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The Bill Nelson Postmortem: It Wasn't Voter Suppression After All

November 21, 2018 - 6:00am
Bill Nelson
Bill Nelson

To the surprise of many following the debacle of the machine counts, the state-mandated hand counting of ballots went relatively well. By the weekend the process was completed in near-competent fashion and the races were declared over. Though he did concede in private with winner Rick Scott, departing Sen. Bill Nelson also gave a farewell video message.

Though it was filled with some expected “never quit” type of prolix, one section later in the segment raises an eyebrow. Nelson addresses the voting issues and he seems to be borrowing some content from Stacey Abrams, the failed gubernatorial candidate in Georgia. Abrams declared her loss was due to unsubstantiated claims of vote fraud, and Nelson trended towards that same kind of explanation in his farewell monologue.

“We must end all forms of voter suppression,” he states in his trademark hoarse delivery. And then, obliviousness takes over, as he continues down this path of conspiratorial race results. “Make it easier for Americans to vote, and honor the ideal that we are governed by the majority and not by the minority rule." There is a curious word selection in that last passage.

“Honor the ideal” is a questionable use by Bill here, given that since Nov. 6, he has dispatched a battalion of lawyers across the state to challenge election laws. Calling to extend established recount deadlines, and even in one case demanding a judge disregard signature verification requirements is essentially disregarding those very ideals. How much “honor” is in play when you are actively trying to rewrite existing voting laws in order to obtain more votes?

But the truth and the verifiable numbers defy the attempt at deflecting the loss. For openers, the GOP had a better turnout overall. Credit to Blaise Ingoglia, chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, with a concentrated effort to get conservative people registered. Returns have come back with a roughly 2 percent advantage of registered Republicans casting votes statewide. In six counties that had the highest voter turnout -- Baker, Collier, Franklin, Jefferson, St. Johns and Sumter -- each had +70 percent -- Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis came out ahead. 

Meanwhile, in the biggest counties, which trend a very deep blue, the voters were harder to find. Broward had just over 60 percent showing up to vote, while Miami-Dade had a dismal 57 percent. Talk of suppression and turning voters away with byzantine rules do not fly here, as these districts are run locally, with stalwart Democratic leadership. The embattled and controversial Brenda Snipes, supervisor of elections of Broward, is often pointed to as a problem, yet she has been voted into office three times in her 15-year tenure at that post.

Looking into the returns, some revealing figures are found that not only dispute the voter suppression theory, but also defy some of the conventional thought of the state’s electorate. For instance, one common utterance is that the GOP relied on the “uneducated” vote, while Democrats court the college-educated voter. Rick Scott achieved near parity with the college grads, however, trailing only a few percentage points.

But Nelson’s biggest problems in his campaign were self-induced. Scott had made some deeply significant inroads with Latino voters. He was proactive on Puerto Rico ahead of the hurricane and had made significant policy outreach with those who transplanted to Florida in the wake. Nelson, meanwhile, seemed to take his Latino support for granted. When Scott had Spanish-language websites set up, for instance, Nelson had none.

The influx of Puerto Rican hurricane transplants was expected to be an election day wild card. Some speculated the new arrivals would trend heavily Democrat, but as I mentioned this summer, there was a question as to how automatic this would become.  A high number of transplants registered as independent. And while many settled in Bill Nelson’s Orlando area, he didn't go out of his way to court them, giving light thought to the fact they were new and he wasn't a household name to this new Boricua contingent.  

The result? As the GOP lagged with Latinos by 20 percentage points and higher nationwide, Scott did significantly better, trailing by only single digits. Nelson received just over half of Latinos' votes, contradicting early polls showing him with nearly a 2-to-1 advantage with this demographic.

These are measurable, and thus definable differences in the results. The three-term senator seems intent on using Wednesday-Morning-quarterback methods to explain his loss. The three-term senator wants to point to election “vagaries” and mention how he was greatly outspent by Scott in order to squeeze out the narrowest of victories. 

This is, in effect, his claiming a moral victory. Rick Scott, meanwhile, will be experiencing his actual victory, from an office in Washington, D.C.

Brad Slager, a Fort Lauderdale freelance writer, wrote this story exclusively for Sunshine State News. He writes on politics and the entertainment industry and his stories appear in such publications as RedState and The Federalist.


Where's all the fraud the GOP claimed, Brad? . . . . . . . . . . where's all the fraud? . . . . . . . . . . . . where's all that "rampant voter fraud" that Rick Scott claimed Bill Nelson and Democrats were undertaking --> "clearly trying to commit voter fraud to win this election"? . . . . . . . . . . . where's the "big corruption scandal having to do with election fraud" that Donald Trump claimed? . . . . . . . where's the "fraud or other word" that Marco Rubio claimed was happening? . . . . . . . . . . . where's all the fraud the GOP screamed and threw tantrums about? . . . . . . . where's all the fraud? . . . . . . if there was all this rampant fraud ongoing, people should now have been arrested and in jail, right? . . . . . . . . and don't tell me about some "investigations", which are just that, investigations . . . . . . . . . . where are the arrests, where are the indictments, where are the people in jail?. . . . . . . . . . come back to me with claims of fraud when people have been arrested and serving time in jail . . . . . . . . . . . until then, this claim appears to be . . . . . . . . . . . . PATHETIC . .

Try reading the article. The investigation you don’t care about is due to physically finding altered documents. Or the other where I covered Snipes intentionally submitting the recount late so the old total stands in favor of Dems. Or the reports of Snipes adding invalid provisional ballots into the totals. Your refusal to look at the stories does not prove they don’t exist.

Where's the arrests? . . . . . . . . . . and where is there anything about allowing illegal voting via emails and FAX in a Republican stronghold. . . . . . doesn't rise to your level of a fact, right (despite Secretary of State indicating "Voting by fax or email is not an option under the Executive Order"). . . . . . . does that rise to your level of an illegal activity (unlike trying to guess Snipes' intent in a 2 minute late voting tally submittal) . . . . . . . . intentional omission journalism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . hypocritical, partisan and clearly . . . . . . . . PATHETIC . . .

The events JUST happened. I suppose you expect and investigation, arrest and trial to transpire within days. Sure, there's reality. I'm not "guessing" Snipe's intent -- she announced to the media they had finished the recount well ahead of the deadline. Then, once they saw the totals were in favor of all the GOP candidates, they suddenly were perplexed by the online submission process. Convenient incompetence, we suppose. Those email/fax votes from the panhandle were from those voters displaced by the storm, and the SOE of that county notified the SoS of his intent ahead of the election, and was told "do what you feel is best" to aid the voters. But hey, no one was arrested, correct? Then there should be no problem for you.

It's so good to see your unapologetic hypocrisy (and despite yourself, you've made my case) . . . . . . . after all, you must be right, you're a far right partisan Republican who sees no faults with Trump, Scott and voter suppression (and yes, Florida's had plenty of documented cases of that in the past eight years) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PATHETIC . . . .

Fine analysis, but unmentioned was Scott belatedly hitching his wagon to President Trump with a pair of rallies just before the election. Trump not only helped protégé DeSantis, but gave a late boost to Scott who kept the president at arm's length for most of this campaign.

How come no-one in the Media discussed Nelson's "Hillary Loss Syndrome" when he Failed to even show and Thank those who worked to get him re-elected? The Rented Hall vacated early when Nelson thought he had Lost, and he thought only of Himself as he denied . Failed (to appear) and Thank those who gave him their dedicated Loyalty. Did he fall into a Hillary spiral, where (as Hillary did) he Failed to show his Face because his EGO got in the way of the People's Vote??. Was he in the back in tears, or was he Blaming everyone in the Galaxy, as did Hillary? The Liberals would have gladly reported a "What happened" story if a Republican Lost.

Basically, the reason Dems lose is because they continue to lie just about everything. Bill Nelson is lying in this address about health care, trying to scare everyone into thinking (wrongly) that the Republicans will take away coverage for pre-existing conditions. The lying doesn't stop with health care. We all know that no bill passed by Congress can be put into effect until the President signs the bill. President Trump on too many occasions to count has repeated over and over again that he would not sign any health bill that takes away coverage for pre-existing conditions, nor would he sign a bill that robs Medicare or Social Security to pay for any health care revision or new bill. President Trump is not the king so he must rely on Congress and the Senate to present acceptable bills for him to sign. So far, President Trump has not lied to us. He has kept his promises. If you don't search for the truth but rely on biased opinion, you are living in a propagandized distorted reality. Simply put, stop believing the bozos who give opinion rather than facts. Bill Nelson is the old time politician full of high minded sounding verbiage with little to nothing to show for all those years he's drank from the public trough. I hope he has the grace to fade out of the limelight and stay out of it.

Nelson got more votes than Gillum. If Gillum received as many votes as Nelson he would have won the the Governorship. Enough Democrats saw the destructiveness of Globalist Socialism and decided not to vote for Gillum.

Scott is an horrendous choice to be a Florida senator. But, Bill Nelson should have gracefully retired at age 76 ... and thrown his support to Gwen Graham for the office. I was happy with Gillum as the gubernatorial candidate and would have liked to have seen Graham running for Nelson's senate seat rather than for governor.

So you're a very proud socialist? Wouldn't Venezuela be a better home for you since the majority of Florida, and U.S citizens, enjoy our republic?

WHY! Do all you Repubnicks keep mentioning Venezuela? It's like a disease with you people. Venezuela is a "Communist" country. The communists took a perfectly working Social Democratic Political system and turned into an "Authoritarian Socialism". Social Democrats are far from that form of government. Social Democrats believe in Capitalism, and work within the Capitalist way of doing things. They just believe that ALL citizens should benefit from it, not just those greedy CEO's and Corporate shareholders. DO SOME HOMEWORK!

This race boiled down to two things. Age. Bill nelson, though a decent politician. Got caught up in the too long in office conundrum. Rick Scott, though not a great choice either, was younger. He ran on a point to bring term limits to Washington (yeah, well, good luck with that). Two. Florida's penchant to cling to Republican's never kept promises. Democrats are moving towards more of a Social Democratic party, where everyone gets the same benefits. No matter what you make. There are SOME good points to that philosophy. Higher taxes, won't be one of them, however. At least not until Republicans acknowledge the need to pay people a living wage and guarantee that, with annual living expense increments. But no. Republicans keep throwing those magic talking points of "less Government" and "Lower Taxes" out there, and expecting it to happen. All the while, they keep adding more things, that require tax funding. I'm no math major, but how does that work, exactly. If you want crappy roads, falling bridges, less law enforcement and fire/EMS responses, bad water and dirty beaches. Then you keep voting for those Republicans. Cause that's what you're going to get. Shell Game politics and spending. Having spent some time overseas, I can tell you how good Social Programs do work for every citizen. AND, they still have capitalism too. That Tax Cut you were promised? In April, I want a show of hands, how many Republican lemmings have to pay back that extra money they got in their checks. We're just afraid to try ANYTHING new or different.

Brad: excellent article at calling it like it is AND it is NOT voter suppression. On the other side, Republicans should be VERY worried. if you think about Gillum, a corrupt, nearly indicted socialist, democrat candidate for Gov who lost by ~~30,000 out of 8 million votes cast AND tired old, do nothing Nelson who lost by ~~11000 votes out of 8 million………..Repubs are doomed because demographics are trending and almost blue in the 3rd most populous state. Were it not for the abysmal showing at the polls in Dade county (57%) Dr Snipes would not have had to do what she was trying to do which was to find a way to make up the difference. If the FDP would have turned out an additional 2 percent in Dade county (which would still be well below the state's average turnout) the entire state leadership would be Blue. Yes, we are becoming California but without the intellectualism; the Dems should be quietly very happy because they almost pulled it off.

The voters saw -and conveyed- the message . Nelson’s campaign reflected his age . If it’s time to go , it’s time . Nothing lasts forever. Not mean spirited , but Rick Scott had certainly earned the vote for those of us who do not spend our days hating all things successful and/or Republican .

Thank you, Brad, for this well-researched post-election analysis...I agree wholeheartedly that Nelson's loss was "self-induced" and you rightly point out the lack of voter turnout in very blue counties in south Florida...great piece!

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