When we began analyzing the 2012 Elections, we heard nothing but dire predictions. We were up against an unbelievable funding disadvantage due to the Supreme Court’s Ruling on Citizens United. The Presidential election was not a shoe-in and pundits were positive that the Democratically controlled US Senate was doomed.
What a difference a day – and a lot of hard work - makes.
Although Florida Democrats were outspent four to one, we re-elected Bill Nelson to the U.S. Senate, picked up four congressional seats, and made historic gains in the Florida Legislature.
FEA’s goals were to strengthen the “fire-wall” in the Florida Senate, increase the Democratic margins in the Florida House, defeat Amendments 1,3, 5, and 8 and retain the Florida Supreme Court justices.
One clear result from Tuesday’s election is the elimination of the Republican supermajority in the Florida Senate and House. This means the Republicans no longer carry two-thirds of all votes. Picking up two seats in the Senate and five seats in the House bring the supermajority to an end:
In recent years, Republicans have been able to limit debate and pass controversial bills. This change may push more debate and deliberation about controversial bills. Further, many seats won by Republicans were won with much more narrow margins – a dynamic that may also give pause for those members to act in more moderate ways since each must run again in two years.
Republicans can still ramrod through any legislation sought but the consequences and costs for doing so may be higher.
Why? Due to redistricting, there is now a clear path to achieving a more balanced Florida House of Representatives. A least 12 seats currently held by Republicans could be won by Democrats in 2014.
Locals had significant success and support for district school funding referendums:
· Alachua passed with 68% of the vote
· Leon passed with 76% of the vote
· Miami passed with 69% of the vote
· Pinellas passed with 67% of the vote
· Seminole passed with 56% of the vote
· Collier passed with 80% of the vote
· Pasco passed with 70% of the vote
Our track record:
· FEA recommended retention of all three Florida Supreme Court Judges –all three justices were retained despite being targeted by the right wing -- putting a stop to an unprecedented effort to hijack Florida’s highest court.
Our partners and the 2012 Ground Game:
Florida ran the strongest and largest ground game the state has ever seen. Progressives dominated the I-4 Corridor winning every major state legislative race in Orlando and picking up nearly every one of the legislative and local races in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.
· Voter registration: Democrats surpassed Republicans in voter registration, and out-registered the GOP with Hispanics and women – surpassing the GOP in registration.
· Democrats cut the historical Republican absentee ballot advantage in half.
· Democrats dominated early voting, winning every day of in person early voting by substantial margins.
Through coordination with the Labor Community through the AFL-CIO and the progressive community through America Votes, we did what at times seemed impossible. Of course, we don’t have all the data compiled at this time, but our America Votes partners shared these preliminary numbers:
America Votes partners outlined five goals for the 2012 Election cycle. They met and exceeded those goals:
AV partners knocked on 1,302,158 doors and had 288,335 conversations at the door. In a race that Obama leads by about 50K votes, it’s clear AV’s effort made a difference. Thanks to AFSCME, FNM, SEIU, Fair Share Alliance, Mi Familia Vota and NCLR for doing the bulk of this work.
We picked up two seats, SD 14 and SD 34. While SD 14 was put away early, AV still knocked on 178,393 doors (see below for more). AV partners also knocked on 81,287 doors in SD 34 doing specific persuasion and GOTV for Sachs. AV’s ECO sent 8 pieces of persuasion mail (more than 400K pieces total) and two pieces of GOTV mail.
AV partners blanketed the Hispanic community in Orlando and Osceola counties. Partners worked together to avoid duplication and maximize resources. NCLR and Mi Familia Vota alone hit 71,000 doors in Orlando and Osceola. In HD 112 in South Florida, Florida New Majority executed a canvass and mail program that targeted 20,000 Cubans under 50 years of age, regardless of party registration, that helped pull Jose Javier Rodriguez across the finish line.
Nearly half a million of AV’s 1.3 million knocks took place in targeted Congressional districts that we won– CD 9, CD 18, CD 22 and CD 26.
AV mailed (with funding from FEA, AFSCME, SEIU, Planned Parenthood, and BISC) 440,000 pieces of mail to urge voters to vote no on Amendments 3, 5 and 8. Partners also carried tens of thousands of pieces of various No on Amendment literature and Yes to retain our judges. We won all of these important down ballot votes.
We’ve had significant victories to celebrate … but there is no time to rest on our laurels! We have much to accomplish in the next few months. On the national level, the ‘lame duck’ Congress must address the impending funding crisis or face billions in cuts to education and other programs. The 2013 Legislative Session is just around the corner with new faces, new leadership, and new dynamics to maneuver through. The Legislature will meet on November 20 in Organizational Session to set the stage for the March 5 start of Session. Interim Committee meetings begin on December 3 and run through February – so time is short. And then there’s VAM…
But before too much time passes, we each need to take time to think about the wins and the losses and begin planning now for victory in 2014.
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