How Bad Ballot Design Likely Killed Bill Nelson’s Senate Career

If you’re still mad at Florida for denying Vice Pres. Al Gore the presidency in 2000, you’re probably not any happier with us for denying the Senate another Democrat, in the form of Bill Nelson.

There’s a tragically simple explanation for why the Senate vote went off the rails in the county where Fort Lauderdale is:

Bad ballot design. Like, spectacularly bad design.

In civilized counties like mine, here’s how the ballot looked:


Democrats Have Narrow Leads in Florida

48% to 45%

A new NBC News/Marist poll in Florida finds Sen. Bill Nelson (D) just ahead of Gov. Rick Scott (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 48% to 45% among likely voters. In the race for governor, Andrew Gillum (D) is ahead of Ron DeSantis (R), 48% to 43%. Said pollster Lee Miringoff: “The political environment in Florida, overall, is tipping in the Democrats’ favor.”

Scott Catching Nelson Among Hispanic Voters

44% to 41%

“Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) holds a narrow 44% to 41% lead over Gov. Rick Scott (R) among Latino voters in Florida’s Senate race, according to a new poll that’s raising fresh concerns among Democrats that the incumbent is in a dicey position with a core group of voters he needs to carry by bigger margins,” Politico reports. “For Democrats, those numbers are a problem because a Republican who wins as much of the Hispanic vote as Scott is taking usually wins statewide in Florida. Democrats outnumbered Republicans in the survey by 40% to 33%.”

Election 2012 May End Congressional Careers of Sonny Bono’s Widow and Her Current Husband, Florida Rep. Connie Mack

From left: Rep. Mack, Rep. Bono Mack and Dr. Ruiz, Bono Mack"s Democratic challenger
From left: Rep. Mack, Rep. Bono Mack and Dr. Ruiz, Bono Mack"s Democratic challenger
The new NBC/Marist poll in Florida finds that incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson leads his Republican challenger, Rep. Connie Mack by double digits, 52 percent to 39 percent.

But that may not be the only political trouble facing Rep. Mack’s household. His wife, GOP Rep. Mary Bono Mack, the widow of entertainer Sonny Bono, is also facing the toughest reelection challenge since she assumed the seat representing Palm Springs that her late husband held until he was killed in a freak skiing accident in January 1998. Because Rep. Mack opted to give up his seat in Florida to run against Nelson, there’s a chance now that both Mack and Bono Mack will not be returning to Washington next year.

Rep. Bono Mack, who is considered to be one of the five most vulnerable Republican representatives in the House, appears to have really stepped in it when an “October surprise” lodged against her Democratic opponent, emergency-room physician Raul Ruiz, backfired, big time:


Mediocre and Dim: What Passes for Best and Brightest in the GOP

Mary Bono
Mack and Mary Bono, aka his Gingrich Problem

We’re not the only ones to notice that Connie Mack IV, nee Cornelius Harvey McGillicuddy IV, is one of the lightest weight lightweights ever to run on the Republican ticket for the Senate from Florida, and that’s saying something.

After all, this is the state that sent George LeMieux, whose claim to fame might be only that his last name contains more vowels than consonants, to fill the spot vacated by Mel Martinez, who quit partway through his term to pursue closer family relations.

That tendency seems to be largely Republican in nature, but at least Martinez wasn’t trying to spend more time with Sarah Palin’s family.

I digress.

The point is, someone else is taking a look at Mack IV (R), now running for the seat held by Sen. Bill Nelson (D), and coming up underwhelmed.

Palm Beach Post columnist Frank Cerabino sent a memo to Mack from his fictitious image consulting firm. In it, he presented Mack with answers he might use to address issues uncovered by opposition research.


Pick the Right Name if You Want to Win in Politics

40% – 42%

The results of a Quinnipiac poll on the Florida Senate race. Rep. Connie Mack (R-Ft Myers) garnered 40% support while incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) got 42%. Name recognition was cited as the main factor in Mack’s popularity, since he is the fourth person to be named Connie Mack, starting with his Baseball Hall of Famer greatgrandfather. Mack IV is also the husband of Rep. Mary Bono (who gained her seat upon the death of husband Sonny Bono) but has done little of note in Congress, where he is Chair of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere within the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Jeb Bush: Who Republicans Evoke When They Can’t Beat Democrats

With the people in the field right now, I think it will be difficult to beat Bill Nelson. I still think Jeb Bush might don the cape and get in.

Florida State Senate Pres. Mike Haridopolos (R-Merritt Island), discussing the U.S. Senate race for the seat currently held by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.). Haridopolos dropped out of the contest this year, leaving challengers that Vice Pres. Joe Biden referred to at the recent Florida Democratic Convention as, “the seven dwarfs.”