Let’s begin by taking a look at a few of the successes within the Florida election. Granted, there weren’t many.
First, progressives recruited candidates to run in each race throughout Florida this 12 months. Democratic management normally leaves Republicans to run unopposed in lots of districts they don’t assume are winnable—which is one thing the GOP by no means does. Running candidates in all races provides your supporters somebody to vote for, which helps statewide margins, and builds a basis for future success. Several of those candidates carried out on par with, and even outperformed, the few candidates the occasion did give attention to, regardless of not getting any assist or endorsements from the Democratic institution.
Democrats did handle to flip a number of key swing districts, akin to Pinellas County (close to Tampa), Duval (Jacksonville), and Seminole (north of Orlando). President-elect Joe Biden is the primary Democratic presidential candidate to win Seminole County since 1948. Democrats additionally considerably chipped away on the GOP lead within the Panhandle’s Okaloosa County.
The outdated paradigm was for Democrats to drive up numbers in Miami-Dade, cede the crimson districts, after which attempt to win over the swing voters and immigrant communities on the I-4 hall. This 12 months, for the primary time, we ceded nothing. The I-4 hall has moved from swing to blue, and, actually, will possible surpass Miami-Dade because the state’s Democratic bastion.
Hillsborough County, which comprises the Tampa Bay space, turned totally blue—after 20 years of Republican rule. After Donald Trump’s Sunshine State victory in 2016, Democrats got here out in droves to construct a sustainable year-round operation. Events had been held, fundraising was fixed, and so they had a full-time workplace.
I can solely think about what would have occurred if Michael Bloomberg aimed his $100 million battle chest in the direction of funding floor operations and supporting native candidates, as a substitute of pissing it away on forgettable random TV and radio promoting. Heck, I can solely think about what might need occurred if the Florida Democratic institution had bothered to spend money on the infrastructure left behind by Barack Obama. We won’t ever know.
Nonetheless, activists and candidates did work exhausting to register new voters all through Florida, and their efforts did repay. If they hadn’t carried out that necessary work, Democrats would have confronted a wholesale slaughter on Election Day.
Although I do consider Biden’s group might have carried out much more to win Florida, it’s necessary to needless to say Biden additionally didn’t want Florida. However, the Trump marketing campaign completely couldn’t afford to lose the Sunshine State, and after Bloomberg’s huge funding, spent a variety of sources right here that had been deliberate to go in the direction of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. President-elect Biden put most of his effort into the Rust Belt technique, which paid off for him. He didn’t make investments the cash and energy within the South as a result of for him, Georgia and Florida had been bonuses, not necessities.
Now let’s take a look at the failures, of which there have been a lot. To be blunt, Florida was a catastrophe for the Democrats.
What occurred right here stung notably exhausting as a result of we began Nov. third with what seemed like a number of congressional pickup alternatives. We had been additionally imagined to win 2-3 seats within the state senate, which might have at the least tied the state legislature. Instead, two incumbent Miami congresswomen—Reps. Donna Shalala and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell—misplaced their seats to Republican challengers, whereas the Democratic beneficial properties made within the state legislature in 2018 had been fully erased.
Republicans began with a giant lead on their floor sport. In addition to holding all of the positions of energy in Florida, they organized early and had no qualms about canvassing in a pandemic. They registered and introduced out each deplorable they may discover. The Biden marketing campaign, in the meantime, deserted direct contact with voters on account of COVID-19, and as a substitute relied extra closely on textual content messages and Zoom occasions. This proved to not be as environment friendly at reaching Florida voters.
As at all times, there are additionally the plain culprits that happen in each Florida election: soiled tips and voter suppression. Gov. Ron DeSantis enforced an illegal ballot tax for previously incarcerated folks, and Florida was among the many hardest hit by Trump’s USPS sabotage. The Florida GOP additionally ran shill third-party candidates for the only real function of pulling votes away from the Democrats in key races.
Yet as shameful and inexcusable as these shady practices are, they don’t absolve the errors made by Florida Democrats. As I discussed earlier than, the voters could select crimson candidates, however they’re NOT regressive Republicans. In reality, they’re very eager on Democratic concepts. This cycle’s $15 minimal wage query handed with greater than 60% of the vote.
Unfortunately, the Florida Democratic institution refused to endorse it. Consultants advised Democratic challengers to not run on it. In reality, they had been advised to run from it.
How’d that work out?
If you’re a Democrat, and consider in Democratic values—like healthcare and a dwelling wage—then you definitely rattling properly higher run on these values. Our platform isn’t simply good coverage, it’s common with folks. Candidates who don’t consider in these values ought to run as Republican.
I recall former gubernatorial and congressional candidate Alex Sink, handpicked by the institution in 2010 and 2014, criticizing the Affordable Care Act. If you recall from these years’ elections, many candidates had been wrongly advised to run from President Obama. Sink took it a step additional and truly mentioned “the president failed us” regarding the ACA. She subsequently misplaced each races.
In distinction, Rep. Stephanie Murphy ran loudly and proudly on a platform of gun management in 2016. She’s since received three elections in a row.
Then there’s our occasion management. Bob Lynch, a candidate for state consultant who the state occasion needed to go away unchallenged, put it this manner:
“The thing that stood out most to me was the deference and in some cases outright fear that the Florida Democratic Party—both the organization as well as incumbent state Senators and Representatives—have towards the Republican Party. It became incredibly clear that incumbents were more interested in currying favor, or not angering Republicans, than with supporting Democratic candidates.”
I witnessed this primary hand. An article I wrote in October, entitled “Are Florida Democrats sabotaging this critical state senate race?”, featured state senate candidate Kathy Lewis, who advised me two main Democratic donors withdrew cash that they had pledged—as a result of they had been advised not to donate to her marketing campaign. Someone they did again, Javier Fernandez, didn’t carry out in addition to Kathy Lewis.
That identical article featured Rachel Brown, one other state senate candidate who advised me the state Senate Minority Leader, Gary Farmer, pressured her to drop out—to clear the sector for a Republican he’d backed. Despite her district being ruby crimson, Brown bought 40% of the vote. State home candidate Bob Lynch claims Democratic incumbents would not endorse him until his Republican opponents authorised, out of concern of “retaliation.” How are they imagined to win with that mentality from our management?
I can’t consider there are any Democrats who would assume the Florida GOP would one way or the other go straightforward on us if our leaders confirmed fealty. One have to look no additional than the smear marketing campaign they ran in South Florida. Republicans painted Biden and the entire Democrats as socialists, which is especially potent within the Nicaraguan, Venezuelan and Cuban communities discovered on this area. Our occasion then didn’t successfully counter this message.
This was notably irritating, as a result of the GOP isn’t any good friend of immigrants. Donald Trump has steadfastly refused to grant safety for the Nicaraguan and Venezuelan communities, and has carried out nothing to handle their considerations on well being care and financial alternative. Democratic candidates—who ignored the mandate to not do direct campaigning—burdened the advantages of increasing Medicaid, and identified that Biden will signal an order defending these communities from deportation as one in every of his first acts as president. But the trouble was too small, and the Republican operation too massive.
There was an effort to counter this narrative, evaluating Trump’s dictatorial tendencies with these of Fidel Castro and Nicolás Maduro, however it was too little, too late. The Biden camp ceded the bottom sport to Trump, who had groups go door to door, spreading baseless propaganda whilst they (in all probability) unfold COVID-19.
Democratic candidates campaigned and begged for discipline organizers from the state occasion, but had been ignored. The Biden outreach director in South Florida even despatched a number of emails to his bosses days earlier than the election, together with one with the headline “WE ARE ON TRACK TO LOSE FLORIDA.” He was ignored as properly. In the meantime, the very important immigrant communities had been overwhelmed with a tsunami of misinformation, which continues even now, properly after the election. While Facebook and Twitter have been cracking down on lies written in English, misinformation on their Spanish-language websites are being ignored.
Although Biden received these immigrant communities, Trump considerably minimize into the margins. Biden solely received Miami-Dade by 7%; Hillary Clinton received by 30% in 2016. The GOP is already planning a year-round funding in these areas for 2022. Democrats can now not afford to take these communities as a right and solely present up for election time—which, due to COVID-19, we barely did this 12 months.
Contrast this with what occurred 1000’s of miles away. A coordinated outreach technique spanning a number of months received the Latino communities in Maricopa and Yuma counties in Arizona; they turned out for Biden by 63%. This, together with a powerful displaying by the Navajo Nation, helped flip Arizona blue for the primary time in 24 years.
Florida Democrats ought to look into having outreach coordinators for every group, and finish the ridiculous overarching “Latinx” label that treats all of them as one big bloc. Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Venezuelans, and Nicaraguans aren’t all the identical: They don’t have a shared identification, a shared historical past, or a shared expertise, and every group is targeted on completely different points.
Example: There is a false assumption that immigration is the highest Latinx subject, however this isn’t a priority for Puerto Ricans in Orlando, who’re U.S. residents, or Cubans in Miami, whose immigration standing is completely different from folks from Venezuela or Nicaragua.
Right now, Florida Democrats are in a vicious cycle. We lose the election, the Democratic management takes the flawed classes, after which we lose once more. The identical folks, the identical overpaid consultants, and the identical dismal technique. Let’s get away of that.
The excellent news is that the Florida GOP is being apparent about their 2022 playbook, which depends on the identical technique utilized this cycle. Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Marco Rubio are going to smear their Democratic opponents as socialists, attempt to intestine our margins within the immigrant communities, and run up their numbers within the rural districts, however we will counter this!
Every race must be contested, at each degree. If nobody in your space steps up, do it your self. Don’t anticipate a lot assist from occasion management, however be completely happy in the event that they don’t sabotage. Democrats have to assist one another in our races.
Start partaking with voters now. Don’t ever be afraid to speak with voters in crimson districts. I did it right here in Seminole County when it was darkish crimson. It was more durable for folks to label me a socialist after I defined I used to be making an attempt to guard Social Security and Medicare. It didn’t flip blue in a single day, however all that tough work did make a distinction.
Democrats have to name out the racist and fascist tendencies of the GOP once they attempt to smear all Democrats as socialists. The GOP is legitimately making an attempt to stage a coup to throw out a whole bunch of 1000’s of authorized votes. Dems can’t do “high-road, issues-based” coverage campaigns when democracy is underneath assault and our candidates are being subjected to fear-mongering conspiracy theories.
We must be registering voters all 12 months lengthy, not simply within the months earlier than an election. The state occasion ought to again these on the native degree who’re reaching out to the brand new voters. Stacey Abrams ran an unprecedented grassroots voter registration drive after which mobilized the possible voters. Florida can be taught a lot from her.
I hope our Democratic candidates and leaders have discovered that they can not take the immigrant communities as a right. They must be at each occasion and pageant reaching out to them—similar to the Republicans do. Every vote should be earned.
Stop treating Hispanic teams like a monolith. No extra blanket “Hispanic outreach.” Each Hispanic and Caribbean group is exclusive and we have to micro-target their considerations, not lump all of them collectively.
Treat elections just like the Republicans do: as multi-year investments, not part-time gigs that pop up earlier than a giant vote. This is an extended slog. Join your native occasion now and get to work.
Develop constitutional amendments (that are citizen initiatives in Florida) to bypass the state legislature to get progressive insurance policies handed.
Proudly run on these common progressive initiatives for a change.
Fire each guide we’ve been utilizing. Get new management that isn’t afraid to face as much as the Republicans.
The flawed lesson to take from this election? To run on a GOP-lite platform, out of concern of being attacked by the right-wing. Nothing goes to cease that. We simply have to do a greater job of preventing again and preventing for votes.
Florida isn’t crimson, and we aren’t hopeless, but. Just silly generally.
Don’t hand over on us.