In 2010, the Florida Republican establishment had already preordained the state’s Attorney General as the next nominee for Governor. The principals of FLA were tasked with taking an unknown successful businessman who had never held political office before and to make him the next Governor of the 4th largest state in the nation.
Based on our research in the primary, we knew that Scott’s biography as a political outsider who was a proven job creator would appeal to voters over a career politician who had years of experience. Our polling showed that Scott should campaign as a successful businessman who would run the state as a business, create jobs and hold government accountable. While this was the main theme of the campaign our research also led us to recommend a key tactic: use Scott’s support of bringing an AZ-style immigration law to Florida to emphasize the contrast between Scott and his primary opponent. On primary day, Scott was victorious in what the media dubbed a “stunner” outcome.
Winning the Republican nomination was only half the battle. The campaign had to immediately shift to focus on a tough general election matchup against another candidate who had previously won statewide. Our research showed that continuing to emphasize Scott’s business background and history as a job creator should be the strategy. The campaign continued to tout Scott’s 7-7-7 plan – 7 steps to create 700,000 jobs in 7 years. At the same time, our research also showed strong voter anger towards government and President Obama – two things we were able to tag our opponent with.
On Election Day, Scott won declaring in his speech that “There were plenty of pundits, politicians and insiders who said this victory was impossible. But the people of Florida knew exactly what they wanted. They sent a message loud and clear. They said: ‘Let’s get to work.'”
In 2014, FLA was again brought on to conduct polling and research for Governor Scott’s re-elect campaign. Scott, whose image and re-elect score were underwater, was facing a former Republican Governor who had become a Democrat. His opponent had a positive image and recall of his job approval rating while Governor was also very positive. Gov. Scott also faced the problem that many voters were either unaware of the vastly reduced unemployment rate under his leadership or were not properly crediting him for it.
FLA conducted a wide range of quantitative and qualitative research methods to fine tune a messaging and thematic outlook for the campaign. Voters consistently gave the Governor more and more credit for the improving economy, while his opponent’s image declined as he was seen more as a failed opportunist tied to Obama than a moderate who could appeal to all voters. Gov. Scott won re-election, improving markedly in the state’s conservative northern regions.