Don’t Blame Consultants For Demo’s Loss





After yet another election cycle that saw most Florida Democrats get their clocks cleaned, the blame game and finger-pointing, which has become so predictable that you can almost set your watch by it, began anew.

There are several, mostly foreseeable and predictable, reasons Florida Democrats lost again.

I hope to delve deeper into some of those reasons in the coming weeks, but before drilling down on the actual shortcomings here in Florida, it is important to dispel one consistent construct I have been hearing for years that misses the mark.

That erroneous construct is that the consultants or the consultant class is largely to blame for Florida Democrats losing.

This is flat, and fundamentally, wrong.

Political and campaign consultants aren’t to blame for the perpetual losses suffered by Florida Democrats because they have no inherent power. The only power that consultants have is the power to convince others who have power, based on the station they hold in the political world, to give it to them.

Many consultants are quite talented at consolidating power and far less so at leveraging that power to win campaigns, but simply being a consultant is a source of exactly zero influence.

Three main groups have intrinsic power to leverage themselves or give to others to utilize: elected officials, elected party leaders, and donors.


No Accountability


Dollars and power are distributed to Florida Democrats based on personality, with little to no accountability. This is not a bug in the system; it is a feature that those who have controlled the most money in this state over the last eight years have worked hard to keep in place.

Asking or expecting those who have benefited most from this broken system to change course to something more meritocratic is an exercise in lunacy. Changes must be demanded, and the group that is by far the most likely to be the tip of the spear to fix the broken Democratic structure in Florida are the donors.

It’s unfortunate that money talks so much in politics, but it is an undeniable reality.

Money is needed to hire staff and run effective programs. If Florida’s largest donors, who are even more livid than normal after another cycle of seeing their money set on fire, demand changes and cut off funds to every entity that doesn’t implement those changes, you will see transformation at warp speed.

Elected party leaders and elected officials definitely want to win more, but the status quo isn’t the worst thing that could happen to them.

That is why donors must flex their muscles and bring others along with them. Small-dollar and grassroots donations have not once been a successful main funding source for a party organization, so we need to stick with a funding model that has proved to work.

Quantifying the results of every program run, and having standards and benchmarks across the board, should be the new normal.

If this was done, the consultant class would either adapt or fade to allow a new group of people to deliver consistent results.

If people don’t know how to properly quantify the results of the programs they have run while losing their most competitive campaigns, then that would speak volumes.


Wasteful Campaign Spending


If such work was done, I am sure many people would be astounded by the large amount of wasteful spending in campaigns. That is why most consultants and campaign professionals will kick, scream, and do everything in their power to resist any and all accountability.

It is also why it is desperately needed.

As a data scientist and campaign consultant, I have consistently won at least 80% of my clients’ races here in Florida, so winning in this state is entirely possible. It is also why I have a unique perspective as to what is wrong with Democrats in this state.

I am scaling back my campaign consulting business, so this is not an exercise in self-promotion or me trying to get a bigger piece of the pie.

The first step in fixing any problem is identifying that there is one. There are fundamental problems with Florida Democrats, and unless they are fixed, Florida will become a permanently red state this decade.

The problems and solutions aren’t hard to identify. We lack the political will among those who have the power to institute change to leverage that power to require that changes be made.

Sean Phillippi is the managing member of TLE Analytics, a firm which most recently handled the winning campaign of Broward State Attorney-Elect Harold Pryor. 

8 Responses to “Don’t Blame Consultants For Demo’s Loss”

  1. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:


  2. A Reader says:

    So what is the moral of the story? Money and power equal politics? Of course. Money and power have talked for generations and longer.

    The strongest power is that of the voter. Weak candidates and dark money can fool some of the people, but not all. An honest election with good candidates, not slick salespeople and buckets full of dollars benefits the whole community,

    Now, I will take off these rose colored glasses and go back to reality. Its a sad state of affairs.

  3. Mayor Richard J Kaplan (Ret.) says:

    I agree with much of this article and I want to expound on the writer’s positions.

    As a veteran of nine successful campaigns of my own, and the observer of many other campaigns, I have seen numerous mistakes of candidates in how they spend money on their campaign. Some mistakes are of their own making and other mistakes are by people they trust who have taken advantage of them.

    So you know, I have always been my own campaign consultant. Since consultants cost money and I never had a lot to spend on a campaign, I had to learn how to use a limited resource wisely. In every competitive campaign I ran, my opponent always had more money than me. However, I figured that at least 60% of their campaign funds were wasted. So they were never able to defeat me.

    Whenever I ran for office I would review my opponents’ financial papers (and those of others running in other races) and see where they were spending their money. The biggest mistake I saw by candidates is how they overspent on purchases. It isn’t that they didn’t need the advertising and promotion. The problem is that they just purchase whatever they are told or what they were pressured to buy no matter what the cost is.

    This means they often overpaid for these services and supplies. Often I would find they literally were throwing their money away. Many spent it on buying tickets for supporters to attend events they didn’t need. Some on advertising in publications or promotions that had no reach. Also many of these purchases went through their consultants. But when I looked at what they got for it, it was often not worth the price paid.

    So the moral of the story is that a candidate has to take a more active involvement on what they are spending their money on and look for the best value for their buck. They should treat it like it is their own money they are spending, not contributors’ money.

  4. MacAdder says:

    “Weak candidates and dark money” … Unfortunately, this defines the Holness wing of the party. In particular, Dale has been grooming a commissioner in Tamarac for years who will most likely run for state rep. They might be able to pass this guy off on a few thousand voters drinking recycled Tamarac water, but he’s going to get blasted in a district-wide race. Unbelievably, on video this commissioner claimed that he predicted COVID and talked about the size of his unit in front of children (article here; more videos here). This is the best Holness can find?

  5. City activist Robert walsh says:

    #3.I agree w/ u in regards to the purchases candidates make and or their campaign hired consultants. Its these filters they most all of them sent out during this last campaign season. Filters after flyers.Like most residents in the trash they went.Some days there several.Again,in the trash.Complete waste of money spent.

  6. Count LF Chodkiewicz Chudzikiewicz says:

    Mayor Kaplan was a successful White Mayor…In 1994 when Whites (yes Jewish NY retirees) where leaving n replaced by Blacks… THAT RACIAL CHANGE NO CONSULTANT CAN ALTER OR EFFECT. As the Democratic Party becomes more ‘influenced’ by non White demograpgic changes Consultants become USELESS…

  7. Reubin S. says:

    Candidates should take Kaplan’s advise. He is the best mayor Lauderhill and he never used a consultant.

  8. William Dalatin says:

    Democrats lost in places where we Americans absolutely refused your socialist agendas of keeping alive racism, promoting anti-Americanism, big government, trampling on the Bill of Rights, and defunding the Police Departments.