Florida’s 18th congressional district is one of the more interesting races this mid-term year. The incumbent, Patrick Murphy, won his seat by defeating the highly controversial Allen West. But the district as a whole is not a strong one for the democrat, with most predictions seeming to put it at “lean” democratic.
That has generated a large number of GOP contenders who will face off in this month’s primary. For reasons that escape me, the GOP as a whole has not focused resources on this district, and the primary is still a large scramble. And there seems to be no recent polls, which makes it hard to know what’s happening.
We can look to Twitter to get a sense of what’s happening, however, and although it doesn’t give us a solid prediction, right away some things are obvious:
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A couple of things I’ll point out:
- The mentions for Murphy are a little low because of an overly tight filter. That will be fixed next month, but the fix doesn’t add much to his counts.
- I left the other GOP contenders out because they have negligible presence on Twitter.
- Alan Schlesinger got 24 mentions total in the month.
- I can’t even find a Twitter account for Brian Lara (Twitter helpfully suggests Flo Rida, however). The guy is a software developer and can’t handle Twitter? Come on, it’s not that hard.
- Beverly Hires’ personal Twitter account is locked. Her campaign Twitter account has 4 followers and no tweets. It has a nice picture, though. Good luck with that.
- Carl Domino’s burst at the end of the month is almost all negative tweets from the Turnquest camp.
- The democratic incumbent, Patrick Murphy, is still outpacing Calvin Turnquest on Twitter, but I think that the lead is illusionary. There was a relatively quiet spell in the middle of the month for Turnquest. Had he sustained activity equally throughout the month, he would have outpaced Murphy with ease.
- Domino has no real independent presence on Twitter, and if you don’t show up, your straw-man gets whacked. For a military guy, he’s getting severely outflanked. We’ve seen this movie before, it’s “Rubio-Crist”, with Carl playing the role of Charlie.
- There’s going to be a pivot sooner rather than later in the public’s perception, because people will start to realize that Turnquest has a great shot at winning in November. A some point there’s going to be a kiss-and-make-up offer from the GOP.
Bottom line: Turnquest is the only GOP candidate who’s got the hustle to win in November. I’ve said that all along, and it’s still true.
In a previous post, I discussed how Charlie Crist is failing to compete on Twitter, allowing Rick Scott to dominate the conversation. It’s a classic case of a challenger not putting out the effort to take on an incumbent.
In Florida’s 18th congressional district, however, we have the opposite: the challenger is exerting the effort necessary to overcome the advantages of his opponent’s incumbency. Calvin Turnquest has virtually matched Rep. Patrick Murphy’s presence on Twitter throughout March:
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In 2012, democrat Patrick Murphy narrowly defeated Allen West by less than 2500 votes to take Florida’s 18th congressional district, and he’s looking to repeat his victory this year in the mid-term elections. But the closeness of the vote has encouraged a large pool of republican contenders, each who feel that without West’s baggage they could switch the district from D to R.
An early look at the race shows us that, on Twitter at least, all the buzz is around two candidates: the incumbent Murphy and the challenger Calvin Turnquest:
Twitter mentions in FL-18 – Click to Enlarge
The other GOP contenders have plenty of time to ramp up their social media presence, but it is my observations that Mr. Turnquest has a natural fluency with social media that may be hard for them to surpass. Given how close the last election was, it would do the GOP good to pick a candidate who can reach voters in all channels, and until the others demonstrate a core competency in Social Media, on just the mechanics of politics Mr. Turnquest looks like an early leader.
As we close in on the primaries in August, Twitter activity in the 6th district is starting to get a bit more active:
Heather Beaven and Ron DeSantis are way ahead of the others at this point. I just started tracking Richard Clark, so his numbers are incomplete — mid-June I’ll have a better sense of activity by and about him.
The daily activity is all over the board for the candidates:
Nobody has a consistent drumbeat of activity at this point — it’s still running hot and cold for all the candidates. But if you compare this to a couple of weeks ago, you can see that the level of activity is starting to increase in general.