Democrats, Republicans, and Independents may disagree on policy issues, but in the state of Florida this year, they all agree on one thing: you need the web to win. While money and time spent courting voters online may differ from campaign to campaign, Florida seems to be leading the way online this year.
When Marco Rubio jumped in the Florida Senate race more than a year ago, few seemed to think his chances were high. An aggressive online campaign and help from the conservative blogosphere (spearheaded by Erick Erickson) helped his candidacy gain traction nationally, and then back home in the Sunshine State.
Rick Scott’s campaign for Governor was launched with an understanding from the beginning to run an aggressive, targeted online campaign. Rick and senior campaign staff have been and continue to be open to new ways to reach voters via the web, spending not only financial resources, but also Rick’s personal time on reaching out to the online community across the state.
To be fair, it’s not only Republicans who are “getting it” in Florida. Emails from Kendrick Meek have the professional look and feel of the messages from Organizing for America. Democrat Alex Sink was driving her message through keyword-based search advertising the day after Rick Scott won the Republican gubernatorial primary.
Independent Governor Charlie Crist isn’t shying away from the web either. Crist is running content and search ads on Google, which from the looks of it are changed out frequently, and while his campaign is behind Marco Rubio’s in terms of web presence, he isn’t ceding the web-race to either of his opponents.
With California having roughly 20 million more citizens than Florida and numerous political companies calling Silicon Valley home, it would seem a logical leader on the web. However, I would argue that Florida had led the way online this cycle, and it may well continue to through this November’s elections.
Vincent Harris serves as Founder and CEO at Harris Media, a national media and communications firm based in Austin, Texas (www.harrismediallc.com). He is in charge of web operations for the Rick Scott campaign in Florida, and previously ran day to day online operations for Governor Bob McDonnell.