by Alan Grayson, U.S. Congressman for Florida’s 9th District, published July 9, 2015
As you may have heard, Democratic turnout dropped off a cliff again last year, just like it did in 2010. I was wondering why, so I asked. I polled Florida non-voters. I found that the main reason why they didn’t vote last year was simple: They couldn’t see any difference between the candidates. When there is no difference between the candidates, Democrats don’t vote, and Democrats lose.
By way of background, the top race in Florida last year was the race for Governor. The Republican incumbent was Rick Scott, whose hospital chain perpetrated the largest Medicare fraud in history. (That is not a misprint.) Nevertheless, because he had an (R) next to his name on the 2010 ballot, he won. He has been a horrible governor, easily one of the worst in the country. Everyone knew that the Democrats had a chance to bring him down last year, especially since our Democratic President had carried Florida twice in a row. There are 500,000 more registered Democrats than registered Republicans in Florida.
The Democratic nominee was Charlie Crist, a REPUBLICAN former governor. Crist was so far to the right that he was known as “Chain-Gang Charlie.” In 2010, when Scott was first elected, Crist killed the Democrat’s chances for a US Senate seat from Florida by dropping out of his own Republican primary, where he was 25 points down, and running as an “independent.” That “stinking maneuver” (as Yitzhak Rabin would have put it) made Marco Rubio the junior senator from Florida.
Rather than shunning Crist for blowing that 2010 Senate race for the Democrats, the Democrats actually recruited him. They crowned someone who was a Republican just a few years earlier, and a conservative Republican at that, as the “Democratic” nominee for governor.
Political strategists called this a brilliant move by the Democratic Party. And Democratic voters were appalled, as my own little poll showed. Democratic voters stayed home in droves, and the Democrats lost.
As Gov. Howard Dean has said, if you offer people a choice between a real Republican and a fake Republican, they will choose the real Republican every time. And they did. Getting back to our poll, we focused on people who actually could have voted, not permanent residents, convicted felons whose rights had not been restored or children. We offered the non-voters 12 different reasons to explain why they hadn’t voted. Reason #1, the most “popular,” was that “people did not like either choice for Governor.” Forty-one percent of the Democratic non-voters said that this was the main reason why people didn’t vote.
By the way, the non-voters were overwhelmingly Democratic, whether or not they were registered as such. When asked whom they had had favored in the 2012 Presidential race, they chose Obama over Romney by 17 points. President Obama won Florida — among the actual voters — by less than one point.
So, let’s be honest. When we put up a pseudo-Democrat or a neo-Democrat or a quasi-Democrat or a semi-Democrat for Team Blue, our voters are not amused. They are not fooled. And we only hurt ourselves.
The voters deserve a choice. In fact, they insist on it. Or they simply won’t vote.
Rep. Alan Grayson