After yet another defeat blamed on low voter turnout, some Florida Democrats want to change the rules and elect the governor in the same year voters pick the president — when turnout is always much higher. In the aftermath of Charlie Crist’s narrow loss to Gov. Rick Scott, strategists are plotting how to put an initiative on the 2016 ballot that would shift statewide races back to presidential years, as they were in Florida until 1964. “Our state leaders should be elected by the greatest number of people,” said Ben Pollara, a Miami strategist who worked on the medical marijuana campaign. “How can you argue that having fewer people participate in the political process is good for the state?” Crist adviser Kevin Cate wrote an opinion column, which got picked up by liberal blog the Daily Kos, in favor of shifting statewide elections. It launched an online petition that argues: “More Floridians deserve to have their voice heard.” Backers have sought legal guidance from Jon Mills, dean of the University of Florida law school and a former House speaker, who also worked on the medical marijuana campaign.
The 2014 election was the first Florida midterm in which 6 million people cast ballots, but that figure pales in comparison to the 8.5 million who voted in the 2012 presidential election in Florida.
For Democrats, the call for change is an admission that they can no longer compete with Republicans in statewide races for governor and three down-ballot, powerful Cabinet seats.
The midterm electorate is older, whiter and smaller, favoring Republicans. A presidential electorate is younger, more diverse and larger, favoring Democrats.