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Florida’s gubernatorial election has swung from a simple governors election to a referendum on Governor Scott’s performance and President Trump’s tweets. Rather than focusing on critical Florida issues, such as Blue/Green algae blooms, Healthcare’s ever growing budget demands, infrastructure, and tourism, this election has drawn attention to national issues such as Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, the FBI, and NAFTA. While it is important to focus on critical national issues, the current discourse has distracted from what’s really important to the average Florida voter: Florida focused policies.
Fortunately, the candidates seem to be turning their platforms towards a more Florida-focused approach. Republican candidate Ron Desantis released his environmental plan on Monday, which is focused on banning off shore drilling and dealing with Lake Okeechobee runoff. Meanwhile, Democrat candidate Andrew Gillum has been traveling the state advocating for healthcare expansion and a higher minimum wage.
With the hyperpolarization of each party’s voting bloc and a very slim voting margin between them, each campaign must ask, “what other voting blocks can we pick up?” Normally, picking up blocks of voters is zero sum. Picking up one voter bloc means isolating another. So the question is, is there a voter bloc that has yet to be touched and does not conflict with either candidate’s base?
The answer: the growing Bitcoin and blockchain communities here in Florida.
Heat map of Bitcoin accepting shops, ATM’s & venues.
With a quick look at MeetUp.com’s blockchain/Bitcoin groups, you can see that there are well over 15,000 people in various groups involved in the space. These are group led events that are held anywhere from once a month to once a week. The largest groups tend to be in the larger metropolitan areas, where the majority of swing votes lie. Looking at the map above, you can easily pinpoint Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, and Miami awash in red coloring, pinpointing these cities as hotbeds for the blockchain community.
Both parties should be aware of the thin margins they are dealing within Florida. Gillum beat Gwen Graham in the Democratic primary by less than 50,000 votes. Trump won Florida in 2016 by less than 1.5% of the vote. Finding a constituency that has yet to be tapped into could prove to be just enough to edge either gubernatorial candidate over the finish line.
Florida Primary polling data via New York Times
So how might a gubernatorial candidate get these voters to buy into their campaign?
The first step would be to accept Bitcoin as a campaign contribution. Although this scares some politicians, it is hardly controversial, especially when using a service such as Bitpay(which is essentially just a cash donation). In fact, the Libertarian Party of Pinellas County has been doing this since 2014, and various Libertarian candidates have accepted it in the past. Even Democratic Congressional Candidate Kristen Carlson(D-15) has looked into accepting Bitcoin as a campaign donation.
By accepting Bitcoin as a campaign contribution, these candidates would be signaling that Bitcoin and the various blockchain based businesses in the state are legitimate. Although it has been proven that Bitcoin is no longer the “currency of criminals” (it’s still physical cash), it would be a friendly reminder to the average Floridian that Bitcoin and the various businesses surrounding it are not trying to sell drugs to your kids or launder money. They are trying to innovate and push Florida’s economy further into the future. A candidate’s favorability towards Bitcoin donations sends a loud and clear message to Floridians: the government supports these communities, and the public should, too.
Second, they could signal to these voters that they are going to advance Florida’s tech businesses by applying regulation tactfully and loosely. The last thing we want is a repeat of New York’s failed Bitlicense, and to stunt growth in Florida. Regulators and law makers should seek input from the blockchain and crypto communities here in Florida. With skin in the game, business owners will know what policies will help and what polices will hurt.
The gubernatorial candidates should also take note of the degrees of wealth found in the Bitcoin/blockchain communities. Potential contributors are not just small donors donating .005 Bitcoin to a campaign, but larger startups funded by venture capital. For both candidates, this untapped source of capital could translate into just one more ad buy in the Tampa Bay media market, or hundreds of targeted ads via social media.
For either candidate to win Florida in November, they need to turn out every last voter they can get their hands on. 15,000 is no small number in a state won by small margins.
Desantis and Gillum should start reaching out to the Bitcoin/blockchain communities sooner rather than later. November will be here soon, and hindsight is not kind to losers.