2018 Turnout Trends that Impact 2020

2020 is a Presidential Campaign, and 2018 was a Midterm, which makes them not fully comparable. However, when much was written about 2018 being “near Presidential level” turn-out, it is helpful to look at what actually happened in Broward County.

Turn Out Levels? Presidential or Midterm?

Both and neither. In August, the 23.8% turnout  was enormous, 50% higher than in 2016 (16.9%), the Presidential year, and over double 2014’s 10.9% turn out. The last major increase in 2010 reverted back in 2012, so it is too soon to tell if this is a permanent change or a two year fluke. Indeed, in 2018 for November, turnout was 61%, not quite the 72% or 67% of the past two Presidential races, but significantly higher than the low 40s of the past 3 Midterms.

This raises the question, was this a fluke or do we not have a higher level of turnout. Has social media and SMS changed the turnout game for good? It will be determined by the turnout.

Hispanic Growth Exceeded Expectations

The growing levels of Hispanic turnout had reverted back slightly in 2014, which gave us reasons to wonder what would happen in 2018. Would 2018 continue the overall trend of Hispanics making up an additional 1% each cycle, or follow 2014’s trend of a drop in midterms and an increase in the next Presidential cycle.

Making up 12.13% of the Turnout, compared to 10.97% in 2016 and 7.41% in 2014 shows that Hispanic voting power continues to grow and expand. Hispanic voters did not maintain their voting power from the 2016 General Election, but they maintained a lot of it. No candidate in 2020 can ignore the Hispanic Vote and expect to win countywide races.

The Electorate Has Changed – Winners Take Note

The “super voter” theory of old white voters being the only people to vote in August is outdated. It hasn’t been true in several cycles, but conventional wisdom takes a while to change. Increased turnout, a more diverse community, and growing electorate means that historic voting patterns determining turnout simply ignores the last 3 elections of data.

Turnout percentage has been on an upswing while the eligible voters have increased. If you are still campaigning to the 2008 electorate, you are missing 60% of the voters that will turn out this August.

Broward 2018 – First Majority Minority Midterm?

2006-2016 Ethnic Breakdown

2018’s General Election Makeup is On the Cusp of Change

As we enter the home stretch of the 2018 General Election campaign, what will the voter makeup look like for our County? Broward County has been majority minority for quite a few years, but minority voting has lagged. In the 2016 general election, the White Voter base dropped to 47.54%, but going back to 2006 (last data published by Supervisor of Elections), ethnic turnout has been dramatically different for midterms and Presidential Elections.

Ethnic Swings Between Midterms and Presidential Elections

For the recent elections, 2014 was 59.9% White, 26.7% Black, and 14.2% Hispanic. In the 2016 Presidential Year, it was 52.3% White, 25.7% Black, and 22% Hispanic. Contrary to conventional Wisdom, Barack Obama being at the top of the ticket seemed to have little impact on the Black percentage of the voter base, just a general upward trend in broward county (Others removed from this analysis for simplicity).

2016 General Election Ethnic Breakdown
2014 General Election Ethnic Breakdown

Do these swings matter? Absolutely. For Partisan races, black voters break between 4:1 and 9:1 Democratic. Hispanic voters in Florida tend to vote 3:2 Democratic depending on portion of the state. But Broward is a weird county in transition. Two pieces of conventional wisdom should give us pause, since they are subtly contradictory:

  1. Midterm Elections are predominately Whiter and Older
  2. The “Out Party” tends to dominate Midterms

Datasets and Timing

Most political reporters are young, and big data sets for elections are relatively new, which creates a strong recency bias. Since Bill Clinton was elected in 1992, we’ve had a quarter century of two-term Presidencies alternating parties. This means that if you start any dataset other than 2002-2016, you’re going to have an unbalanced set of winners. As American politics have hit near parity since 2000, if you don’t include 4 Presidential and 4 Midterm elections in your dataset, you’re going to have a strong bias towards one party in the general, and the other when looking at midterms… working on the mathematically sound basis that years that Republicans win are years that they outperform and the years that Democrats win are years that Democrats outperform. This is mathematically tautological, can only be diagnosed after the election, but illustrates the importance of choosing long enough data sets to not be biased towards the recent winner.

You’ll note that Turnout goes up and down in sync in Broward County. The Republicans outperformed in 2010 and 2014 (Strong GOP years as the outparty), but Democrats outperformed in 2006, a strong Democratic Year as the out party.
Party Turnout Over Time

Turnout should be about 50% for both parties. If it’s as expected, and a strong Democratic year as the outparty, we should see a blue line above the red line. However, Broward County’s turnout has improved over the past 12 years, and both parties should expect a strong turnout.

Ethnic Trends Predict a Different Broward County

Ethnic Turnout Percentages over time

Things get more interesting in the Ethnic Turnout Patterns. Turnout is up overtime in Broward County, but it’s ethnically interesting. It is assumed that Barack Obama heading the Democratic Ticket caused a growth in Black Voter turnout, and in Broward, like nationally, Black Turnout exceeded White Turnout. What’s interesting is that in 2012 and 2016, the same thing happened. Black Turnout that was depressed in 2006 (A Democratic Wave Election) now looks like White Turnout. Hispanic Turnout reached parity in 2016, and it is possible that that continues into 2018.

If Hispanic Turnout, like Black Turnout, has now reached near-parity, then we will see a majority minority midterm for the first time in Broward County, with a 48% White, 23% Black, 19% Hispanic, and 9% Other voter base. If Hispanic Turnout reverses to its previous midterm status, expect to see an electorate that is 54% White, 24% Black, 14% Hispanic, and 8% Other.

Florida’s Top of the Ticket Race, Governor, is a Black candidate. This gives a certain superficial similarity to 2008 and 2012, where Barack Obama was the top of the ticket race.

Non-Partisan Races Should Prepare for a Range of Options

The Black portion of the electorate has been pretty stable between 22% and 25% since becoming serious voters in 2008. Given the remaining at parity in 2016, it seems unlikely that it regresses to the 2006 40% Turnout Rate, which would drop down down to 110,000 black voters. Assuming that 2018 is a Democratic year (as the out party) with a 50% Black Turnout, 140,000 Black Voters seems more likely.

White Turnout is more constant, hovering in the 45% – 50% range, including both 2006 and 2010, alternating wave years. This puts the white voter base between 235,000 and 260,000.

Hispanic Turnout is the wildcard, if the near parity of 2016 is real, we could expect turnout of 45%. If Hispanic Turnout regresses to the prior levels, then 30% is more likely. With the massive growth of Hispanic voters, that puts Hispanic Voter turnout at between 75,000 and 115,000 Voters, a wider range than the larger white voter base. Campaigns would be well to direct their resources handling both scenarios.

Best Guess? What will 2018 Broward Turnout Look like

I am prepared to guess that Black and Hispanic Turnout will be on the high end of their ranges, White turnout will be in the average for the range. That places us with 250,000 White Voters, 140,000 Black Voters, and 115,000 Hispanic Voters, plus another 40,000 “other” voters. With a total voter base of 545,000 voters, how campaigns get to 275,000+ votes will require multi-ethnic coalitions. I’m also predicting that White Voters are going to be 46% of the electorate, our first majority minority midterm general election.

2018 Ethnic Breakdown Prediction

Note: Charts above ignore “other” so the percentages are off. To illustrate my minority-majority prediction, I added them back in.

Social Media is Growing as a News Source

newspaper folded up

Despite the Plethora of #FakeNews, social media is growing as a news source. Even more shocking, its rapidly growing in the over 50 set, while younger Americans seems to have peaked, albeit at 78%.

Thanks to Pew Research for the breakdown, Key trends in social and digital news media. I hope that they’ll update this, because it’s a few months old already, but the trends are clear.

Social Media is Catching Up with Television

News Sources Over Time

In 2016, Television beat Online News by 19 Points. In 2017, Television beat Online News by 7 Points. We’ll expect that 2018 numbers will show that Online is overtaking Television. The shift is rapidly, with explosion is those getting their news on mobile devices.

It’s NOT the Young Driving these Trends

Kristen Bialik and Katerina Matsa Report:

More than eight-in-ten U.S. adults (85%) now get news on a mobile device, up from 72% in 2016. The recent surge has mainly come from growth among older Americans. Roughly two-thirds (67%) of those ages 65 and older now get news on a mobile device, a 24-percentage-point jump from 2016 and about three times the share in 2013. Mobile news use also grew among those ages 50 to 64, with about eight-in-ten (79%) now getting news on mobile, about double the share from 2013. Large increases in mobile news use also occurred among those in lower-income households.

If you think that this is a trend among the younger demographic, it’s not. Younger people embraced mobile years ago, the growth is in the senior demographic.

Two out of Three “Senior Citizens” (65+) get their news on a mobile device. Contrary to the image of elderly voters staring at Fox News for hours on end, the growth is among older Americans and lower-income Americans.

Online News Matters. Mobile News Matters.

Do They Believe The Online News

They say that they don’t, they see lots of fake and misleading news, but they keep consuming it. How does a plethora of fake news being consumed impact your perceptions of reality? Is your brain capable of filtering out the misinformation?

Only 5% of people have a lot of trust in the news that they are consuming. People only recognize the source of the news 50% of the time, which creates tremendous opportunities for purveyors of questionable news to impact people that may or may not realize that it is coming from a questionable news source.

The efforts at “Fact Checking” are largely limited to national sources and campaigns. At local levels, there is little to no attempts to filter out fake news. We saw a plethora of nonsense news explode nationally in 2016, but how many local sources are we seeing explode now, pushing nonsensical stories to a willing audience.

How Does This Opinion Leaders

You need to be online, you need to engage with online news, and you need to be promoting in Social Media. Even the people you think aren’t paying attention online, are. The vast majority of Americans now get some or all of their news online, predominately on a mobile device. This shift has happened rapidly, with rapid increases in the last two years.

If you reach out to people the same way in 2018 that you did in 2016 or 2014, you will be shocked at how much the electorate has changed.

Shifting Demographics Cause Rapid Changes in Electorate – 2018 Primary Update

2016 Ethnic Breakdown in Broward County

Much was made in the 2016 election about the growth of the Hispanic voter. Minority voters are not evenly distributed in this country, and in metropolitan South Florida, that is readily apparent. Where we are based, Broward County, just north of Miami, became majority minority years ago, but the electorate is just catching up.

Primary Performance by Minorities Lags

White voters comprise 45% of the Broward County Electorate by registration. In November 2016, a Presidential election, turnout was up across the board, and White Voters were only 47.5% of the vote, slightly above their percentage of the electorate. However, in the August 2016 Primary, where most of the real decisions are made, White voters were 55% of the electorate. In the lower turnout primary (17% vs 72% in the general), the electorate is whiter and generally older.

This causes power to shift subtly, as county wide partisan races are nearly determined entirely in primaries, since Broward County generally votes for Democrats by a 2:1 margin over their Republican opponents. Judicial races, which are non-partisan, will be placed on the primary if there are two candidates instead of the general.

Demographic Trends are Clear, Pace is Delayed

Everything happening on a national scale is happening in Broward County, and it’s happening at the Primary level, just delayed 8 years. If you are campaigning in Broward Primary in 2018, you are facing an electorate with an ethic makeup that looks more similar to a 2010 general election electorate.

Hispanic Voters now turn-out in equal numbers to African Americans for the general election, about 1 point less than White Voters, but in the primary election, the turn-out rate is half that of non Hispanic Voters. This will result in a lower representation of Hispanic interests in judicial elections, since many of them will be determined before they turn to vote.

Trends within the Primary Electorate

Trends show that the white share of the electorate declining about 2.5% each election. It comes in fits and starts, but it is possible that 2018 will be majority, minority, but most likely in 2020 or 2022 we will see this shift in Broward County. This will change in 2018 if Hispanic voter turnout matches White and Black turnout, which would push the white vote under 50%, but most likely it will take a few more cycles.

Gender and Partisan Affiliation is more Constant

Party affiliate shows a slight decline in Republican voters in Broward County, but the pace could be flipped by a single election with an upturn in GOP voters.

Gender remains pretty constant at 55% Female – 45% Male.

Broward Politics Should Become More Diverse

The political establish of Broward may be slow to shift, but as the minority turnout increases each cycle in the primary season, the political leadership of Broward County should continue to shift. The Democratic Party will continue to dominate Broward County politics, but Black and Latino candidates will have a stronger reservoir of ethnically aligned voters in primary races, which should over time make our leadership more representative of the people.

Use Your Middle Initial(s) to Appear Intellectual

Names impact people’s perception. Students whose first name begins with A or B have higher GPAs in school. Names “perceived to be white” get more call backs from resumes. Supposedly people with last names in the beginning or end of the alphabet engage differently in various impulse and scholastic behaviors. But those traits are outside of our control. Presenting your middle initial or not is 100% in your control. When researching likability and names, I found this study originally published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, The impact of middle names: Middle name initials enhance evaluations of intellectual performance.

Methodology of Studies

The full details are in the article, but they essentially ran a series of tests to see how people perceived the subject based on the presentation of the name. Subjects were asked to rate things from a scale of 1-7 from not-at-all to very much. The details varied in each test.

Evaluating Writing Performance

On a writing competence evaluation (study 1), those with middle initials had an average score of 5.62 instead of 4.92. The highest results were three middle initials (6.00) or a single middle initial, 5.80, while two middle initials was not significantly higher than none (5.05).

The fact that using three middle initials in ones name rased the score a full point out of 7 is pretty substantial, since it is costly. But the single middle initial was nearly as high.

Almost everyone has a middle initial, you should always publish using it, and I just added my Middle Initial to by blog and LinkedIn Profile.

Perceived Performance

We all want to be evaluated well in performance. Can something simple like your middle initial make a difference? In Study 3, they tested the perceived performance for intellectual pursuits and non-intellectual domains (athletic performance).

To evaluate this, the testers were asked which team they wanted to join, where Team A had more middle initials than team B. In the intellectual area, Team A won with 5.43 vs. 4.54 for Team B. In the athletic arena, there was nearly no change, and no statistical difference was inferred.

Perceived Status and middle Initials

Organizations perceived in higher intellectual status were expecting middle initials (study 2), which was reinforced in the performance study, but the more interesting branding question is your perceived status (study 4). The addition of middle initials raised the perceived status to 5.14, from the control group’s 2.99. If you want to be perceived as high status, use your middle initial.


I found the paper fascinating. But the primary business take-away, if you want to be perceived as high status or intellectual, use your middle initial. If you can do something extreme like use three middle initials, it may work better, but two middle initials seems counter productive.

Given the paucity of the 2/3 letter combinations in the 6 studies (it was only in study 1), I recommend that those wishing to be seen as high status or intellectual use their middle initial.

2018 Social Media Strategy Overview

Two heads sharing questions and ideas

There is no one side fits all strategy to Social Media, but ignore it at your risk. There are several major platforms and a plethora of minor platforms, but for small business brands and political brands, there are a few to focus on. Thank you to Pew Research for putting these facts together.


YouTube, by reputation, is that of a video streaming service, but the YouTube.com site is a much broader social platform. Comments, discussions, sharing, and thumb up/thumb down scores all contribute to the YouTube experience. Sure you can embed a YouTube video on your website without using those functions, but YouTube.com is now the second largest search engine (after Google.com), and Google Video searches rely heavily on YouTube. A strong YouTube presence, including the social components of commenting on related videos and replying to comments, is very important. As of January 2018, 73% of Adults use YouTube.


The largest of the pure Social Platforms, 68% of Americans have Facebook Accounts. Only Facebook knows what percentage of them are regular and active users, but Pew pegs it at 74% of American Facebook users use it at least once a day. That’s self reported, so take it with a grain of salt, but Facebook may be the easiest and most direct way to reach people. It is not sufficient to have a Page that you share content to. Links to your website, with proper boosts, and audience building campaigns are critical to brands having the ability to engage with people that interest them.


Instagram, the Facebook property, is in third place with 35% of Americans having accounts, 60% of whom use it at least daily. That makes Instagram an important, but not as critical, part of your social media strategy. A simple Instagram account, with a regular picture and caption being added, with good hashtags, can go a long way towards building your brand. A serious effort to build followers and engage can have more serious results, but it depends on your brand. If your goal is to build deep relationships with users (premium luxury brands), Instagram should be front and center. If you need a more casual relationship with the bulk of the population (think politicians, Instagram can be more perfunctory).

Niche Platforms: Pinterest, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Twitter

These platforms, are relatively popular, all having a decent population, with dominance in their area, but lack a universal presence. The usage gap between these platforms and Instagram is only a few percentage points, but Instagram is rapidly growing and these niche platforms are relatively static in their user base. For completeness, Pinterest has 29% of Americans, Snapchat 27% of Americans, LinkedIn has 25%, and Twitter 24%. These aren’t small audiences, with large segments of the population in their niche.

Pinterest is very popular, but is demographic specific, being 81% female, and a median age of 40. The active pinners are younger and even more female, and among Millenials it equals Instagram. It has a strong advertising platform, and is very strong around lifestyle, hobbies, and brands. If you market your brands towards women under 50, Pinterest is a great addition to your platform. (OmniCore’s Pinterest Statistics)

Snapchat is popular, but niche. The advertising platform is immature, and it is challenging for non-celebrities to build a following here. Unless you are in fashion, music, or other youth targeted segments, it is probably more worthwhile to focus on other platforms. But if you are targeting college students and younger, SnapChat is essentials. (OmniCore’s Snapchat Statistics)

LinkedIn is a valuable, and expensive to market on. If your target audience are business professionals, it’s a critical platform. Sales Professionals live and die by LinkedIn. Gainfully employed people may only look at Linkedin when job hunting. If you are selling into corporate markets, LinkedIn needs to fit your platform. If you are marketing to consumers, LinkedIn is probably not going to generate an ROI.

Twitter is a super strange platform. It’s relatively small, but sometimes has an out-sized influence. It is popularly credited by the media with dominating the 2016 election, but there are so few people on it. It is more popular overseas, where the lower data needs and more free-flowing conversations avoid censors. Twitter is extremely possible with journalists, public relations firms, and celebrities. The ability to run the messaging from a cell phone makes it much flexible for those in the business of communicating with those industries. While Twitter shows Videos and Images, pure text messaging still works. If your business is looking to reach journalists, generate publicity, or communicate with customers in a free-wheeling fashion, Twitter should be part of your communications strategy. Twitter’s advertising tools are shockingly primitive, but it’s very powerful if you are trying to reach the demographics active there.

YouTube as Search Engine

YouTube is the Second Largest Search Engine.

People go straight to YouTube, looking for content.  In addition, content on YouTube filters into Google Video Search and Google Video Results on the “All” results page, but YouTube searches themselves are increasingly valuable.

Is your Brand Utilizing YouTube Properly?

YouTube Channels Matter

You definitely need a YouTube Channel, and that Channel should be optimized on your name.  When you are uploading videos, you want to make certain that people looking for you find your official page.  (Yes you can create multiple YouTube Channels, but how and why you’d do that is a more advanced topic).

Your Name, images, description, all these things matter.  Setting up your Brand Account is critical if you want to share access with others, or separate your professional and business life, and you can learn about Brand Accounts from Google, Manage your Brand Account.

YouTube Video Optimization Matters

If you are competing on a competitive generic phrase, you can spend endless hours working on learning SEO both on your website and on YouTube as a platform.  For Basics, you want to focus on the core areas of ranking:

  • Use the Brand Keyword in the Title
  • Compelling Thumbnail and Title that encourages people to click on your video
  • Say Your Target Keyword (so it gets transcribed)
  • Invite people to comment and subscribe in the video
  • Ask People to Subscribe to the channel
  • Promote Your Video to get Views (on your Blog, on Twitter, in your Email Signature, everywhere)

YouTube Can and Will Drive Quality Traffic

YouTube gets people looking for entertainment and information.  If your video offers either, it’s a great way to promote your brand, and a great way to engage with your customers, clients, and prospects.


Branding in Politics: All the Difference in the World

Retirement Savings is probably the most challenging economic issue facing the country. I presuppose that the issues with resolving the “crisis” are not political, but marketing.

Nataxis Global Asset Management commissioned a survey, and Time Magazine is reporting that 82% of Millennials support mandatory retirement plans and 75% support mandatory matching contributions.

Intuitively this makes sense, 82% of Boomers are counting on social security, but only 55% of Millennials think that social security will be there for them.

Interesting, if you ask people about expanding or cutting social security, according to Huffington Post, support for increasing social security reaches 70% among Millennials and 75% for Baby Boomers.

What does this mean:

  1. Expanding Social Security is VERY Popular
  2. Mandatory Retirement Savings in personal accounts is VERY Popular
  3. Mandatory Retirement Matches is VERY Popular
  4. Cutting Social Security is VERY Un-Popular

Notice a pattern here? Social Security is funded via a mandatory payroll tax on the employee and employer, a “match” if you will. The “optional” Bush Plan 10 years ago was super complex, was based on optional contributions to private accounts that would reduce benefits, and other confusing options.

What if instead the plan were phrased as:

  1. Expanding Social Security with Mandatory Retirement Accounts
  2. Employees and Employers would be required to contribute
  3. The accounts would be private, and default to Treasury Bills
  4. People could move their Social Security Investment Account to fiduciaries, or not, with limited investment options

That sounds economically, exactly like privatization. But every branding exercise would focus on expanding social security. Now sell your Social Security Expansion plan via Social Media, and you have a winner.

2016 Politics Rewriting Branding Script

Every election cycle has had a “new technology” story.  In 2000, the addition of a website was exciting.  In 2004, it was the use of Websites to fund-raise rapidly instead of relying on slower direct mail.  In 2008, social media was new with a method for engagement of passionate followers.  In 2012, campaigns broadcast with their followers, amplifying their messages.  In 2016, the social media campaign was the campaign.

The Democratic Party’s edge in online marketing was eclipsed by GOP Efforts to build a massive digital operation over the past year.  The President-Elect’s background in Brand Marketing has brought this to the forefront, but the rewriting of election campaigning has already begun.  Twitter’s dominant presence in journalism led to a redefinition of the news cycle in 2016.

While 2012 features television ads shared on YouTube with the occasional “web only commercial,” 2016 focused on partisan media plays created in the run-up to the election and a person-to-person social media based news fight through election day.

Partisans were able to form like minded communities in the 2016 social media world, in a stronger manner than the engagement was with the prior world of forums and dedicated posts.  Contrast the 2004 – 2008 election cycles, where partisan groups like Daily Kos dominated the conversation of partisans but were ignored, to the 2016 cycle where Democrats and Republicans seemed to exist in separate worlds for months.

While a Presidential Election may be an extreme event, the methods by which brands will connect with their followers will continue to evolve.  But the power of social media to drive the national discussion seemed overstated as recently as 2014, and now seems obvious.

2016: Convergence of Social and SEO

The last few years have seen major changes in trends for Internet traffic.  Social has exploded in importance, driving more traffic than search.  How marketers adapt has been interesting.

Until this year, companies could run their social media and content marketing operations separately.  Social media focused on brand engagement, content and SEO teams focused on driving eyeballs to the site.  In 2015, Google and Twitter’s deal came to fruition.  Additionally in 2015, Google’s Google+ Service got integrated as Google Local.  In 2015, these were add-ons, throughout 2016, the integration moved to the core of the system.

So what changed in 2016?

  • Semantic Web Became Real
  • Mobile-Optimized HTML (AMP, Facebook Instant Pages)
  • Video Came of Age

The Semantic Web was of academic interest until it exploded with social in the past year.  Open Graph and Twitter Cards became “must have” features as the social media networks gave prominence to links with content instead of merely including pictures.  As sites were updating to support these additions to HTML, supporting the Semantic Web just made sense.

Mobile-Optimized HTML dealt with the reality that Mobile Responsive wasn’t enough, with increasing mobile bandwidth, slow speeds and high latency were an issue.  Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages and Facebook Instant Pages have a shared core to deploy a cache-able stream-lined version of the website, feeding both social efforts and search efforts.

Every year has been the “year of video,” but 2016 really took off.  YouTube’s social integration with Google+ and enhancement of their social features really pushed Video to the forefront.  Pre-loading video on Facebook made including video critical to engagement, and the Video Advertising space heated up.

If you are still looking at SEO as something you should do (instead of building into your site structure) and Social Media as something else, you need to rethink that for 2017.  In 2017, all methods of interaction are becoming unified, and you should plan to engage in SEO, Remarketing, and Social Media as a unified structure.