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.

A Hillary Landslide The Only Cure For Trump’s Call To Arms

This is the electoral map I want to see on November 8, a decisive verdict that puts the outcome beyond all doubt.

clinton-landslide

This is the best of the best case scenarios for Democratic victory that political statistician Nate Silver outlined in a recent blog post (although he still also sees scenarios for a Trump victory).

The map doesn’t have to turn quite that blue for Hillary to win, but I’m starting to think it’s nearly the minimum result we have to hope for in the face of Trump’s appeal to “Second Amendment people” and his insistence that the only way he could not win is if the election is “rigged” against him. As cartoonish as this talk is, we can’t laugh it off.

Trump’s Second Amendment comment can be classified as a sort of terrorism, an invitation to any Trump enthusiast who believes “tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants,” with Hillary in the role of tyrant. All it takes is for one unstable person to hear that remark (retroactively labeled “sarcastic”) the wrong way. While some observers have noted Trump was also insulting responsible gun owners, the fringe element does exist. It includes people like Timothy McVeigh, who killed 168 people in the Oklahoma City bombing. He cited fighting for the rights of gun owners as one of his motivations owned a T-shirt with that Jefferson “tree of liberty quote” and imagery of dripping blood.

Meanwhile, the “rigged election” talk makes a Trump loss almost as scary as a Trump victory, partly because of the incitement to political violence that has been building for months. One reason the Republican #NeverTrump movement failed to stop Trump’s nomination is that people were terrified of the rioting that would result if his followers perceived the nomination had been stolen from him by party insiders. That day of reckoning may only have been delayed, not avoided.

The worst possible result might be a close result on November 8, something akin to the Florida recount disaster in 2000. Imagine the angry old white man reaction to having the Supreme Court hand the presidency to Hillary. I see gunfire and explosions. In fact, any result that comes down to close decisions in one or two states, any hint of voting irregularities (and there are always some) would have a scary aftermath.

No matter what the margin of victory, Trump is likely to claim he was robbed and happily whip his supporters into a dangerous frenzy. At this point, there are a whole lot of people (including the grown ups on the Republican side) wondering if he would rather lose and complain about it than win and have to do the hard work of being president. But theory of the accidental success, or Trump as the campaign equivalent of Springtime for Hitler (see below: “where did we go right?”), has been popular for most of the past year, and it didn’t stop him from winning beyond all expectations and pundit predictions throughout the primaries. He could still win (or come scary close to winning), despite himself.

I’m sorry to be so depressing, but my only point is that no matter how good the polls look for Hillary today, we won’t be able to relax until at least November 9. Let’s all do our part to make sure it’s not close, particularly not here in Florida.

 

Share Your Video Testimonial for Hillary Clinton?

Hillary Clinton DNC July 2016

Can you give a passionate testimonial on behalf of Hillary Clinton? One that is about reasons to vote for her, rather than against Trump? And why victory in Florida is so important? If so, I would like to share a video of your testimonial on BlueBroward and help you share it on social media.

There are a few ways we can make that happen:

  • You record the video and share it via YouTube, Facebook, or a file sharing service such as Dropbox or Google Drive. This can be a selfie video or one you have a friend or family record of you giving your pitch.
  • We can schedule a time to meet in an online video conference, which I will record and edit. I can interview you or coach you through it, if that helps.

You don’t necessarily have to say a lot — in fact, if I can edit it down to 30 seconds or a minute more people will probably watch. If a bunch of people do this, we can edit it down to a mix tape of the best clips.

Why Do This?

I want Hillary Clinton to win this election because I believe she is the only reasonable choice, even beyond party preference. On the other hand, I know others are more knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the reasons to support her than I am. The reasons to vote against Trump should be obvious, but the reasons to support Hillary are not as obvious to everyone. People who feel good about the person they are voting for will be a lot more motivated to vote.

You have the power to help make that happen.

Contact me at david@bluebroward.org

Time To Be Excited, Determined (and a Little Freaked Out)

Our Democratic leaders gave us a lot to be proud of this week, in a parade of speakers that included Michelle Obama, President Obama, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and finally Hillary Clinton accepting the nomination. I hope everyone who watched on TV, let alone those who actually traveled to the convention came back inspired and determined to work for victory in November. Sadly, it’s not going to be as easy as we all think it ought to be.

Have you seen the last forecast of the probability of who will win the presidency from Fivethirtyeight?

hillary-trump-odds

Continue reading “Time To Be Excited, Determined (and a Little Freaked Out)”

Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine Made a Strong Impression in Miami

20160723_134652_001

Hillary Clinton’s VP pick Tim Kaine made a strong impression in Miami on Saturday, not just on the crowd but also on the journalists covering the event:

Kaine brings down the house in Miami (Politico)

Holy Crap, Tim Kaine Just Killed It In His First Speech With Clinton (TheDailyBeast.com)

Also from the Daily Kos:

Kaine Is Not “Safe” Pick – Hillary Is Going For A Rout Continue reading “Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine Made a Strong Impression in Miami”

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