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Time for Darren Soto to go to Washington, period.

As many of you know, I have been out of Florida politics for a while. Instead of being “part of the action”, it has been nice to be a casual observer of what is happening in the Sunshine State. While my political ideology has somewhat changed since living in Canada, it is important that strong Democratic candidates emerge, especially in the State of Florida, to help restore sanity to the state, regardless whether they are center, left, or even right on the political spectrum. With the Republican Party emerging as the “Party of Trump”, it is important that Democrats show that they are the grownups in the room, especially in a key state like Florida.

Florida’s 9th Congressional District was specifically created to increase Hispanic representation in the US Congress, something that is greatly needed with the nation’s increasing Hispanic population. However, in 2012, Alan Grayson decided that he wanted to run for Congress, seeing an opportunity to win back a seat to Washington DC. At the time, Grayson did not live in the district, and this appeared to be a purely opportunistic move by Grayson. Three years later, the move still looks opportunistic. His lack of addressing issues that are important to the Hispanic community shows that Alan Grayson is more important to Alan Grayson than the Hispanic community.

Some will point out that Hispanics have supported Alan Grayson electorally since he ran for the 9th in 2012. However, this claim of support is highly misleading. In the Democratic primary in 2014, Grayson had token opposition. In both the 2012 and the 2014 general elections, Grayson ran against two candidate with Anglo last names. Even with that advantage in 2014, Grayson still only won 54% of the vote, in a district that should be voting Democratic in much higher numbers.
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Has Rand Paul just taken issue ownership of the most salient issue for Republicans?

Rand-PaulOver 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.
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Looking at Florida Elections: What if issues do matter?

What V.O. Key Jr. right?

What V.O. Key Jr. right?

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.
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Looking at Florida Elections: Does issue position 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.
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The future of polling: Prediction or Observation?

Yeah, the "unskewed poll" predictions.

Yeah, the “unskewed poll” predictions.

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…”.
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Why I left The Florida Squeeze.

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.

America is changing, and I don’t like it.

1506652_10152870014999188_1379944574742376970_nYesterday, I spent my morning at the Arlington National Cemetery. After parking my car, I walked through the gates and headed to a grave I have always wanted to see.Yes, it is my favorite actor, Lee Marvin. Marvin is buried near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. As I was walking toward Marvin’s grave, I forked left while everyone else was walking to the right. Of course, they went to see the cemetery’s most popular gravesite, that of President John F. Kennedy. Also, people were taking pictures of graves, indiscriminately, so that they could get that “perfect shot” which exemplifies the loses America  suffered (or so they want you to believe).

As I walked up the hill toward Marvin’s grave, the crowds disappeared. By the time I finally found the gravesite of Major John Reisman (Marvin’s name in The Dirty Dozen, one of my favorite movies), there was no crowd at all. I then walked the few hundred yards to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. When I arrived there were about five people there, all with their cameras and conducting small talk. Tuning them out, I was amazed at how moving this hallowed ground was. I was filled with emotion in a way that I never had been before. It was at this time that I realized I could never truly feel Canadian, as I will always, proudly, be an American. Unlike the others that were there, I thought it would be somewhat classless to take a photo.
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