as possible.

    Amendment 4 freed over a million Floridians from the bonds of disenfranchisement we have the opportunity to inform and convince as many of them as we possibly can to become active Democrats who will vote and volunteer as we progress toward the 2020 elections.

    I witnessed huge amounts of hard working Democrats and those who share Democratic philosophies from Democratic Organizations and other associations like the Indivisible’s, the Women’s March and many other like minded people.

    Personally I was witness to and privileged to have been a part of our effort in 2018.
    The total turnout of 8.14 Million voters was 99.1% of the 2008 Presidential election and it was over 89% of the 2016 election.
    These are huge numbers.

    Kartik is correct that Donald Trump gets people out to vote.
    We’ll have another chance in 2020 and we must begin to start work very soon.

    There will be a review of what we did well and what we didn’t.
    And after that it’s time to plan and work for a better outcome at the top of the ticket in 2020.

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    1. Fair point Mike, I have already pointed out in other posts the Dems ran much stronger statewide this time. But losing is losing. Take this for example – Jeb! Bush won two landslide elections. Rick Scott won two elections with a plurality of the vote – he’s never won a majority of Florida voters.

      Did they govern any differently?

      The bottom line is we cut margins but still lost except for one statewide office and two of seven potential Congressional pickups. Sure it’s progress but it’s still losing.

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    2. The Truth · · Reply

      Heavy spin Mike!

      Why don’t you ask Arcenauex and his buddies all collecting six figures on these campaigns especially Andrew’s why they burn out the dedicated unpaid volunteers every two years to loose yet attack others?

      Kartik is right. Loose by one vote or 500,000 a loss is a loss.

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  3. I’d like to just say, that You should break your arm in patting yourself on the back for sowing just enough seeds of doubt to fuck this election season here in Florida from what you deem “the elite” outcome… Fuck you, you assassin!

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    1. You’re right. I’ve come to intropsective conclusion that sowing seeds of doubt about Gillum may have contributed to the GOP win. It’s something now haunting me and will for the rest of my life, however long that is. I probably deserve to die or be exiled now in reality. Unlike many on the left in this state I believe in accountability for sins and failures, not more whining and send us more money and triple our consulting fees.

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  4. The record shows how much doubt you’ve sewn on the elections… heart and soul bullshit, when you could have been a cheerleader… I’ve given you the benefit of doubt, but no more, I’m convinced you’re a republican conservative, hidden asset, pretty fucking clever too… Thanks for fucking things up… and thanks to the numb nuts who follow your advice right into another bunch of years, YEARS! under crooked republican rule,… fuck you, fuck you all…

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    1. We are actually all Democrats with lots of history in the party and disappointment from constant loses. If that makes us Republican hacks to y’all, I guess some will always have their own views. As indicated in my earlier comment, I take my share of the blame. I hope you hold the Dem operatives making $$$ hand over fist to continue losing elections in this state while giving you false hope to the same standard you hold us to. Thanks mate!

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      1. Concerned Democrat · ·

        KK, Don’t listen to Miiiska’s BS! You were spot on perfect in your assessment of this election and I agreed with you 100 percent about Gillum being REALLY flawed from the start.

        But you can’t convince these ultra liberal progressives who can’t get their heads out of their asses on a good day how to actually WIN an election because their “purity” tests actually screw us every time.

        I’m a Yellow Dog Democrat and a Progressive too in my heart…but I’m also PRAGMATIC and I would rather win and be in office to effect change rather being on the outside looking in.

        The current Progressives don’t care about anything but themselves. They would rather loose and be ruled by a right wing tea party Republican nut than lift a finger to help any Democrat who God forbid is a centrist!

        Perfect example is the Hillsborough County Progressive Slate Card: Gillum yes, no Bill Nelson, no cabinet races, no Janet Cruz, no Susan Valdez or Diane Heart for House (who both win by the way) and they picked one Democrat over another for School Board and guess what..their Progressive candidate lost.

        Florida is a “center right” state which is evident by the election outcome. The Progressives finally had their “dream candidate” in Gillum and the only Democrat candidate left standing statewide was, by her own admission, a “centrist candidate” and a woman…which is why in the end (if she had run a better campaign and if the Progressives has been a little pragmatic) Gwen Graham (i agree with you) would be sitting as Governor of Florida today and not this Trumpster that the Progressives have handed us that we are stuck with for the next four years!

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    2. The Truth · · Reply

      Lol at KK an honest prog being an assassin but no shots at the lying thieves who profit off everyone looosing Dem campaign then spin by blaming Kartik or others?

      Fuck off Misha.

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      1. The Truth, my ass. We should have won by a mile even with the gerrymandering and ballot trashing, we didn’t need the doubts cast. Excuse me for my hyperbole, it was a bit much and I apologise for my language Kartik…
        As to them “lying thieves making money hand over fist” You should expand, and name names don’t You think?…

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      2. I’d point out my doubt about Gillum expressed were all linked to news stories from the Tallahassee Democrat, NY Times and Tampa Bay Times. It is fair I suppose to point out I avoided any mention of Patrick Murphy or Charlie Crist’s scandals in 2016 or 2014. I defended Murphy on these pages and in a Politico interview. Bottom like is I guess I loathe Rubio and Scott whereas DeSantis was just meh for me. But after the fact I am feeling bad about everything since we lost far worse here than in other states. As for 2016, I realize I may have gone over-the-top in defending Murphy and attacking Rubio but it was what it was. Rubio remains in my mind one of the greatest threats this nation faces and must be stopped at all costs. 2022 is around the corner and we must defeat him then.

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      3. I think Truth mention one he’s alleging by name in another comment. Check it out.

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  5. Anonymous · · Reply

    Everyone reacting to the headline.

    This is actually a REALLY good piece but the sensational headline people react to.

    Man kartik you ruin your own reasoned needed analysis with sensational clickbaity headlines. Articles by you are normally excellent but get another headline writer!

    Like

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