Presidential election 2012
Two political operatives give opposing views on how to win the Sunshine State.
» Perception of economic trends: Unemployment has fallen by almost 2 percentage points, but is still likely to be above 8%. Will voters see the glass as half full or half empty?
» Voter turnout: Strong turnout by African-Americans could boost that group’s percentage of the statewide electorate above 14%. Overall, Democrats didn’t turn out in significantly larger numbers in 2008 than in 2004. A smaller-than-2008 turnout by Democrats could hurt Obama’s chances in the state.
» Hispanic vote: The number of Puerto Ricans in the Orlando area — more likely to vote Democrat — has grown. In addition, the passage of time means that the percentage of Hispanic voters in Miami who aren’t first-generation Cubans is smaller. Schale says Obama won 57% of the Hispanic vote in 2008: “I don’t think it’s inconceivable we could get to 60% or even a little higher.” Meanwhile, however, the GOP isn’t conceding the Hispanic vote and is courting Hispanics in Florida — “the most intensive effort with Hispanic voters bar none,” says Doster.
» Early and absentee voters: In 2008, Obama actually lost among those who voted on Election Day, but more than half of those who voted cast their ballots before Election Day. The GOP was stronger among absentee voters, while the Democrats dominated early voters. Can they repeat those successes — or cut into the other party’s margins?
» Marco Rubio: Some polls show that Romney could increase his vote totals in Florida by 2% to 3% by picking Rubio as his vice presidential candidate. With the race in Florida a must-win affair for the GOP, a Rubio candidacy could be a factor.
The convention factor: Holding the GOP convention in Tampa could help the GOP in the I-4 corridor. “If we increase our margins by 5% in Tampa Bay, we win,” says Doster.
» Surrogates: Romney will get help from high-profile types like the members of the state Cabinet, Jeb Bush, Jeb Bush Jr. and Gov. Luis Fortuno of Puerto Rico. In addition, conservative ballot measures and the candidacy of U.S. Rep. Connie Mack for Senate could boost Republican turnout. The GOP has made it clear it’s not eager for campaign help from Gov. Rick Scott, not a favorite with voters.
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