Florida Amendment 1: Water and Land Conservation
The amendment restored a fraction of an existing real estate transaction tax toward land and water conservation, equaling $9 billion over 20 years for land conservation alone and $20 billion for other conservation projects.
Despite a highly partisan governor’s election and the failure of two other constitutional amendments in 2014, Amendment 1 passed with 75% voting “yes,” making it the largest ever voter-approved conservation measure in the country.
Our initial polling showed 62 percent support for the measure, surpassing Florida’s required supermajority 60 percent vote to pass amendments. However, polling also showed very few people—less than 10 percent—were aware the measure was on the November ballot, meaning a well-financed campaign was needed to inform, educate and persuade voters.
Fortunately, support for the measure jumped to 78 percent after voters learned the measure would not increase taxes. And after hearing opposition arguments to the measure, the “yes” vote dropped only four percentage points to 74 percent. The numbers showed we had a great opportunity to pass the amendment but not without raising awareness and staying ahead of organized opposition defining the measure negatively.
To help pass the amendment, the campaign put together a broad coalition of support in order to reach 60 percent. It was critical support for the measure remained free of partisanship with a contentious partisan battle for governor at the top of the ballot.
Polling showed the most important demographics to be white women, African Americans and base support from Democrats and environmental voters. Base voters comprised primarily Democrats, voters in south Florida, independent men and young voters. Our mail plan called for five separate flights of mail to absentee voters, early voters, white women, African Americans and base voters.
In the end, our mail reached more than 1.8 million voters in 1.2 million unique households.
The campaign used C(3) funds to produce education mail, introducing the amendment to all five of our targets and exclusively in communications to absentee and base voters. White women and African American targets received two pieces of educational mail; early voters received one piece. We relied solely on education mail to base and absentee targets, with each group receiving three pieces of mail.
The intended message of the education pieces highlighted the amendment’s benefits while informing voters of accountability measures and that the amendment would not increase taxes.
Further, the pieces highlighted Amendment 1 would also improve Florida’s tourism economy.
Our primary persuasion targets were white women, African Americans and early voters who voted in three-of-three general elections with no primary voting history. White women received four pieces of persuasive mail, African Americans received three and two pieces were mailed to early voters.
We focused on five persuasive messages that tested with intensities above 50 percent:
Nothing is more important than having clean water to drink
We owe it to our children and grandchildren to protect Florida’s water quality, natural areas, beaches and wildlife so future generations can enjoy them
Water quality is important to people and wildlife
With over 1,000 people moving to Florida every day, we must protect Florida’s lakes, rivers, streams, beaches and wetlands before they are gone forever
Our beautiful beaches, the Everglades, lakes and rivers attract tourists, so protecting them helps the economy
Our mail incorporated the above messages and the universal message of no new taxes, along with original photography of natural areas in Florida that would benefit from passage of Amendment 1.
A Winning Combination
Our mail run began in late September with education pieces to absentee voters. The remainder of our mail hit homes throughout October.
On Nov. 4, 2014, Voters overwhelmingly approved Amendment 1 with 75 percent voting “yes,” far exceeding the 60 percent margin needed.
Florida’s big win added to a positive election cycle for land and water conservation, with TPL also winning statewide ballot measures in New Jersey and California.