What are Obama's chances in Florida in November?
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05/19/08 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Monday | Listen to this entire show:

The HBO film Recount airs later this week and is a reminder of how Florida used to be the swing state in presidential elections. But in 2004, Ohio was the state that decided the election, as George Bush beat John Kerry by 5 full points here in the Sunshine State.

Florida comes back in the spotlight this week when Barack Obama makes his first appearance in the state this year, including a noontime rally in downtown Tampa on Wednesday. If Obama is the nominee, he will be facing an opponent who has virtually lived in Florida for the past year. John McCain’s scheduled appearance in South Florida tomorrow will mark the 45th day he’s campaigned in the Sunshine state.

But other factors have led some to believe that Florida will not be as hotly contested in 2008.

University of South Florida at St. Petersburg Political Scientist Daryl Paulson believes if Obama decides to de-emphasize Florida, it’s because he thinks he has a chance of winning other states that have voted Republican in recent years, like Virginia, New Mexico and Colorado, but have been trending Democratic over the past few years.

University of South Florida at Tampa Political Scientist Susan McManus says on paper Florida’s demographics play strongly in favor of John McCain.

Other factors also indicate that Florida might be a tough state for Obama, despite polls that currently show him tied with McCain in a November matchup. Those same polls show Hillary Clinton with a consistent 5 point lead or so. In Florida’s Jan. 29 primary, Clinton beat Obama by 17 points, which had been the largest margin of victory in the campaign before last week’s thrashing in West Virginia. Neither candidate campaigned in Florida, honoring a pledge they made to the earlier voting states.

Paulson says the state’s demographics make it an ideal state for the New York senator.

McManus says a key demographic that is up for grabs if Obama is the candidate will be the Latino vote. President Bush won 44 percent of it nationally in 2004, but much of it went nationally to Democrats in the 2006 congressional elections.

Obama could inherit much of that vote, but McCain has separated himself from much of the GOP establishment by his previous support for comprehensive immigration reform.

But for all of this, there are others who say that all indicators in Florida are trending Democratic this year. Such as the fact that as a voting group, Democrats have overtaken Republicans in voter registration among Latinos in the state, and overall lead the state among those newly registered to vote, surpassing Independents.

Florida Democratic Party officials were unavailable for comment on this story, but party spoksman Mark Bubriski recently told the St. Petersburg Times that "What we're seeing is the beginnings of a major sea change … When you add up all of the major factors that go into the analysis of an election, everything is going the Democratic Party's way."

But Obama as the Democratic candidate still might be a hard sell in the Sunshine state with older voters. After losing in Indiana and Pensylvania, Obama admitted that his message is not getting through to that key demographic.

Recently a Democratic political pollster in the Tampa area told WMNF he speaks to Democrats every day in Tampa and Hillsborough County who say they will not vote for Barack Obama in the fall. A Yahoo.Com poll released last month showed 8 percent of Americans acknowledge that race was a negative factor for them in the contest.

But when WMNF asked University of South Florida Political Science Professor Susan McManus if this is where the issue of a black candidate makes some older white voters hesistant, she disagreed, saying that it was experience, not race, that these voters are concerned about.

Barack Obama will be in Tampa at the St. Pete Times Forum at noon on Wednesday. Contact the Democratic Executive Committee in your county for information on how to obtain tickets.

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Comments

He will not get my vote

I have been a democrat for 37 years until 3 weeks ago. My 85 year old mother and I changed to no party affiliation. We have never voted another way than democrat but we are very disturbed by the way democrats have treated the Clinton's. I have 4 brothers and only one is going to vote for Obama. We have decided we will vote independent. I am so disappointed with the Obama supporters who don't know the meaning of loyalty. The media should also be ashamed of themselves, they act more like groupies than journalist.

Soon..it will be too late?

Democrats, led by Speaker dictator Nancy Pelosi, has caused a major ripple effect amongst others of the party members, by intimidating them. She and other leading Democrats have not only engineered ADVERSELY THE BORDER FENCE, but also trying to gut SAVE Act (H.R.4088). That only 10 have signed the Discharge Petition. The other 39 Democrats have heard the ominous message loud and clear that if they sign the petition and it gets the necessary 218 signatures to force a vote, those Democrats should not count on any favors or help for their congressional Districts from the House leaders. It is obviously to appease the predator businesses, that hire cheap labor, but also church interference and ethnic caucuses. Alas, money talks when re-election is concerned, and to blazes with the 80% of public outcry, who want their borders regulated and the 12 to 30 million illegal immigrants with families to go home. The SAVE ACT (H.R. 4088) is an enforcement Federal bill, which would put arrogant employers in prison or heavily fine them. If you are frustrated with your dollars supporting illegal aliens, compliments of pariah employers, demand your representative co-author the SAVE ACT. free faxes at NUMBERSUSA and toll-free both parties at ((202-224-3121) Copy & paste and distribute freely.

Black Teacher for Clinton

Black Floridian Teacher and divorced mother voted for Hilary. The Media is deciding who's going to be President and not allowing the voters to think for themselves. The media is no longer objective, but a biased group that twist small details into huge misleading stories and falsely influencing emotionally strung young people who think voting for Obama is the next Myspace or facebook craze that will fade out with the next star quality personality that shows up. Unfortuantely, the president doesn't go away when someone better comes along the next year. There are more women than men in this country and much more educated women than men (check your college enrollment and census stats) yet women are paid much less than men despite equal or better education and experience. As you can see by this election, a deep voice and a winning smile is all you need to show who’s in charge. How can women ever win? Ladies, get out of college and back into the kitchen. What’s the point of going to college if your voice will never be heard? Keep listening to those guys while they move past you in that career and you wonder why you never get promoted. It’s not because you weren’t tough enough. It’s that you have the audacity to think that if you compete on a level playing field you would be given a fair chance. Welcome to the real world. I will be voting for a republican for the 1st time in my life. I can stomachy a military man. My ex was a marine. ’nuff said.

Florida for Obama

I can't wait until Obama's campaign kicks off in Florida. He has a very good chance of winning our state!

What will Clinton voters do is the question

I read an Wash. Post article the other day that said 25% of Hillary's voters will vote for McCain if she isn't on the ticket. If that holds true the Latino vote might not be enough for Obama.

Can't vote Obama

I will be voting McCain over Obama, I just don't trust him. He was asked by man during a visit to a hospital in Oregon why they should trust him, his response was read my memoir. That's not an answer people are looking for, we want real answers. What about the changes he speaks of, they're never mentioned as to what they are.

OBAMA - the only choice

We were told our vote would not count for the primaries here in Florida so I changed my party affiliation to R in order to vote to end the war with Ron Paul. Ending the illegal and immoral war is the most important task at hand. Although Obama has not said he would end it he is the best choice let for anyone with two or more brain cells to rub together. The economic crisis is much more complicated ("Bad Money", "The Squandering of America", "Free Lunch"). Correcting our past errors of deregulation will take a political will that seems to be merely a dream. Too many corporations have paid for for too many politicians leaving We the People to be Enemy of the State.

Vote based on national issues not your personal is

Vote for the candidate that you agree with the most on the issues that are important to you. I'm a Hip Hop artist based in St. Petersburg. I'm also a college educated single male who is working towards the goal of home ownership. Obama and Hillary are the candidates that align with my views and needs the most. I'm having a hard time seeing how any Clinton supporter couldn't find enough common ground to be an Obama backer when they themselves agree on so many issues. The media controls what they put on their programs. You control what you think and feel. This is not about feeling slighted for not getting a true say in this year's primary system or about loyalty or aligning yourself by race or gender. Democracy works best when an informed public votes on the issues. Not voting for Obama because you feel slighted is like cutting off your arm because your wrist hurts. If you pout now you'll be crying in 2009 and beyond.

Yes to OBAMA!!!!!!!!

I am about Senator Obama visiting Tampa Bay today. He is a man of good moral character and has not tried to play "politics" as so many before him. Many may not like him because he is honest. It is a shame to see our country slowly going down the toilet. It is sad to that there are people who still want to continue down the same old unsuccessful path. That path is big business runs Washington! I'ved worked in the political field for many years and read word for word, the Congressional Record, executive orders, etc. If uninformed people want to sit and criticize an honest man based on what they "think" they know, I'd say they probably voted to elected President Bush. It is sad to see people who live in fear and allow it to make their decisions. I advise every American to make the time to research each candidate who runs for office - not just for president of the United States - and base your decision on an informed researched decision. Neither race, gender, party affiliation or any other superficial things should influence the decision to vote for a candidate. People who do that only feed into the stereotype that Americans are lazy and like being spoonfed information. Answer these questions: why is the president pushing for more drilling oil in Alaska? Why is there no investion into the record profits of oil companies by our president or congress? Why can we spend so much money on a war in Iraq but we have not found bin Laden? Why is the economic divide increasing? Why are we one of the richest nations but rank so low in education? Why are we willing to offer grants and scholarships to foreign students but force our own students who have the capacity to learn and excel but do not have money to get student loans? It has been proven that what has been tried in the past has not worked. It is time for someone new! Obama is that someone new. My hope is that Americans wake up and do the following: 1) stop the foolish bickering over non-germane issues 2) focus on substantive issues like reforming health care, improving education for our children, our economy, etc. 3) elect leaders who are not for sale 4) support a push for major campaign reform. I am a female American of African heritage and who strongly believes in an practices what I've written.