Watching the Florida Governor race with a disappointed yawn…

Prior to the primary, the Florida Governor’s race was an exciting time on the Democratic side – two campaigns fighting it out – discussing issues and accusations of poor judgement and being in the pocket of some big industry PAC – and the television was filled with discourse on who would be the better candidate on the Democratic side. After the fighting was done and the votes were tallied, Rod went back to Alachua and Jim went back to determine who would be his running mate.

What’s happened since? Davis selected a terrific running mate for Lt. Governor, Daryl Jones and then went into fundraising mode. As reported in the St Pete Times, Davis has lagged in all of the metrics most political operatives discuss in terms of fundraising, field offices, television, and public appearances. I could have also given the same measure, simply by noting the Internet effort that occurred soon after the election. Much like the failed Betty Castor campaign in 2004, the Davis campaign has lost its online engagement strategy and the momentum is waning. Based on this measure, and previous experiences with other Florida campaigns – I worry that the Davis Campaign is in a hole – and, unless a heroic effort is undertaken, we will be discussing Governor Crist.

Web reflects confidence
This might sound silly to most of the old hat people in the political industry, but the appearance on the web often has an impact on the campaign. It is not readily measured, but a good web presence and a strong email campaign often demonstrates efficiency, strength in operation and bolsters supporters confidence in the campaign. Take the following facts in stride:

  • Davis’ emails – give me $$$
    Davis’s emails overwhelmingly cry out for fundraising – four of the last nine ask for money and, most recently, they are discussing the $50, $100, etcera line in the first paragraph. In addition, of the other emails, three are event booster emails (bring out supporters to events) and two are “momentum” emails. None of the emails – with the exception of the most recent one, tries to engage volunteers, and even in this one, it is a post-script request.
  • Crist’s emails – ho, hum
    Crist is even worse in the fact that his emails either read like policy documents refuting the Davis policies or are simplistic “reach-outs” to constituencies they feel are vunerable to acquisition (e.g. a Rosh Hasahana email to the Jewish community was a nice touch). But no where does the campaign even engage the readers to “get involved”. Oh, I can say that the button is on the email header, but that is not an engagement practice, rather it is a “checkbox” in the email (“Do you have the Volunteer link?” “Yep?” sound of pencil checking a box
  • Crist’s website – I am ready for the presidency, Mr. Bush
    Crist’s newly revamped website looks like a Presidential site – leveraging all of the right visuals and navigation tools designed for understanding the candidate. But, what is sorely lacking: a real Action Center. And, as everyone already knows, there is no blog on the site – why risk the potential downside of a public forum on the website when your candidate is double digits in the polls.
  • Davis’ site – ugghh, can someone redesign this for most of Florida?
    Davis’ site – I can not really comment on it without explaining that two facts: I originally designed the Rod Smith website (here is one of the earlier versions of the site) and I am not a fan of the software platform they use. But, what surprises me is that the Davis campaign had the chance to revamp the website to reflect the new monetum and a combination of both the candidate AND the new Lt. Governor and make it a centerpiece of the campaign. Instead, the photos show a greyhound dog wearing a shirt, the blog seems to have reverted to a press release channel, and I get to see the video ads on the site once again. And there is little to no energy on the site at all. How does an enthusiastic Democrat supposed to get energized by that?

Make the Internet work for you!
My simple comment to Davis – get Greg Wahl (yes, I know Greg from another Broward campaign) and any other volunteer coordinator to get off their a**es and start sending out volunteer coordination emails to the Florida supporters. Who cares if you are down double digits in the polls, now? It is about the GOTV, and the Internet is supposed to be the channel that Democrats know to make things happen cost-effectively and efficiently. Greg has done things like this before – and, I assume other staffers have as well. While you may not have the monies for lawn signs and TV saturation – you have raw human talent that can get out the vote – and start the canvass. Make it happen. Please.

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