Swamp vs. Ignite
Three weeks ago, I posted about the four main demographics that dominate SG elections at UF. I’ve also said in the past that the Swamp/Ignite race of 2002 defied the normal elements of these elections. Even Access 2004 was more of a conventional race than Ignite 2002.
Most competitive races at UF involve on one side a coalition of FBK/Greeks and those non-greeks willing to work within the system, and on the other side a coalition of “Independents” and those greeks who rebel against the status quo. Access and Impact 2005 had minimal support from greeks, but enough. Unite, in 2006, appears to be the first since Swamp 2002 to have pulled a large share of rebel greeks however.
The unique thing about 2002, I originally felt, was that the coalitions in that election were more generational in character. The old-school Independents (Jeremy Kaplan, et.al.) and old-school FBK members (Nikki Fried, et.al.) were allied against younger independents (James Argento), non-greeks (Chris Carmody), and greeks (Jess Johnson, et.al.). That’s certainly one way to look at it – and the results showed this generational gap, as Swamp made a historical first in winning seats in Freshman and Sophomore as the opposition party, while losing among Engineers and Grad Students.
But there is another way to consider 2002, one that recognizes that that year there were few young “independents” as opposed to non-greeks, as I described them. Young “Independents” struck out on their own in fall 2001 as the Voice party and lacked any meaningful support, losing 39-1 in the Senate. Demographically speaking, then, Swamp 2002 had greeks who rebelled against the system’s choice of Nikki Fried and the non-greeks who were swept into the system by Chris Carmody as he sought influence within FBK and the system. This left Nikki to retain FBK Greeks and the Independents, which she secured with the choices of Kyle Jones for Treasurer and Joel Howell (a Voice senator and engineer) as Vice President.
They scrambled the political calculus with these unusual coalitions, and as I said the Senate elections for that year showed how unusual things got. AGR was with Carmody, but Agriculture’s seats went to Ignite. Engineers (narrowly) and the Grad Students backed the “greek” party. Freshmen and Sophomores were split, rather than overwhelmingly Ignite. Business Administration was split. The Journalism council was with Carmody, but the Senate seat went Ignite. BOCC was with Ignite, but Liberal Arts stayed with Swamp. And so on.
Carmody’s Senators won a slight majority (20-19 with 1 tie), even as he lost to Nikki 46-51.
But neither campaign really talked of changing the system, some people saw little difference between the two sides, and a few of us were really torn by the election. So it really came down to who liked and trusted Nikki or Chris and those who didn’t.
Does this sound familiar? Well, there’s a fair amount that Swamp 2006 and Unite have with their 2002 cousins, no doubt. But even this race is more conventional than 2002, closer to 2001. Unite has a lot of greeks with it, but they are all rebelling against the system and its choice of John Boyles; Jared has the support of today’s Independents, too. Unite is a conventional rebel-Greek/Independent coalition, centered on progressive and reformist principles (or the promises thereof). Swamp is a conventional FBK-Greek/Non-Greek coalition, except its nominee is a Non-Greek, which is rare.
Both Jared and John have ties to FBK, to the Gator party, and to the College of Fine Arts.
This race brings back memories of 2002, but it isn’t a complete rehash of it. 2006 is different.