How Much is Florida in Play for the Dems in 2008?
by Jonathan Singer, Wed Aug 15, 2007 at 09:00:51 PM EDT
I have generally been of the mindset that while it would be nice for the 2008 Democratic presidential nominee to carry Florida, such a statewide victory would more likely represent electoral votes 271 through 297 than electoral vote number 270. In other words, if the Democratic nominee takes Florida it means that he or she has already won the election, so Florida would just be gravy.
This sentiment derived from a number of factors. First, it would have taken John Kerry fewer votes in Ohio in 2004 -- or even spread across Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada -- in order to secure sufficient support in the electoral college than it would have for him to have won Florida. What's more, though the Democrats did fairly well in federal elections in Florida in 2006, holding a potentially vulnerable Senate seat and picking up two seats in the House (which probably should have been three had it not been for another poorly designed ballot and other such electoral miscues), the gubernatorial contest in the state never really got engaged, with the Republican nominee winning by seven points in an open seat race.
But some interesting trends in the state have had me wondering: Perhaps I've been wrong about Florida. Perhaps the state is more in play for the Democrats than I had previously believed.
Back in February I began thinking similar thoughts following the release of polling showing increased strength in Florida for some of the potential Democratic presidential nominees. Now, new Rasmussen Reports polling has me wondering once again. Take a look (500 LVs in each state; conducted 8/8, except for Florida, conducted 8/9):
[Caveats first. I'm on the record as not being the greatest fan of Rasmussen Reports, but at least this set of polls conducted using the same methodology almost in the exactly same timeframe (even if it's just one-day polling) across four states allows for a reasonable comparison between probable swing states around the country. What's more, I'm going to do a little bit of extrapolating from these numbers that goes beyond just Hillary Clinton, who is the only Democrat polled here. That is to say that although Clinton may have attributes that make her relatively stronger in Florida as compared to other states than other potential Democratic nominees, I'm going to leave that possibility aside given that this is the data I have to work with for the moment.]
These surveys seem to indicate that Florida is a particularly ripe target for the Democrats in 2008. Not only does Clinton hold a sizable lead over the four leading Republican contenders, but she also holds a larger lead in Florida than she does in the other swing states polled, including New Hampshire, which John Kerry won in 2004. To be clear, this news comes as a rather large surprise to me given a number of the facts about the state mentioned way up at the top of this post. And as a result, though I'd like to see more numbers confirming this trend, it might be that Florida won't just be gravy for the Democratic nominee, which could make it impossible (yes, effectively impossible) for the Republican nominee to garner the 270 electoral votes necessary to win a trip to the White House.