Let’s begin by a number of the successes within the Florida election. Granted, there weren’t many.
First, progressives recruited candidates to run in every race across Florida this 12 months. Democratic management often leaves Republicans to run unopposed in lots of districts they don’t suppose are winnable—which is one thing the GOP by no means does. Working candidates in all races offers your supporters somebody to vote for, which helps statewide margins, and builds a basis for future success. A number of 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, resembling 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 previous paradigm was for Democrats to drive up numbers in Miami-Dade, cede the purple 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, the truth is, will probably surpass Miami-Dade because the state’s Democratic bastion.
Hillsborough County, which accommodates the Tampa Bay space, turned absolutely blue—after twenty 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. Occasions have 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 struggle chest in 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’ll by no means know.
Nonetheless, activists and candidates did work arduous to register new voters all through Florida, and their efforts did repay. In the event that they hadn’t achieved that necessary work, Democrats would have confronted a wholesale slaughter on Election Day.
Though I do consider Biden’s crew might have achieved much more to win Florida, it’s necessary to remember that Biden additionally didn’t want Florida. Nonetheless, the Trump marketing campaign completely couldn’t afford to lose the Sunshine State, and after Bloomberg’s large funding, spent a lot of resources here that were planned to go towards 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 have been bonuses, not necessities.
Now let’s have 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 significantly arduous as a result of we began Nov. third with what regarded like a number of congressional pickup alternatives. We have been additionally imagined to win 2-3 seats within the state senate, which might have no less than tied the state legislature. As an alternative, two incumbent Miami congresswomen—Reps. Donna Shalala and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell—misplaced their seats to Republican challengers, whereas the Democratic positive aspects made within the state legislature in 2018 have been fully erased.
Republicans began with a giant lead on their floor recreation. Along with 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 because 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 apparent culprits that happen in each Florida election: soiled tips and voter suppression. Gov. Ron DeSantis enforced an unlawful poll tax for previously incarcerated individuals, 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 objective of pulling votes away from the Democrats in key races.
But 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 might select purple candidates, however they’re NOT regressive Republicans. In truth, they’re very eager on Democratic concepts. This cycle’s $15 minimal wage query handed with greater than 60% of the vote.
Sadly, the Florida Democratic institution refused to endorse it. Consultants informed Democratic challengers to not run on it. In truth, they have been informed to run from it.
How’d that work out?
If you’re a Democrat, and consider in Democratic values—like healthcare and a residing wage—then you definitely rattling effectively higher run on these values. Our platform isn’t simply good coverage, it’s common with individuals. 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 Reasonably priced Care Act. For those who recall from these years’ elections, many candidates have been wrongly informed 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 may be our occasion management. Bob Lynch, a candidate for state consultant who the state occasion needed to go away unchallenged, put it this way:
“The factor that stood out most to me was the deference and in some instances outright concern that the Florida Democratic Occasion—each the group in addition to incumbent state Senators and Representatives—have in direction of the Republican Occasion. It turned extremely clear that incumbents have been extra interested by 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 informed me two main Democratic donors withdrew cash that they had pledged—as a result of they have been informed not to donate to her marketing campaign. Somebody they did again, Javier Fernandez, didn’t carry out in addition to Kathy Lewis.
That very same article featured Rachel Brown, one other state senate candidate who informed me the state Senate Minority Chief, Gary Farmer, pressured her to drop out—to clear the sphere for a Republican he’d backed. Regardless of her district being ruby purple, Brown obtained 40% of the vote. State home candidate Bob Lynch claims Democratic incumbents would not endorse him until his Republican opponents accredited, 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 suppose the Florida GOP would by some means 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 significantly irritating, as a result of the GOP isn’t any buddy of immigrants. Donald Trump has steadfastly refused to grant safety for the Nicaraguan and Venezuelan communities, and has achieved nothing to handle their issues on well being care and financial alternative. Democratic candidates—who ignored the mandate to not do direct campaigning—harassed 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. However the effort was too small, and the Republican operation too massive.
There was an effort to counter this narrative, comparing Trump’s dictatorial tendencies with those of Fidel Castro and Nicolás Maduro, but it surely was too little, too late. The Biden camp ceded the bottom recreation to Trump, who had groups go door to door, spreading baseless propaganda whilst they (most likely) unfold COVID-19.
Democratic candidates campaigned and begged for subject organizers from the state occasion, but have 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 effectively. Within the meantime, the very important immigrant communities have been overwhelmed with a tsunami of misinformation, which continues even now, effectively after the election. Whereas Fb and Twitter have been cracking down on lies written in English, misinformation on their Spanish-language sites are being ignored.
Though 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 without any consideration and solely present up for election time—which, because of COVID-19, we barely did this 12 months.
Distinction this with what occurred hundreds 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 robust exhibiting 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 neighborhood, and finish the ridiculous overarching “Latinx” label that treats all of them as one large bloc. Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Venezuelans, and Nicaraguans will not be all the identical: They don’t have a shared identification, a shared historical past, or a shared expertise, and every neighborhood is concentrated on completely different points.
Instance: There’s a false assumption that immigration is the highest Latinx challenge, 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 individuals from Venezuela or Nicaragua.
Proper 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 individuals, 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 obvious 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 are able to counter this!
Each race must be contested, at each degree. If nobody in your space steps up, do it your self. Don’t count on a lot assist from occasion management, however be blissful in the event that they don’t sabotage. Democrats have to assist one another in our races.
Begin participating with voters now. Don’t ever be afraid to speak with voters in purple districts. I did it right here in Seminole County when it was darkish purple. It was more durable for individuals to label me a socialist after I defined I used to be making an attempt to guard Social Safety and Medicare. It didn’t flip blue in a single day, however all that onerous 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 lot of hundreds of authorized votes. Dems can’t do “high-road, issues-based” coverage campaigns when democracy is beneath 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 probably voters. Florida can be taught a lot from her.
I hope our Democratic candidates and leaders have realized that they can not take the immigrant communities without any consideration. They must be at each occasion and competition reaching out to them—similar to the Republicans do. Each vote should be earned.
Cease treating Hispanic teams like a monolith. No extra blanket “Hispanic outreach.” Every Hispanic and Caribbean neighborhood is exclusive and we have to micro-target their issues, not lump all of them collectively.
Deal with elections just like the Republicans do: as multi-year investments, not part-time gigs that pop up earlier than a giant vote. This can be a lengthy slog. Be a part of 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.
Hearth 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 purple, and we aren’t hopeless, but. Simply silly typically.
Don’t surrender on us.