Lying in the Bed: The exact moment Hillary Clinton lost the election.

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Genesis

Since Election Night, Democrats have been scratching their heads and wondering why a highly-qualified Hillary Clinton lost. What was that precise moment that turned the tide? Was it the Comey letter? Was it the email server scandal? Was it the DNC email scandal? Democrats have been trying to find answers, but really cannot pinpoint the exact moment that cost Hillary the election.

 

Still, there is a starting point, a genesis if you like, that we can look at and say “there, that is when Clinton lost it”. That point didn’t happen in this election. It didn’t even happen in the last election. It didn’t even involve Hillary Clinton.

It happened in 1993.

During the 1992 Presidential Election, Democrats were looking for a “new way” or a “third way”. The New Democrat movement, created by the Democratic Leadership Council and it’s ironically-named think-tank the Progressive Policy Institute, forged a new path for Democrats which remained socially liberal but was fiscally moderate, or even conservative. The impact of the DLC and PPP on the Democratic Party can been seen in its change on language regarding trade between 1988 and 1992. The 1988 DNC platform supported trade, but mostly stressed protecting the American workers. However, the 1992 platform talked more about opening up trade and used weaker language when it came to protecting the American worker.

Then the 1993 Larry King debate happened. This is genesis.

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Time for Florida Democrats to truly come together, not just talk about it.

FDP_130109Well, the vote is over. Stephen Bittel is going to be the chair of the Florida Democratic Party. From my projections, I assumed the vote would have gone to a second ballot, but it seems that some who were projected to go one way instead voted for Bittel. Either way, the race is over. Stephen Bittel is the Florida Democratic Party chair for the next four years, and all Democrats in the state must accept this result.

With this election, it is now time for Florida Democrats to come together. No, coming together does not mean submission. Coming together requires everyone to work with one another to make sure that Democrats win in Florida in 2018 and beyond. Remember, no matter what side you were on in this race, the end goal is to elect Democrats. Our eyes cannot be taken off of that primarily goal.

First, to the ground troops of the Florida Democratic Party; Stephen Bittel stated that he could raise money for the party. Overall, this is a good thing. Just because somebody raises money doesn’t mean that the cannot work on grassroots as well. Let’s see how much money he can bring it. But also, let’s see how well he can organize the party in general. Yes, we need to give Bittel the benefit of the doubt. And unlike Donald Trump, who wants to destroy our country, the end goal for all of us is to see Florida Democrats elected. I am sure I will be repeating that like a broken record, but it does need to be repeated.

Now, let me talk directly to Stephen Bittel (whom I doubt is reading this, but I will write it anyway). There are wounds in the FDP, a lot of wounds. Over the last four years, nobody did anything to heal those wounds. Instead, those at the grassroots level were treated inferior by the FDP executive. As a result, we see less people involved with the Florida Democratic Party. Since I  started my involvement with Florida Democrats in 1991, I have seen some numbers grow and some numbers fall. I have seen people come and go. I have seen people who have contributed a lot to the party decide to leave out of frustration. This needs to be addressed. So please, Chairman Bittel, be the person that can heal the wounds of the party.

While I recommend that Stephen Bittel listen to party activists, simply listening will not do. He will have to show that he truly understands the concerns of those on the ground. Providing lip service and then not working with the rank and file simply will not work. To heal these wounds, working together MUST be the top priority.

In order for the party to heal, the following needs to be done.

TransparencyIf there is any theme to this election, it would have to be a desire for a more transparent Florida Democratic Party. Transparency does not only mean that the executive keeps the state committee informed on a regular basis regarding the business of the party, it also means giving the state committee an “advise and consent” role when it comes to hiring major positions in the Florida Democratic Party.

Vendor reform: This was the biggest issue brought up by Alan Clendenin. Overall, the Florida Democratic Party has not done a good job when it comes to identifying those who provided services to the Florida Democratic Party. This is a top priority, and vendors should not be given contracts based on patronage.

Election reform: Stephen Bittel himself said that the way in which people have to qualify for the position was crazy (yes, somewhat ironic considering the challenges yesterday to candidate qualifications). Therefore, this is a campaign promise that needs to be kept. What will need to be done? Well, we have four years to decide that. Still, it needs to be done.

Shifting party operations to Central Florida: This is something which has been discussed quite often. It just makes sense form a practical standpoint. Bittel was the only one that did not commit to relocating the campaign operations.

BUILD THE DECS!!!!!!!: The people who are going to have the most impact when it comes to winning local elections are the men and women who knock on the doors, know the neighborhoods, and are able to talk to the voters. When I stated I wanted to run for Florida House District 44, I said so because they are my neighbors. I know these people. I knew that the tide was changing among my Republicans and independent friends. Yet, nobody listened. The state party should build a strong relationship between Tallahassee (or wherever) and the local DECs. Another one of Bittel’s campaign promises was to have people working throughout the state as possible regional field directors. But still, the people who are going to be able to find the best candidates to run are those who live in the counties, not the state party. Therefore, we need to give DECs the resources to go out and recruit quality candidates.

Don’t take sides in primaries: It didn’t work in Orange County, and the FDP does more harm than good in these situations.

Working together NEEDS to be done now. Yes, this means that Stephen Bittel and Stacey Patel need to work together for the common good! This isn’t a recommendation, it is a requirement! And because rank-and-file Democrats need to make sure that the state party is working for them and not against them, it is time to organize for the next FDP chair race in four years. It is time to do it now. If Stephen Bittel does a great job, then everyone can reelect him. However, if he does a poor job, Democrats need to make sure that he can truly be challenged.

Lisa King is the best choice for Florida Democratic Party chair.

15622158_431485553642192_7550311417053279000_nOne thing that has to be said about the 2017 race for Florida Democratic Party chair is that it has been quite open. In previous years, everything was done behind closed doors. However, multiple candidate forums have been live streamed on Facebook, giving everyone a look at the candidates, not just state committee members. Because of the nature of these forums, it is important that the state committee picks the party leader that best represents the views of the party rank-and-file members in order for the election to have legitimacy. Yes, we have entered a new era of party politics, which will benefit everyone.

When looking over all of the candidates vying for the position, one candidate stands out as the best choice for chair of the Florida Democratic Party…Lisa King.

Lisa King has been involved with Florida Democrats since she was a child in the 1970s. When I got involved with the party in 1991, King was an important person in the Florida Young Democrats, as well as productive. Since then, she has remained committed to the Florida Democratic Party, as well as to Democrats in Duval County. As far as electoral success, King outperformed Hillary Clinton in Jacksonville City Council District 2 by 5%. Even though District 2 was a strong Republican district, King still raised $173,226 from organizations throughout the political ideology spectrum, which is quite impressive for a Democrat. In 2016, Duval County was one of the only bright spots for the Democrats on Election Night, with King being an important part of the North Florida Clinton team.

In addition to her involvement, she does seem to have the professional comportment needed to hold the office. During her campaign, she has talked about how she plans to bring people together, citing the work she had done in Duval County to bring Sanders and Clinton supporters together after the DNC Convention. As far as her plans for the party, King wants to make the party more open. She is the first candidate to say that selection of party staff should not solely determined by the party chair, but open to the FDP state committee. This approach would provide the democratic reform and transparency that is needed in the Florida Democratic Party.

Another benefit of Lisa King’s campaign is the no-drama approach that she is taking to campaigning. In 1787, James Madison wrote about factionalism in Federalist No. 10, warning us how small groups of people could work contrary to others or a community as a whole. In this election, just like past elections, we see factionalism, with the party establishment supporting Bittel, the Sanders progressives supporting Bullard, and those who are mad at Allison Tant supporting Clendenin. However, King, as well as Leah Carius, seeks the support of all Democrats, not just ones in a certain group. In order to have a strong Florida Democratic Party, the chair needs to be one that can work with all factions, and Lisa King seems to be the logical choice, and has proven that she has the ability to do so with her record of bringing Democrats together in Duval County.

Additionally, understanding the entire state of Florida is also another asset of Lisa King. As a Duval County Democrat, she is in the unique position to understand both rural and urban voters. While from North Florida, she is not Tallahassee-based, thus does not live inside the Tallahassee bubble. On a number of occasions, King has stated that the FDP needs to take different approaches to different parts of the state, and that is absolutely true. Bill Montford would never win a primary in Boca Raton, and a state party chair needs to recognize this.

Lisa King is, by far, the most well-rounded candidate running for this position. Even with that being the case, Florida Democrats still have a strong group of candidates. Still, some do have some shortcomings.

The choice of US Senator Bill Nelson is Stephen Bittel. Of course, he provides a strong fundraising background, which is needed for any political party. But during this campaign, he has failed to show that he has a strong understanding of how state and county parties work. During most of the forums, Bittel’s remarks have been more focused on name-dropping and anecdotal evidence than providing a concrete plan to rebuild the Florida Democratic Party. Still, one question that has not been asked (to my surprise) is how Bittel plans to take his DNC fundraising experience and transfer it to state politics in Florida. Raising money for people named Clinton and Obama is much easier than raising money for Florida House candidates. The only way to see this being successful is by having a top-down approach to rebuilding the party, and having a high-profile, top-of-the-ticket candidate drive the rest of the Democratic ticket. But Democrats have done this before, and it hasn’t worked.

The other high-profile South Floridian in this race is former Senator Dwight Bullard. Bullard is a great legislator, a great speaker, and overall nice guy. However, he does not seem to have a strong grasp at the problems that are facing the Florida Democratic Party. As Steve Schale said (who I totally agree with on this issue), the FDP chair needs to be a CEO or a manager, not an activist. Yet, most of Bullard’s message, as well as that of his supporters, seems to be more about ideology than party structure. As someone who voted in the Orange County presidential preference primary for Bernie Sanders, I am the first to admit that Bernie’s message is not one that will win over Florida. The fact is that Hillary won 64.4% of the vote. Another progressive, Alan Grayson, was also destroyed in the primary. Not only does this show that the state in general is not progressive, but registered Democrats are not that progressive either. A message based on far-left ideology will just hurt the party, not help it.

As I stated before, Leah Carius is someone who should be listened to when it comes to rebuilding the Florida Democratic Party. As a true DEC chair (not just someone who uses a DEC chair position as a stepping stone for FDP chair) she can provide knowledge and vision when it comes to DEC issues. She has clearly shown that she understands the disconnect between the state party and the DECs, as well as the struggles the local DECs have in general. However, the FDP chair needs an understanding of statewide party politics (which is why her having a map of all the counties in Florida during some live streams is a liability, not an asset). As much as people want to move the party’s operations from Tallahassee to Central Florida (which should have been done years ago), the party still needs to be connected to Tallahassee. Therefore, someone who knows Tallahassee as well as the rest of the state is vitally important. If Carius was to lose, the FDP should create a DEC Liaison position and, without hesitation, give her that position. Again, Leah Carius is valuable to the Florida Democratic Party.

Alan Clendenin has run for this position before, and is usually the candidate with the best vision regarding the future of the Florida Democratic Party. When it comes to some of the problems that face the FDP, Clendenin knows them like the back of his hand. The plan that he has presented, which is not much different from what he presented in the past, would move Florida Democrats in the right direction. However, having a good plan and being able to effectively implement that plan are two different things.

Clendenin’s run this time around seems to have a different tone than previously. And while it is not necessarily Clendenin that has change, those who support his candidacy have changed. In 2013, Clendenin’s campaign was based on providing Florida Democrats an alternative to the status quo. However, in 2017, Clendenin’s support seems to come from those who either were mad that Allison Tant in 2013, or those who have fallen out of favor with Tant and the Florida Democratic Party since 2017, and might see supporting Clendenin’s candidacy as a way to get back at the party or Tant personally. While Clendenin’s plan is spot on, this type of factionalism is not what Florida Democrats need to move the party forward.

Overall, Florida Democrats have some strong choices when it comes to Florida Democratic Party chair, with each person bringing different things to the table. However, if this race has shown us anything, it is that factionalism is destroying the Florida Democratic Party. Determining support for state chair candidates based on patronage, ideology, jealousy, anger, or personality should not be the norm. Unfortunately it has become the norm, and Lisa King seems to be the strongest candidate for the FDP chair position to bring Florida Democrats together.

Over the last few weeks, this website has seriously questioned Stephen Bittel’s and Dwight Bullard’s ability to lead the Florida Democratic Party. However, if one of them wins this position, it is important for all of us on every side of this race to extend an olive branch and talk to one another about the future of the Florida Democratic Party. Yes, we can have disagreements, but everyone should be focusing on the common good, which is to get Democrats elected in Florida.

Yes, many of us, including myself, have fanned the flames of factionalism. But with Trump’s victory, Democrats need to work together more than during any time in the past. That means burying the hatchet when it comes to personal clashes that have happened over the years. Basically, it is time to grow up.

This also means staying away from vicious labeling of those who we disagree with, something that I was a victim of in 2013 and that Kartik Krishnaiyer has been a victim of this time around. This level of discourse should never be tolerated, and Florida Democrats need to shut the door on anyone willing practice this method of discourse, and not further embrace them. That is something Donald Trump would do, not Democrats!

Florida Democrats have the opportunity to move their party forward. As MacKenzie McHale from The Newsroom said, “are you in or are you out”?

Florida’s new political landscape: Republicans are expanding, and Democrats should worry.

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This is where statewide elections are being won.

With the election of Donald Trump in November, Democrats were quick to Monday Morning Quarterback as to why Hillary Clinton lost, especially in the State of Florida, where polls were looking good for her. As with other states, we heard that voter turnout was down for Democrats. We also heard that rural America was voting for Trump in record numbers, which could have tilted the balance in states like Florida. However, neither of those seem to be the case in Florida. Instead, Florida has a changing political landscape.

First, let’s look at the voter turnout scenario. Many in the media have said that if we look at the election overall, that  voter turnout wasn’t down compared to 2012, and they were right. But still, looking at general voter turnout doesn’t tell us the whole story. The question that needs to be asked is if turnout increased in places where Trump preformed well, but was lower in places where Hillary Clinton performed well? Using county-level data, it seems that there was no relationship between vote choice and voter turnout (with a model comparing voter turnout increases to Hillary’s percentage in a county, the R-squared was only .05). In Broward County, turnout was nearly 4% higher, while it was 2% lower in Escambia County. So looking at turnout would not explain what happened on Election Day. Continue reading

Florida Democratic Party, Crimea, and the question of legitimacy.

crimea_0When it comes to the issue of Crimea, I have always been torn. Of course, many in the international community argue that Russia invaded Ukraine, thus violating Ukrainian sovereignty, which is absolutely correct. However, governments are legitimate because of the consent of the governed. In the case of Crimea, most of the ethnic Russians (which is an overwhelming majority in Crimea) reject the Ukrainian government, thus Ukraine does not receive the consent to govern in the region. Basically, the overwhelming majority of the Crimean people rejected the legitimacy of being governed by Kiev and favor the government in Moscow. Even if Crimea would have had a fair referendum, I still think the result would have been overwhelming support for Putin’s government.

So, when looking at Crimea, who is correct? Is Ukraine and the international community correct because Russia annexed part of Ukraine, thus violating Ukraine’s legal sovereign territory? Or is Russia correct, because it has received the consent of the governed as the legitimate government of Crimea? Cases could be made for either situation.

If we look at the Florida Democratic Party, there is a similar situation taking place. Continue reading

Party registration and vote choice in Florida during 2016 Presidential Election.

Over the last few weeks, I have been putting together a data set for precinct-level results in Florida. I am still waiting for some final numbers, but I have enough to at least do a preliminary examination of how Florida voted. With the numbers I have, which is over 5,500 precincts (almost all), there is a clear pattern of party registration in relation to vote choice.

Overall, we see that Democratic-leaning precincts were more likely to vote for Trump, while Republican leaning precincts did not break for Clinton. The way that I tested this was by comparing major party voter registration to differences in major party vote total, with positive numbers representing Democrats and negatives representing Republicans. For example, if a precinct had 40% registered Democrats and the Republicans had 30% in that precinct, the number would be +10%. The same applied to the Trump-Hillary vote. The reason that I did major party vote was the lessen the skew that the independent voters might bring. So, in a precinct like Miami-Dade 366, where over 50% of the voters are NPA or minor party, the partisan gap shows only 2.61% difference. Basically, this assumes that NPA and minor party registrants are split in a similar way that a precinct does in major party registration (thus meaning that Democrats would be slightly favored in Miami-Dade 366). I could control for NPAs and minor party voters, but decided not to for right now. Also, precincts with under 25 voters were excluded because they could skew the results as well, since this examination is based on percentages, not raw vote totals. Even with these precincts excluded, there were 5,390 observations, which means only 2.53% of precincts were excluded from the analysis.trump-clinton Continue reading

Time for the Florida Democratic Party to employ political scientists.

dscf47322It happens every election cycle. Political consultants, campaign managers, and even candidates think that they know best when it comes to running a campaign, creating a message, and targeting voters. However, most of this so-called “wisdom” comes from years of doing it the same way without having anyone challenge their methods. We always hear that “this is always the way it has been done” or “we have been successful with doing [insert method here] in past campaigns”. But have they? As far as I know, nobody in party politics have tested to see if their particular campaign methods either work or fail. They do not exclude rival explanations, thus they do not get an accurate assessment of what does and what does not work in political campaigns. Basically, people simply guess as to what method works or not.

In political science, as well as in any science, we try to determine the difference between correlation and causation. Unfortunately, many political consultants and campaign managers do not understand the difference between the two. For example, a political consulting firm that does direct mailing might say that they are successful because eight of the ten campaigns they provided direct mail pieces for actually won. But was it the direct mailers? What about other factors? Were the eight winners incumbents? Were they in more partisan districts that favored their candidacy? Did a good debate performance help? As for the losers, were they horrible candidates? Did they have criminal records? Were they outspent 10-1? Were they unknown to the voters? Were they against the incumbent? Continue reading

Steve Schale’s recent blog post hits the nail on the head.

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Steve Schale is correct about the role of FDP chair (image from Twitter)

I supported Bernie Sanders in the primary. In fact, I had advocated for Bernie to run for president two years before he made the decision to run. When I saw Bernie speak in June of 2014, in a packed pub in Evanston, IL, more than a year before he was addressing thousands of supporters in packed stadiums, I was hoping that I was seeing the future president. Yes, I supported Bernie to the end, but I was also one of those people who agreed with Sarah Silverman’s assessment of the Bernie or Bust people at the DNC Convention that “they were being ridiculous”.

That being said, I am not a supporter of Keith Ellison for DNC Chair. No, this does not have to do with the fact that he supported Stephen Bittel. I questioned Ellison’s candidacy before the election. As for the DNC Chair position, I support Jaime Harrison, the chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party. Why? Well, let me have Steve Schale explain the reasoning:

This isn’t a race about who has the best ideology, or who supported who in the primary. it is about basic management.

You are hiring a CEO. Find someone who is realistic about the job, capable of putting together the resources, and laser focused on the things they can actually control, namely candidate recruitment and organizing. There is nothing symbolic about who holds the job — no regular voter actually casts a vote based on who sits in the party chair, or has any idea who chairs their state party.

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Lisa King provides a refreshing change towards campaigning for FDP Chair.

15622158_431485553642192_7550311417053279000_nI have seen many contests for Florida Democratic Party chair come and go. From the days of Simon Ferro to the current chair Allison Tant, the way in which the Florida Democratic Party chair was selected was a secretive process, where backroom deals determined who would win. Even so, not much has changed from the days when the Florida Democrats were located in the historic Towle House. Places have change, and faces have changed, but the process is still the same.

Even with this process still in place, Lisa King has provided a new approach toward campaigning for the position. While I am sure she perfectly knows that it is the backroom deals that will determine whether her candidacy sinks or swims, her candidacy has provided the most public-friendly campaign that we have ever seen for the chair position. On nearly a daily basis, King is interacting with Facebook members and openly discussing the issues that face the Florida Democratic Party. Other candidates have attended public forums, such as the one held by the Orange County DEC last week, but King has been extremely proactive in keeping people engaged, answering questions, and providing access to a candidate at a level unseen in Florida Democratic politics. It is quite a refreshing change from prolonged status quo. Continue reading

Southwest Orange County shows white-collar shift from GOP to Democratic in 2016.

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Bay Hill: No longer a “Republican Only” area.

For years, Windermere was known as the place that would always vote Republican in Orange County. During the 2000 Presidential election, Windermere voted 73% for George W. Bush. In 2012, Romney won 80.2% in Windermere. However, in 2016, something happened. And yes, that something was Donald Trump.

As someone who has lived most of my life in southwest Orange County, I had a gut feeling that the people in the area were not going to be big fans of Trump. Still, over four years ago I wrote this about southwest Orange County.

The other large concentration of white voters is in southwest Orange County, along Apopka-Vineland Road and down into Walt Disney World, commonly known as the neighborhoods of Bay Hill, Windermere and Dr. Phillips. Unlike Winter Park, these voters are much more conservative, making church connections a top priority for many residents. This is an area where money is important as well as status. While Winter Park has more of a passe and individual style of living, southwest Orange County is very clannish. Most of the voters in this area are already locked up because of the church connection. Commonly known as “Church Row” by the locals, the churches along Apopka-Vineland Road take as much of a political stance as they do a religious one. Even with more people moving into the area even today, the grasp of Christian conservatism still holds a majority of votes. Those who are moving into Dr. Phillips and Bay Hill today seem to be more liberal and very similar to the type of voters we see in Winter Park. But will these liberal voters ever be able to compete with the the conservative, Christian Republican machine? Only time will tell.

Continue reading