The newest Q-poll has indicated that a majority of Florida voters support both Rick Scott’s voter purge and the Stand Your Ground law. While this may give comfort to the conservatives and make the Democrats seem squeamish on these issues, this in fact should embolden the Democrats to stand tall.
Florida Democrats have lacked a unified voice and a coherent message over the years. Much of the reason the Republicans win the debate on issues in Florida is because the Democrats have not defined who they are or what they stand for. Additionally, the Democrats have alienated their core constituencies with mixed messages and a failure to clearly differentiate the differences between the two parties in Florida. Messaging has improved under Chairman Rod Smith but still has a long way to go.
The failure of Florida’s Democrats to take a stand even when it is popular and then try and try to win over the public has been a recurring theme for the past fifteen years as the Democrats have become a permanent minority in state government. Particularly with regards to the voter purge if a strong stand is taken and a message is unified the Democrats can carry the day on this issue. While Congressmen Ted Deutch and Alcee Hastings have been front and center on this matter, with DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz helping to make this a national rallying cry, most Florida Democrats have again been silent and playing scared.
Regarding the Stand Your Ground law, there is more gray area and more room for dissenting opinions within what should be a large tent party. But again, on this issue, the Democrats have an opportunity to clearly define themselves as a party even if it creates a short term hit in some areas.
The bottom line is if the Democrats don’t aggressively push a message that can then be connected to the party’s brand, electoral failures will continue. The cautious approach from the FDP has brought Florida’s party a record of futility in state elections only matched by the likes of Utah and Idaho over the past decade.