Podcast: Connected Gainesville and Access to Internet in Gainesville

For the third episode of The Straw Hat Podcast we sat down with Gainesville City Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos and Connected Gainesville member Bryan Eastman to talk about  internet access in Gainesville. We’re looking at why we pay the most in the state for some of the slowest internet, who has access, why there’s almost no ultra fast internet, and what’s being done about it.

You can subscribe on Google Play, iTunes, or Stitcher. If there’s any interviews  or content you think would be good to cover for future episodes email us at info@thestrawhat.org

Podcast: A Conversation on Hurricane Irrma With Gainesville Commissioner Harvey Ward

For the second episode of The Straw Hat Podcast we sat down with City of Gainesville Commissioner Harvey Ward to talk about the city’s response to Hurricane Irma. We took a deep dive into what it’s like inside the Emergency Response Center, what the city did well, how GRU prioritizes who gets power restored, what actually happened with GRU drinking water, and what we can do better in the future.

You can subscribe on Google Play, iTunes, or Stitcher. If there’s any interviews  or content you think would be good to cover for future episodes email us at info@thestrawhat.org

Podcast: Parents Against Corporate Takeovers

We’re trying out a new podcast about politics in and around the Gainesville area. You can subscribe on Google Play, iTunes, Stitcher, or Sound Cloud. If there’s any interviews  or content you think would be good to cover email us at info@thestrawhat.org

This episode we talked with Katy Burnett from Parents Against Corporate Takeovers who is helping lead the fight against a mega, for-profit charter school coming to South West Alachua County. Recorded on 8/25/2017 at the Alachua County Labor Coalition. 

Week in Review (8/20/17)

What a week. We’ve had Nazis trying to march in Gainesville, Confederate statues coming down, neo-Confederates getting fired for participating in the Charlottesville marches, massive repression of prisoners political organizing, and more. Also, we’ve recorded our first podcast and are set to release it later this week!

Note: The Straw Hat copy editor was unavailable so expect a high number of typos and spelling errors.

Nazi Watch:

  • The University of Florida is not allowing Nazi Richard Spencer to speak on September 12th. The University cited the likelihood of violence as the reason for canceling the event but it’s already being challenged in the courts. Organizers in Gainesville are planning to protest against Spencer if the courts side with him or his supporters show up. (Gainesville Sun) This has everyone on edge. On Thursday the City of Gainesville voted unanimously to allow the Mayor to declare a state of emergency if the white nationalist still show up to protest and the National Guard is mobilizing as if Spencer is still speaking. (Gainesville Sun) Follow the page No Nazi at UF to stay informed.
  • The fallout of the Charlottesville terrorist attack has led to two Gainesville residents being fired. Jim O’Brien  of Gainesville was fired from North American Roofing Services after we was arrested for a concealed weapons violation at the Unite the Right rally. He had also published a blog rationalizing violence against people on the left. (Tampa Bay Times) Geoffrey Grooms is a member of the neo-Confederate group League of the South and was recognized in videos from the infamous tiki torch rally. He was fired was fired on Tuesday (8/15) from Lucky’s in Gainesville (Gainesville Sun) Grooms’ chapter of League of the South was front and center in attacking anti-racist protesters and jumping random people of color. The Southern Poverty Law Center is calling for an investigation into their savage beating of an African American caught on video. (Southern Poverty Law Center)

Confederate Statues:

  • Gainesville took down it’s confederate monument on Monday (8/14). This was a multi year struggle made possible largely by the Alachua County Peace Coalition. (Gainesville Sun) But these aren’t the only confederate monuments in the state. The New Tropic has a good listing of efforts to take down the 30 or so remaining statues but within a quick drive of Gainesville we have:
    • White Springs’ massive confederate flag and monument with an inscription of hundreds of dead confederate soldiers.
    • Trenton has a obelisk that was erected in 2010.
    • Old Town has a veterans memorial that fly a Confederate flag.
    • Lake City has a massive obelisk in front of the Columbia Courthouse.
    • Four Freedoms Park in Madison County has a confederate monument and a monument to the former slaves.
    • Ocala Veteran’s Park has a giant Confederate Soldier.
    • Palatka has an exceptionally offense statue at the Putnam County courthouse which praises the confederacy’s cause.
  • The monument on the old capitol grounds in Tallahassee should be removed but the Governor claims he doesn’t have the authority to do so. He also isn’t taking a position on whether it should stay or go (Miami Herald)
  • Two Pensacola Commissioners have come out in favor of removing the 50 foot tall confederate monument. (Pensacola News Journal)
  • Hillsborough County voted 4-2 to not remove their confederate monument unless half the cost to move it was covered by private donations. It took less than 24 hours for the money to be raised. (Tampa Bay Times)
  • Fivethirtyeight has a breakdown of polling on what Americans think of removing confederate monuments. It’s important to keep in mind that the majority support leaving these statues up but it breaks down by party and race. “Strong democrats” are the most likely to support removing statues with 57% supporting taking them down while “Trump Supporters” were the worst with 90% wanting to keep them up. Also of interest in these polls is that 11% of Tea Party supports agree with the White Nationalist movement (17% agree with the alt-right).  While I and most people reading this blog think these statues need to come down it’s important to remember that some 62% of Americans still want these to stay up. (Fivethirtyeight)
  • In Florida there were 2 active KKK groups in 2014 and it climbed to 8 in 2016 with them being most concentrated in North Florida (Live Oak, Jacksonville, Bushnell). But that’s just a fraction of the 63 known hate groups in Florida.  (McClatchy)

In Non White Supremacist News:

  • Gainesville Commissioner delayed yet again on whether to move City elections from March/April to August/November. Harvey Budd is the swing vote and claims he needs to hear from more people yet he left the chambers as soon as public comment started. He now won’t vote for this until at least November. Commissioner Budd wants to hear from more people and you can email him at BuddHM@cityofgainesville.org and tell him that moving elections saves money and increases turnout. (Gainesville Sun)

Around Florida:

  • US Attorney General Jeff Sessions was in Miami this week thanking the County for abandoning their “sanctuary county” status that they’ve held for three years. It pays to carry the water for Trump’s anti-immigrant policies as they’ll be receiving hundreds of thousands in federal grants. As a reminder Alachua County is a sanctuary county and we’re only looking to expand protections of our immigrant community. (Miami Herald)
  • Florida Governor Scott wants to add a provision to the state constitution which would make it harder to increase taxes. While there’s no details it would likely require the Florida House and Senate pass any tax increases by a 2/3 majority. If he is successful in getting this on the 2018 ballot it would require 60% of voters to approve. While the merits of this proposal are terrible the ploy is to boost turnout for his US Senate run against Bill Nelson. (Tampa Bay Times)
  • Florida Department of Corrections canceled all visitations and locked down all 97,000 prisons this weekend in retaliation for them organizing for basic rights. The event “Millions for Prisoners’ Human Rights” would have had rallies take place outside of prisons with prisoners organizing on the inside. (Miami Herald)
  • Florida Senator Jack Latvala is officially running for governor. He’s one of the least terrible Republicans in the state. He regularly goes against party leadership to support immigrant rights, workers’ rights, and public education. That said, he still has a lot of terrible politics. (Tampa Bay Time)
  • There’s a new effort to repeal a 1926 era state constitutional provision which bars undocumented immigrants from owning land. The constitutional amendment was passed during in a wave of anti-Asian sentiment in the 20’s and is designed to keep Asian farmers from owning or leasing land. (Orlando Sentinel)

National

  • Trump is undoing an Obama era rule that would have made it easier for the elderly and their families to sue nursing homes. Specifically the rule Obama put into place stopped nursing homes from requiring arbitration for the settlement of disputes which greatly favor the nursing homes. This allows bad actors to continue to take advantage of the elderly and is entirely unjustified. (NYT)
  • Trump’s entire Arts Council resigned in protest to his slow response in condemning Nazis. The letter itself is a thing of gold with the first letter of each paragraph spelling out R-E-S-I-S-T. (AP News). This came after Trump disbanded his manufacturing council in retaliation to high profile resignations. (NYT)
  • Steve Bannon is out of the White House. While he’s a notorious white nationalist he’s not the only one in the White House.(Fivethirtyeight)
  • Trump has lifted the 6 year old ban on selling bottled water in National Parks. (NYT)

Week in Review 8/13/17

I’m relaunching the Straw Hat, a weekly news roundup focusing on news and calls to action in the North Central Florida area. This week Trump threatens funding of GPD, president Fuchs green lights a Nazi to speak at UF, and thousands are set to die from the opioid crisis. Quite a week to start back up. I’ll likely be launching a weekly podcast soon to provide additional commentary and analysis. Stay tuned for updates.


Local:

  • Richard Spencer, a literal Nazi, is slated to speak at the University of Florida’s  Phillips Center for the Performing Arts on September 12th. His talks attract other Nazis who instigate acts of violent, such as the terrorist attack in Charlottesville this past weekend. UF President Fuchs has put out a statement denouncing his rhetoric but supporting his free speech. This is another in a long line of tepid responses to racist incidents on the UF campus. Call 1-866-UF-Facts and tell President Fuchs that there’s no place for Nazi’s at UF. (Gainesville Sun).
  • A proposed giant phosphate mine in Union and Bradford Counties has gained traction again. The process of phosphate mining is highly destructive and would damage the Santa Fe River and our aquifer.  Earlier this year Union County Commissioners put a moratorium on new mines but the Bradford County Commission is moving forward with hiring a consultant on August 17th. You can contact the Bradford County Commission at bocc@bradfordcountyfl.gov or (904) 966-6327 and tell them to put a moratorium on phosphate mining in Bradford County. (link)
  • The City of Gainesville will be voting on the Gainesville Votes initiative on Thursday (8/17), which would move Gainesville city elections from the spring of every year to the fall of every other year. This would save hundreds of thousands of dollars each year and at least double the number of voters in city elections. You can email all city commissioners at citycomm@cityofgainesville.org to support further democratizing our local politics.
  • Alachua County fired manager Lee Niblock in a surprise 4-1 vote on Tuesday (8/8). This is a big deal as the manager has a lot of leeway to carry out policies passed by the Commission. Niblock was receptive and cooperative with unions and the living wage movement while at the County but he upset too many commissioners. He angered the African American community with his firing of a prominent worker on her 25 year service award day (she was white but he tried to rally the African American community against her), he upset progressives by proposing retention bonuses for upper management, and he worried the environmentalists for meddling with tree planting funds and having a sloppy history with Plum Creek. (Gainesville Sun)
  • The City of Gainesville Police Department is set to lose $63,771 from a federal Byrne Justice Assistance Grant from the Trump administration for being a so-called sanctuary city. This is silly for a number of reasons but the most obvious is that the City of Gainesville cannot enforce a sanctuary policy. There’s no clear definition to what a sanctuary city is but the most cited definition is that they do not hold undocumented immigrants past their scheduled release date without a judicial order. That is, they don’t violate the 4th amendment of the US Constitution. If the federal government tells the Alachua County Sheriff they have a judge’s order to deport a person they’ll hold them. If not it’d be unconstitutional to hold them past their release date regardless of their immigration status. Seems simple enough but what’s really silly about this is that the Gainesville Police Department doesn’t have anything to do with booking because everyone in the County arrested is processed through the Alachua County Sheriff’s office. Not only is the idea of punishing a so called sanctuary cities laughable; the punishment of the wrong agency is just sloppy politicking. The cherry on top of this poorly thought out Trump policy is that it’s very likely illegal. The National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius ruling which stopped the Medicaid expansion under the ACA says that you cannot use funding cuts to coerce states into adopting federal policy. I’m sure this will be included in the recently filed lawsuit from Chicago against the the administration. Follow Madres Sin Fronteras to get involved in the immigrant rights struggle in Gainesville. (Daily Single)
    • Miami complained to Trump that they were not a sanctuary County so they were removed from the list. I hope Gainesville wears this attack as a badge of honor. (Miami Herald)
  • The Sabal Trail Pipeline sprung a leak in Marion County this week. The trail was protested throughout North Central Florida leading to mass arrests and a death. (WCJB)

State:

  • After the Pulse Club Massacre Governor Scott made closed door promises to outlaw discrimination against LGBTQ+ people by private employers. It’s been over a year since this promise was made and the Governor isn’t responding to requests for updates. (News Journal)
  • Trumpcare may be mostly dead but the uncertainty of healthcare is going to drive costs up. Over the past 2 years premiums in Florida have gone up by double digits and the number of insurers have shrunken from 10 to 6 under the Affordable Care Act. But with Trump threatening to cut subsidies this could mean even higher premiums and increases of over $300 for typical ACA market recipients in Florida (Sun Sentinel)
  • Florida let $20.4 million in federal money for dealing with addiction expire without replacing it. The last year we had a complete picture of the crises was 2015 which saw 3,900 opioid deaths in Florida. The trend has been going up and it is predicted we will reach well over 6,000 deaths in 2017. We are in an epidemic and clinics are going to start closing or turning people away. Gov. Scott did declare a public health emergency which allowed the state to use some $27 million in federal funding to deal with this crisis but that money cannot go towards detox, drug treatments programs, or crisis centers. The federal government has also taken it’s first steps in declaring a nation state of emergency but Trump has hinted that the funds will go towards tougher law enforcement rather than treatment which public health professions believe will actually work (Naples News and Politico)
  • There’s a nursing shortage in Florida. The prediction is that there will be a 50,000 nurse deficit by 2025. We’ve known about it for years and the Florida legislature has been attempting to deal with it since 2009. Their solution was to deregulate nursing schools which doubled the number of programs to ~350 and increased enrollment by 54%. The problem is that these students still have to pass the state license exams and they’re failing at ridiculously high rates. Many of these unregulated and non accredited nursing schools are closing which is leaving students with large debts and little to show for their effort. The best results come from expanding traditional nursing programs like at Santa Fe College and the University of Florida but the state has been reluctant to ditch their ideological drive for privatization. (Sun Sentinel)

National:

  • Trump’s department of interior has repealed an Obama era rule that would have made it harder for energy companies to hide the value of national resources extracted from federal and tribal lands. The rule was put in place because it’s estimated that US taxpayers missed out on $30 billion over the last 30 years due to loose oversight. (Returners)

2017 Florida Legislative Recap

2017 Florida Legislative Recap

 

2017 Florida Legislative Recap

Florida’s House, Senate, and Governor are all Republicans and thank God they don’t get along. This last session had some losses and a few defensive victories for working families. The overarching theme of the session was that of disunity and political bickering. House Speaker Corcoran (R, Land O’Lakes) held many bills and the budget hostage to succesfully push his own agenda while Senate President Negron (R, Palm City) and Governor Scott did their best to save face.

Immigration

In an attempt to ride Trump xenophobic wave, house Republicans attempted to push  9 anti-immigrant bills this year. The most onerous of which threatened to punish sanctuary counties (such as Alachua County) with fines while deputizing all police as ICE agents. These bills were defeated because of the hard work from human rights activists all over the state and through the leadership of the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC). (link)

Higher Education:

Santa Fe College got $5.4 million to expand the Blount Center downtown, a controversial project under fire for causing gentrification. This is on top of $2.6 million it got last year from the legislature and over $6 million in private donations. They also got $5 million to hire and retain faculty and staff. UF will receive $120 million more this year which includes funding for the long overdue renovations at Norman Hall and design work for a new music building.

Bright futures Academic Scholars Award will cover 100% of tuition for the first time since the recession. The catch is that all students will be forced into the block tuition program in which everyone is charged for 15 credit hours a semester regardless of how many classes they take. 

Guns:

A slew of pro-gun bills were filed but most failed. Some of the worst ones were open carry, allowing guns in airports, and the elimination of gun-free zones at universities and colleges. What did pass was an expansion the the state’s Stand Your Ground Law. It will now be harder to bring someone claiming self-defense to trial by shifting the burden of proof to the prosecutor.

Environment:

We received $250,000 to help filter water going into Newnans Lake and $500,000 for a rails to trails path connecting High Springs to Newberry. Meanwhile SB 10, which sought to stop the algae blooms in Southwest Florida by creating a recharge south of Lake Okeechobee, was scaled back. Instead of fully funding the project we will now spend $1.25 billion to buy polluted land from Big Sugar while simultaneously relieving them from liability to clean up their mess. (link)

This is part of a larger story related to Florida Forever,  the constitutional referendum passed in  2014 with more than 75% of the vote which forced the government to buy environmentally sensitive land. This year the legislature spent $0 to buy new land and instead voted to spend money cleaning up polluted farmland and eroded beaches. (link)

Workers’ Rights:

The Florida Legislature wasn’t able to agree on the hourly rate lawyers should be allowed to collect from workers’ compensation cases after the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the current caps on lawyer fees were unconstitutional. Their reasoning was that low fee caps disuaded lawyers from taking workers comp cases making legal representation unattainable for many workers. A special session to deal with this issue might be called or it will be brought up again next year. (link)

Senator Keith Perry was finally able to pass his anti living wage bill SB 534. This bill nullifies local ordinances that mandate local hiring, higher safety standards, and require certified apprenticeships. After a lot of push back his bill was weakened significantly and will only apply if 50% or more of the funds are coming from state allocated money.  Thankfully, this anti-worker bill will affect very few projects in Alachua County and throughout the state due to these added provisions. 

State workers will now default into a 401k style plan as opposed to the state’s pension. This is part of a strategy to weaken the pension system so that the Legislature has an excuse to do away with it in the future. Currently nearly 60% of state workers default into the pension plan and only 18% choose the 401k style plan. The bill passed in part because it was lumped together with a $1,400 raise for most state workers. (link)

Education:

The Alachua County School Board will see a decrease of $27 per student in funding. This will put us at $492 less funding per student than the highwater mark in 2007-2008. But some students are getting more funding. Charter Schools will have more money diverted into their coffers for buildings. Additionally, students who get vouchers to go to private school will see a 14% increase in their funding. Finally, the Orwellian sounding “Schools of Hope” program received $140 million to promote the charter schools take over of low performing public schools.

The good news is that there will now be 20 minutes of required daily recess and the elimination of a few standardized tests. Also, HB 989 passed allowing parents to question materials used to educate their children. This will most likely be abused by conservative parents who regularly attend School Board meetings to decry the teaching of Islam in history classes.

Healthcare:

The legalization of medical marijuana was passed by voters in 2016 requiring that Florida establishes protocols for a medical marijuana program but the state legislature couldn’t agree on how to do it. The House wanted to ban smokable marijuana and the Senate wouldn’t agree. The Florida Department of Health has now been tasked with creating these policies, however, the Legislature might call a special session to deal with this issue if they’re dissatisfied with the Department’s measures. (link)

The good news is that all seven anti-choice bills filed this year failed!

Odds and Ends:

  • Rep. Clemons (R, Newberry) helped pass Sen Perry’s GRU governance bill. The bill forces GRU residents to vote this November on a referendum which would wrestle control of our utility away from the elected commissioners to an appointment board. (link)
  • A proposed Constitutional Amendment would increase non-school homestead exemption by $25,000. If passed by 60% of voters in November it would punch a $9 million hole in the County coffers which would mean decreased services. It is expected to pass and cities/counties are already implementing hiring freezes in anticipation. (link)
  • The liquor wall is down. HB 423/SB 1040 passed and will allow liquor to be bought in grocery stores.
  • The Competitive Workforce Act (HB 623/SB 666) which would have added sexual orientation and gender identity to the protected class prohibiting discrimination in housing, banking, and employment failed to pass despite increased corporate backing.  In Alachua County we have the Human Rights Ordinance which accomplishes this goal.
  • HB305 passed allowing cops to review body cam footage before writing a report.
  • To conform with US Supreme Court ruling, SB280 was passed which requires a unanimous jury vote to sentence someone to death.
  • Sen. Baxley stopped a slavery memorial from being created in the Florida Capitol (HB 27/SB 1722). The proud descendant of confederate soldiers, he has complained in the past about “cultural cleansing” of confederate symbols and said “it just seems in this age of multiculturalism we can celebrate everyone’s culture but mine”. (link)
  • Some $75 million in tax cuts, mostly to businesses passed. Also, feminine hygiene products will now be tax free.
  • HB 221 preempts local ordinances that have to do with Uber/Lyft.

2017 Gainesville Election Breakdown

2017 Gainesville Election Breakdown

Gainesville’s progressives swept the last month’s March elections beating out the only two Republican held seats.  Republican incumbent Craig Carter lost to 26  year old David Arreola 66% to 34% and Republican Perry Clawson lost to Harvey Ward in a three way race 27% to 51%.

On the surface it looks like the cause of these upsets  was an all around decrease in turnout, but that’s a very incomplete picture. The reason the City of Gainesville has the most progressive commission in recent memory is because nearly a thousand more Democrats and over a thousand less Republicans voted in 2017 compared to 2014.

But why did this happen? Three reasons stand out according to my analysis: Slight changes in districts, uniquely problematic Republican candidates, and most importantly, a Trump effect pushing new city voters to the polls and depressing Republican turnout.

The Electorate and Turnout:

Turnout was down 3.2% compared to 2014 but this was mostly due a large increase in people registered to vote in the City in 2017. The raw numbers amount to around the same number of people going out to the polls. The largest drop in turnout came in D3 with a near 6% decrease from 2014.

Turnout  2014  vs 2017 by district

District 2017 2014 Difference
D2 19.3% 22.3% -3.0%
D3 13.9% 19.6% -5.7%
D1 and D4 6.6% 8.2% -1.6%
Total 11.8% 15.0% -3.2%

There were about 16,000 more people registered to vote in the city in 2017 than in 2014 and nearly 9,000 of them were Democrats. Republicans still gained some 2,700 eligible voters giving Democrats a small, 1.7% registration advantage over 2014. Overall the largest change was a less than 3% net change in favor of Democrats in D3. But this small change can’t account for the major shift in D3 from 2014 when Carter beat Democratic incumbent Susan Bottcher 53% to 47%.

Registered Voters 2014 vs 2017 by Party

At Large 2014 2014 % 2017 2017 % dif # dif %
Dem 37,322 51.99% 46,241 52.57% 8919 0.58%
Rep 16,156 22.51% 18,854 21.43% 2,698 -1.07%
Total 71,788 87,969 16,181
D2 2014 2014 % 2017 2017 % dif dif %
Dem 10,040 49.61% 11,683 50.49% 1,643 0.89%
Rep 5,656 27.95% 6,143 26.55% 487 -1.40%
Total 20,239 23,137 2,898
D3 2014 2014 % 2017 2017 % dif dif %
Dem 8,869 48.81% 11,086 49.62% 2,217 0.82%
Rep 4,594 25.28% 5,178 23.18% 584 -2.10%
Total 18,172 22,341 4,169
D1 and D4 2014 2014 % 2017 2017 % dif dif %
Dem 18,413 55.17% 23,472 55.24% 5,059 0.07%
Rep 5,906 17.69% 7,533 17.73% 1,627 0.03%
Total 33,377 42,491 9,114

The issue for Carter, Clawson, and possibly many Republicans in 2018 is about Democratic vs Republican turnout.  Overall Democrats had 970 extra voters from 2014 to 2017, keeping their turnout flat at 17% but Republican turnout dropped to 9%. The largest difference was in D3 where Republican turnout dropped 12% from 2014 levels. Another way to say this is that even with close to 9,000 more Democrats registered to vote in the city they still managed to turnout at 2014 levels. The 3% drop in turnout was almost entirely due to Republicans staying home.

Cast Votes 2014 vs 2017 by Party

At Large 2014 Voters 2014 Turnout 2017 Voters 2017 Turnout dif dif %
Dem 6,690 17% 7,660 17% 970 0%
Rep 2,925 18% 1,773 9% -1,152 -9%
D2 2014 2014 Turnout 2017 2017 Turnout dif dif %
Dem 2,485 25% 3,030 26% 545 1%
Rep 1,519 27% 995 16% -524 -11%
D3 2014 2014 Turnout 2017 2017 Turnout dif dif %
Dem 2,121 24% 2,260 20% 139 -4%
Rep 1,058 23% 588 11% -470 -12%
D1 and D4 2014 2014 Turnout 2017 2017 Turnout dif dif %
Dem 2,084 23% 2,370 10% 286 -13%
Rep 348 8% 190 3% -158 -5%

Clearly low Republican turnout was a major factor in these upsets but a more illuminating way to look at this is by vote share, the percentage of the votes cast up by a party. In D2 Democrats netted a 30% gain in vote share on a 2.2% gain in registration advantage. In D3 Carter peeled off some Democrats in 2014 and 2017 but he couldn’t manage to make up for a 12% drop in the Republican vote share. Close to 75% of the votes cast in the city election were from Democrats in 2017. These numbers are staggering.

Vote Share 2014 vs 2017 by Party

At Large 2014 Vote Share 2017 Vote Share dif %
Dem 62% 74% 12%
Rep 27% 17% -10%
D2 2014 Vote Share 2017 Vote Share dif %
Dem 50% 68% 18%
Rep 34% 22% -12%
D3 2014 Vote Share 2017 Vote Share dif %
Dem 59% 73% 14%
Rep 23% 11% -12%
D1 and D4 2014 Vote Share 2017 Vote Share dif %
Dem 77% 84% 7%
Rep 13% 7% -6%

Clearly there’s something important happening but who are those that chose to vote and what’s causing the uptick in Democratic turnout?

Categories of Voters:

It’s helpful to break the 2017 voters into three main classes:

  1. Regular city voters who voted in 2014 and 2017.
  2. Found voters who didn’t vote in 2014 but voted in 2017. These people were registered to vote in city elections in 2014 but chose not to vote.
  3. New city voters who weren’t registered in 2014 but were in 2017.

Chart 5: Voter Category

Number Percentage
Voted 2014; Voted 2017 5,884 54.9%
Registered but didn’t vote in 2014; Voted 2017 2,812 26.2%
Not registered 2014; Registered & voted 2017 2,023 18.9%
Total 10,719

The Regulars:

Turnout was depressed massively for Republican regular voters. In D2 Clawson was a problematic candidate to say the least and it showed in Republican turnout. A full 50% of Republicans who voted in D2 in 2014 chose not to in 2017. It might look like Republicans weren’t feeling it for Clawson but they also weren’t feeling it for Carter in D3. Carter had taken non-Republican positions such as supporting the wild places public spaces tax initiative and making the motion to raise the minimum wage for City workers which could have eroded his Republican base. But that story alone can’t account for a meager 49% retention of Republican voters from 2014 to 2017. Meanwhile Democrats netted a 70% turnout of people who voted in 2014.

Voted in 2014 and 2017 Gainesville Elections

At-Large Dem Dem % Dem Share Rep Rep % Rep Share Total
Voted 4331 70% 74% 1204 48% 20% 5884
Total Registered 6220 2531 9554
D2 Dem Dem % Dem Share Rep Rep % Rep Share Total
Voted 1,689 73% 67% 672 50% 27% 2,529
Total Registered 2,326 1,346 4,040
D3 Dem Dem % Dem Share Rep Rep % Rep Share Total
Voted 1,434 72% 72% 438 49% 22% 1,987
Total Registered 1,988 899 3,141
D1 and D4 Dem Dem % Dem Share Rep Rep % Rep Share Total
Voted 1,195 63% 51% 95 33% 4% 2,354
Total Registered 1,888 287 3,155

The Found Voters:

There were 41,450 people who were registered to vote but didn’t cast ballots in 2014. A full 88% didn’t vote again in 2017 but of those that did 73% were Democrats. The Number of Republicans who didn’t vote in 2014 but chose to vote in 2017 was a pathetic 4% or 335 individuals. These are mostly long term residents of Gainesville and many of them have never voted in a city election before. The most likely causation here is the Trump effect. Indivisible, the Women’s March, and various resistance organizations have helped to fire up over two thousand new, long term city residents to vote.

Registered in 2014 and 2017 but did not vote in 2014

At-Large Dem Dem % Dem Share Rep Rep % Rep Share Total
Voted 2,153 9% 77% 335 4% 12% 2,812
Total Registered 22,873 55% 8317 20% 41,504
D2 Dem Dem % Dem Share Rep Rep % Rep Share Total
Voted 925 14% 72% 203 6% 16% 1,284
Total Registered 64,07 51% 3,149 25% 12,446
D3 Dem Dem % Dem Share Rep Rep % Rep Share Total
Voted 497 11% 76% 81 4% 12% 653
Total Registered 4,662 50% 2,132 23% 9,364
D1/D4 Dem Dem % Dem Share Rep Rep % Rep Share Total
Voted 729 6% 83% 51 2% 6% 874
Total Registered 11,803 60% 3,036 15% 19,691

The New Voters:

There were ~37,000 people registered to vote in the City of Gainesville in 2017 who were not registered to vote in the city in 2014. Most of these people are voters who moved into the City from elsewhere in the state or even Alachua County but this also includes people who registered to vote for the first time. The vast majority of these people didn’t vote but about 1,400 who did were again disproportionately Democrats. The largest vote capture is in D2 where 16% of these new voters turned out. Overall 68% of the newly registered voters were Democrats and 68% of those that voted were Democrats. Again, Republicans had a pathetic 4% or 293 people turnout from this category in 2017.

2017 New Gainesville City Voters

2017 GNV New Voters Dem Dem % Dem Share Rep Rep % Rep Share Total
Voted 1,367 5% 68% 293 4% 14% 2,023
Total Registered 25,144 68% 8,006 22% 36,892
D2 2017 GNV New Voters Dem Dem % Dem Share Rep Rep % Rep Share Total
Voted 464 16% 62% 141 9% 19% 747
Total Registered 2,948 44% 1,648 25% 6,649
D3 2017 GNV New Voters Dem Dem % Dem Share Rep Rep % Rep Share Total
Voted 371 8% 62% 93 4% 16% 594
Total Registered 4,422 45% 2,148 22% 9,818
D1 and D4 2017 GNV New Voters Dem Dem % Dem Share Rep Rep % Rep Share Total
Voted 529 5% 74% 59 1% 8% 713
Total Registered 9,772 48% 4,209 21% 20,433

Conclusions:

This progressive wave election in Gainesville happened because Republican candidates were uniquely problematic and because there was a strong Trump effect pushing new city voters to the polls and keeping Republicans from turning out. Republicans and right wing operatives will blame the Democrats registration advantage but a 1.7% gain from 2014 can’t be the sole cause.

The truth is that progressives fired up their base to turnout like never before. They not only made sure that over 70% of those who cast ballots in 2014 did so in 2017, they also made sure that over 3,500 newly registered and longtime residents voted. This could be a precursor to the so called “Indivisible wave” pundits are predicting in 2018 in which Democrats turnout is large numbers and take the US House and Senate.

But this is only half the story. The other important piece for Gainesville in 2017 and the nation in 2018 is that Republicans are highly discouraged. There were large drop offs in all categories of voters and it all can’t be blamed on problematic candidates. Many Republicans are facing a massive disillusionment from Trump’s actions and are becoming discouraged by politics. This could very well have resulted in a record number of Republicans giving up on the electoral process and deciding not to vote in this past election.

This combination of an energized left and a depressed right will make 2018 a very interesting year for politics.