In a conference call three weeks ago with a pool of new media writers and bloggers, Meek’s campaign manager, Abe Dyk, responded to a series of questions about the campaign’s signature-gathering efforts. Dyk would not (and has not) talk(ed) specific numbers about where the campaign stood in its effort to collect more than 112,000 signatures from registered voters by March 29, 2010. Pressed for at least an assessment of the campaign’s signature-gathering efforts, Dyk stated that “more than half” (that would be 56,000) of the required number have been collected. The campaign also said it had already turned in 40,000 signatures to the various Supervisor of Elections throughout the state to be verified.
After contacting the Supervisor of Elections in Alachua, Broward, Escambia, Hillsborough, Leon, Miami, Orange, Palm Beach, Pinellas and Volusia — counties which accounted for more than 86% of Meek’s verified signatures — I projected that if the current ratio of petitions gathered in the top-performing counties vs. petitions gathered throughout the rest of the state remains constant at about 86%, that means Kendrick Meek has about 26,600 verified signatures — a far cry from the 112,476 signatures he needs to have verified by March 29.
Well, take a look at the Florida Division of Elections site to see where Meek’s campaign stands as of February 2 and, lo and behold, Meek has 26,536 verified with the totals from each of the ten highest performing counties either current, near-current or with no new information to be reported, except for Broward (whose expected additional signatures would put the number higher, but Meek has had another week to collect signatures, so those numbers offset.)
26,538 is not 40,000, the number the campaign attests that it has already turned in nor is it the 56,000 the campaign says it has collected.
Remember, Meek needs 112,476 verified signatures and he has 26,536 verified signatures. That means Meek needs to have another 85,940 signatures verified over the next 58 days. That’s 1,562 verified signatures a day.
How difficult is it to get 1,562 verified signatures? To date, the Meek campaign has collected 998 verified signatures from Palm Beach County and 602 verified signatures from Pinellas County (the fifth and eighth best performing counties). Between now and March 29, Kendrick Meek’s campaign has to duplicate its efforts in Palm Beach and Pinellas 58 more times.
Pointing out the difficulties Meek’s signature-gathering effort faces has certainly not endeared me with his campaign. But I think it’s important to do so because today the issue may be about how to collect signatures, but later it could be about getting out the vote. The most recent polls have not been kind to Kendrick Meek, who is barely outperforming Maurice Ferre against either Charlie Crist or Marco Rubio.
If a change is going to be made, now would be the time.