A new study released today suggests that more than 100,000 black mothers, whose children attend charter schools, rejected the divisive identity politics employed by Florida Democrats and particularly gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum, and instead cast their vote for Republican school-choice champion Ron DeSantis.
For much of the campaign, the debate focused with laser-like intensity on racial issues. From the very outset, Gillum accused DeSantis of using a “racist bullhorn” (as opposed to the proverbial “dog whistle”) after DeSantis’s now infamous Fox News appearance where he suggested Floridians shouldn’t “monkey this up” in reference to the state’s growing economy. But Gillum kept playing the race card, attempting to frame DeSantis as a racist during debates and campaign appearances.
During one of the worst news cycles of the campaign for Gillum, when evidence surfaced suggesting he willingly accepted a potential bribe in the form of free VIP tickets from a man who later turned out to be an under cover FBI agent, Gillum recorded a Facebook Live video and played the race card again.
“The goal is obviously to use my candidacy as a way to reinforce, frankly, stereotypes about black men,” Gillum said.
But data collected on election day and throughout the campaign cycle suggests the tactic was roundly rejected by a key demographic that Gillum and his campaign team likely took for granted: black moms.
“The numbers don’t lie,” says a slide on a new report released by Go BIG Media, a digital targeting and advertising firm based in Washington D.C. “Andrew Gillum’s underperformance with black voters cost him the election.”
Go BIG Media helped target school choice moms on behalf of a political action committee supporting DeSantis, who supports school choice and charter schools. The case study, which relies on CNN exit polling, found that DeSantis was able to triple the support Donald Trump earned from black women in the 2016 presidential race, with DeSantis earning 18 percent to Trump’s 6 percent. He also doubled Rick Scott’s performance this cycle. Scott pulled in 9 percent of black women. Here’s an excerpt from a Wall Street Journal analysis of the CNN exit polling data:
Believe it or not, Republican Ron DeSantis owes his victory in the Florida gubernatorial election to about 100,000 African-American women who unexpectedly chose him over the black Democratic candidate, Andrew Gillum.
Of the roughly 650,000 black women who voted in Florida, 18% chose Mr. DeSantis, according to CNN’s exit poll of 3,108 voters. This exceeded their support for GOP U.S. Senate candidate Rick Scott (9%), Mr. DeSantis’s performance among black men (8%) and the GOP’s national average among black women (7%).
The Go BIG case study also lays out how they geo-targeted school choice voters, identifying charter schools and pushing over 3 million video messages to likely voters who were known to be on those school campuses.
“More than just defeating Andrew Gillum, the study shows just how powerful and effective the medium of digital can be to communicate a wedge issue, hyper targeted at a very specific pocket of voters,” said Dean Patrone, President of Go BIG Media.
School choice advocate John Kirtley, the founder of Florida Federation for Children, reached the same conclusion as Go BIG Media. He pointed out to the Tampa Bay Times only a day after the election that school choice appeared to be a deciding factor in the race:
“When given a clear choice between a candidate who supports empowering parents to choose K-12 options for their children and a candidate who wishes to restrict those choices, voters prefer the candidate who supports educational choice.”
The full report from Go BIG Media goes into more detail about how the firm acquired their data, developed their messaging and used it to help turn the tide in favor of DeSantis. You can check it out here.