Reports are starting to emerge that swing states of Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin and Florida are going to be greatly influenced by the amount of money the Romney campaign is going to pour into those states. Florida is the first, supposedly, of these to tip the scales to 47 percent Romney and 46 percent Obama, if you believe some of the polls.
Polls being what they are, a CNN/TIME/ORC poll is reporting that if the election were held today, Obama would win with 50 percent of the vote. Surprisingly, this projection came on the first day of the Republican National Convention. If the CNN poll didn’t leave you reeling on a Democratic “high,” check this out. Yet another poll found that 51 percent of registered voters would vote to re-elect Obama, leaving Romney-Ryan ticket with a paltry 42 percent.
A Gallup poll has consistently reported that most people have already decided for whom to vote, as both parties scramble for the 8 percent who have not decided and live in the aforementioned swing states.
Why is Florida a key win state?
With 29 electoral votes, Florida is one of the stellar prizes in this year’s presidential election. Some pundits are reporting that without a win in the nation’s biggest swing state, it will be difficult for Obama to stay in the White House.
It’s true that since 1960, only one candidate has captured the presidency without carrying the Sunshine State, said Lynn University American studies professor Robert Watson. “Florida is vital,” he told Anthony Man in the Sun Sentinel in February of this year.
In 2008, Obama won 51 percent of the vote in Florida, besting Republican Sen. John McCain by 236,450 votes out of nearly 8.4 million votes cast. According to Watson and state Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando, chairman of the Orange County Democratic Party, if Obama hopes to repeat, he needs to minimize losses in conservative north Florida, run competitively in central Florida, and win big in South Florida.
Here’s what political analysts and operatives say Democrats must do to make that happen—and, conversely, what Republicans must prevent.
Capture the NPA vote
In 2008 the “no party affiliation” (NPA) outnumbered the Independents, with NPA at 1,957,049 and Independents at 272,313, which is quite a spread according to the state of Florida voter profile. While some are saying focus on the Independents, if the numbers resemble 2008 the NPA is where the undecided voters are located. This, however, is an unwieldy demographic, and Independent/no party affiliation voters swing between parties depending on which candidates they think will serve their interests. But they also don’t vote as often as people committed to a party, which is all the more reason for the Democrats to work at the grassroots level in key counties to make sure people are registered and can get to the voting booth in November.
Contrary to popular belief that conservatives and Tea Party activists are ruling the day in Florida—and other swing states--State Rep. Perry Thurston of Plantation, who was the incoming Democratic leader in the state House in Florida at the beginning of 2012, said the ongoing fight for the Republican nomination, with candidates emphasizing conservative positions to win votes from the party’s base and Tea Party activists, is actually boosting Obama’s electability. The Romney-Ryan ticket is fulfilling this early prediction, as Ryan’s budget includes dismantling Medicare, which compromises the senior voter.
Mobilize young voters, women, seniors and Jewish voters
Young voters in the 18-29 categories could represent the NPA in large part, and for some it is their first time voting. In the swing states it is one of the most viable demographics for Democratic votes. Still, the over-60 voting bloc at almost 4 million is one of the big prizes in Florida; therefore, the voice for saving Medicare is going to be the most important factor in securing votes. The Obama message is to preserve Medicare with a balance of trimming the waste and fraud, while the Ryan plan scraps Medicare and turns it into a voucher program, which gives the future of health care back to the insurance companies and puts it at the mercy of free-market competition.
For young people in Florida the concern is jobs, where the unemployment rate is 8.6 percent. Jobs can be created if the Republicans will allow a vital program. If Republicans don't want to revive stimulus spending, they could take a smaller step, one that implies no direct fiscal stimulus but could unlock some $20 billion in infrastructure funds for states, says Peter Orszag:
“The unemployment rate remains stuck at more than 8 percent. More investment in roads, water systems, airports and other public infrastructure would bring both short- and long-term benefits. And state and local governments face ongoing deficits. So wouldn’t it be great if we could design an efficient way to channel tax subsidies to state and local governments to invest in infrastructure?
“Turns out we already have: the Build America Bonds program, which was a huge success in 2009 and 2010, but then expired. If you want an example of how political polarization is impeding sound economic policy, BABs would be hard to beat. Despite no credible argument against it, a divided Congress refuses to reinstate the program.”
Florida, like the rest of the states, can have access to these infrastructure funds and the all-important jobs that come with it if Obama wins and the Democrats can control Congress.
Women are the largest voting bloc in Florida, at approximately 6 million with men at 5 million. One article last week posed the question, “How do Republicans reproduce, since they hate women?” While this is hyperbole, it points to the fact that middle- to low-income women’s issues have been repeatedly attacked by Republicans in an attempt to reform by either eliminating or reducing funding for women’s health services and as a device to rebuke the Affordable Care Act.
According to estimates there are 600,000 Jewish voters who live in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties combined. In 2008 Obama garnered 78 percent of the Jewish vote. Since he took office, however, the Republicans have sought to undermine the long allegiance of Jewish Americans to the Democratic Party. Their argument is that the president does not sufficiently support Israel.
Despite the negative spin by Republicans, the Israeli publication Haaretz writes:
“President Obama has led a resurgence of joint military cooperation between Israel and the United States. In fact, following President Obama’s directive, the United States Armed Forces and the Israel Defense Forces have increased their strategic collaboration on defense technology, deployment, tactics, and intelligence to levels never before experienced.
“Whether it is joint military exercises to stave off threats from terrorist and rogue regimes, or advancement and deployment of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, President Obama has led a breakthrough in a mutually beneficial partnership with Israel.”
With the Democrats zeroing in on the NPA, Independents, women and Jewish voters, it appears that President Obama will repeat his 2008 victory. The Democrats have opened field offices in Broward, Palm Beach and Orange counties and recruited volunteers to visit thousands of voters. They want to spread the message that the economy is improving and the jobless rate has been reduced to 8.6 from a high of 9.9 percent last January.
In this provocative statement last January, the handling or mishandling of hurricanes contributed to the rise and fall of political candidates. No one could have predicted Hurricane Isaac making landfall on the seventh anniversary of Katrina, which is tomorrow at the height of the Republican National convention in the Sunshine State.
“The greatest factor in presidential years, for Democrats and Republicans, are hurricanes,” said a Rorapaugh Political Report spokesperson, who was Texas state director for Bill Clinton in 1992. “If we have a big hurricane and the administration handles it well, he wins. If he doesn’t handle it well, we don’t win.”
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