Movement in Florida?

The actions of a campaign speak more loudly than any spin -- and even the public polls -- so the fact that Florida has been added to the mix of Republican states the McCain campaign is now advertising in but previously wasn't is well worth noting. Here's The Miami Herald:

Republican John McCain has launched his first television ad in Florida, a must-win state already leaning his way despite a $9 million advertising blitz by Democrat Barack Obama.

McCain and the Republican National Committee held out until about one week ago when a joint fundraising committee dropped about $1.1 million in the state, according to media analyst Evan Tracey, chief operating officer of TNS Media Intelligence/CMAG. Tracey said Obama has recently narrowed his advertising campaign to Central Florida, a bastion of uncommitted voters.

''There's no reason to spend the money if they can't move the needle,'' said Tracey, who pegged Obama's investment since June 20 at $9 million. ``Florida may be kind of frozen right now . . . If there's a late break of undecided voters there's not much they can do with advertising dollars right now.''

Here's what we know out of Florida right now: The McCain campaign for months seemed content with allowing Barack Obama to have the stage largely to himself in Florida, but no longer does.

Here's what else we know: The two most recent polls from the state show McCain leading 50 percent to 45 percent (PPP [.pdf]) and the race tied at 48 percent apiece (Rasmussen), and overall Pollster.com pegs the race as 47.0 percent to 44.9 percent in favor of McCain, with the race tightening, and Real Clear Politics finds a similar 47.6 percent to 44.6 percent McCain lead.

Now for the circumstantial evidence: There is real reason to believe that the Sarah Palin pick, while playing well in many parts of the country, is not necessarily playing well in Florida, and may actually be detrimental to McCain's efforts in the state. Here's Ben Smith, for instance, on Ed Koch, the former Democratic mayor of New York City who in 2004 was a key supporter and surrogate for George W. Bush's reelection campaign in South Florida.

Former New York Mayor Ed Koch, who endorsed and worked for George W. Bush in 2004, is endorsing Obama today, NY1 first reported.

I asked Koch just now what prompted the move.

"The designation of Palin to be vice president," he said. "She's scary."

[...]

Koch is a member of a set of secular, swing-voting Jewish Democrats who may have been pushed away by the selection of Palin, and his endorsement may be a marker of an opportunity for Obama to strengthen his campaign among older Jewish voters in Florida.

Nate Silver actually picked up on this even before Koch came out today in favor of Obama.

The best micro-level news for Obama is in Florida, where there are a couple of favorable dynamics in play:

(i) the Joe Biden selection probably went over well there;
(ii) the consolidation of the Clinton vote is also valuable in Florida, and
(iii) something is likely to be lost in translation between Sarah Palin and swing groups like Jewish voters and Cubans; moreover, Floridians tend to be fairly socially liberal but more conservative on fiscal and foreign policy, not necessarily the best match for Palin's politics.

We need more evidence to confirm this, but at this point, it feels to me like Florida is a better target for Obama than Ohio.

I'm not ready to join Nate in the conclusion that Florida is a better target for Obama than Ohio just yet -- but it's an interesting thought, and I might be there in a couple weeks depending on how things play out. But what I will say is that all of this evidence, both direct and circumstantial, leads me to the conclusion that Florida is not as much of a waste of time and money for Obama as I had previously believed -- that it would be more likely to get him to 300 or 325 electoral votes than it would be to get him to 270 (it would be the gravy, not necessary for victory) -- and that it could realistically be a part of Obama's path to 270.

Tags: FL-Pres, Florida, White House 2008 (all tags)

Comments

39 Comments

Re: Movement in Florida?
The PPP poll, which is Democratic leaning, represents what's going on in Florida. The demographics of the state are the most favorable for McCain of any in the nation. Obama has no chance of winning Florida, none, nada, zilch.
Obama needs to begin to build a firewall around Michigan, Pennsylvania, Colorado, and New Hampshire, where he has a realistic chance of winning. Now that we know Obama's money advantage, vs. McCain, is an illusion, it's time to get real.
by oliver777 2008-09-09 11:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Movement in Florida?

You might be right, consider Obama has dumped millions in TV into Florida, all for a tie.

Obama needs to worry about Michigan, which could be the new Ohio.

by david mizner 2008-09-09 11:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Movement in Florida?

I agree with this: Michigan is this year's Ohio and Florida.

That's why the whole Kwame Kipatrick (Detroit's now former mayor) thing was so important to the Obama campaign to the point where the Democratic governor of Michigan had to step in and basically hold judicial hearings to fire the mayor (he resigned).

It may come down to the Macomb County Reagan Democrats once again.

But there will be a big turnout in Detroit for Obama, probably to the tune of 300,000 votes....

by Zeitgeist9000 2008-09-09 11:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Movement in Florida?

Granholm's hearings had nothing to do with the Obama campaign, absolutely nothing.  It's a local issue.

by Steve M 2008-09-09 12:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Movement in Florida?

According to Nate, PPP does not have a democratic leaning house effect...

I certainly wouldn't put all my electoral eggs in one basket in Florida for many reasons (one being that their elections have been notoriously corrupt in the past, although, shit time around, they will be using paper ballots), but if McCain is starting to spend money down there, that means they are feeling antsy about the situation, too...

I think it is worth making an attempt at the state...  If we happen to somehow win it, the election is totally over!  So, it's worth making the play over there...

by LordMike 2008-09-09 11:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Movement in Florida?

Interesting.  I would have thought that the Biden/Palin picks would have made Florida more competitive for Obama.  If that PPP poll (+5 McCain) is repeated in other polls, then I guess I was wrong.

It looks like the Kerry states + Colorada, Iowa, and New Mexico might be Obama's best strategy -- IF he can hold on to Michigan.

by markjay 2008-09-09 12:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Movement in Florida?

No chance?  Bull.  The very fact that McCain is being forced to advertise in Florida says that they believe Obama has a very real chance.  Go pedal GOP talking points somewhere else.

Sarah "Jews for Jesus" Palin isn't going to help much in this state.  As long as we have the resources, we should continue pressing.

by MtnFrost 2008-09-09 12:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Movement in Florida?

Well, resources are exactly the issue.  If Obama has enough money to go full bore in MI, PA, OH, FL, VA, CO, WI, MN, NM, NV, IA and NH (did I miss any?), then he should do that.  But I suspect that at some point he's going to have to make cuts somewhere.  And when that point comes, I think a reasonable case can be made that Obama will get a better return on his money making sure MI and PA stay blue, rather than trying to flip FL.  I mean, the $5 million that Obama spent in Florida in June and July (against $0 for McCain) has not exactly yielded stellar results.  Of course, if Obama can flip FL then it's game over, so maybe he'll go with a high-risk, high-reward strategy.  Or maybe he'll spend all he needs to in FL, MI and PA, but cut back somewhere else.  Anyway, it's getting to be time to make some tough choices.    

by Mose 2008-09-09 01:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Movement in Florida?

Yeah, some 600,000 Jews in Florida, more than any other state except California and New York, and many of them are also Hillary supporters.

Now if we just be confident in the voting system there.

by david mizner 2008-09-09 11:44AM | 0 recs
Obama's Electoral Map

You know, one of the (main) reasons I didn't support Obama in the primaries is that I was unsure what his Electoral College path to victory is.

Now I realize what it is, and this is very, very novel in presidential politics because the same 33 states have been determinative of the president for, like, forever.

Basically forget Ohio, Missouri and Pennsylvania in favor of ALL the states Gore won (excluding Florida) and adding in Colorado and New Hampshire.

The Real Clear Politics electoral map pegs it for Obama right, as Obama leads in New Mexico, Iowa and Colorado...

If those states hold, and considering all the resources the Democrats poured into them (New Hampshire: the primaries), (Colorado: the convention), (Iowa: the caucus), (New Mexico: Bill Richardson, etc), I don't see how Obama can lose from this point forward.

This election, in the least, will be the exact reverse of 2000 with the Republicans on fourth down and inches and unable to pass the goal line!

This is very important to me because it basically opens up new constituencies who will be determinative of the winner for once instead of the tired, old politics that in ends up being hateful and divisive.

by Zeitgeist9000 2008-09-09 11:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Electoral Map

Actually, we need PA: that's why the Biden pick was so important...

We don't need Florida.

This is going to be an amazing aftermath when the same old states realize that they had no hand in picking the president!

by Zeitgeist9000 2008-09-09 12:39PM | 0 recs
I would laugh and laugh

If McCain's crazy VP choice lost him Florida, I would die of laughter, because his other choice was Lieberman, who would almost certainly guarantee Florida to him.

That said, they have gay marriage on the ballot this fall in Florida, and Charlie Crist will do whatever it takes to screw up the elections in McCain's favor.

We can spend time in Florida, but don't neglect the other places as well.

by Dracomicron 2008-09-09 11:47AM | 0 recs
Re: I would laugh and laugh

"That said, they have gay marriage on the ballot this fall in Florida, and Charlie Crist will do whatever it takes to screw up the elections in McCain's favor."

Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face?

by neko608 2008-09-09 11:52AM | 0 recs
There is some cognitive dissonance involved

Assuming the rumors about Crist are true (we shouldn't), then, yes, you can get a good laugh in over the classic Republican self-hate.

by Dracomicron 2008-09-09 11:55AM | 0 recs
North Carolina - Put a Fork in It

Whoa!

   * 58% McCain (R)
      38% Obama (D)
      2% Other
      2% Undecided

The Results of a SurveyUSA Election Poll
Geography Surveyed: North Carolina
Data Collected: 09/06/2008 - 09/08/2008

McCain is now in front among the educated and less educated, among the affluent and less affluent. He's polling at 64% in Coastal Carolina (up from 57%), at 60% in Charlotte (up from 53%), and at 54% in Raleigh / Greensboro (up from 44%). Pro-Life voters backed McCain 2:1 last month, 4:1 this month.

by oliver777 2008-09-09 11:54AM | 0 recs
Re: North Carolina - Put a Fork in It

Hopefully, it doesn't affect the Hagan/Dole senate race too much....

by Zeitgeist9000 2008-09-09 11:58AM | 0 recs
Re: North Carolina - Put a Fork in It

Not good --

But I'd point out that SUSA's NC primary polling wasn't very good... I believe they generally showed a single digit race -- and their last poll showed a 9 pt spread.... it ended up being a 14 pt result.

by zonk 2008-09-09 12:05PM | 0 recs
I see no evidence

that the Obama campaign is hurting for cash, so I see no reason they should be curtailing expenditures in EITHER FL or OH.

That's not to say one should throw good money after bad - if ads aren't moving the needle somewhere, then of course, the campaign should be looking at 1)localized geographic effects and 2)the ad itself.

Of course, time is a limited resource -- so that does need to figure into the calculus.

by zonk 2008-09-09 11:58AM | 0 recs
Re: I see no evidence

yeah, that NY Times article today had an alarming title, but was based on pretty weak evidence overall.

by the mollusk 2008-09-09 12:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Movement in Florida?

We should definitely go all out in Florida.  If we win this state, we can win the election while losing Colorado, Ohio, New Mexico, AND even Michigan.  For McCain to get to 270 without Florida, he would have to win those four and pick up another state, like Wisconsin, Iowa, or Oregon.  Good luck with that.

Despite the panic around these parts lately (McCain got a convention bounce!  It's permanent!) it's clear we still have multiple ways of getting to 270, whereas McCain just has one (sweep every swing state).

by Skaje 2008-09-09 12:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Movement in Florida?

Despite the panic around these parts lately (McCain got a convention bounce!  It's permanent!) it's clear we still have multiple ways of getting to 270, whereas McCain just has one (sweep every swing state).

It seems that way.  But the VP picks and Kwame scandal seem to have moved Michigan into possible tossup territory.  If McCain holds Ohio and Florida (likely) and wins Michigan (possible), he could afford to lose New Hampshire, Colorado, New Mexico, Iowa, AND Nevada and still win the election.

by markjay 2008-09-09 12:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Movement in Florida?

moved Michigan into possible tossup territory.  If McCain holds Ohio and Florida (likely) and wins Michigan (possible)

Keep dreamin on those.  Ohio is definately a toss-up, and now Florida is heading that way too.

Obama/Biden!

by MtnFrost 2008-09-09 01:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Movement in Florida?

In that case, Obama could still win by snagging Virginia.  Again, options.  If we take either Ohio or Florida it's already game over for McCain.

by Skaje 2008-09-09 01:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Movement in Florida?

The Obama firewall is looking very thin now. It basically comes down to Colorado, Michigan and New Hampshire?  Scary thought.

by ND1979 2008-09-09 12:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Movement in Florida?

Wow, yeah, you're right.  Better just skip those old pesky debates and voting.  Let's not even look twice at what a poor choice Palin will become as time goes by....

by MtnFrost 2008-09-09 01:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Movement in Florida?

But losing Michigan (a real possibility) means no President Obama. Who thinks he loses Michigan and has any shot in Ohio, New Hampshire or Colorado?

by ND1979 2008-09-09 12:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Movement in Florida?

If Michigan is the key state this year, enter the white suburban Republican activists to harass black Detroit voters for proper identification as they enter the polls on Nov. 4!

by Zeitgeist9000 2008-09-09 12:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Movement in Florida?
Winning the Kerry states + New Mexico + Iowa +
FLORIDA = 270 !!!
by hpg 2008-09-09 12:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Movement in Florida?
Winning the Kerry states + New Mexico + Iowa +
FLORIDA = 270 !!!
even without PA
Kerry states + New Mexico + Iowa + FL + PA = 291
by hpg 2008-09-09 12:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Movement in Florida?
Both of youse are delusional. I was at the Obama HQ here in Northern Virginia (Manassas) and latest polls have us within the MOE.
The Old Dominion's 13 electoral votes will play a role in November. Northern Virginia is Blue, Richmond's Mayor is Doug Wilder and the Military vote in Hampton Roads is up for grabs.....
by xodus1914 2008-09-09 06:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Movement in Florida?

Montana is off the table , Rasmussen would show a shift towards Mccain...

Mccain 53
Obama  42

As national polls show Mccain in a tie or leading a lot of these red states Obama was hoping to compete in are falling back to form...

Sarah palin has the highest favorable ratings of all candidates ...

by lori 2008-09-09 12:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Movement in Florida?

Put a fork in nothing.  Polls are Brownie snapshots from space.  McPOW has spent more resources in Pa than any other state, and not moved the needle.  As an Obama team leader here, I think it's problematical for him.  I think the vote has been set for a while.  Racists and core Republicans are voting for him.  Humans for Obama. There isn't any persuadables left for the decrepit one.

by moondancer 2008-09-09 12:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Movement in Florida?

When I read something like "something is likely to be lost in translation between Sarah Palin and swing groups like Jewish voters and Cubans" it becomes clear to me that Nate is getting much better at not sticking his foot in it.  Who knew, people can be taught.

by Steve M 2008-09-09 12:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Movement in Florida?

Did you guys seen the new Survey USA poll out today showing McCain ahead by 20 points in North Carolina?  I thought N.C. was supposed to be a possible obama pick up.  

by karajan72 2008-09-09 01:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Movement in Florida?

Nah, NC is usually one election cycle behind Va. Unfortunately, Mike Easley isn't helping matters either...

by xodus1914 2008-09-09 06:20PM | 0 recs
The cult of Palin doesn't fly in Florida

The one group of voters who are probably seeing right through the crap and seeing Palin for what she really is are the older voter set in Florida.  They're beyond identity politics, and charm isn't going to convince them that McCain/Palin are advocates of social security.  

I also think her inexperience is a big factor for that set, just as it was a factor regarding Obama.  But, I think Obama has done a lot to assuage those concerns with his acceptance speech and with the pick of Joe Biden as VP.  

On the other hand, the Palin pick makes the repub ticket very, very risky on all sorts of fronts (foreign policy, social security, health care).  For those voters, the election IS about the issues.  

So, I think Florida will continue to trend to Obama, and this trend will pick up as some of the hundreds of Palin scandals start to take their toll on the Palin image.  

If Obama wins Florida, he can win even if he loses Ohio or Michigan.  

by ProfessorReo 2008-09-09 06:02PM | 0 recs
Obama wins FL, he can lose NH, NM, CO, MI, OH

and STILL win the election.  

He just needs to win the Kerry states (minus NH) and Iowa and Florida, and that would give him 270 electoral votes, exactly the number he would need to win.  

So, even if Palin helps win over the white rural working class vote in the midwest, she would ensure McCain's defeat if she contributes to McCain's loss in Florida.  

And, realistically, Obama is probably going to win New Mexico and New Hampshire, hang onto Michigan, and be very competitive in Colorado.  Add in Florida, and the election will be an electoral landslide.

by ProfessorReo 2008-09-09 06:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama wins FL, he can lose NH, NM, CO, MI, OH

We can't count out Joe Libermann, remember.....

by xodus1914 2008-09-09 06:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Movement in Florida?

Why did I see a McCain ad in New Jersey last night?

by Bob H 2008-09-10 03:02AM | 0 recs

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