They are crazy. Yes, I have issues with those on the left, but they do live in a world of reality. Republicans, on the other hand, are just nuts. And yes, the Blue Dogs might be a dying breed, but a breed worth keeping, and joining.
Over the last week, the hottest topic in American politics has been the Religious Freedom Law in Indiana. Considered a discrimination bill by many, Republican candidates lined up to take a position on the issue. With all that has been said and done, the biggest winner coming out of this might have been Rand Paul.
First, let’s go ahead and backtrack. Once the law was passed and received national media attention, Ted Cruz, the only announced presidential candidate, jump on board and supported the issue. After Cruz’s announcement, a number of other Republicans decided to support the measure.
After the publication of The American Voter, a few notable political scientists questioned the findings of Campbell, Converse, Miller and Stokes. The most vocal critic of the Michigan Model might have been V.O. Key, Jr., who was one of the nation’s top political science scholars. Many may know Key from his popular book about southern politics which, while antiquated, is still a good read even today. But at the time of the Michigan Model’s release, Key strongly opposed the psychological model and argued that issues matter. In his book, The Responsible Electorate (1966), which was never finished and published after his death, Key argued that “voters were not fools” and that issues were still an important part of electoral politics. However, the authors of The American Voter were using advanced techniques in methodology and survey research that had yet been tested. Previous scholarship, such as Edward Merriam’s classic look at the lack of voting in Chicago in Non-Voting (1924), as well as Burleson, Lazarsfeld and McPhee’s Voting (1954, commonly known as The Columbia Model, which was tested twice), still kept the research to particular geographic locations. The Michigan Model expanded the research, expanded the way that we look at politics, and realize that issues do not always matter.
As far as I can remember, the issue of whether the Democrats in Florida should adopt issues on the right or left of the political spectrum has been prominent. I have even held viewpoints advocating both a move to the right, and more recently a move to the left (which I somewhat take back). But what if issues do not determine vote choice? If we look at the Columbia and Michigan models of voting behavior, they advocate that issues really do not matter, and that other factors really determine vote choice. In the Michigan model, partisanship is adopted from a voter’s parents. However, in the ever-changing state of Florida, the Michigan model might hold true. Even the Columbia model, which looks at socioeconomic factors, might not fully explain Florida voters. Purely, Florida is one of the trickiest places to run an election.
One of the authors of the Michigan model, Donald E. Stokes, came up with another approach to voting behavior in 1963, and created the valence model of voting. Valence voting doesn’t really look at left-right issues (though it can), but instead how voters evaluate each of the parties competing and make their vote choice based on those evaluation. Non-political factors can play a role in valence voting. For example, if we look at the 1984 and 2004 elections, the idea of patriotism played a role in the election of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.
I know, these get old sometimes, but I have decided to relaunch The Political Hurricane. In the past, I have tried to steer this website into a different direction. However, I always got sucked back into the black hole known as Florida Democratic politics. But since August of 2014, I have been living in Montreal and have been able to absolutely remove myself from the internal politics of the Florida Democratic Party. Also, since living in Canada, I have become much, much more conservative and would classify myself as a Blue Dog Democrat. Therefore, I no longer have a connection to Florida Democratic politics.
This is a good thing, not only for my sanity, but for my future direction. I have decided that I will be entering the field of academia in political science. As of right now, I intend on staying either here at McGill University or go to University of British Columbia. However, there is always the possibility of moving back to the United States for my PhD studies.
The area of focus for my dissertation will be examining voting behavior in the South, a subject that some of you know is very close to my heart. I have been a follower of southern politics for decades, and this continues to be the case. Therefore, I have decided to take this blog in a direction that seeks to address my academic areas of interest.
This does not mean, however, that there will be no criticism. I will still seek to discuss issues I see in Florida politics regarding elections, and how one side or the other can win. I will also be critical of what other people have written about elections in the south. However, instead of only giving my opinion of what I think should happen, I plan on bringing in academic scholarship to explain why I criticize certain observations. This is a blog that seeks to inform people by bringing them into the world of scholarly works regarding election, but to apply it to real-life situations.
For years, there has been a disconnect between academia and those in practical politics. The relaunch of this blog is to try to close that gap. Both groups could learn a great deal from one another. However, both sides know very little about the other.
I hope that you will enjoy this new format. Unlike the “burn the witches at the stake” approach that this blog took before, this blog seeks to inform, and keep to the issues of election.
Finally, because my goal is to explain voting behavior in the south, this blog will no longer be focused on Florida politics. Instead it will cover the entirety of southern politics.
For years, public opinion polls were, essentially, conducted in the same way. When a polling firm conducted a survey, it was all within the time frame of that poll. This was always qualified with the statement “if the election for President (or whatever) was held today…”. It was known that a poll only provided a snapshot of the electorate at that specific period of time, and did not predict future trends or eventual election results.
However, in the last few election cycles, we see a change in the way public opinion polling is conducted. Whenever a poll from a legitimate polling firm is released, the political pundits on the losing side of that poll always make the same argument, which is “(insert party here) voters were over-sampled”. It is this “over-sampling” which leads to pundits saying that the poll is absolutely baloney. However, these polls weren’t taken to make predictions, but to take that snapshot of the electorate.
However, it seems as if the pundits are looking for predictions, not random sampling. This has resulted in a new method where a polling firm “predicts” turnout for an upcoming election, and uses the polling result as an answer to a future question, such as “who will win (insert race here)”. While tradition opinion polls say “if the election were held today”, this new way of polling says “using samples from today, we predict…”.
On May 22nd, I decided to leave The Florida Squeeze. I decided to leave the website not because of personal attacks or the lack of substantive discussion on the website (which, thankfully, has been reduced quite a bit). I instead left because of the censorship that was happening on the website.
The following article was actually written on May 22nd, but I decided not to publish because I did not think it was appropriate at the time. I figured that the tone of The Florida Squeeze would change. However, since my departure, my fears have become a reality. Instead of being a pure non-biased look at Florida politics, the website has become a Peter Schorsch-style “pay-to-play” platform without the pay, I assume. In the recent “Winners and Losers” articles, people who are close associates of those who operate the website were considered some of the “winners”. On the other hand, people like Allison Tant, who has been considered a “loser” by many in Florida Democratic Party politics, have been given a free pass.
When I created The Political Hurricane, the goal of the website was to give an honest assessment of Florida Democratic politics. Granted, I picked my sides on many issues, such as the FDP Chair race, but I did not try to hide my intentions. I pride myself in the fact that people knew where I was coming from and did not hold back any punches. Also, my association with people did not prevent me from telling, what I consider, was the true. For example, at the time that I wrote my series of articles about Christopher Findlater, I had a working relationship with Susannah Randolph. If I wanted to keep that relationship, it would have been best for me not to release that series of articles. Instead, I felt that the truth was more important than networking. I feel that this is the difference between The Political Hurricane in its heyday and The Florida Squeeze today.
To further explain my departure, here is what I wrote on May 22nd:
When I first started writing for The Florida Squeeze, I was told that my posts would be edited (as well as everyone else’s posts) for grammatical and spelling errors, as well as issues with style. I had no problem with that whatsoever. But this “editing” started to move away from just simple spelling errors to removing, as well as adding, content to posts that I had written.
The most recent of these was the article about “Where were the progressives” in regards to endorsing Nan Rich. The original article that I had written (under my byline) not only included Ruth’s List, but also included included the folks at Florida Watch Action, which included Susannah Randolph and Amy Ritter, as well as Scott Randolph. But any reference to these people was taken out. The reason that I was told of the exclusion was because the site didn’t want it to “look personal”. For some reason, mentioning Ruth’s List was alright, but mentioning the Randolphs was considered over-the-line. As a result, I asked for the piece to be written under an editorial byline and not my personal byline since a considerable amount of content was removed.
The final straw came when I had a comment moderated regarding Susannah Randolph. Knowing Susannah’s writing style (as well as the buzz words that she uses which makes her posts extremely obvious), I responded to a post that was put in the comment section. This comment was eventually edited.
The reason why I decided to publish this article about The Florida Squeeze now is because I feel that the website has become personal (hence the irony regarding the edits on my article in May) and not a substantive debate of either issues or the state of the party. The focus of the blog over the last few months on Orange and Broward County politics shows this bias. When looking at a website, one must ask “what are the ends”. When The Political Hurricane was created, the “end” was to have a successful Florida Democratic Party that competes. Hence, when I started this blog four years ago, I advocated the removal of Karen Thurman as chair, as well as outlined ideas about rebuilding the Florida Democratic Party, without having biases. And yes, I currently live in Montreal, but this has benefited me in the fact that I can look at the results of what happened in Florida in 2014 in an objective way, and not let personal relationships determine whether someone is a “winner” or “loser”.
This is an unfortunate turn for The Florida Squeeze, considering the credibility that it has built over the last few years. I hope that the editors over there come to realize that their work is more than just for them, but for a greater good which should promote a true two-party system in Florida. However, if The Florida Squeeze is being used to promote certain individuals, and win the favor of other individuals, then I feel full disclosure is warranted.