Is the Tide Turning Back Towards the Democrats in Florida?

After more Floridians who went to the polls in November 2000 backed Al Gore than George W. Bush, Republicans set to the task of boosting their party infrastructure in the state so that they could win elections in the state without the aide of the United States Supreme Court. And by and large they were successful, reelecting their GOP Governor, Jeb Bush, with 56 percent of the vote in 2002, helping boost George W. Bush's share of the vote in the state by three points from 2000 to 2004, and electing a Republican, Charlie Crist, to succeed Jeb Bush in 2006 by a seven point margin.

Yet could the tide be turning in the other direction in the state. Even as Crist won in a race that never got quite as close as it could have, Democrats picked up two congressional seats last November and probably would have won a third had it not been for faulty electronic voting machines in the 13th district. And the momentum towards the Democrats in the state may still be building. Just take a look at new general election head-to-head numbers from Florida found by Quinnipiac University.

Candidate
Pairing
2/20075/20064/20062/2006
Giuliani47494250
Clinton44424141
McCain43484853
Clinton47424238
Romney3439
Clinton5250
McCain42
Obama40
McCain43
Edwards42

It's not just a matter of Republicans underperforming expectations in potential head-to-head matchups against Democrats in Florida that should have the GOP leaders in the state worried about their nominee's chances at carrying the state in the 2008 general election. Quinnipiac pegs President Bush's approval rating in the state at just 35 percent -- an all-time low in the state, as measured by the pollster -- with 60 percent disapproving. On the question of the surge, a similar 60 percent of Floridians stand opposed while 34 percent voice support. And given the fact that a Republican loss in Florida would make it near impossible for the party's nominee to win a majority in the electoral college in today's political map, these numbers should have Republicans inside the Beltway and around the country mighty worried.

Tags: Florida, General 2008 (all tags)

Comments

13 Comments

Re:Tide Turning Back

For my taste Guliani has a lot of support in the state, his personal approval rating stands at 60%.  I hope he gets cut down to size (and his negatives are brought up a lot) in the primary season.  If not, he would be a very formidable candidate, hard to beat nationally with his cross-over appeal.

Most folks I talk to here in the Tampa Bay area who voted for Bush have abandoned the GOP completely at this point.  Even Crist could easily be a centrist Democrat, the way he campaigned and has governed so far.  He ushered along and passed a massive insurance overhaul written by Democratic lawmakers through the state legislature (which is heavily GOP) that was last year attacked as "socialism" by the same GOPers who just a week ago signed onto it.

The state is definitely turning blue, but it is at heart a more moderate landscape than in other states.   The state has always had more registered Democrats than Republicans, but party affiliation has changed more dramatically towards the Democrats this past year.   This particular poll interviewed exactly as many GOPers as it did Democrats, which actually tells me that the true numbers, given current party demographics, are actually even worse for Republicans than this poll shows.      

by georgep 2007-02-07 04:37PM | 0 recs
Florida not so Blue

I'm a Floridian, and I can't agree that Florida is turning blue.  True, it is the purplest of the Southern red states, but its underlying hue has shifted to a bright crimson, especially since 9/11.  The Democratic Party is very weak, and we are virtually shut out of state government.  I fear that the 2010 redistricting will deliver several more Republican congressmen to Washington - a gerrymander egregious enough to rival Texas - unless we focus on getting nonpartisan redistricting on the ballot as a constitutional amendment for 2008.

I wouldn't put too much stock in presidential polling for Florida.  Kerry was ahead by a couple of points going into Election Day, and he lost the state handily.  As a Floridian deeply committed to electing a Democratic president in 2008, I would urge the Democratic nominee to abandon Florida and take that money to blitz Ohio. Florida has a Republican Secretary of State; in Ohio, a Democrat holds that office.  I don't think much of a history lesson is needed to show just how important that fact is.

by Lassallean 2007-02-07 05:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Florida not so Blue

"I would urge the Democratic nominee to abandon Florida and take that money to blitz Ohio."

Amazing advice.  Could not disagree more.  The landscape has changed dramatically in this state over the last 2 years, the state is definitely starting to turn blue, albeit a more centrist/moderate royal blue.    

by georgep 2007-02-07 05:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Florida not so Blue

Have you ever seen a map of Florida's congressional districts? Have you ever examined the partisan composition of each district (as measured by the results in the past two presidential elections?). Florida was the most heavily gerrymandered state after the last census. It would be far more accurate to say that the Texas GOP executed a gerrymander egregious enough to rival Florida.

In 2011 the only Democratic incumbents at risk from gerrymandering will be Boyd and possibly Mahoney (if he is still around).

Should the Democrats write off Florida in 2008? Well, the state is worth 27 electoral votes (one-tenth needed to win the EC) and a mediocre nominee only lost the state by five points in 2004. Considering this I would say no.

We should also consider the fact that if the Democrats surrender Florida in 2008 for a "blitz" in Ohio, the Republicans would simply take the money that they would have used in Florida and spend it in states such as Ohio as well. I am not sure how this would be a net-gain for Democrats.

by Otto 2007-02-07 06:59PM | 0 recs
Gov Crist

Campaigned almost center-left.  Maybe he will govern that way too.  He's a smart dude.

by Sam Loomis 2007-02-07 05:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Is the Tide Turning Back Towards the Democrats

I have to agree with the first post - after working there for over a year, it's hardly ready for the taking.

The party ran virtually no coordinated campaign last cycle and built very little. Folks were excited about the party's growth, but unfortunately, I don't think things ever took off.

The Republican party is just a machine, with 20+ full time staff, and active financial and political networks.

The Dem party for years was virtually non existent, and it's going to take a long time to fix that, and the party didn't make up much ground this last year.

To win, the presidentials will have to fight hard, and invest early to get Florida moving again. I don't understand why the DNC hasn't invested - Florida shouldn't be treated any differently than any of the red states that Dean has invested in, for significant gains.

by wanderingpolitico 2007-02-07 06:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Is the Tide Turning Back

I just want to compliment this site on a non-Edwards thread

by Gary Kilbride 2007-02-07 06:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Is the Tide Turning Back Towards the Democrats

It occurs to me that it is very important to ensure that Katherine Harris keeps running for things. Is there a statewide race in 08 we can draft her for?

by thesleepthief 2007-02-07 07:42PM | 0 recs
Florida Farm Team
is slowly improving this cycle.
Though we do have the challenge of having only one high profile state government offical, which is our kickass CFO and rising star Alex Sink.
by Sam Loomis 2007-02-07 08:38PM | 0 recs
And if Crist can keep up

his (currently) 69% approval ratings, she will do best to wait until he's term limited out the door.  The she can run against a wingnut like McCollum....

by Sam Loomis 2007-02-07 08:39PM | 0 recs
Re: And if Crist can keep up

Can't she run against Martinez in 2010?

Or is that race going to someone else? Schultz? Davis? Kathy Castor?

by brownsox 2007-02-08 05:21AM | 0 recs
Yay

22 more months of Florida hype!

Nevermind that if the election is close and Florida is a factor in 2008, then somebody messed up on our side. ;)

by RBH 2007-02-07 08:40PM | 0 recs
State of Florida Democratic party/grassroots

I want to be clear that I support Gov. Dean's 50 state plan and that we shouldn't adbandon any state especially not during the first presidental election since the plan was started. People pay the most attention to politics during presidential elections so I think it follows that during presidental elections is the best time to get your message out - perhaps especailly to those places that have long been neglected by Democrats.

At the same time, I do think it only makes sense to focus more strongly on some states as opposed to others. Perhaps a certain amount of basic support and attention everywhere and then stronger support in areas that are of particular importance and/or that are showing signs of improvement or that are slipping backwards.

I would have expected that this was already happening and indeed I've heard a lot of good early work being done in Ohio before the last election to build a grassroots organisation there, but I've not heard the same about Florida.

Can anyone give any insight on the situation in Florida? I've only heard bad things about the party there. If anyone could provide insight on big improvements in other emerging battlegrounds that would be cool too.

by Quinton 2007-02-08 08:34AM | 0 recs

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