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.
Interesting take. The idea that turnout was down in the dorms though I think is misleading. A lot of the dorms are near maximum possible turnout anyways. For instance, turnout in Hume was roughly 60% in 2007, increasing to 80% in 2008. There really isn’t much room for improvement on top of that. When contrasted with off campus districts that have ~10% turnout (and are much larger) it becomes clear that any bump in turnout is likely to increase relative turnout in the districts more than it does on campus.
This is quite true – dorms are pretty much tapped out, especially now that they each have a separate senator.
The problem I saw in the numbers, though, is that turnout was up for both sides, but the turnout spike for Gator only helped in their strongholds. This is different from Dictor’s myth that the turnout spike was one-sided, and caused by his natural greatness.
It’s certainly a warning that he can’t expect to win on that basis. I think, even if turnout remains high in two weeks, that the results will fall into the usual pattern when a large third party (usually a breakaway faction of liberal independents) is present, in that there will be a runoff and the third party won’t be in it.
I can understand you standing behind O&B, but how can anyone seriously support Brandon White? The man is a clear opportunist.
In SG and in politics in general, opportunism isn’t the worst quality one can have. As long as he could deliver the support he promised after each switch in parties. And he is clearly the most qualified Treasurer candidate running in the election, which won’t hurt.
As I said, I live too far away and have been away for too long to have an impact on endorsements. I don’t even know any of the 12 executive candidates personally, although I have exchanged emails with some of their supporters. Maybe I’m wrong on a personal level, but in terms of breadth of experience, strength of ideas, and the right sense of strategy, O&B appears to be a clear and sensible choice. Progress and Unite have their own positives, but they are missing the whole package O&B has.
Well, I’ll give you credit for admitting you aren’t fully involved, but Brandon White is a horrific Budget chairman, and was horrific on the committee as well, so we can all assume his speech about only being where he’s at because he’s black is true. Anybody who knows anything truly about budgets and money at this school saw his actions during the debates hilarious, at best.
Personally, I’m up in the air about the Treasurer candidates. Jose really offers no experience at all, and may not have been too vocal during Senate, but he did actually try to work with his school (Accounting) on the budget cuts. Maryam did a shoddy job last night and is obviously not the best public speaker but at least she’s got Treasurer of a large org and a Special Event under her belt. Brandon is just a giant douchebag who played the system and moved up undeservedly and when he finally couldn’t go any further, he cried about it and left the party. No matter what face they put on sometimes, even the O&B kids know it’s true.
Mr. Kerns I respect your opinions. I have read your blog for some time now. I must say that your objectivity is slightly lacking this semester.
“in terms of breadth of experience, strength of ideas, and the right sense of strategy, O&B appears to be a clear and sensible choice”
Breadth of experience – Unite scores highest on the ballot here, remember the so called insiders, the system, they are who you label them to be because of their unbridled exposure to SG. Interestingly enough they actually have two candidates Laguna and Vickers who bring a wealth of non-sg organizational leadership. The kind of leadership that is untainted by SG politics. Ironically, Vickers isn’t greek and the AA candidate is usually also greek. Let us look back, Drayton, Goodwin, even the esteemed Sowell was a member of a greek house. I forgive you for your failure to highlight this fact, and for your failure to highlight as often as you highlight the Unite party’s greek ties, White’s greek status.
Strength of Ideas – Let’s give it a draw here. 24 hour librrary would be nice, but if I have to hear the JJ kid say let’s work together one more time, I may shoot myself.
Right sense of strategy – I think Unite trumps O&B here again, for sooooo many reasons. First, picking up a non-indie person for the so called indie party is always risky. It can be considered quite hypocritical and the true indie base may reject it. In many ways it neutralizes the indie tone. It can be helpful if you are picking up someone well respected in the other party and you are the first choice and not the last resort. So O&B is gambling and hoping that for every indie vote they lose White will at least bring two, and he very well may. On the point of race, I am not sure that this matters much now that we live in a post-racial America, after the election of the first AA president. I really hope that O&B is not using White to bring AA voters just because he is AA, that may also seem hypocritical. Even if this is the case O&B could get a boost here and it is not such a bad strategy to have an AA on your ticket. We all know the AAs have a strong voting block. So AAs may vote for White. However, I would venture to say that an AA voting block does not consist simply of AAs, I would think they get a huge amount of Hispanic, Asian, and minority support period. So if you add all that up in the AA block, and subtract most of the Hispanic vote and possibly a large chunk of the Asian vote, White still may not beat Laguna, who has a solid base of greeks and Hispanics behind her.
Let’s say White pulls the votes. Will he be pulling them also to the to the top of the ticket? Will he be able to get AAs to vote for the head of the ticket? It is EXTREMELY likely that White will win and the O&B President and VP will not win. If this happens how does this help the indie movement? Will he stay loyal to the indie party? What is his price? Can he be bought by the greeks? After all he is greek and an AA.
Ken please tell me how this is “the right sense of strategy.”
You make a lot of excellent points. Most of my commentary this semester has been geared toward the debate over Progress vs. O&B, as the other indie SG blogger has picked the other party.
O&B found itself in a tough spot this Spring. It lost a chunk of its base to the Progress Party, which is claiming a contingent of left-wing and graduate student voters. To remain competitive with Unite and avoid a 2005-style debacle, they needed to reach out beyond their base. And thanks to Progress, and an overly ambitious White, they had an obvious means for doing so – by softening their indie cred and going more mainstream.
I know it is not the norm of the last three years, but a coalition of ambitious Greeks and more idealistic Independents has never been off the table. Vision in 1997, SUN in 2000-2001, Access in 2004, Unite in 2006 – these are decent examples of an attempt to win by broadening the base. Each had their flaws, and often had used Greek support to shore up the loss of other non-Greek votes (particularly honors kids and IRHA), so it remains to be seen whether it can work – with Sowell proving to be the exception.
I don’t really know the details of which demographics are on which sides, at least not enough to gage specifically how well O&B will do. I think you’re right that White has a chance against a largely unknown Ortega and a more unknown college council treasurer – perhaps even better odds than the white-liberal duo at the top of the O&B ticket. But I also think you’re overestimating the damage his being on the ticket will cause the indie movement.
The worst-case scenario is for White to win and for McShera and most of the rest of the O&B ticket to lose. Then it does leave the indie movement feeling disappointed and left out. But to tell you the truth, if that happens, it will have more to do with the fact that Dictor and McShera couldn’t play nice together than with White’s cross-over appeal to Unite’s base voters.
And you can never quite tell how things will turn out. In Fall 2000, SUN ran one of the best campaigns in Districts A and B in recent memory due to their coalition with an ambitious Greek, but had among the worst showings on campus for an indie party – yet the large trove of Senators won in C and D were classic GDI types.
The real question you have to ask yourself is whether White can do better among the type of voters Unite could get than McShera can do among Progress-types. Who knows?
As for the rest about experience, ideas, and strategy – again, I’m mostly comparing the two indie parties this semester. Unite’s Greek base guarantees them a pretty safe cushion in the election that allows them to play rhetorical games like the “positive new direction” gambit that ends up doing them little good. Right now, Unite just needs to avoid losing their base, and they’ll do more than fine.
Again, I’d only be surprised if Unite is below 40% on the first ballot. I’d be in utter shock if they don’t come in first. And there’s no way they’d fail to make the runoff. For them, it’s just making sure they have a big enough lead on the first ballot to get the lion share of Senate seats.
So they don’t need a fancy campaign this time to win – the better strategy is an important question for the Independents. We’ll leave the question of Unite’s strategy to the expected runoff election.