Presidential election 2012
Two political operatives give opposing views on how to win the Sunshine State.
Florida’s Democrats are heavily concentrated in south Florida — Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties, and in Alachua (Gainesville) and Leon (Tallahassee) counties. Some of the party’s most loyal voters are African-Americans, some of whom are concentrated in rural counties near the Georgia border, including Gadsden, just west of Tallahassee. A growing number of non-Cuban Hispanics are also reliable Democratic voters. Women are vital to Democrats’ success in Florida, with 52% of Florida women voting for President Obama in 2008.
While Republican voters are much more spread out geographically than their Democratic counterparts, five solid GOP counties are Collier (Naples), Seminole (Orlando area), Clay (Jacksonville area), Okaloosa (Fort Walton Beach) and Lee (Cape Coral/Fort Myers). The GOP base includes suburban small-business people along I-4, evangelicals, Cuban-Americans in southeast Florida, seniors in southwest Florida, social conservatives (including active and retired military personnel) in the Panhandle and Tea Party supporters. Panhandle Democrats are also increasingly casting GOP votes in statewide contests.
“The calculus of winning Florida doesn’t change that much from year to year. Basically you have to get your base and win half the swing vote or a little more than half the swing vote.”
— Steve Schale was state director for President Obama’s 2008 campaign and is a volunteer on the 2012 re-election campaign.
“We have been stressing to each one of our county leaders and each one of our grassroots networks that we must try to achieve an 85% base turnout of Republicans in the state of Florida. If we achieve that, I’m confident we will win.”
— Brett Doster is Florida senior adviser for the Romney for President campaign.
[Illustration: Jeff Papa]
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