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One-year from Election Day, Florida Democrats Build Robust Operation, Grow Electorate for Eventual Nominee

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In 2019, The Florida Democratic Party has been laying the groundwork and building the infrastructure to set-up the eventual nominee for success.

As we mark one-year out to Election day, FDP Executive Director Juan Peñalosa has prepared a memo, outlining the party's efforts to date.

Top Lines

  • Determined not to make the same mistakes, the Florida Democratic Party began an organized and early effort to lay the infrastructure to win in 2020, 18 months before the 2020 election.
  • FDP has already raised $5.2 million for the campaign to defeat Trump — with more than a year to election day.
  • FDP's campaign to defeat Trump has a paid campaign team of 91 employees, the largest staff of any Democratic State Party in the nation — and equal to the Trump Florida campaign and RPOF combined.
  • With more than a year to the election, FDP has a massive campaign operation and is on pace to register 200,000 voters by July 2020:
    • FDP has increased volunteerism by 1221% over 2015, completing more than 34,000 volunteer shifts in 2019.
    • Registered more than 17,000 voters since program launch in June.
    • Democrats have out-registered Republicans 4 months in a row for the first time in 3 years
  • We aren't waiting until the general election to increase participation and turnout in key demographics including youth, African American and Hispanic voters in the Sunshine State.
    • FDP and the DNC launched a $1.5 million Organizing Corps 2020, employing 300+ college students tasked with organizing FL campuses.
    • FDP has already spent more than $500,000 on paid media to African American, Hispanic and young voters.
    • FDP's organizers are 60% minority, over half speak 2 or more languages (including Creole, Spanish and Portuguese).
  • In Florida, voter suppression happens 365 days a year. To combat suppression, we have launched a year-round voter protection department, with a 24-hour voter protection hotline and regional legal and data teams, ensuring that every voter who is eligible, can register and cast a ballot.
  • More Democrats on the ballot, means more Democrats turn out to vote. FDP has launched Campaign Blueprint and Municipal Victory Programs, to double the number of trained Democratic candidates in Florida, compared to 2015.


Voter Engagement and Registration

The Florida Democratic Party is organizing earlier than ever before — investing more than $5.2 million to date in a campaign team that will span the state, building volunteerism, training staff, increasing engagement and creating the electorate we need to win.

Voter Registration

Florida Democrats have committed to registering 200,000 voters before the DNC Convention in July of 2020. The last time Florida Democrats had a massive off-year voter registration program was 2011 when Florida Democrats registered 180,000 voters before the general election began and President Barack Obama won by 75,000 votes.

FDP launched its voter registration program in late June 2019 with more than half of the $5.2 million raised for our early campaign launch dedicated to voter registration.

FDP's efforts are already paying off, with Democrats out-registering Republicans every month since the program was launched and increasing voter registration by 84% increase over 2015.

Voters Registered by FDP in the lead up to 2016 election vs. 2020 election
  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct
2015 < 5 < 5 < 5 13 40 88 1,260 1,822 2,643 3,332
2019 199 241 360 269 462 1,755 2,661 3,130 3,682 4,961

Expanding the Map

The Florida Democratic Party has the largest staff of any state party in the nation with 91 paid staff members, that includes 54 organizers in 21 counties and 12 college campuses. We are focused on expanding the map, and have placed our organizers across the state, and not solely focusing on large Democratic Counties.

In addition to expanding the geographic map, FDP is also working to increase participation and outreach to key voting blocs, including youth, African Americans and Hispanic populations. Our paid organizers are 60% people of color, more than half of them speak Spanish or Creole and they have been dispatched to communities that have large numbers of unregistered voters in swing and vulnerable legislative districts.

With the launch of our campus organizing program on 12 campuses and our partnership with the DNC in Organizing Corps 2020, which will employ 300+ college students to build volunteer teams and register voters, we are engaging young people earlier than ever before.

By dispatching our organizers to swing legislative and municipal districts to build volunteerism and register voters we are making it easier for our candidates to win. For example: Democrats running in swing seats, Patrick Henry (HD26), Jim Bonfiglio (HD32) and Javier Estevez (105) lost in 2018 by an average of 132 votes. With a year to go, FDP's organizers have already registered 520 voters in those 3 districts.

Launching our Campaign Before we Have a Candidate

The Florida Democratic Party has had large campaigns before. In 2016, the Hillary campaign had more than 500 employees working in the Sunshine State by election day. But, we've never had a large campaign this early and without a candidate.

With more than a year to go, FDP is on par with the Florida Trump campaign operation and Republican Party of Florida combined. And we are seeing the fruits of our labor:

Volunteer Engagement

The Florida Democratic Party is seeing an unprecedented amount of volunteer engagement for an off-year. Floridians are ready for change and we are harnessing that energy into action. Democrats have completed 1221% more volunteer shifts than we did in 2015.

2015 to 2019 - Completed Volunteer Shifts Comparison
  2015 2018 Difference
Jan 759 1,203 +444
Feb 448 1,053 +605
Mar 554 2,185 +1,630
Apr 197 2,555 +2,358
May 86 2,412 +2,326
Jun 340 2,988 +2,648
Jul 134 3,293 +3,159
Aug 123 5,628 +5,505
Sep 85 8,873 +8,788
Oct 109 6,907 +6,798
Nov 88    
Dec 105    

FDP's field operation and increased volunteerism allow us to take advantage of key dates to grow our operation. For example, on national voter registration day, FDP registered more than 1,600 voters compared to less than 100 voters registered by the Party in 2015.

This weekend, to mark "One Year Out," we have a weekend of action with more than 150 events scheduled in 34 counties and on 12 college campuses — with a goal of 2,020 voter registration shifts.

Deploying a Top Down and Bottom Up Strategy

Democrats are excited and energized by their choices at the top of the ticket, and we will rally around whoever the Democratic nominee is in 2020. But, we can't pin all of the responsibility to engage and turnout voters on just one candidate. We need more Democrats at every level of the ballot expanding the electorate and engaging and turning out voters.

We have invested heavily in Campaign Blueprint and our Municipal Victory Program, focused on recruiting more Democrats to run in municipal, legislative and Federal races, because the more Democrats running for office, the more Democrats will show up to vote.

Our goal is to double the amount of trained Democrats running for office we had in 2015. Program elements include:

  • Blue Bench Regional Training and Campaign Blueprint: The FDP Blue Bench Regional Training Events are in-person trainings that cover the fundamentals of campaigns. We have already trained over 100 candidates with trainings scheduled across the state in the months leading up to summer filing deadlines. In addition, we have launched "Campaign Blueprint," a game-changing digital program with more than 100 training modules including everything from how to hire a mail vendor to how to set up a get-out-the-vote volunteer staging location. As part of it we also have a campaign plan generator. First time candidates input information about their campaign and the online tool designs a plan to serve as a roadmap to achieve the goal of winning the election, allowing first-time candidates a valuable guide to win.
  • Targeting: We have created a list of targeted municipal elections we will focus on for the 2020 election cycle. Within these municipalities we will target races that fall into the following three categories: (1) a Democratic win would flip the local government from red to blue; (2) a win would give the municipality their first Democrat in office; (3) win more municipal seats in swing legislative districts to build a pipeline of Democrats who can run for legislative seats.


Coalition Building

Donald Trump has worked hard to alienate crucial voting blocs in Florida over the past three years. But, we can't just expect them to vote for a Democrat without making our case. FDP is building coalitions now with progressive and faith partners to make our case, and build relationships needed to win in 2020.

FDP is hosting 3-4 co-sponsored voter engagement events each month and establishing relationships with partners in outreach and grassroots and faith organizations. We've launched a number of events with dozens of partners across the state, including:

  • Rural Tours: With more than a dozen stops in rural and Red counties, we have partnered with more than 20 local organizations to bring our message to communities not typically touched by Democrats, such as Gulf, Walton and Putnam counties.
  • Cease Fire: While mass shootings receive a great deal of press, communities of color have high levels of gun violence day-in and day-out. FDP's cease-fire program partners with local organizations to educate voters, re-enforce the differences between Democrats and the GOP in bringing about change and actively organizing communities to fight for common sense gun reform.
  • Lunch & Learns: Work with legislators and like minded organizations to connect them with our legislators to share messaging and answer questions.
  • Tally Days: Train activists and surrogates in a lens that highlights their strengths and any area of expertise. Immerse them into a learning experience that feels meaningful.
  • Blue Days of Service: A program aimed at community service that partners our elected leaders, Party leaders and Community Organizations to help grow communities and strengthen relationships.
  • African American and Hispanic Voting Summits: Voter education and mobilization events in African American and Hispanic neighborhoods to educate and inform voters on their rights.


Hispanic Outreach

In 2019 FDP began reaching out to the Hispanic community in new ways. With more than half a million dedicated to Hispanic outreach across multiple communities, FDP has:

  • Launched a weekly Spanish language radio program and podcast, to inform the electorate and hold Donald Trump and RPOF accountable for policies that hurt Hispanic and immigrant communities.
  • Trained over 150 Spanish speaking surrogates in media markets across the state.
  • Launched Spanish language social media channels.
    Tailored FDP messaging to Hispanic communities in Florida, with a focus on issues like Venezuela and Puerto Rico where Republicans are trying to court voters by spreading false information.
  • In addition we have created a legislative working group of Puerto Ricans who are focusing on the needs of those still rebuilding after the hurricane.
  • Over half of our organizing team speaks Spanish and are organizing Hispanic communities in every corner of the state.


Digital Organizing

Moving into 2020 we are fully tapping into the strength and the power of digital; from fundraising to field, we are building out a digital program that will work as our online backbone for all angles of the campaign and party. We are utilizing digital to tell our story and the stories of Floridians across the state, and to build an online community and movement.

  • Expanding our digital community across the state, organizing every county to have a digital presence. As a result FDP's digital footprint has increased 65% over 2018, reaching 44 million people in the first 10 months of 2019.
  • Providing training to over 300 party leaders in digital organizing and the importance of social media in their organizing efforts.
  • Drastically increased small dollar and online fundraising with raising nearly $500,000 in small dollar donations in 2019. That's 17,000 small dollar contributions to date compared to 14,400 donations this time in 2018.
  • Bridging the gap between field and digital - training our field staff how to get content for our digital presence and using digital as another venue to gain volunteers.
  • Launched a Cyber Security department, with a full time security expert and a partnership with cyber and tech experts from Silicon Valley.
  • Ensure our volunteers/elected officials/candidates etc. are well versed in best cyber security practices online.


New Approach to Data and Technology

Ahead of 2020, FDP has acquired new, and more advanced data that will be used for targeting for voter-to-voter contact, registering new voters, enrolling voters in vote-by-mail, and digital targeting.

The FDP is partnering with DNC in a "Democratic Data Exchange" will enable a more free flow of information between candidates, state parties, PACs, C4s and other progressive organizations so that we don't duplicate efforts across the progressive ecosystem of organizations and better reach voters by phone, email and the web.

Voter Protection

In response to the unprecedented attacks by Florida Republicans on voting rights in which they are working to suppress the vote 365 days a year, FDP deployed a year-round Voter Protection Program for the first time ever in an off-year. As part of the program, the Party has set up legal teams in over 15 counties to address voter suppression and serve as a watchdog organization to agencies that are purposefully or inadvertently suppressing votes.

In addition, the Party has launched a 24-hour Voter Protection hotline that will work to educate voters, answer questions and ensure that all legal votes are counted. We are using the hotline to track trends in voter suppression and gaps in voter education so we can address them well before election day.

It is no surprise that Florida GOP efforts to confuse and dissuade returning citizens from registering to vote after the passage of Amendment 4 is the most common call logged on the hotline, and Democrats are doing everything we can to ensure the will of the people is upheld and Amendment 4 is implemented.

Conclusion

President Trump has spent the past three years alienating key Florida voting blocks. Immigrant communities have felt the brunt of the President's hateful policies, Florida's Jewish communities recoiled in horror when the President called neo-nazi's very fine people and Puerto Ricans and Florida's rural communities in the Panhandle witnessed first hand Trump's failure to assist Americans impacted by massive hurricanes (to name a few).

But, pointing out Trump's deficiencies is not enough to win Florida.

In order to win, Florida Democrats need to expand our electorate and build coalitions with partner organizations across the state. We need to train tens of thousands of volunteers to talk to their neighbors, make the case for our Democratic candidates, ensure they vote and ensure their vote is protected.

FDP is taking Trump and his organization seriously and this will be a razor thin election. But, with more than a year to go, we are going back to our 2012 winning playbook. We are committed to registering 200,000 voters, unleashing tens of thousands of volunteers to make the case for Democrats to their friends and neighbors, and doubling the number of trained Democrats running for office across the state to carry the Democratic message to voters.

In Florida, elections are about who feels heard and who doesn't, and who is inspired to vote and who isn't. Florida Democrats are listening, we're focused on building a country that give everyone a fair shake, and we have the infrastructure to make our case to every voter and we're doing it now. That is why Trump will be voted out in 2020.