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This week I worked in our county Democratic Party campaign office on election day, coordinating drivers with voters who needed rides to the polls and fielding dozens of calls from voters waiting in line or heading to their precinct polling stations. Some wanted to know if their polling stations had moved, as many had with redistricting. Many wanted our recommendation on the eleven proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution, or the Florida Supreme Court and appellate court judicial retention elections. Some just wanted to talk, to vent their concerns and be reassured that Nate Silver and other poll aggregators were correct and President Obama was indeed likely to win both Florida and the White House.
While the Florida presidential outcome was not called until Saturday – as officials waited to count all absentee, vote by mail, and provisional ballots – President Obama finally emerged with a winning margin of almost 74,000 votes. Florida voters also reelected Sen. Bill Nelson by a 13-point margin and every incumbent Democrat in Florida’s U.S. House races. Democrats also gained four U.S. House seats in Florida, with challengers Alan Grayson, Lois Frankel, Joe Garcia, and Patrick Murphy winning their races. Although Rep. Alan West has not yet conceded to Murphy in Florida’s 18th District, all of the ballots have been counted and the state of Florida has certified Murphy as the winner with a margin of 2429 votes. The 0.7% margin is outside the threshold for a mandatory recount.
Democrats also gained eight seats in the Florida state house, and picked up two seats in the Florida state senate, although Republicans still control both state chambers. Voters also rejected eight of the eleven proposed amendments, including all of the most egregious initiatives. The only amendments approved were property tax breaks for disabled veterans, spouses of military veterans or first responders killed in the line of duty, and low-income seniors. Voters also retained all of Florida’s Supreme Court and appellate court judges.
The results in my county were mixed. President Obama lost by almost 7%, but Sen. Bill Nelson won by over 11% and my county mirrored the statewide results on the amendments and judicial retention races. However, our U.S. House candidates both lost by 30-point margins, as did all but one of our county candidates. No Democratic candidates from my county qualified for state legislative races.
I spoke with a state party official who assured they were not disappointed with our results. She explained that 2012 became a base turnout election, where blue counties went very blue and red counties went very red. President Obama lost my county this year by a wider margin than he did in 2008, but by a smaller than Gov. Rick Scott held in 2010. In essence, we conducted a spoiler campaign, forcing Republicans to spend more resources here and thus, perhaps, helping our blue counties turn bluer.
I’d like to thank all of our county Democratic Party members and volunteers here, and I’ll thank all of you again tonight at our victory party. Great work!