Category Archives: Florida

Obama’s Anti-Kerry Strategy = Genius

In an interview with Politico‘s Ben Smith published this morning, Obama field director Steve Hildebrand vowed that their team would be spending a lot of time and money in Bush country this Fall. He named 14 red states, some of which were close in 2004 and some of which Kerry didn’t even consider, and he also vowed to give resources to down-ticket races in ruby red states like Bush’s Texas and Cheney‘s Wyoming.

The move is genius.

A big reason why Kerry lost is because he had tunnel vision and couldn’t see beyond a handful of competitive swing states in the Midwest, a failed strategy for several reasons: First, it oversaturates the target voters; secondly, it discourages friendly voters in unfriendly states (in this case Dems in red states) from getting involved; and thirdly and most importantly, it sends a very poor signal to the electorate in neglected states (in Kerry’s case the Heartland and South).

When a candidate puts all his chips on one hand, half of the time he’s going to end up felted.

Of course, resources are always an issue and something Kerry didn’t have in abundance. But as Smith notes in the Politico article, “Hilebrand’s plans underscore the unusual scope and ambition of Obama’s campaign, which can relatively cheaply extend its massive volunteer and technological resources into states which won’t necessarily produce electoral votes.”

And the ROI could be substantial. As Hokie fan Daivd “Mudcat” Saunders points out this week in the brilliant Weekly Standard cover piece “When Bubba Meets Obama,” when Dems pick off a Republican voter, it’s a “twofer” — one for Obama, and one less for McCain. Instead, Mudcat says, Dems often fall into the habit of “hunting squirrels they’ve already killed” (more on this story later).

Mudcat will probably be happy to know that the campaign has promised to contest 14 states that Bush carried in ’04 — “The closest four, Iowa, New Mexico, Ohio, Nevada, [Hildebrand] said, would see ‘a ton of attention.'” The campaign also plans to fight for Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Virginia, North Carolina, Montana, North Dakota, Indiana, Georgia and Alaska. Hildebrand also said they’d be spending a lot of time in New Hampshire, and in my personal favorite: Nebraska’s 2nd District.

I think it’s a smart move, and one that will certainly give The Electoral Map a lot to talk about in upcoming months.

The Five Places McCain Should Go

Cross-posted at The Next Right.

Politico‘s Charlie Mahtesian and Amie Parnes wrote an article yesterday about the “Five Places Obama Should Go,” and four out of the five areas they identified were places where he struggled against Clinton: Broward County, FL (Jews), Youngstown, OH (blue-collar, gun-owning Catholics), San Antonio (Latinos) and Mingo Couny, WV (“the heart of the anti-Obama belt”). The fifth suggestion — Maricopa County, AZ — was clearly aimed at McCain.

If four out of the five places Obama has to go are aimed at shoring up his base, it means he still has plenty of loose ends to tie up from the primary before he starts trying to win over independents and Republicans.

With that in mind, where are the five places that McCain should go?

This is a tough one, since most of his weaknesses seem to be more personal (age, speaking skills, Bush) rather than geographic. Still, I think visiting areas where Obama is vulnerable and putting him on the defensive would be a smart move — So, how about:

  1. Ohio River Valley Tour — From Pittsburgh to St. Louis — When it comes to the Ohio River Valley, the bad news for the GOP is that the party’s brand is in poor shape in this border region and has been resulting in substantial loses on the congressional level (think PA-04, OH-18, KY-03, IN-08 and IN-09, and the near-miss in OH-02). The good news for the GOP is that Obama is very unpopular here and was pummeled by Hillary in the primaries. In one trip, McCain could hit competitive areas in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Missouri, while also challenging the myth that Kentucky could become competitve and even making a symbolic swing through the Land of Lincoln.
  2. Fairfield County, Conn. — A campaign stop with New York-area Jews and Joe Lieberman would inevitably shine a light on Obama’s comments about Iran and would fan media speculation that the state could become competitive. And Henry Kissinger lives in Kent, an hour up the beautiful Housatonic Valley from Fairfield County — perhaps he could lend an opinion on Obama’s foreign policy?
  3. Northern Suburbs of Milwaukee, Wis. — The suburbs will be key nationwide and Wisconsin is a vital target state for the GOP. The north and west ‘burbs of Milwaukee also “remain overwhelmingly Republican,” notes Democratic pollster Paul Maslin. But “If Obama can crack them to any degree he probably wins the state by several points.” Besides shoring up support with voters, a McCain appearance in the “Beer Capital of the World” would also remind the media that he’s the beer track candidate and Obama is the wine track one. It would also be smart to campaign with fellow Teddy Roosevelt Republican Tommy Thompson.
  4. Grand Rapids — Michigan might be Obama’s most blue vulnerable state and Gerald Ford’s hometown is at the ideological intersection of what Patrick Ruffini once called “the real dividing lines of” the GOP primary — wealthy suburbanites, religious conservatives and Ford-like mainline moderates. A smart sidekick would be Mitt Romney, who beat McCain in Grand Rapids by a 38-31% margin.
  5. Iowa, Early and Often — Iowa might be McCain’s most vulnerable state; he clearly has never built much of an operation here. He needs to visit Iowa… repeatedly.

Thoughts?

Could Obama Win Without Florida?

Florida political sage Adam Smith doesn’t think so.

Smith, the political editor for the St. Pete’s Times, penned a hypothetical memo to Barack Obama on Saturday warning him about the dangers of “blowing off 27 electoral votes.” Despite resounding GOP victories in the last two gubernatorial elections and a 5 point win by George W. Bush in 2004, Smith says “Democrats haven’t been better positioned to pick off Florida since 2000, maybe even since 1976.”

Consider the stats:

  • In the 37 Florida counties with at least 50,000 voters — more than 90 percent of the electorate — Democrats have gained ground among registered voters in 30, while Republicans lost ground in 26. For the first time in many cycles, voters are registering as Democrats at a faster rate than they are registering as independents. Republicans are gaining mainly in North Florida counties that have been voting Republican for years anyway, while Democrats are gaining in battleground areas
  • A few weeks ago, Democrats overtook Republicans in voter registration among Hispanics, a crucial voter group that could account for 15 percent of the Florida vote in November. Senator, a Democrat now represents Little Havana in the state House, something nobody would have imagined a few years ago.
  • Look at the 22 counties where Al Gore received 45 percent to 55 percent of the vote in 2000. Since that virtually tied election, the Democrats’ net registration advantage has grown by more than 100,000.  In a state that decided the 2000 election by 537 votes, you bet it matters that today Democrats have more registered voters in a bellwether like Pinellas County, where Republicans in 2000 had a nearly 28,000-voter advantage. Or that in the mega battleground of Miami-Dade County, Democrats have had a net registration gain of nearly 59,000 since 2000.
  • Out of Florida’s 120 state House districts, 77 have become more Democratic in registration, which helps explain why nine House seats have shifted from Republican to Democrat since 2006, the best performance Democrats have had in decades. Likewise, Democrats picked off three congressional seats in 2006, and Democrat Alex Sink easily won a hard-fought statewide campaign for chief financial officer.

The evidence is certainly compelling that Democrats could have a solid shot at Florida.  The downside for them, according to Smith, is that McCain is “a nearly ideal candidate for Florida: strong among veterans, Hispanics, and potentially among independent and swing voters.”

Either way, Florida is gaining political clout every year and by 2012 will have 29 electoral votes.  Democrats will abandon it at their own peril.

Hillary Analyzes the Electoral Map

No, not this blog, but the small-letter electoral map. Here’s what she had to say about the political geography:

“You have to look at what the electoral map is likely to be in the fall, and I don’t think anybody doubts that a Democrat has to have a number of the big states anchored in order to put together the electoral votes needed to win.

“There’s a generally accepted position that Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida are the critical swing states for Democrats, and that you have to try to win at least two out of three. I would like to win three out of three, and I think it is significant that I have won Ohio and I’ve won Florida, and I’ve won the big states that would serve as those anchors for the electoral map.”

Anchors away, Mrs. Clinton!

Regional Reporters Lower Expectations

Each state tends to have a marquee political reporter who sets the tone for campaign coverage but also serves as occasional cheerleader for that state’s electoral importance.  Think Des Moines Register‘s David Yespen skewering a candidate for downplaying the caucuses or the New Hampshire Union-Leader‘s John DiStaso defending the Granite State’s treasured first-in-the-nation status.

Even Arkansas NewsJohn Brummett once argued to me that “Arkansas’ six electoral votes were as decisive as Florida” in the 2000 presidential election.

But in the last few days we’ve noticed a couple of reporters getting a little down on their states.  St. Pete’s Times and Florida political sage Adam Smith fretted that the Florida was loosing its place in the political sun.  “It’s time to broach an unspeakable, heretical suggestion in this state,” he wrote on Saturday. “Maybe, just maybe, Democrats can continue snubbing America’s biggest swing state and still march into the White House.”

Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Larry Eichel lowered expectations even further for his state.  “The primary will be important, but not all-important,” he explained. “It will not turn out to be just another contest. But it’s not looking anything like a final confrontation either.”  Eichel went on to crunch the numbers on how the Keystone State accounted for fewer delegates than states that vote on May 6.

Greenville News’ Dan Hoover was a little bit more praiseworthy of his state, noting, “McCain is another in line of Republicans, beginning with Ronald Reagan in 1980, who needed and used South Carolina’s Republican presidential primary as a launching pad to the nomination.”  But Hoover is sure to throw in a disclaimer: “McCain isn’t in the Oval Office yet and may never be.” Thanks for clearing that up; we wouldn’t want to get the wrong impression of South Carolina.

Cillizza to Begin Rating Top 10 States Most Likely to Flip

The Fix’s Chris Cillizza announced on Friday that he’s going to begin dedicating his Friday Line to rating which states are most likely to flip from red to blue (or vice versa) in the presidential election.  In last week’s Line, Cillizza offered his base-Line and predicted that eight of the 10 states most likely to flip were carried by George W. Bush.

Here’s an abbreviated version of his post, followed by my analysis:

10. Missouri (Bush 53% in 2004) — Cillizza: “The state is still conservative-minded on most social issues, however, which could make it something of a longshot for either Obama or Clinton.” Me: As a white woman, Hillary has a better shot.

9. Minnesota (Kerry 51%) – “If [Republican Gov. Tim] Pawlenty is picked [as McCain’s running mate], Minnesota is in play and could certainly move up the Line.” It’s no surprise the Republicans picked the Twin Cities for their Convention.

8. Florida (Bush 52%) – “Our guess it that Florida in 2008 looks more like 2000 than 2004 — especially if Clinton is the Democratic nominee.”  Could new, independent voters in the I-4 corridor and the thawing of Cuban-American relations with Democrats tip the state back toward to the donkey party?

7. New Hampshire (Kerry 50%) – “Granite State voters created McCain in 2000 and saved him eight years later. There is real affinity there and, given the close result in 2004, the state is almost certainly in play.” Who would win a McCain-Obama battle for New Hampshire’s independents?

6. Virginia (Bush 54%) – “McCain’s military background could well help him in the Hampton Roads area, but, if Obama is the Democratic nominee, the Commonwealth’s 19 percent black population could also make a major difference.”  McCain would have to run up huge margins outside of NoVA.

5. Ohio (Bush 51%) – “While the disaster that is the Ohio GOP at the moment makes it very tough for them to win statewide races, McCain and the Republican National Committee will fund and build their voter identification and get out the vote effort.”  Clinton would start strong here, buoyed by Gov. Ted Strickland.

4. Colorado (Bush 52%) – “McCain’s ties to the west should help his cause but Colorado looks like it’s moving in the opposite direction.” The Democrats’ Denver Convention will help them.

3. Nevada (Bush 50%) – “As a result of the ever-changing electorate, it’s tough to predict what November will hold for the two parties.” Do Las Vegas residents vote?

2. New Mexico (Bush 50%) – “Democrats enjoyed a 50 percent to 33 percent registration edge over Republicans at the start of the year; that is a considerable head start heading into November.”  What do McCain’s southwestern credentials count for?

1. Iowa (Bush 50%) – “The millions spent by the Democratic presidential campaigns in advance of the state’s Jan. 3 caucus should give a HUGE boost to their party’s chances in the general election.”  A natural Democratic state that I was surprised to see vote Republican in 2004.

Florida Electoral Map: McCain Swamps Romney in Miami; Hillary Wins Beauty Contest

John McCain beat Mitt Romney by eight points in Pinellas County and six points in Pasco County on his way to a statewide victory Tuesday. McCain’s wins in those two counties, which many analysts suggested would be a barometer of his overall success, pretty much mirrored his 36-31% win over Romney statewide (Map 2).

McCain won 45 of Florida’s 67 counties, which is a well-balanced rout. But more importantly, he posted victories in three crucial areas: He did well in the military-laden Panhandle, where he tied Mike Huckabee for Evangelicals. He also won most of the I-4 Corridor, including big victories in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties.

But McCain dominated in Southeast Florida. He won Palm Beach County by 9,000 votes, Broward County by nearly 17,000 and Miami-Dade by a whoppin’ 35,000 (Map 3). According to CBS News exit polls reported by Politicos Jonathan Martin, McCain was buoyed by strong support in the Latino community, which cast half of its votes for him (Map 4).

Romney ran poorly with Latinos, although he did win 40 percent of conservatives and over a third of Evangelicals, which was the most of any candidate for both demographic groups. Romney also ran well in the retirement communities along the Gulf Coast, including Lee and Collier Counties. He swamped McCain by 12,000 votes in Duval County (Jacksonville), which I have to admit I don’t really understand (Map 5).

Rudy Giuliani won over a quarter of the vote and finished second in New York’s southern outpost of Miami-Dade, but it was not enough to push him above 15 percent statewide (Map 6). Interestingly, Mike Huckabee won four counties – Holmes, Washington, Gilchrest and Suwanee – but they were small, rural counties in the North, and the former Arkansas governor came in fourth (Map 7).

Map 1 – Florida Population Density

Florida Population Density

Map 2 – Florida Republican Electoral Map (Washington Post)

Florida Republican Electoral Map

Map 3 – John McCain in Florida (Washington Post)

John McCain in Florida

Map 4 – Latinos in Florida — The more purple counties have higher percentages of Latinos.

Latinos in Florida

Map 5 – Mitt Romney in Florida (Washington Post)

Mitt Romney in Florida

Map 6 – Rudy Giuliani in Florida (Washington Post)

Rudy Giuliani in Florida

Map 7 – Mike Huckabee in Florida (Washington Post)

Mike Huckabee in Florida

Map 8 – Republican Margins of Victory in Florida (New York Times) — Note that the colors are different.

Republican Margins of Victory in Florida

On the Democratic side, the Billary machine celebrated a 50-33% win over Barack Obama even though the delegates will likely not be seated at the DNC convention. Clinton took 48 of Florida’s 67 counties, including every one south of Gainesville. Obama racked up big margins in heavily African-American counties like Duval and Leon, the home to FAMU (Maps 9-11).

John Edwards won a respectable 11 counties and placed second in 15. But as a testament to how rural those counties are, he ended up only taking 14 percent statewide, and was prompted to drop of the race Wednesday morning (Map12).

My theory on Edwards is that his departure helps Obama in states like California, where voters on tuned in the race and understand Edwards “progressive” ideas. But it hurts Obama in rural states like Georgia and Missouri, where white many voters still see Edwards as the down-home Southern candidate, and are not likely to support Obama.

Map 9 – Florida Democratic Electoral Map (Washington Post)

Florida Democratic Electoral Map

Map 10 – Hillary Clinton in Florida (Washington Post)

Hillary Clinton in Florida

Map 11 – Barack Obama in Florida (Washington Post)

Barack Obama in Florida

Map 12 – John Edwards in Florida (Washington Post)

John Edwards in Florida

Map 13 – Democratic Margins of Victory in Florida (New York Times)

Democratic Margins of Victory in Florida