Special Political Announcement from Marian Johnson

I’ve been saying it for years… “Politics is changing.”

From the way candidate’s campaign to the way people vote – politics is changing.

Florida has embraced these changes, and over the years has developed a very robust elections process that accommodates voting-by-mail, early voting and day-of voting. It’s because of this great access that Floridians have to early voting that has actually made it more expensive for candidates to campaign, and it makes polling and predicting races much more complex.

The Florida Chamber’s Political Program is on top of this ever-changing political climate. And every day, we analyze who is voting and how they are voting.

We know this is the time of year when Florida’s business community needs the latest in-depth analysis. That’s why the Florida Chamber has developed a robust, interactive digital tool – the Early Voting Dashboard – providing you access to the latest in early voting activities.

The Early Voting Dashboard features daily updates of absentee and early voting performance for:

  • House and Senate races
  • Congressional District races
  • County-by-county voting, and
  • Statewide voting

Today, the Early Voting Dashboard shows that:

  • 263,320 vote-by-mail ballots have been returned. That’s up almost 14,000 since Saturday.
  • The current statewide vote-by-mail ballot return rate stands at 10.3 percent, while return rate among Democrats is 9.5 percent – nearly 3 points behind the 12.3 percent Republican return rate.
  • Return rates in Lee, Collier, Sarasota and Volusia are now at or above 20 percent for Republicans.

How You Can Help

1. BE ON THE LOOKOUT…for your daily Early Voting Dashboard email update.
2. SHARE THIS MESSAGE…invite others to sign up to receive the Early Voting Dashboard.

Given the changing state of politics, this resource will help cut through the clutter and provide you the information Florida’s business community has said is important. CLICK the image below to engage the Early Voting Dashboard.

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If you see opportunities in which we can improve on this, please don’t hesitate to contact me at mjohnson@flchamber.com.

New and Unlikely Republican Voters Edging Out Democrats in Returned Vote-By-Mail Ballots

Vote-by-mail (VBM) ballot returns are running neck and neck among likely voters (those who have voted in three or all of the last four primary elections) in both parties, with both Democrats and Republicans posting 10 percent return rates. Among those who have voted in two of the last four primary elections, Democrats and Republicans are both running at 8 percent returns.

However, Republicans have a slight edge among new and low propensity voters, with the GOP posting a 5 percent return rate versus 4 percent for the Democrats.

Of the more than 2.6 million VBM ballots requested, 182,513, or 7.19 percent, have been returned.

Check Out The Dashboard

Get daily updates on how VBM voting is performing in races across Florida. The Florida Chamber’s Early Voting Dashboard provides the latest information on early voting performance statewide, in each county, and breaks it down by House, Senate and Congressional races.

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2018 Election Center

Get the latest news and information on candidates, endorsements, Constitutional Amendments and more by visiting the Florida Chamber’s 2018 Election Center.

2.6 Million Ballot Requests- A 7 Percent Increase

Vote-by-mail (VBM) requests currently stand at 2.6 million statewide – that’s a seven percent increase from the 2016 primary election.

The biggest growth in VBM requests have come from NPA/Other party affiliations. This group combines for an increase in 132,914 VBM requests. Democrat VBM requests have increased by 125,708, and Republicans are down 62,181 VBM requests.

The 2018 primary election could post record turnout when all ballots are counted, and early and VBM ballots could account for 70 percent of all returns.

Check Out The Dashboard

Get daily updates on how VBM voting is performing in races across Florida. The Florida Chamber’s Early Voting Dashboard provides the latest information on early voting performance statewide, in each county, and breaks it down by House, Senate and Congressional races.

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2018 Election Center

Get the latest news and information on candidates, endorsements, Constitutional Amendments and more by visiting the Florida Chamber’s 2018 Election Center.

Amendment 3: Voter Control of Gambling in Florida

On the general election ballot in November, Amendment 3: Voter Control of Gambling in Florida, is not as controversial as it may seem.

If the amendment passes, control of gambling in the Sunshine State will be returned to voters.

FloridaWins.org summarized it this way:

Approval of this amendment ensures that Florida voters shall have the exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling by requiring that in order for casino gambling to be authorized under Florida law, it must be approved by Florida voters pursuant to Article XI, Section 3 of the Florida Constitution. Affects articles X and XI. Defines casino gambling and clarifies that this amendment does not conflict with federal law regarding state/tribal compacts.

Voters in Charge, the sponsor of the amendment, says that Tallahassee politicians and lobbyists have been deciding the fate of casino-style gambling for far too long. This amendment will put the gambling industry in the hands of Floridians.

For nearly a century, approval of casino gambling was strictly left for voters to decide.  Amendment 3 simply seeks to return to that standard to authorize casino gambling.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce supports Amendment 3. Protecting Florida’s unique quality of life is essential to maintaining our state’s family-friendly brand.

For more than two decades, the Florida Chamber has opposed the expansion of Las Vegas-style casino gambling, and believes the passage of Amendment 3 will further protect Florida’s sense of place and community.

Learn more about the Amendment 3 at Voters in Charge, or at Florida Wins to learn more about the other constitutional amendments.

Constitutional Amendments That Are Good For Florida

Floridians will be asked to determine the fate of 13 different proposals on the November general election ballot.

Amendments 9, 12 and 13, according to the Florida Chamber of Commerce, can be accomplished through the legislative process. With that in mind, the Florida Chamber doesn’t believe Florida’s Constitution should permanently be changed to address these three.

However, there are four amendments on the ballot that require voter support to help ensure Florida keeps moving in the right direction.

  • Amendment 2: Limitations on Property Tax Assessments
  • Amendment 3: Voter Control of Gambling in Florida
  • Amendment 5: Supermajority Vote Required to Impose, Authorize, or Raise State Taxes or Fees
  • Amendment 11: Property Rights; Removal of Obsolete Provision; Criminal Statutes

Amendment 2 – A family friendly amendment that will protect Floridians by keeping a 10 percent cap on certain annual property tax increases. Amendment 2 is a common-sense tax structure that helps the economy thrive. This amendment will only help incentivize families to make Florida their home, and continue making Florida more competitive.

Amendment 3 – Puts the control of gambling with voters – not Tallahassee politicians and gambling lobbyists. This amendment does not ban casino gambling, it only gives the control of gambling back to Floridians. 

Amendment 5 –Raises the threshold for increasing taxes on families. If the Florida Legislature were to enact new taxes or fees, it would require each chamber to pass the bill with a two-thirds vote. Currently, all that is required for the legislature to enact a new tax is a simply majority vote.

Amendment 11 – Eliminates unnecessary language in the state constitution related to “aliens ineligible for citizenship,” rail transportation and criminal statutes.

In total these amendments will not only help make Florida more competitive, but they will help the rising generation get ahead and achieve their own American dream, right here in Florida.

Voter Registration for Primary Election Ends July 30

Voters in Florida have until July 30 to get registered to vote in the primary election.

As the Department of State website explains, “The deadline to register in order to participate in an upcoming election is 29 days before the election.”

Primary election day is August 28, with early voting taking place during the week of August 18 through August 25. 

Learn more about registering to vote by visiting the Department of State website.

Constitutional Amendments: 9, 12 & 13

Many Proposals Can Be Achieved By The Florida Legislature

A baker’s dozen –13 – that’s how many different proposals will appear on Florida’s general election ballot in November.

Already, Florida’s Constitution has been amended more than 120 times, while the U.S. Constitution has been amended only 27. As the Florida Times Union recently said, voters should prepare for confusing amendments this fall.

Let’s take a close look at Amendments 9, 12 and 13 – three proposals which can be accomplished through Florida’s legislative process.

  • Amendment 9: Prohibits Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling; Prohibits Vaping in Enclosed Indoor Workplaces
  •  Amendment 12: Lobbying and Abuse of Office by Public Officers
  •  Amendment 13: Ends Dog Racing

Each of these amendments was sponsored by the Constitutional Revision Commission (CRC). The CRC is unique to Florida and the only one in the Union. It exists outside the three branches of government. It meets every 20 years, and is a group of 37 commissioners who examine the relevance and applicability of Florida’s Constitution to current and future needs.

The CRC chose to “bundle” multiple policy issues into a given proposal. Amendments 9 and 12, are two good examples where varying policy issues were combined. If voters pass Amendment 9, they will both ban offshore drilling and indoor workplace vaping.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce opposes proposals 9, 12, and 13 because each issue and each proposal can be achieved through the legislative process, instead of permanently placing it in Florida’s Constitution. Learn more by visiting the Florida Chamber’s Election Center.

Google Trends Show Adam Putnam More Popular

Google Trends reveals interesting new data about Florida’s Republican gubernatorial race. Over the last month, ranging from June 6 to July 2, Adam Putnam logged more Google searches statewide than Ron DeSantis

A deeper look into the data shows that Florida’s Google searches show:

  • Floridians in Tallahassee, Tampa and Gainesville are more interested in Putnam, while
  • Floridians Jacksonville, Pensacola and Ft. Myers Google more pro-DeSantis searches.

On debate day (June 28), DeSantis actually surpassed Putnam in Google searches and was twice as popular, according to Google Trends’ popularity algorithm 

  Red indicates Ron DeSantis’ popularity, while blue is Adam Putnam’s popularity. Google searches are over the course of one month, from June 7 to July 2.

 Red indicates Ron DeSantis’ popularity, while blue is Adam Putnam’s popularity. Google searches are over the course of one month, from June 7 to July 2.

According to Joe Clements, co-founder of Strategic Digital Services, a point worth noting is the retiree communities in Southwest Florida.  

“Retirees may be more familiar with DeSantis, and less with Putnam,” said Clements. “Heavy Fox News viewership may mean more familiarity with DeSantis. They may have been registered in 2010 or more recently, so they’re not as familiar with Putnam. But they’ll recognize DeSantis from Fox News.”

This same thinking may be why Putnam garnered more Google searches in Tallahassee. Putnam has served as Commissioner of Agriculture, so Tallahassee voters may be more familiar with Florida Cabinet members than other markets in the state.

Based off of the Google Trends data, the most populated markets, Tampa, Miami, and Orlando, were more interested in Adam Putnam. Although, Orlando’s Google history has shown to be back and forth between the two candidates.

While the data may indicate where Floridians and their interests falls, Clements still believes the best indicator will be the Google Trends closest to the election.  

27 Candidates Automatically Elected to Office

In 27 legislative districts across Florida, candidates have already been elected to the either the Florida House or Senate. That’s because the candidates didn’t draw any competition – automatically sending them to the Florida Legislature. Incumbents were reelected in 25 of the seats, and two newcomers were elected.

One of the newcomers, Democrat Anika Omphroy of House District 95, was elected after incumbent Rep. Barry Russell failed to qualify. The other fresh face is Democrat Joseph Casello in House District 90. District 90 was vacated by Lori Berman, who won a special election for Senate District 31 earlier this year.

There was one race outcome that caught the attention of Andrew Wiggins, Senior Director of Campaigns and Elections at the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

“I think the real shocker was Sam Killebrew,” said Wiggins. “His district is considered a swing district, but the Democrats didn’t raise any money.”

Killebrew, the Winter Haven Republican, represents House District 41, which occupies the eastern edge of Polk County. Killebrew’s district has more registered Democrats than Republicans, but no one else qualified.

On the Democratic side, there are three open primaries in the Florida House where only Democrats filed for office and the primary was not closed by a write-in candidate.

Also, on the heels of the #MeToo movement, more women are running for public office than ever before. In total, 75 women are running for the Florida Legislature, ranging across the political spectrum.

Overall, the Florida Chamber is encouraged to see friends and partners on the list of 27. They continue to fight for investments in economic development and champion initiatives for job creation and capital investment, and we look forward to working with all members.

See below for a full list of the 27 candidates automatically elected on candidate qualification day:


           Ramon Alexander (D)

           Loranne Ausley  

           Kamia Brown (D)

           John Cortes (D)

           Tracie Davis (D)

           Ben Diamond (D)

           Bobby DuBose (D)

           Joe Geller (D)

           Evan Jenne (D)

           Al Jacquet (D)

           Shevrin Jones (D)

           Kionne McGhee (D)

           Sharon Pritchett (D)

           Emily Slosberg (D)

           Richard Stark (D)

           Barbara Watson (D)

           Clovis Watson (D)


           Jose Oliva (R)

           Halsey Beshears (R)

           Brad Drake (R)

           Sam Killebrew (R)

           Travis Cummings (R)

           Michael Grant (R)



           Audrey Gibson (D) Incoming Senate Democratic Leader

           Lauren Book (D)

Important note…There are four additional incumbents that will likely win their races, given that their only challengers are not of the two major parties. Those candidates include:


           Bruce Antone (D)

           Danny Burgess (R)

           Cyndi Stevenson (R)

           Jay Trumbull (R)