Look, I know Josh Simmons, the Progress Party president, I like their website, and I don’t believe every negative thing I hear about that party. But when they use their own introductory video to slander O&B (accusing them of just using online voting as an issue to get votes, not as something to accomplish) – it proves the oft-repeated claim that the whole point of the Progress campaign is as a grudge match with Mark McShera for obtaining a nomination Dictor thought was his.
And worse yet, aside from their better use of graphics, their campaign strategy leaves a lot to be desired. Depending on graduate students and the disaffected leftists to vote in huge numbers simply will not work – non-professional graduate students have never amounted to more than 600 votes (6-7% of the total vote). It can help you win a close race, or can work if combined with other GOTV strategies. But relying on unreliables to vote is not a winning strategy.
Yet, Progress insists that it is and points to last fall’s spike in turnout (higher than virtually every Spring turnout) as proof that their camp can motivate the unreliables. Yet, if you look into the turnout and results of individual districts, the truth comes out.
2000 was the only other Fall election where a non-FBK party won double-digit numbers of seats. Districts A and B are the Greek stronghold. Turnout in those districts was 1,883 votes, or 31% of the total. Compare that to 2008 – 3,459 votes, or 35% of the total. District D is more GDI-friendly. In 2000, over 1350 voters showed up (22%), compared to 1,750 in 2008 (18%).
How about the dorms, which always have higher turnout but are more like swing districts? The nature of the districts have changed since 2000, as now each area government has a senator, whereas back then dorms had only 7 seats, so it’s not a perfect comparison. Let’s instead compare 2006 to 2008. In 2006, nearly 2600 people voted in the dorms compared to 6300 campus wide (41%). In 2008, turnout was up to 3695, but that represented only 37% of the overall vote.
So, last fall, turnout was high all across the campus, but relative turnout was down in areas generally thought of as independent-friendly and up in the Greek strongholds. Believing last fall’s success had something to do with bringing out the GDI base with Dictor’s army of leftwingers and Obama activists is simply not explainable by these numbers. Just as likely, turnout was up both as the Greeks freaked out over the GMG emails, and as non-Greeks voted to punish them for those emails, delivering a wash except in areas where the Greeks didn’t try hard enough to bring out their own base.
Yes – Fall 2008 could have been a huge win for the Independents, but only if FBK wasn’t fighting hard to prevent it. And it more to do with the emails and the presidential election than it does with individual tactics or the charisma of any one politico. And relying on any one politico or any one tactic will fail, even in the election you’re in right now.
I am not foolish enough to think my endorsement matters a hill a beans, given any UF student who might be reading this has already picked sides. But O&B is a sensible choice for the independent movement.
A non-Greek can become Student Body President in 2009. But it won’t be the person relying on unreliables based on a flawed interpretation of last fall’s results. O&B has a strong overall team, a record to match, and a srategy that has won in the past. They may not win this time, but it won’t because their turnout expectations were way off base.