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The “super voter” theory of old white voters being the only people to vote in August is outdated.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.

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.

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.

Ban on Internships a Bad Idea

Many professionals start their career as interns, learning the business while working for little or no money, and possibly with our without college credit for the experience.  At Feratech, we always maintained an active internship program, taking advantage of our Boston location to always have young students with fresh insights working for our company.  The interns learned the business, developed valuable skills, and provided useful man power to our growing business.

The administrations has decided to crack down on this practice, which will drastically affect the career prospects of current college students.  By eliminating this practice, firms will dramatically decrease the numbers of positions that they offer, which will result in more college graduates leaving school with a pile of student loans and no work experience.  The administration feels that internships are volunteers, and only the government and non-profits can have volunteers.  The affect of this on the media is the subject of this rant by John Stossel, which illustrates part of the problem.

Given the high unemployment rate, teenagers and students are struggling to find summer employment, because they are competing with out of work people that can work year round without restrictions.  This leaves internships as one of the prime sources for job experience for students, a position being targeted by the administration.  We already know that graduating in a recession hurts your income for ten years compared to graduating in good times.  A 22 college graduate without an internship on their resume is not only competing against those that were able to get a paying internship, but against the 23 year old that graduated the previous year, has the internship, and a year of experience.

My resume coming out of college was filled with internships from high school and college, albeit paid because computer internships were normally paid in the dot-com era, without those experiences, I would have had tremendous difficulty my first years out of school, a decision being laid upon today’s college students.  Given that the administration received two-thirds the votes of the 18-30 crowd, I do not understand why they are taking a position that will have a huge negative affect on those young professionals starting their careers.

A Tory Government and Internet Marketing

Most American Internet marketers are focused 100% on the United States market. It’s an easy decision, it’s the home market, there are few language issues (Spanish language websites are still rare, even for Sun Belt companies), there are 300 million Americans, and it’s a market they know. Those that branch out include some focus on Canada, and occasionally, the UK and Australia play a role. While the allocation of votes has left the Conservative Party with a near majority, it appears that the Tories are about to place their first Prime Minister since Tony Blair’s victory in 1997 — for fun, I went to the Wayback machine to pull a BBC link from before May 1st, 1997, the last time the Conservative Party held power, note the changes on today’s version of the BBC.  Quirks of the electoral map are interesting to political junkies, since the Conservative victory was much larger than Labour’s in 2005 in raw votes, but Labour’s 3 point margin left them with a large seat advantage.  Whether this minority government or coalition government lasts the five year term or not, it is a major change in government.

What makes this interesting is that Labour’s 13 year run included the entire Internet revolution.  When the Conservative Party last held power, 1997, the Internet was in its infancy, and primarily in America.  Now 70% of UK Households have broadband, an entire new industry has cropped up.  In 1997, Windows 95 was still new at bundling Internet Explorer, Netscape was the dominant platform, and plenty of homes lacked a personal computer.

The Internet world is dominated by issues of privacy, security, and taxation.  How will a center-right government approach issues of International trade for services and virtual products.  A young Internet marketer was in middle school when the Tories last held power, making the UK a fixed entity for most of their life.

The International Media is focused on Foreign Policy and issues regarding EU integration, but nobody is talking about any of the areas that might affect our area of the economy.  With the Conservatives pull back from the EU, resulting in less onerous privacy issues, will tax reform make doing business in the UK more interesting?  When we were expanding Creditcards.com, we hosted a UK site (uk.creditcards.com) in the UK, and dealing with issues of payment and legalities were onerous, and issue that a new Conservative government make seek to change.

Labour’s base was “working class” men and women in the cities, the knowledge economy wasn’t a blip on their radar.  Does a new legal environment open up exciting opportunities, or will this area of the economy be ignored.  A hung parliament with a minority or coalition government usually doesn’t last long in the UK’s system, so minor changes and a “snap poll” within a year is possible, or will the Conservatives try to make major changes fast before their government falls and they return to the polls?

Sen. Schumer’s Attempt to Intimidate Facebook

So our wonderful Senate, which has decided to punt on any actual governing in favor of executive departments and the judiciary, has decided to weigh in on Facebook’s privacy policies…  In fairness, it’s just a few Senators, not the entire Senate, but still, this issue is greatly concerning.  Whether it is summoning private businesses for a dressing down, like Goldman Sachs, or now Facebook, the tendency of the Senate to weigh in on individual businesses attempting to intimidate them is greatly disconcerting.

Officially, hearings are supposed to be fact finding when bringing outside individuals in (as opposed to oversight of government bodies), but in reality, it looks like posturing, pandering, and intimidation.  Now, if they are concerned about privacy on the web, and wanted to bring Mr. Zuckerberg in to weigh in on the impact, that would seem perfectly reasonable.  But to instead just send a letter from someone who helps makes laws is really disconcerting.

If they believe that the legal regime doesn’t protect privacy, propose a law to protect it.  However, to simply pander by attacking a high profile business is pandering at best, and an attempt to gain extra legal powers by the government through intimidation at worst.

Whole Foods Boycott, Free Speech in Modern America

I am really concerned by the movement to boycott Whole Foods because of a political position taken by the CEO in an editorial to the Wall Street Journal.  In the editorial, CEO John Mackey expresses his fear of the proposals from Washington, and shares with the readers what Whole Foods has done regarding health care for its employees and urges some common sense reforms to the system, some of which are in the proposal.

Aghast that Whole Foods is a business operation, the upper middle class liberals took to the Internet to punish this company for its CEO being proud of what they did in the company and sharing the experience with the readers of the Wall Street Journal.

Now, Health Care Reform is a pressing issue in America, and has dominated the news and the political cycle for this summer.  Mr. Mackey expressed his opinions and experiences.  He hasn’t used his position at Whole Foods to affect the political debate, he isn’t having the stores he runs promote his agenda.  He, as a private citizen with some knowledge of health care costs as a major employer wrote a well thought out, intelligent editorial, one that some of his customers might disagree with.

As a result, they are calling for his head and a boycott of the firm, putting his livelihood in jeopardy because he disagree with them on a political issue.  Now, this isn’t government censorship directly, but given how much of corporate capital is controlled by pension funds for public employees, for example, that could vote their shares to endanger his job, there is just a wee bit of potential government censorship here.  More importantly, Americans should all be discussing this issue and debating it, and by attacking Whole Foods for the CEO disagreeing with them, it is simply shutting down debate.

If Whole Foods was endorsing his position and broadcasting it in the stores, fine, you have a cause.  But to attack a business because of the CEO’s personal politics, that seems like a way to simple stifle debate in America.  If Whole Foods is neutral, but Mr. Mackey takes a position, Whole Foods should be left alone, and Mr. Mackey should be able to express a position without people going after his livelihood.