Tag Archives: I-4 corridor

Mason-Dixon Polling Director: “Romney has pretty much nailed down Florida”

These are the types of polls I love.  If the I-4 corridor is going to decide the outcome in Florida, why not do a poll of just the I-4 corridor?  Well the Tampa bay Times did just that and Mitt Romney leads by 6 points in this all-important part of the state:

It has been a fundamental rule of Florida politics for decades: Statewide campaigns are won and lost on the I-4 corridor. Today that celebrated swing-voter swath stretching from Tampa Bay to Daytona Beach is poised to deliver Florida’s 29 electoral votes to Mitt Romney. An exclusive Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9 poll of likely voters along the Interstate 4 corridor finds Romney leading Obama 51 percent to 45 percent, with 4 percent undecided.

“Romney has pretty much nailed down Florida,” said Brad Coker of Mason-Dixon Polling and Research, which conducted the poll for the Times and its media partners. “Unless something dramatically changes — an October surprise, a major gaffe — Romney’s going to win Florida.” “Being that this is I-4, the Florida battleground, the region of the state that usually tells you how it’s going to come out, for Romney to be up 6 points right now … they should be able to call Florida as soon as the polls close in Pensacola if they do their exit polling right,” Coker said.

The Oct. 22-24 survey focused only on voters in the I-4 corridor, but Tampa Bay on the western end has an uncanny knack for almost exactly matching Florida’s statewide results. Four years ago Obama beat John McCain in Florida and Tampa Bay — defined as Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, Polk and Citrus counties — by the same margin, 51 percent to 48 percent.

Today? The poll shows Romney leading Tampa Bay 50 percent to 46 percent.

As the blogfather says, read the whole thing.

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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A Video Look at the Battleground State of Florida

Battleground Highways — The I-4 Corridor

We have blogged about the most important strip of road in Florida — the I-4 Corridor — previously as part of larger posts.  But the Daily Herald took a look specifically at this road and its role in determining the outcome of Florida’s 29 electoral votes:

The once-booming Florida economy that was battered by the recession and is now recovering at a frustratingly slow pace. Once a symbol of explosive Sunbelt development, where construction cranes seemed as common as palm trees, this haven for retirees, tourists and Northern transplants is trying to recapture its glow. But first the state has to bounce back from a housing bust and a steep plunge in population growth. Florida’s economy is center stage in President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney’s high-stakes campaign for the rich trove of 29 electoral votes. One of the biggest prizes still up for grabs, this state, a hard-fought White House battleground in 2000, could be just as pivotal this year. And no turf may be more important than the I-4 corridor, the heart of swing voter country, home to foreclosures and fresh starts, pain and prosperity, hope, anxiety and a frustration with politics — America in microcosm.

Stark contrasts

If the glittery, crowded empire of Mickey Mouse offers a sunny view of Florida’s recovery, a half-hour away on I-4, a cavernous warehouse provides a stark contrast. Walking past rows of floor-to-ceiling mayonnaise jars, ketchup bottles, soup cans, baby carriages, blankets and tons of other supplies, Dave Krepcho, CEO of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, doesn’t mince words: “We have a disaster going on, but it’s an economic disaster,” he says. “Month in and month out, I can’t believe the numbers.”

Food bank numbers tell a difficult tale

In the past four years, food distribution to 500 pantries, shelters, and other relief agencies in the six-county area has jumped about 60 percent. In the last year alone, that amounted to 36 million pounds of food. In a four-year period concluding at the end of 2009, the number of people served by the food bank skyrocketed from nearly 300,000 to 732,000 — and Krepcho says he hasn’t seen any decline in need since then. He estimates about 30 percent of those seeking help are first-timers. They’re blue-collar and white-collar, many middle class, even some upper middle class. They include college-educated couples and professionals. Krepcho knows their stories: The engineer who lost his job, his wife found work as a billing clerk, but they still couldn’t avoid foreclosure; the teacher who migrated to Florida for a job, only to see it disappear a year later in budget cuts.

Voter cynicism remains high

Four years ago, Barack Obama’s message of hope propelled him to the White House. Now he and Romney face the daunting challenge of selling economic remedies to voters wary of election-year promises. Both candidates have been frequent visitors to Florida and constant TV presences, pouring in tens of millions of dollars into commercials in this incredibly diverse state.

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The Battle for Florida

Florida may no longer holds its position as the #1 Battleground state in the nation as it did in 2000 and 2004, but it remains an enormously important state in the 2012 election:

The stakes are hard to overstate: Obama’s re-election is nearly assured should he repeat his 2008 victory in Florida, based on how the states lean now. His standing in Florida is far more precarious than it is in other contested states – so if he wins Florida, it’s likely that he’s won in many other states as he looks to cobble together the 270 Electoral College votes it takes to win. Romney’s state-by-state routes to reaching the magic number are more limited than the president’s, and a Florida victory would make it far more probable that he could win the presidency.

The I-4 corridor

Voters along Interstate 4, which stretches from Tampa Bay to Daytona Beach, will determine the outcome if the race remains close into the fall, as expected. About 45 percent of the state’s voters live in that 17-county area. But both candidates stressed central Florida early on. Obama was in Tampa in April, announcing a measure to promote trade with Latin America. Romney was in neighboring St. Petersburg in May, promoting plans to cut federal spending. Both stopped in Orlando last month to visit businesses and appeal for support from Latino voters. “The reality is it’s the most up-for-grabs part of the most up-for-grabs state,” B.J. Neidhardt, manager of Orlando Democrat Val Demings’ congressional campaign, said of Florida’s midsection.

Bad news for Obama and Democrats belief in the “coalition of the ascendent”

The electorate in Florida is virtually unchanged from 2008 because the ailing economy stifled the population growth of the previous decade. And in this campaign, the economy dominates. The recession took a deep toll on the state’s recreation industry, especially around Orlando. A decline in foreign trade hurt the Port of Tampa, Florida’s largest shipping port. The housing crisis fueled widespread home foreclosures and severely hampered the construction industry on which much of the region’s immigrant-heavy workforce relies. Florida’s unemployment rate was 8.6 percent in May, slightly higher than the national average and all other presidential battleground states except Nevada. A little more than four months before the Nov. 6 election, Obama narrowly leads Romney in statewide polls.

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Battleground Counties: Hillsborough County, Florida

One of my favorite topics this election season are the Battleground Counties that will truly decide this election.  We’ve covered a few of these so far and here is an extensive look at one of the more important players due to the electoral votes at stake: Hillsborough County, Florida which includes Tampa, home of the Republicans National Convention this year.  Travelers advisory warning: this write-up is full of a lot of great data.  But the author veers off into wholly inaccurate information and some partisan opinion writing when it comes to Obama’s organizational operation in the state.  It’s unfortunate because these inaccuracies and biased rhetoric mar what is otherwise a great look at an all-important Battleground County:

In 2008, Hillsborough became the only Florida county that had backed Republican George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 to flip to Barack Obama. A surge of minority voters, young people, and independents helped Obama wring 68,000 more votes out of Hillsborough than John Kerry had, propelling him to a 7-point victory over Republican nominee John McCain in the county. How closely divided is Hillsborough? Of the 1.95 million votes cast in presidential elections since 1992, Republican nominees won only about 14,000 more than Democratic nominees. The outcome in the Tampa Bay market has run within 2 percentage points of the statewide result in every presidential election since 1992. The campaign here will pit Obama’s organizational power and his capacity to take advantage of the region’s shifting demographics against Romney’s message of fiscal prudence, backed by the state’s all-powerful GOP establishment, and played against the backdrop of a still-sputtering local economy.

How South Florida’s eastern and western counties achieved their ideological split

Liberal Northeasterners headed south on I-95 to Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties, turning South Florida into a Democratic stronghold, while folks from Michigan and Ohio took I-75 to Florida’s west coast. The influx bestowed on Hillsborough County a Midwestern sensibility that’s more practical than ideological.

Fiscal conservatism in the county

In one obvious sign of the county’s penny-pinching mind-set, tea party activists help lead a successful battle in 2010 against a 1-cent increase in the sales tax to pay for light rail and other transportation projects in the county. The Democratic nominee for governor that year, Alex Sink, hailed from Hillsborough County but won here by only 10,000 votes. That slim margin of victory helped Republican Rick Scott, a former corporate executive who promised to create 700,000 jobs in seven years, narrowly win statewide.

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Battleground Counties: Orange County, Florida

Fox News did a ~4 minute expose on Orange County, unquestionable Battleground county at the top of the all-important I-4 corridor. As we written previously, in elections Florida is 3 states: the North (overwhelmingly Republican), the South (overwhelmingly Democrat) and the I-4 corridor comprising 40% of voters and the segment the determines the outcome in nearly all statewide elections.

This was a county that split nearly 50/50 in both 2000 and 2004 which also mirrored the statewide results. In 2008, Obama won the state by 3% but he carried this swing county by 18% — an incredible performance. Today tells a different story.Take a look at a county hit hard by the housing crises but seeing signs of a turnaround

Ann Romney in Miami and Victory Field Offices Identified

Mitt Romney’s #1 female surrogate is heading to the Sunshine State tomorrow. Ann Romney will join state Sen. Anitere Flores for a an afternoon (2pm) campaign event in Miami at Islas Canarias.

She’ll be hitting Florida at just the right time with the Romney campaign ramping up its statewide operations to match the impressive head-start of the Obama campaign. Last week we blogged the Tampa Bay Times look at the two operations and the article mentioned 23 all-important “Victory” field offices –where the Republicans coordinate get-out-the-vote operations for November–but didn’t have their locations.  Now we do.

As we’ve mentioned before, Florida is often analyzed as three different states. Northern Florida is distinctly Republican while South Florida is distinctly Democrat with the middle “I-4 corridor” laden with swing voters who decide most statewide elections.The Romney campaign smartly moved its headquarters into Democrat territory in the South, right at the base of the I-4 corridor to further capitalize on its Nominating Convention in Tampa. As we can see below only 5 offices are in the Republican North, over half (12) plus the headquarters are in the swing area along the I-4 corridor (**), and 6 offices are in Democrat territory in the South (*).

The state headquarters is in Tampa: 302 Knights Run Ave, Suite 110.

Much like the Obama campaign opening field offices in Republican districts in Ohio, unsurprisingly 80% of these “Victory” offices are in swing districts or in the Democrat heavy South.

Romney Unleashes Diverse Surrogates in Battleground States

A candidate cannot be in all places at all times and it is important to have a stable of articulate supporters to amplify the campaign’s message to various audiences. Considering the narrow Battleground state focus and an even more narrow swath of persuadable voters in those states, it is increasingly important to inspire and employ surrogates who can bring a unique appeal to those targeted voters. Mitt Romney is wasting no time rolling out a line-up of heavy-hitters to carry his message:

Mitt Romney is mobilizing a fast-growing network of surrogates to help make his case with voters as his campaign begins to exert greater control over the GOP messaging operation. He is relying on a diverse cast of politicians, business leaders, athletes and celebrities to court key groups of voters, including social conservatives, Hispanics and suburban women.

National names include:

  • Sen. John Thune (S.D.)
  • Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty
  • Former ambassador John Bolton
  • Former New Hampshire governor John Sununu.

[A]ides are trying to build a more disciplined surrogate operation, distributing talking points to politicians and pundits whom they call upon to spread his message. Romney aides are now picking guests to appear on the Sunday political talk shows and holding Saturday conference calls to rehearse answers to likely questions, according to a campaign adviser. Other surrogates are booked for targeted television, radio and newspaper interviews to help build support among demographic groups with which Romney has struggled.

Women:
[T]he candidate’s wife, Ann, [looks] to be his most powerful surrogate and [aides] are developing a robust schedule of solo visits for her to help close the gender gap with Obama. they are considering having her campaign in nursing homes, schools and medical research facilities in suburban areas outside Philadelphia, Denver, Milwaukee and Charlotte, as well as in Northern Virginia and along Florida’s I-4 corridor. Other female surrogates are making similar pitches, including:

  • Sen. Kelly Ayotte (New Hampshire)
  • South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley
  • Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.)

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Romney Campaign Ramps-Up Florida Operations

THE state that famously decided the 2000 Presidential contest no longer holds its preeminent position as ground zero for campaign Battlegrounds (that distinction is shared by Virginia and Ohio today).  But Florida is still supremely important with its 29 electoral votes and often close polling results. Today, Adam Smith in the Tampa Bay Times has a meaty write-up on the nascent and expanding efforts of the Romney campaign in the Sunshine State  and even a Battleground county mention.

Obama won Florida by less than 3 percentage points in 2008 after mounting the largest statewide campaign operation ever seen here. The effort promises to be even bigger in 2012, but Republicans are banking on a turnout operation more like George W. Bush’s formidable 2004 campaign than McCain’s. The latest Florida polls show a dead heat, and both sides understand that if Romney loses Florida it’s next to impossible for him to win the White House.

Despite the reality that Florida is not mandatory for an Obama re-election, his campaign is unloading on the state with both barrels:

For 10 months, President Barack Obama has been steadily building a voter mobilization army here and now has about 100 paid staffers, 27 field offices and thousands of volunteers working almost every day to deliver Florida’s 29 electoral votes. A click on Romney’s Florida campaign website Thursday found no upcoming events in the state, while Obama’s site showed 194 events within 40 miles of downtown Tampa.

A rather daunting operation for a candidate who until recently had little more than a skeleton operation.  But “optimism abounds among Republicans across Florida”:

Veteran activists see the start of a Florida campaign operation far more robust than John McCain’s anemic effort four years ago, and they see a Republican electorate fired up to defeat Obama. “The difference between 2008 with (John) McCain and 2012 — I could cry with relief. The people running the Florida campaign today are professional, they’re sharp, they’re disciplined. It’s like we have grownups in the room, people who know what they’re doing and lots of enthusiasm from volunteers.”

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