Tag Archives: Duval County

The Battle for Jacksonville

Previously I blogged Duval County, the home of Jacksonville, but never just this important city in Northern Florida.  It is one of the few competitive area is the state not along the I-4 corridor.  Size-wise the city is the largest in the US but its population density doesn’t match the traditional “big cities.”  At the same time the area retains a better diversity than  other urban areas thanks to its beach proximity and downtown feel.  From a journalistic standpoint there is some subtle comedy in the piece.  The Obama supporters are either campaign staffers or obviously phony “Republicans” while the Romney supporters are all 2008 Obama voters. I guess they tried to get a balance but couldn’t find “man on the street” Obama supporters. Here is the Associated Press look at the Battle for Jacksonville:

Eric Allen was 18 and voting in his first presidential election when he chose Barack Obama over John McCain. Four years older now and looking for a job, he is just the kind of voter Republican Mitt Romney needs to win — and win big — in northeast Florida’s Duval County and take the most coveted of the toss-up states. “I voted for him last time just to see the change,” Allen says of Obama, “and there was no change.”

2008 surprise

The Obama campaign targeted the Jacksonville area with surprising success in 2008, nearly equaling Republican John McCain in Duval County votes as Obama carried the state. Whether Obama can do as well again may determine if he takes Florida a second time — and with it a second term. In GOP regions of swing states, Republicans must turn out in huge numbers to overcome Democratic advantages elsewhere. Republican-friendly regions like southeast Ohio and southwest Virginia share northeast Florida’s mission of overwhelming Democrats at the polls.

Must win for Romney

For both campaigns, Florida is one of the keys to winning the White House. It’s even more important for Romney, whose paths to Electoral College victory are few without the state’s 29 votes. Even though each side has already spent $60 million on TV and radio ads, Republicans are expected to spend even more than Democrats in the campaign’s final weeks. Polling shows a tight race in Florida with Obama slightly ahead in some surveys, making the Democrat’s turnout in Duval County essential to his overall strategy.

Democrat resurgence in Jacksonville

Sprawling and traditionally conservative, the Jacksonville area went for Republican Ronald Reagan in 1980. After that, Democrats all but conceded Duval County, with its Southern feel and strong military presence. Obama, however, persuaded enough moderate Republicans, conservative Democrats and independents to give his message of hope and change a chance to cancel out the usual Republican advantage there. The Democratic campaign was more competitive in 2008 in part because it built excitement in Duval County’s large black community with voter registration drives and get-out-the-vote efforts to support the nation’s first black presidential candidate on a major party ticket. Duval County has more than 516,000 registered voters out of a total population of about 871,000. The percentage of black residents, 29.8, is nearly double the statewide figure. The campaign will have to keep the same enthusiasm among black voters to keep Duval competitive.

Republicans counterattack

Republicans are trying to put more resources toward restoring the overwhelming turnout they’ve enjoyed for almost a generation. “We have to drive up the score here so that we can make sure that we make up ground in other areas,” Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus said in Jacksonville in August. “We’re going to have a plan in this county to not just win, but to try to win as big as possible. Winning here isn’t enough. You have to do great in places you’re strong.” The Romney campaign didn’t wait for the former Massachusetts governor to secure the nomination to set up a presence in the city. Unlike McCain, who was far outspent, they’re matching the huge resources Obama is pumping into the area, said Brett Doster, a Florida-based political consultant who is advising the campaign and ran George W. Bush’s 2004 Florida campaign. Along with a stronger ground game — Doster says it’s bigger and better organized than when Bush carried Duval County by 61,000 votes — the Romney campaign believes it will be able to win back Republicans who supported Obama.

Lost that lovin feeling

Lynn Fernandez, a shoe repair shop owner and a Republican who voted for Obama four years ago. Now she’s voting for Romney. While she blamed Congress for lack of progress in Washington, she’s taking it out on the president and hoping, not so optimistically, that a change can break Washington gridlock. “Whoever gets in there is still going to have a difficult time because we’re in such a mess. No matter how hard a president fights, he still has to fight the Senate and Congress,” said Fernandez, 58. “I voted for Obama last time. Not that he didn’t try. We’ve dug ourselves in such a big hole it’s going to be a long time before we get out of it no matter who gets in there.” Larry Mordecai Jr., a 49-year-old Republican who until recently worked in the mortgage industry, said he was proud to vote for Obama in 2008 because the country was divided and he liked Obama’s enthusiasm. He thought he would be an inspirational president. While he hasn’t completely made up his mind, Mordecai is leaning toward Romney and wants to watch the debates before making a decision. “I’m highly disappointed. It’s going to take a lot of convincing on President Obama’s part to really sway me in that direction,” Mordecai said. “I’m not enthusiastic about either party and most of that would have to do with my lack of confidence in Congress.”

Note, there is one other voter quoted in the piece who is labeled a Republican that supported Obama in 2008 and is doing so again this time.  I will wager any sum of money that person is flat out lying and is a staunch Democrat.  This is much like the many fake Republicans in Obama ads that have been busted time and again.

The Battle for Florida

Earlier I sung the praises of Michael Steele for getting the Convention in Tampa despite the bed-wetter cries about the weather at the start. Nate Silver breaks down the entire state of Florida with its partisan divide across the state concluding that the choice of Tampa for this year’s convention was a brilliant move for the GOP. As he writes: “In every election since 1960 the presidential candidate who carried Florida has also carried Tampa’s Hillsborough County.” Considering the likelihood that if Romney cannot carry Florida, he likely cannot win the election, perhaps Governor Romney should send a thank you note to the embattled but successful former Chairman if come November we are calling him President Romney:

The Republican Party has good reason to hold its national convention in Tampa, Fla. The Tampa area is the most competitive section of the most competitive region in one of the most competitive states in the nation — the perfect place to seek a glimmer of extra advantage in a closely-fought presidential contest. In many ways, the Tampa area was the weakest link in the regional coalition that Barack Obama built to win Florida in 2008. The Tampa-St. Petersburg media market is home to a quarter of Florida’s registered Republicans, and Mr. Obama carried Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties — home to Tampa and St. Petersburg — by a smaller margin than Florida’s other major population centers. If Mitt Romney wants to win the state, it represents the most attractive target.

And winning Florida is a must for Mr. Romney. Based on the simulations that the FiveThirtyEight forecast model ran on Tuesday, Mr. Romney has only a 0.3 percent chance of winning the election if he loses the state. It is hard to conceive of Mr. Romney winning the election but losing Florida because Florida is an ever-so-slightly Republican-leaning state. If he loses it, he’s probably having trouble elsewhere on the map as well. It’s quite unlikely that Mr. Romney loses Florida but wins a state like Michigan or Pennsylvania, for instance.

Democrat South Florida

Just over a third of Florida’s registered Democrats live in the Miami and West Palm Beach media markets, especially in Miami-Dade County, Broward County and Palm Beach County.

  • Broward County, in particular, is critical to Democratic margins in Florida. Without Broward County Mr. Obama would have lost Florida in 2008; his statewide margin of victory (204,577 votes) was less than his margin in Broward (252,948 votes).
  • Miami-Dade County is reliably Democratic. Its large Cuban-American population leans Republican and keeps the county from tilting all the way to the left. Miami-Dade County is home to 58 percent of Florida’s Hispanic Republicans and 34 percent of Hispanic Democrats.

The I-4 Corridor: from Tampa to Orlando

  • Orlando’s Orange County was just marginally Democratic in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. Then — partly because of an influx of non-Cuban Hispanics — Mr. Obama carried Orange County fairly easily in 2008, and the county itself is probably out of reach for Republicans now. “It’s really tipping the state,” Mr. deHaven-Smith said. A potential dream scenario for Democrats — and a nightmare for Republicans — is if the demographic shifts in this region are enough to shift Florida from being slightly Republican-leaning to strictly neutral, or slightly Democratic-leaning instead.

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The (Legal) Battle for Florida

Ever since the 2000 election, Florida has been a mainstay of ever national election due to its political diversity, high electoral count and notoriously tight outcomes.  Although the state no longer holds the preeminent place as THE battleground state (a title jointly shared by Virginia and Ohio), the state is still fraught with political cross-currents that will make the state a battleground to the very end this election season.  The recent visits by Paul Ryan and President Obama are just the warm-up acts.  The Republican Convention begins shortly which will put an even greater spotlight on a state that is settling its differences in court — hopefully before election day:

Stick a pin almost anywhere on a map of Florida and you’ll find a legal battle over who will be eligible to vote in the coming presidential election — and when, and how, and where. In a state crucial to Mitt Romney’s battle to replace President Obama, a sweeping law passed in 2011 by the Republican legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott (R) has created an awesome wake of litigation. The law imposes more than 75 changes, including new restrictions on who can register voters and limits on the time allowed for early voting. Sponsors of the measure said it creates a more reliable system that combats voter fraud, while opponents, a group that included every Democratic lawmaker, called it a partisan ploy to suppress voters who traditionally favor Democrats.

Lawyers take to the forefront

But unlike the frenzied trip to the U.S. Supreme Court that followed the close of voting in the 2000 presidential race, the Sunshine State’s legal battles are being waged in advance of the November vote. “Florida is desperately trying not to be the next Florida,” said Richard L. Hasen, an expert on election law whose new book, “The Voting Wars,” begins with a chapter titled “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Florida.”

Florida ballot litigation is not unique this year

There could be many contenders for the title this fall. In battleground states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and beyond, changes in voting laws have resulted in high-stakes legal battles over whose ballots will be counted.

Litany of litigious locals

One of the many legal battles in Florida was answered last last week, when a panel of federal judges ruled that the new limits on early voting could not be implemented in five counties that receive special scrutiny under the Voting Rights Act. Florida, said the unanimous ruling, “has failed to satisfy its burden of proving that those changes will not have a retrogressive effect on minority voters.” That will hardly be the last judicial decision affecting Florida’s nearly 11.5 million voters before polls close on Nov. 6.

  • In Miami, minority groups have sued the state over whether its plan to purge the voter lists of noncitizens might result in legitimate voters losing their rights.
  • In Tampa, a similar lawsuit asks whether the state’s plan to purge the lists violated a different section of the federal law.
  • In Tallahassee, judges in two courts considered a host of suits and countersuits, including one change that caused the League of Women Voters to suspend voter-registration efforts for fear of criminal penalties.
  • In Duval County, where African Americans make up a larger portion of voters than in any of Florida’s other large counties, Elder Lee E. Harris has joined a lawsuit that would require the state to continue to allow early voting on the Sunday before the election.

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Battleground Counties: Duval County, Florida

Florida has maintained national focus since its prominent place in the 2000 Presidential nail-biter.  Although it no longer holds the pole position as the #1 Battleground state in the nation, its high electoral vote count and persuadable voters make the state a prime destination for any candidate expecting to win the Presidency.  As with most Battleground states Florida has its voter rich Battleground Counties like Hillsborough County in the Southwest and Orange County at the top of the I-4 corridor. The Tampa Bay Times took a deep dive into Duval County in the Northeast which is typically considered GOP country, but there are meaningful trends making Duval very much a Battleground County:

One of Florida’s top battlegrounds, this longtime Republican stronghold is also one of the most confounding and unpredictable electorates you’ll find. Drive 30 minutes from any area in this New South, Navy town and you meet every stereotype imaginable: lifelong, white Democrats with horses and pickups, inner-city African-Americans fretting about street crime, social conservatives in a Baptist church encompassing nine blocks, northeastern retirees in flip-flops on the beach, or socially moderate Starbucks Republicans mingling in trendy restaurants. “It’s one of the most misunderstood counties in Florida,” said Democratic pollster Dave Beattie of Fernandina Beach in Duval. In this bastion of conservatism, the past two Republican mayors of Jacksonville raised taxes and fees significantly, while the new Democratic mayor has tea party activists hailing his fiscal conservatism. It’s a county that statewide Republican candidates routinely win by more than 15 percentage points, but can be nail-bitingly close with the right Democrat on the ballot.

Obama minding the gap

George W. Bush beat John Kerry in Duval by 62,000 votes in 2004 [58% to 42% — 16% difference], while former Jacksonville resident John McCain squeaked past Obama in 2008 by less than 8,000 votes [51% to 49% — 2% difference]. Few people expect President Obama to match his performance from four years ago, however. “His supporters are not going to be as fired up this time,” predicted lawyer Kenneth Boston, inhaling a stogie while sporting a bow tie and a glistening Obama watch at a Jacksonville Beach watering hole. “It’s impossible to match the excitement of last time. It was a first then, it was historic.” The question is not whether Obama can win Duval, but rather how close he can keep it. If the campaign can’t keep Duval closer than 7 or 8 percentage points from Republican Mitt Romney, it becomes harder to make up those votes elsewhere in the state.

African-American vote strength

The African-American vote is key. Nearly 28 percent of Duval’s 530,000 voters are African-Americans who overwhelmingly vote Democratic. The data-driven Obama campaign four years ago saw that tens of thousands of registered black voters hadn’t been showing up at the polls and launched the biggest voter mobilization ever in the area. Obama campaigned in Jacksonville three times in 2008, including the day before Election Day. This year, Obama is ramping it up still more, with one campaign office opened in January and two more to open within weeks. Obama and the first lady have each visited Duval County in the past three months. The administration recently sped up the arrival of a battleship, the USS New York, to Jacksonville’s Naval Station Mayport and fast-tracked a study of deepening Jacksonville’s ship channel.

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