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How to Get Your Club Listings on BlueBroward.org

I periodically get notes from club officers asking why their meetings are not included on the calendar. If that is the case, it is because no one from the club has taken responsibility for posting events and ensuring they are kept up to date. Or the contact person has changed and didn’t pass on or share that responsibility with anyone else.

The goal of this website is to share accurate information about where and when clubs meet, so people who want to connect with the Democratic cause can show up at the right place at the right time. I do not want to be publishing that a club typically meets on the first Tuesday at 7 pm at the local library when actually they have changed their meeting place and time.

If you want to use BlueBroward as a marketing tool for your club (which is kind of the point!), you will be much more likely to get people to attend if you post specific details about speakers or opportunities to engage with an issue or cause people care about.

Any BlueBroward.org member is welcome to post any (relevant) event to the calendar at any time. If you get the weekly Sunday “BlueBroward Calendar” newsletter, you should also have a password on the system. If you don’t remember it, try the password reset function or ask me for help.

The way I manage club event listings is with club templates, which define the boilerplate details of where and when a club meets. You can post other sorts of events not based on a template, but the templates help with regularly scheduled events and other events for which most of the details are usually the same.

You do not put specific meeting details, such as the names of speakers in the template, you put them in the individual event listings for a specific date that are based on the template. Think of it as the difference between the cookie cutter and the cookie. You can stamp out lots of cookies (event listings) based on the same cookie cutter (template) but decorate them all differently (with the names of speakers and other details).

Here is how that system works:

  • Minimum information required for a club template includes:
    • Name of the Club (title field for the post)
    • Body of the event listing, including the location and club contact info for those who have questions.
    • Regular schedule, such as first Tuesday at 7 pm (there is also a “Varies” option for organizations that do not have a consistent meeting schedule).
    • I can also help you assign one or more additional people who will have the authority to update the club template.
  • I can set up the club template for you initially, but after that I would like you to manage the template and your club’s own events. Write to me at david@bluebroward.org.
  • If no current club officer has access to the template, or if someone needs to be removed from the list, I can also help with that.
  • When you save the template, you are prompted to create events based on the template, scheduled out up to a year in advance. The dates are presented as a series of checkboxes. If you know the club will not be meeting on a specific date (maybe because of a holiday), you can uncheck that box or change the date.

    Checkboxes for adding events
  • If you update the template with new details such as meeting location or contact information, you can update all of the previously posted events with that new information.
  • You should receive periodic email updates from BlueBroward asking you to check that your event listings are current and update them when they are not (spam filters can interfere). You can also log into the website at any time to add speaker details.

See also: Adding One or Several Club Events. Plus: Adding Multiple Event Editors for Your Club

The dark passageway

We flew in here blind and I don’t know if there is a pilot to get us out of this mess.

If we were inaugurating a normal right-wing Republican administration, our response would be obvious. We would congratulate the new President, cooperate on issues of agreement, push back where we disagreed, and build for a respectful and successful opposition in 4 or 8 years. This is what we do when the pendulum swings, as it always has, and Americans of different political positions put country above self.

This time is different

Donald Trump is a skillful liar who has shown no regard for the Constitution or the Office of President except as a means of ego gratification and personal enrichment. He has proposed violating the Constitution by revoking citizenship for flag burners, using torture, violating treaties, and enabling politicians to sue newspapers for writing hit pieces. Trump favors eminent domain to seize private property for private use. Trump is using the Presidential transition to strengthen his personal business relationship with foreign governments.

How we got here

Donald Trump skillfully gained votes by openly manipulating and lying on immigration, trade, jobs, and other subjects. Media calling out the torrent of unbelievable lies gave Trump more publicity, and some believed the lies. Trump voters may have seen Trump as the least bad candidate, others may have believed the hollow promise without a plan, to make America “Great Again,” and others may have believed Trump’s constant lies about his opponents and fake news by Macedonian youngsters and elsewhere. This is the reality of the election we just lost but is not the end of the story.

We cannot blame Trump for being Trump, we cannot blame Russian spies for doing what they did to expose Hillary’s secrets, and we cannot blame voters who did the best they could. Those were the circumstances of the election along with decades of stagnating wages, the decline of American civics, and addiction to “reality” TV and dancing with “stars” like Donald Trump. We Democrats failed to deal with those and other early warning signs.

By late 2015, Democrats were aware of the decline in the rust belt, Russian hacking in the election, and Trump’s stoking racist anger over a Black in the White House. A few Democrats sensed arrogance in the “inevitability” of Hillary’s election, but this did not figure in the thinking of those who get paid to win elections.

By August 12, 2016, the specific counties where job loss was connected to support for Trump were spelled out in detail in a 3-page spread starting on the front page of the Wall Street Journal (online the day before). The same day the Washington Post rushed to press with a more nuanced view of the geography of Trumpism and job loss and other variables. Either way, Hillary’s “firewall” was leaking like a sieve and this was public knowledge.

In the summer the end may already have come for Democrats by missing all the early warning signs, but October 7 was the day we fell off the cliff. That day we were emboldened by the Washington Post’s release of the video of Donald Trump’s 2005 lewd conversation about women. Party insiders were overconfident.  Ten days later, Democratic strategist James Carville said the Trump campaign had “died” and “Democrats have a chance to win the whole enchilada,” as part of an effort to shift funds to House and Senate candidates.

The same day Hillary’s campaign manager Robby Mook said, “Donald Trump is becoming more unhinged by the day, and that is increasing prospects for Democrats further down the ballot.” States to which campaign funds were redirected were ones with important Senate races, Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Nevada, North Carolina, Iowa, and New Hampshire, five of which Democrats lost. Clinton appeared on October 3 before a crowd of 2,600 in Akron, Ohio, a state she lost by 8.1%, and she appeared on November 2 before a crowd of 10,000+ in Phoenix, Arizona, a state she lost by 3.5%.

We screwed up then and we have an even bigger problem now. To see how we can fix something when we knew or should have known it was broken in the first place, and we did not fix it then, makes me skeptical of easy solutions.

Going forward

Donald Trump may do some good. In an effort to create jobs, he could foster the repair of crumbling infrastructure. In an effort to reduce spending he could insist on higher participation by allies and reduce military empire building. When the new administration discovers that the job losses in the rust belt were due about 85% to automation and 15% to trade with China, they could modify their response. When they realize that more people have been leaving the U.S. for Mexico than the other way around, they may advocate for comprehensive immigration reform. When Trump voters realize in two years that there has been no effective progress in expanding jobs, the new administration may feel the pressure to steer a different course.

Normally when Trump or anyone does something good, common courtesy and trueness to our goals will be to applaud him when he does. But do not be manipulated by someone who grossly disrespects other human beings, does not respect or understand the Constitution, and is a chronic liar. There is a huge disconnect between what Donald Trump says one day and the next. Trump has shown repeatedly that he can change his mind on things. But this does not mean a change in position. When he softens a harsh posture such as on punishing women who have abortions, it should be no comfort. It may be a bargaining position or an attempt to distract us.

Do not listen only to Trump’s total self-contradictions. Listen to the practical inconsistencies. He did not like the War in Iraq (after he did like it) and he did not like results in Libya. So you think he would reduce the threat of war?

No. Trump would undermine NATO, allow more countries to have nuclear weapons, tear up the Iran deal making it more likely that Iran would reach nuclear strike capability, and acquiesce to Russian territorial expansion. None of these are stabilizing actions in a world on edge. Donald Trump, a New Yorker with experience living in the modern age said he had no problem with transgendered people using whichever bathroom in Trump Tower. But he selected Mike Pence for Vice President and Jeff Sessions for Attorney General, neither of whom is a friend of equal rights. So it is right to be skeptical if there is anything good that will come from a Trump Presidency.

The best good to come from a Trump Presidency

The best thing to come from a Trump administration is that he could get locked into a stalemate with the extreme right in Congress. Don’t count on it. There will be some showdowns, but the game of politics for most politicians is survival. Conservatives who think they can tame Trump are in for a bad surprise. Mr. Trump has been inclined to reward cowards and punish those who question his policy, in a surgically effective way, to amass political strength. As President he will have enormous power to use all the levers of the Executive with very little balance of powers.

The worst bad to come from a Trump Presidency

It took 52 days for the Democratically elected government of Germany to pass the Enabling Act of March 23, 1933, after the appointment as Chancellor of Adolph Hitler. The Enabling Act gave total and complete power of government to the Cabinet, in effect the Führer. We must be watchful of any efforts to reduce the power of Congress, including Trump’s desire for term limits. Anything to weaken Congress or the Supreme Court is bad. There is also the troubling area of emergency Presidential power which is not defined in the Constitution but may be necessary for national security, whether or not it is ratified after-the-fact by Congress or the Supreme Court. It is not inconceivable that, if there was another 9/11 attack, the presumptive President-Elect would suspend Civil Liberties.

American Apartheid?

It may be a mistake to focus on Donald Trump. We may have an even bigger and longer term challenge. Due to the Electoral College system and gerrymandering, there has been a deep division in the nation which has given more voting rights, more welfare, and less tax responsibility to Red states.

The U.S. Constitution gives 3 Electoral College votes to 240,809 registered Wyoming voters and 55 votes to 19,411,771 California voters. Constitutional apportionment for President is thus based on the whole number of Wyoming persons and about one fifth of the number of California persons. A California voter gets 23% of the vote of a Wyoming voter.

To make it worse, as pointed out by the New York Times’ Steven Johnson (“Why blue states are the real ‘Tea Party,’” December 3, 2016, New York Times), most of the states that voted for Hillary, “are paying the highest proportion of the country’s bills while ranking lowest in terms of voting power in the Electoral College.”

For example, Blue state New Jersey generated $12,564 in Federal revenue for $9,279 benefits; Red state Alaska generated $6,697 in Federal revenue for $14,375 benefits. Who are the Welfare Queens? The Red states.

Donald Trump got 63 million votes, so barely 19% of America’s 325 million people voted for him and 81% did not vote for him.

How 19% of a Democracy can rule the other 81% needs mathematical explanation. Many people who could have voted did not try to vote, others had been stripped of their constitutional rights due to past crimes which they had repaid, or they were wrongfully denied the right to vote because of flawed purges and draconian voter identification laws. Still others were children and alien residents. But that still means that 19% of Americans are ruling the other 81%, which, when broken out by region, shows the rulers pay less in taxes and get more in welfare in Red states.

In the darkest days of Apartheid in South African, the ratio of those who ruled to those were ruled was 20:80. That was unsustainable. The White Apartheid rulers realized the instability of such a small minority of people ruling such a large majority. Reforms were implemented but too late to stop the rising tide of civil disobedience. Apartheid took over four decades of determined work to abolish. But there was light at the end of the tunnel. Get ready for a long, dark passageway.

Trump Is Not Uniting Us – The Call For Demonstrations

Donald Trump promised that he would act “Presidential” and unite all the people. He hasn’t done it. He continues to lie, bully, and behave like an egotistical jerk. For example when he hosted SNL it was a “great show” – when SNL makes fun of him, it was the “worst show” in history. He announced that he saved 1,100 jobs at Carrier and prevented them from moving their factory. “The greatest deal in history” according to Trump. The truth – he saved 800 jobs with Carrier getting over $7 Million in tax benefits and he went on Twitter to berate the Union President for saying the truth. Compare that to how many thousands of jobs President Obama saved with the bailout. Trump wanted to cancel a Boeing contract for two Presidential jets because it “cost 4 Billion”, The truth – According to Boeing, each plane cost $170 million. He’s not saving us money. This was a publicity stunt. There has been a rise in prejudice and discrimination that the ADL directly links to Trump’s behavior. Who could ever forget how Trump mimicked a disabled reporter and embraced anti-semitic groups and propaganda.

The First Demonstration – The Woman’s March – January 21, 2017

The first demonstration is scheduled for the day after Trump is sworn in as President. The major march is in Washington, DC. However, every city-area including South Florida will be demonstrating against Trump. Women as well as men are clearly angry over Trump’s treatment of women. During the campaign, Trump made disgusting comments about women who opposed him. Trump has made prejudicial comments about reporters who are physically disabled. He has called women ugly, fat, disgusting, made lewd remarks that treated woman like sex meat.

According to Stephanie Myers, one of the South Florida organizers, women are rallying “ …in solidarity with those marching in Washington DC. We will rally for the marginalized. We will rally to protect each other. We will rally so that humanity continues to move forward, always forward. Our message shall not be lost. Our entire nation will hear us.  Our message of bringing women of all religions, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity and color together as one voice for women’s rights shall not be lost. Our message that we will stand together united to defend and protect all those who are being oppressed and marginalized shall not be lost.”

Demonstrations by Americans have led to the founding of our republic, civil rights, stopped the Vietnam War, led to labor unions, and women’s right to vote just to name a few. There may be more demonstrations when Trump’s picks have to be approved by the Senate. Demonstrations have to take place to show Trump that we are not united and do not like his picks and direction that he is taking. Groups that favor the environment or public education will demonstrate. The Woman’s March is only the first of many demonstrations to come.

Just take a look at Trump’s picks for government posts.
Secretary of the Interior who is a strident advocate for increased oil and gas drilling on federal land, off shore drilling and fracking. She favors lumber companies logging on public land – Cathy McMorris Rodgers
Head of Environment Protection Agency who is against climate change and in favor of “dirty” oil and coal energy sources and fought EPA standards – Scott Pruitt
Secretary of Education who is against public education and favors elitist charter schools – who never taught and has no administrative abilities -Betsey DesVos
Attorney General who is against the Voting Rights Act and wants to deny voting rights to minorities and is the Senate’s most extreme anti-immigration, anti-environment, anti-women, anti-veteran, anti-marijuana, anti-health care ideologue – Jeff Sessions
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development who is against the Fair Housing Act and has no administrative or government background -Ben Carson
Treasury Secretary who is against the Dodd-Frank Act and became a millionaire off of the mortgage crisis and the thousands of people who lost their homes.
Commerce Secretary who is known as “King of Bankruptcy” Wilbur Ross
Secretary of Health & Human Services who opposed the Affordable Career Act (Obamacare) and is against Medicaid expansion and subsidies to help middle class buy health insurance – Tom Price
Secretary of Transportation made $1.2 million while overseeing Wells Fargo Bank that admitted to creating millions of fake accounts – Elaine Chao
Secretary of Labor who is against raising the minimum wage and favors robots over human labor – Andrew Puzdnor
National Security Advisor who has also spread false stories and re-tweeted anti-Semitic threats. He’s been criticized for dabbling in conspiracy theories and Islamophobia, for his questionable ties to foreign governments and wants to imprison Hillary Clinton – Ret. Gen. Michael Flynn

None of these picks appeal to the vast majority of Hillary voters or Independent voters. Trump claims that he won the popular vote. The truth – Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 2.7 Million. Trump cannot lie or bully his way out of the facts. The overwhelming voters of the U.S. do not like these picks and will demonstrate.

See you Saturday, January 21, 2017 from 1 PM to 5 PM at Bayfront Park Amphitheater, 301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, Florida 33132. Please go on Facebook to Woman’s Rally in SoFl to register.

BlueBroward.org tops 20,000 daily views

The other day traffic to BlueBroward.org reached 21,741 views from nearly 16,000 unique visitors, according to WordPress.com metrics.

20k-views

This appears to be an all-time high for the site, powered by views of posts about online strategies for campaigns and causes as well as calendar items and opinion posts from community members.

BlueBroward.org offers free organizing tools for Democrats in Broward, supported by a network of sponsors and donors.

Last Chance for Dems to Win Senate Race

Democrats have one last chance in this election cycle to limit the damage to the U.S. Senate, which can be kept to a 51-49 margin if Democrat Foster Campbell can win the runoff election in Louisiana. Although this is not a Florida race, Democrats throughout the nation have an opportunity to help by participating in virtual phone banks.

South Florida activist Bret Berlin, in an appearance at the Broward Democrats organizing meeting Saturday, explained that in addition to promoting the phone banking he is raising money to send our volunteers to Louisiana to help with canvassing and other GOTV efforts. If you can donate your time, your travel and lodging will be covered, he said. If you are interested in helping in any way, contact bret@jellydoughnut.com.

Positive Energy and Determination

While there has been plenty of discouraging news this week, the news from Broward Democrats has been very positive. Tuesday’s meeting of the county Democratic Executive Committee could have turned into a “bitch session” on what went wrong in the election, but instead we heard about many things that went right in Broward — and need to be replicated across the state.

Cynthia Bush, a grassroots activists who became de facto head of the local party during the time that Chairman Mitch Caesar was running for Clerk of the Court (and continued to head GOTV operations after he returned to his post), is likely to become chair in the upcoming Dec. 3 party organizational meeting where Caesar will not be seeking reelection. She explained how hard Broward Democrats pushed for an effective GOTV effort, often filling in crucial gaps like chasing down absentee ballots that the Clinton campaign and the state party weren’t focusing on.

Cynthia Bush speaks at the Broward DEC
Cynthia Bush speaks at the Broward DEC

As a result, Broward outperformed all expectations, both for Clinton and for Senate candidate Patrick Murphy. “That needs to be replicated if we’re going to win seats, if we’re going to hold seats in 2018,” she said. That means other counties around the state need to adopt the same, activist philosophy. In other words, because Democratic turnout operations were weak in other parts of the state, we were not successful in countering strong turnout for Trump in rural Florida or regions such as Tampa.

Broward needs to have its own organization and structures, informed by local knowledge, she said. “I don’t think we should ever be sitting back and waiting for a campaign to tell us what needs to be done.”

State Committeeman Ken Evans, who is running for reelection and pushing for new leadership at the state party level, gave a similar account at a brainstorming meeting he held on Thursday. The state party has been too narrowly focused on fundraising, and only fundraising to the exclusion of grassroots activism, he said. As chair of a committee dedicated to organizing clubs and caucuses, he found there was way too little focus on giving those organizations productive work to do, he said.

“We need to have operations that never stop,” he said.

With leaders like these, I am more optimistic that will become a reality.

Lessons from the 2016 Presidential Election

The Democrats won Coral Springs, But Lost the Election

 Lessons to be Learned

The Battle for Early Voting at Northwest Regional Library:
The NW Regional Library on University Drive had the most early voting of all the early voting sites. Most of the voters were from Coral Springs and Margate. According to the Supervisor of Elections web site, 34,508 voted at this site which was over 2,000 more than the closest site. 17,929 registered Democrats, 7,854 Republicans and 8,723 “other” independents voted here.

The Library became a battleground between Republicans and Democrats. The police were called to the Library almost every day and some days up to 4x in a day. From 7 AM to 7 PM for 2 weeks it was a “circus”. On some days there were as many as 5 official observers. The election workers did a fantastic job. Even though it was the most crowded, this site had the shortest wait time for the number of voters.
The Republicans targeted this site. No other site had as many Republicans or as many demonstrations as per emails from observers who went to other sites. Weeks before voting began, the Republicans were in the streets yelling and screaming at cars. Naturally they had their rally at Wings Plus on Sample. Coral Springs has always been a strong area for Republicans and “Right to Life” groups.
After all the yelling and screaming, what were the results? In Broward county, Democrats won 66.68% compared to the Republican 31.18% A glance at the voting locations such as precinct E27, “Cypress Run” showed that the Democrats won 63.34% compared to 33.65% The Democratic vote was actually higher than in Obama’s election. In other precincts the democrats won by even more.

Lesson 1
Republicans demonstrated on street corners such as University and Sample. They waved to cars – THEY DEVELOPED EXCITEMENT AROUND TRUMP. Our action, CONCENTRATED ON GOTV. And we did an excellent job of getting out the vote through phone banks and canvassing. The cooperation between FDP and the Hillary campaign was good. Lesson – YOU HAVE TO DO BOTH – GET OUT THE VOTE AND DEVELOP EXCITEMENT

Lesson 2
BE PREPARED: The Republicans did not have a voter guide-palm card. The first day of voting the lines extended past the legal limit from the polling entrance. One person was able to give each voter that wanted a “Voter Guide” The VOTER GUIDE WAS SO GOOD THAT THE REPUBLICANS COPIED IT. The second and third day they had paper copies and then had a printed version of a palm card. Our “Palm Card – Voters Guide” was much better than previous years, easier for voters and was used at the polls and also for canvasssing. However, THEY HAD LOTS OF SUPPLIES. Yard signs, bumper stickers, huge Trump signs, stickers. We had nothing – I had to take my own yard sign to wave at cars entering Library.
Lesson 3
AT EARLY VOTING LOCATIONS, HAVE OBSERVERS FROM DAY 1 – The best is to have voters complain or the head clerk of the precinct about the tactics of some Republicans – Screaming at voters, loud music, sound systems, vulgar signs and even hired minorities to campaign for $, trying to instigate a fight or threatening me There were also times that I asked Hillary demonstrators to leave. KNOW THE RULES We had a trump poll watcher with a Trump sign on his clipboard and shirt – not allowed. The police were there every day

As Cynthia Bush stated we have to have Get Out the Vote and PROTECT THE VOTE. We have to do better at Early Voting Sites where at least half of the votes in this election were cast. I don’t think that we did enough to protect the vote

Roy Trachtenberg
Democratic Committee Person E27 and
Executive Bd. Member of Coral Springs/Parkland Democratic Club

Winning Florida more than numbers

You can make numbers prove anything you want to believe, so interpret with caution. Look at the graph with the blue line and the red line and decide what it means to you.

Florida Presidential vote margin
When the blue line is above the red line, Democrats win Florida.

This is a graph of Florida Presidential margins from 1996 to 2016, showing a blue line for the Democratic margin of Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach counties, or how many more votes there were for the Democrat for President than the Republican. This can be compared with the red line for the Republican margin of Florida’s 64 other counties, that is, how many more votes there were for the Republican in those counties.

Only one of these lines is zigging and zagging. If you understand why, you can elect the next President of the United States.

Among the latter 64 counties are some strong blue counties such as Orange and five others that went for Hillary, so I oversimplify.

Maintain Democratic margins in blue counties

Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach counties steadily supported all Democratic Presidential candidates for many years by wide margins, with steady growth that largely tracks population increase. Among the three large South Florida counties the vast majority of increased margin came from Miami-Dade County, especially since 2008.

Get-out-the-vote and other Democratic Party efforts such as voter registration drives are probably critical to maintain the margins in South Florida. Local elected officials and Democratic organizations may be reminding voters of what the Democratic Party stands for and ensuring voting loyalty. In Presidential elections, win or lose, South Florida is consistent. The one area of greatest excitement is increased margins in Miami-Dade County.

October 27, 2016, early voting at Davie-Cooper City Branch Library.
October 27, 2016, early voting at Davie-Cooper City Branch Library.

One of the specific things that I would recommend be done early is to locate missing voters long before GOTV, not during the election. Helping Hillary Clinton, many of the voters they had me visit had not lived in a place for a dozen years or were known by present residents to have moved to another state. We can know long in advance who the underperforming voters are, and identify those who are not there, so the campaign does not have to waste last-ditch efforts to find people who are not there.

Another concern I have is for fresh data. Most of the canvass lists that I was provided had been printed 3-5 days earlier and could not have accounted for many of the voters who already voted. Every day the Florida Division of Elections reports lists of completed early and vote-by-mail voters. The early vote report is absolutely current by 8:00 am in the morning covering the previous day’s voting. The vote-by-mail report lags 2-3 days from the time the voter dropped the return ballot in a mailbox. But either way, an additional 3-5 days delay using stale walklists is inefficient. With the enormous labor involved in canvassing and phonebanking, there is no excuse in the tight final days of a campaign for using obsolete data.

As a result, on my last day of walking for Hillary, 25 of the people in my packets who I talked to had already voted along with everyone else in their families. That count does not include additional new people at residences who also voted, but who were not in my packets. About one-half of the conversations that I had involved voters who already voted and those conversations were unnecessary. I could have used the time to go to other houses of people who had not voted. While I gained great respect for the campaign organizer with whom I worked, the “Coordinated Campaign” (which should have been the “Hillary Clinton Campaign”) was heavily structured with too many layers of authority and a slow grasp of geography.

Would these improvements have mattered? No, not enough, in my opinion, not in Broward. We could have easily squeezed out a few thousand more votes, but not 20,000 to make up a reasonable quota towards our 120,000 statewide shortfall.

Pick candidates who appeal statewide

Florida’s other 64 counties zig-zag wildly from election to election, without strong discernible trend. Population growth in red counties, which is undoubtedly a strong driver, is camouflaged by something else.

My hypothesis is that on average voters in these other 64 counties may be voting more for the candidate than the Party. The good news is that some of our candidates such as Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have enough appeal in these areas to reduce the Republican margins or even flip counties. Pinellas County which tends to vote Democratic, as in 2012 when voters gave Barack Obama a 5.6% margin over Mitt Romney, in 2016 flipped back to the Republican, Donald Trump, who had a 1.1% margin over Hillary Clinton.

While a Presidential election has its own complicated dynamics, at the Florida level, we fairly consistently nominate Democratic candidates for Governor and US Senator with serious flaws, not so much character flaws as just being uninteresting. Donald Trump as a candidate had big league flaws but boring he was not.

It is always possible to look back at an election and, depending on its outcome, manufacture different narratives of what went wrong and right, both what we did individually, and what we did as a Democratic Party, as a campaign, and the candidate herself. Were we delusional about Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and any of our past defeated candidates? Probably, to some degree, we ignored things we shouldn’t have. Not that we can fix a candidate or dwell on shortcomings while campaigning, but being realistic and honest with ourselves is a good step to communications with the voters. Sadly, some people such as Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, who I believe would have made great American Presidents, stumbled as candidates.

Did the campaign have overconfidence about the firewall in the rust belt as well as in places like Pinellas County? Yes, I think that is obvious. And did the campaign overreach in error to try to swing US Senate seats? Yes, or it may have been a reasonable bluff. Was there something that the voters saw or didn’t see that was different from what we volunteers saw or didn’t see? In a nasty, divisive election it is difficult to listen to our opponents, but we should always try harder. When we demean the voters by questioning their intelligence, we fail to listen properly. When I listen to honest Republicans—most of them—they tell me things I need to know to better convey my candidate’s message.

Campaign sign along country road in Lake County, Florida, where Donald Trump got 60% of the vote.
Campaign sign along country road in Lake County, Florida, where Donald Trump got 60% of the vote.

Understand Florida

Tuesday night I knew we were in trouble when I saw Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers wavering near Donald Trump’s. Florida has 9 counties in the Panhandle west of the Appalachicola River in the Central Time Zone, and Gulf County straddles both time zones.

The Panhandle including the Central Time zone counties tends to vote Republican although Dixiecrat is a better designation as many of the voters are of Democratic families left over from Reconstruction. The polls in the Republican western Panhandle close one hour later than the rest of the state.

I calculated that Hillary needed to be 3 percentage points above Donald in the Eastern Time Zone to survive an inevitable loss in the Panhandle. She didn’t make it. When a lot of my friends were still expecting a Hillary win was possible, her defeat was already assured by the late closing Central Time Zone polls, to be soon reported. It was even worse than that. Hillary had a positive margin in only 9 Florida counties compared with 13 for Barack Obama.

As an interesting history note, in 1968, Holmes County voted 87% for George Wallace over Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey. In 2016, Holmes County voted 88% for Donald Trump.

If we are seriously interested in winning the next statewide election we should pay a visit to Holmes County, Florida. Bring along our candidate and we can visit the Westville Bar. Call it a road test.

Election numbers: Broken formula

Miami protestsThere is much we need to do now to prepare in solidarity for a Trump Presidency and oppose pledged extraconstitutional actions. If you are pessimistic, check out Masha Gessen’s “Autocracy: Rules for survival.” But if you are optimistic, I focus on one part of our future which is electoral politics.

Every 2 years, Broward Democrats do an 11th hour dance to turn out fellow Democrats to vote in statewide races. Then win or lose, we look at the numbers and spend two years patting ourselves and other Democrats on the back at Democratic Club meetings.

Acknowledging the misery you may be suffering right now, do not be distracted by fear but try to focus on future elections.

Tranquil roadside, State Road 19, Lake County, Florida, July 29, 2016.
Tranquil scene alongside State Road 19, Lake County, Florida, July 29, 2016.

Bottom line is, last minute Broward turnout and Broward margins will not make enough difference to win. We should be doing other things as:

  1. Listening to voters in red counties.
  2. Picking as candidates joyful warriors with credibility and character.
  3. Not waiting until the campaign comes to town.

The ethos of Broward politics is that Broward is the center of the Democratic universe. The Holy Grail is that when Democratically leaning Broward votes heavily, Florida tips Democratic. With 29 electoral votes, when Florida is tipped Democratic by Broward County, we elect a Democrat for President of the United States. Simple math.

Presidential election marginFor example, in 2008, the Broward margin for Barack Obama was 254,911 and Florida went for Obama by a margin of 236,450 votes. Based on the numbers, didn’t the Broward Democratic Party elect President Obama? Some thought so. In his reelection for Chair of the Broward Democratic Party, Mitch Ceasar’s “Real Dem” supporters said the math proved Mitch’s leadership in electing a Democratic President to the Whitehouse. Bravo! Mitch was reelected Chair.

Now when Democrats lost the Whitehouse, we get depressed. Some point fingers. We point out that Broward County voter turnout is often the worst in the state. A better Party Chair can “make” voter turnout high, not lose Florida like in 2000 by a measly 537 votes. I doubt it.

In 2016, the Broward Democratic margin was 288,435. That many more votes were cast for Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump. But statewide the Democratic margin was -119,489. What does this prove? If someone could have increased Broward turnout proportionally, to make up this margin, at the same voting ratios, that would have required 101.1% turnout. Not likely even with the dead voting. I don’t even think that Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach counties could have done that together. Not without bringing up the numbers in red counties.

While Broward margin in 2016 was the best that it has ever been for a Democratic Presidential candidate, Miami-Dade County’s was even better, 289,340. The trend for Broward is linear as a reflection of County voter participation growth in both major parties. There is no relative increase, no matter what we do. (But if we stopped doing what we are doing in GOTV, it could get a lot worse.)

The trend for Palm Beach County is flat. The Democratic margin in 2016, 100,649, was the worst since 1996. Miami-Dade County has been the Rock Star of electoral politics, in 2008, 2012, and 2016. A lot of this improvement had to do with George W. Bush, who was appealing to many Miami-Dade voters, and once he was gone, it all changed. (But be wary of a future election bid for US Senate by brother John Ellis Bush.) Every Democratic Presidential candidate since has done much better in Miami-Dade County.

The Holy Grail in Broward Democratic politics is voter turnout and margin. If you want to believe this, you can make the numbers prove it, or prove anything else you want to believe. Margin is the difference in votes between the winning candidate and the nearest rival. Turnout is the number who voted divided by active registered voters.

But I don’t believe this is where to place emphasis.

My recommendation is don’t focus entirely on turnout because there is softness in voter registration numbers. Anyone like me canvassing door-to-door would have found many voters who moved out of the state, or hadn’t lived at an address for a dozen years. So with phantom voters, turnout is not a good measure. Even among registered votes, there is an even larger, softer underbelly of so-called “inactive” voters who most campaigns pay no attention to. These people cannot be discounted. In 2008, “inactive” voters were mobilized by the thousands in Barack Obama’s campaign.

Don’t even focus on how well we did from year to year. Because improvement in Democratic margin in Broward, or even Broward and Miami-Dade County, is not enough to carry the state.

Instead, we need to focus on the much harder job of developing a platform for the needs of all Florida residents, not just blue county turnout.