Florida Wins! How the Florida Chamber’s Political Team Helped Make It Happen
Elections have consequences, and at stake in 2014 were jobs and the economy – “dinner table” issues impacting all Floridians.
The Florida Chamber’s Political Team routinely tracks the pulse of voters, and with polling results showing jobs and education as their top issue, the Florida Chamber’s Business Agenda became the theme for our year-long, $7 million campaign to elect pro-jobs, pro-business candidates.
Our efforts began with one of Florida’s most thorough and well-respected pro-business candidate review processes. The Florida Chamber Political Institute (FCPI) held five candidate interview sessions across the state and interviewed more than 100 new candidates – in addition to reviewing each candidate’s completed questionnaire. Incumbent candidates were evaluated on a rigorous set of factors, including legislator grades on the voting records.
Following this candidate selection process, the Florida Chamber endorsed Governor Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and 91 candidates for the Florida House of Representatives and Florida Senate.
With pro-jobs candidates identified, endorsed and actively campaigning, the Florida Chamber then launched its “on the ground” efforts.
In early February, Governor Rick Scott joined the Florida Chamber’s Board Meeting as we launched FloridaWins.org – a non-partisan news and information website that served as the focal point of our Get out the Vote (GOTV) efforts. FloridWins.org turned voter “dinner table” issues like jobs, education and healthcare into conversations that motivated Floridians to vote. This employer to employee (E2e) GOTV tool provided key information about the candidates that would appear on the ballot, information on constitutional amendments, resources on how to request an absentee ballot and details on early voting. Employers from one end of the state to the other shared FloridaWins.org to help motivate and educate employees – posting flyers in elevators and break rooms.
Florida Chamber team members then fanned out across the state to shore up our support of endorsed candidates as well as our positions on the three proposed constitutional amendments. We met with editorial boards, conducted over 100 media interviews, spoke to business leaders across the state and engaged local chambers of commerce to encourage pro-jobs, pro-business votes.
Former Governor Jeb Bush joined us in announcing our opposition to legalize drugs, and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and business leaders across Florida joined us as we held a highly-publicized press conference encouraging Floridians to vote no on Amendment 2. Like Mel and Betty Sembler, the leaders behind the “No on 2” campaign, the Florida Chamber believes that Amendment 2 (legalizing drugs) is not the kind of business Florida needs for its family-friendly quality of life.
Always with an eye on voter demographics, the Florida Chamber engaged micro targeting strategies to identify voters needing convincing to actually cast a ballot. Our political polling told us that Floridians wanted to know the differences between candidates for the top of the ticket– Governor Rick Scott and Charlie Crist. And, as our polling has routinely shown, voters think trial lawyers are only interested in lining their pockets – not looking out for the best interest of Floridians.
With this knowledge, the Florida Chamber launched a strategic television ad campaign targeting demographics that needed to know The Differences between job creator Governor Scott and trial lawyer Charlie Crist. The Differences worked. Voter turnout among our targeted demographic increased and helped put Governor Scott on the path to victory. In the end, the Florida Chamber was one of the only pro-jobs organizations outside of Governor Scott’s campaign to run a television ad campaign highlighting Governor Scott’s performance and using Charlie Crist’s own words to highlight the choice for voters.
Simultaneous to our television ad campaign, the Florida Chamber shored up its GOTV efforts through an aggressive digital and social media campaign, with Pay Attention and Don’t Know Where to Turn generating over one million impressions.
As Election Day neared, we maneuvered back to E2e GOTV efforts. First, Governor Scott joined a conference call with our Board of Directors, Board of Governors, local chambers and partners to encourage a vote for jobs and the economy. And on the day before elections, we rounded out our efforts with a personalized phone message from Florida Chamber President and CEO Mark Wilson to thousands of businesses statewide.
On Election Day, Florida voters put jobs and education ahead of more frivolous lawsuits and special interests. They reelected Governor Scott, General Bondi, CFO Atwater and Commissioner Putnam – a 100 percent record for Florida Chamber-backed candidates.
Additionally, voters elected 13 of 14 Florida Chamber-backed primary and general election candidates to the Florida Senate – or 93 percent of our candidates. And in the Florida House, voters elected 71 of 77 Florida Chamber-backed primary and general election candidates – or 92 percent of our candidates.
Spearheading the Florida Chamber’s Political Operations efforts is the Florida Chamber’s Political Strategist Marian Johnson. The true hero’s behind the Florida Chamber’s winning political strategies are our local chambers and association partners – those who fight for free enterprise every day.
At the Florida Chamber, we believe voters are smart, and on November 4th they voted to keep Florida moving in the right direction. Thank you to our partners who joined us in the fight for free enterprise, and congratulations to our candidates that will work to create even better opportunities for Florida families.
We now turn our focus to 2016 – a presidential election year. U.S. Senator Marco Rubio’s seat will be up for reelection, and in the Florida Legislature, there are 22 members (14 Republicans, 8 Democrats) of the House and eight members ( 4 Republicans, 4 Democrats) of the Senate that will be term limited. And trial lawyer John Morgan says he plans to bring back his efforts to legalize drugs in Florida.
Proving once again that when the Florida Chamber wins, Florida wins.
So, the bottom line, the battle goes on. The Florida Chamber’s fight for free enterprise continues. When the Florida Chamber wins, Florida Wins.
Key Facts and Takeaways
This election cycle shined a light on the tremendous growth of No Party Affiliated voters. In 1994, there were only 567,000 third party voters. On November 4, 2014, there were over 3.1 million third party voters and 2.7 million of those were NPA voters. There are seven counties with more NPA voters than a major party: Broward, Collier, Lee, Miami Dade, Okaloosa, Osceola and Palm Beach. There are 53 legislative districts with more NPAs than one of the major parties, and one House district (HD 105) with more NPA voters than both Republican and Democrat parties.
Governor Scott defeated Charlie Crist by 1.2 percent, or about 65,838 votes, which is similar to Governor Scott’s 2010 victory when he defeated Alex Sink by 61,550 voters or 1.15 percent. Governor Scott increased his vote from 2010 to 2014 by 242,297 votes. He won 54 of the 67 counties in 2014 – an increase of two counties from 2010
Florida Chamber Polling:
The Florida Chamber Political institute’s tracking polls in October showed Governor Scott winning six media markets – Tampa Bay, Orlando, Panama City, Pensacola, Fort Myers and Jacksonville. Just as the Florida Chamber predicted, Governor Scott won all six of these markets.