Movement in Florida?
by Jonathan Singer, Tue Sep 09, 2008 at 11:22:05 AM EDT
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.