Lessons from Georgia for Florida Democrats

If you had told me eight years ago Georgia would have two Democratic US Senators and become demonstrably more Democratic than Florida than Florida, I’d have laughed at you despite my long-term skepticism about Democrats in Florida.

Last week, Senator Raphael Warmock won what was effectively his FOURTH statewide election in just over two years meaning he’s personally won more statewide races than Florida Democrats have total, over the last decade. In the last few days, I have talked to multiple people with knowledge of Georgia’s rebuild who gave some insight in the basics of the Democratic turnaround there.

  • When Georgia Democrats reached rock-bottom after the 2012 cycle, where the GOP increased already huge legislative majorities and Mitt Romney beat President Obama by eight points, they rebuilt collectively.
  • Georgia Democrats saw a lot of younger activists empowered and the older guard, either moved on, became GOPers or actively worked to facilitate younger leadership.
  • Personality to build around – Stacey Abrams herself lost two statewide races, but created a vehicle to consolidate infrastructure of the party around her.
  • On the Abrams infrastructure point, organizations that historically operated in silos were able to work together and supplement each others efforts due to this organizational shift.
  • Georgia actually has fewer heavily-populated Democratic areas than Florida, but a lack of tribalism among Democrats in the state has allowed resources and efforts to be spent wherever they are needed. Quite frankly this surprised me because I always felt Georgia has some of the same regional tensions as Florida, but at least within Democratic decision-making circles, it does not.
  • Georgia does not have the dominant consultant-driven culture of Florida.
  • I am told the state capital being Atlanta, the population center of both the state and the Democratic base also helps. Unfortunately Democrats in Florida don’t have this luxury with the capital being hundreds of miles from the largest pockets of Democratic voters in the state. This distance also feeds the consultant culture and lack of media coverage of the state legislature.

I am sure there is much, much more but these are just the basics, the top lines if you will of what people are telling me with knowledge of Georgia.

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