Ward Scott Files – Show Notes 5/12/2015

Alex Patton is a weekly guest on the Ward Scott Files for “Political Nerd Tuesday” : a weekly exploration of all things related to political strategy, political polling, and political research.

Below are the show notes prepared for the show.  The show notes are prepared ahead of the show and do not reflect extemporaneous discussions, but do contain links and additional information to topics discussed.

You can listen to a podcast of the show at the Podcast Page for the Ward Scott Files.  The podcasts are normally posted within hours of the completion of the show.

Show Notes – 5/12/2015

Jacksonville Mayor Race

1 week until Jacksonville Election – Lenny Curry v Alvin Brown

The Mythical Political Machine in Alachua County

Whether it exists depends on your definition of “political machine”

  • My theory is there is no small cabal deciding political campaigns operating as a machine, only a mathematical advantage exploited by politically competent people.
  • There is definitely a political structure in place that protects those in power and further cements their numerical advantage.
  • By crediting a mythical political machine in a campaign context is giving them way too much credit.

The evidence are some recent blog posts on ozeanmedia.com:


Jon C. Costabile’s, the Rep, total expenditure was $11,770.00.

Summary of campaign : He qualified by petition.  He put up some signs, printed small runs of campaign literature, and repaid close to $6,500 in candidate loans.

John Martin’s, the Republican, total expenditure was $65,945.00

Summary of campaign:  No primary, signs, mailers, tv, phone calls, newspaper.

In a macro view and with a 6x difference in expenditure amount between the Republican candidates, what change in results do we observe between the non-campaign and the robust campaign?  +2.2%


Let’s examine these campaigns:

year race winner winner%
2010 USSEN Rep 40.01%
2010 CC4 Rep 54.03%
2006 AGR Rep 51.46%
2004 Sheriff Rep

  • In the 2010 USSEN race, Senator Marco Rubio was the top voter in a three way race.
    • So, our first strategy would be to split the hegemony’s power with a two way split.
  • In the 2010 County Commission race, Republican Susan Baird defeated long time incumbent and current Democrat county chair, Cynthia Chestnut.
  • In 2006, long time incumbent Republican Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson beat unknown Eric Copeland after Copeland switched from a CFO campaign after fellow Democrat Alex Sink got into the CFO campaign.  (You knew Copeland was in trouble when he launched his Agriculture Commissioner campaign with “The incumbent has done an adequate job representing the interests of Agriculture in Florida.”)
  • In 2004, long time incumbent Republican Steve Oelrich beat neophyte challenger Bill Davis for Alachua Sheriff.

If we look for positive deviance in all three of these victories, we see the Democrats fielding poor candidates, neophyte candidates or in the case of Cynthia Chestnut – fielding a candidate that did not campaign at all.

However, the one thing the above three positive deviances share : the Democrats screwed up.

a second strategy : field good, legitimate Republican candidates and hope and pray the Democrats screw up.

But there is another item the winning campaigns share which brings us to the third and I believe the most important strategy: the political environment was formed before the campaigns ever took place.

Criag Lowe’s first term was highlighted by:


The time voters are most open to persuasion is during non-campaign contexts.

These elected officials must never have a week off.  These elected officials must have every move examined with a ruthless intensity and an inexorable contrasting of values.   The critique must be unrelenting, and the criticism must garner press coverage.  The effort required is a long, uncivil, and confrontational process; it requires resources.

People don’t like this recipe.

About Alex Patton

One Response to “Ward Scott Files – Show Notes 5/12/2015”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Melanie B says:

    A quick comment. Through reputation, I believed Alex Patton to be a hardcore, partisan ideologue. What is most interesting is contrasting his reputation with his writings and appearances on the radio.

    After listening to him for some time on the radio and reading this blog, I am revising my opinion: Alex is an extremely intelligent guy, who sincerely attempts to understand the science behind politics and communication. When not engaged in a campaign, he exhibits notable critical thinking skills. But once engaged in a campaign, he loses his ming. He uses all his skills and brain power for evil by acting as partisan as Karl Rove.

    I like the non-campaign Alex much better.