Tag Archives: Jacksonville

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.

Here Comes the Cavalry

Group troops become increasingly important entering the final month of the campaign. The Romney and Obama teams are quite robust in their own right but it is great to see the campaign tapping outside resources to bolster the already meaty operations in the Battleground States:

More than 200 Republicans from across Alabama will descend on Ohio, North Carolina, Florida and Virginia later this month in hopes of tilting the presidential election toward Mitt Romney. U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, and Alabama Republican Party Executive Director T.J. Maloney announced the “Alabama’s Battleground Patriots” program this morning at Limestone County GOP headquarters.

With Alabama expected to vote overwhelmingly for Romney and running mate Paul Ryan on Nov. 6, state GOP officials are paying to send several busloads of Alabama Republicans to the “battleground” states that will decide the election. Brooks will lead a delegation of more than 70 Huntsville-area Republicans to Dayton, Ohio, from Oct. 24-28.

Republicans from the Birmingham area will spend six days campaigning for Romney in Charlotte, N.C., and Virginia Beach, Va., while a group from Mobile will travel to Jacksonville, Fla. Republicans in Georgia and South Carolina are also mobilizing to help Romney carry those swing states, but Maloney said he believes Alabama’s program is the largest of its type.

While in Dayton, Alabama GOP volunteers will also campaign on behalf of Ohio Congressman Mike Turner and Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Josh Mandel, who is trying to unseat Democatic Sen. Sherrod Brown.

“Insanely packed!” Crowd for Romney-Ryan in Jacksonville

Blogging has been sporadic but Instapundit has some great photos of today’s rally in Jacksonville (the 3rd photo is from Phillip Rucker of the Washington Post).  Clearly Romney has some incredible momentum coming off the great Convention:

Legal Insurrection has an on-the-scene write-up.

Romney “Super Saturday” in Florida

Here is a brief on the Florida “Super Saturday” sites:

Republican supporters across the state will spend Saturday making phone calls and going door-to-door to rally support for Gov. Mitt Romney and other Florida Republicans. The event — dubbed Super Saturday by the campaign — is meant to energize voters and get support for Republican candidates.

Campaign officials said a similar event last month resulted in volunteers contacting more than 100,000 voters in one day. Volunteers will be making calls Saturday out of the Fort Myers Romney Victory Office, 17595 S. U.S. 41. Similar events will be held in Gainesville, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach and Tampa.

Update: Florida Governor Rick Scott stopped by the Jacksonville “Super Saturday”:

Governor Rick Scott is visiting Jacksonville Saturday. He’s here for the nationwide “Super Saturday” campaign effort for Mitt Romney. The governor will be at the Victory headquarters on Beach Boulevard between mid morning and lunch time.

Scott’s visit is part of a series of  massive volunteer mobilization efforts. The goal is not just to know which voters are on board with Romney, but to test the presidential campaign’s ability to turn out the vote – something the GOP struggled with in 2008.

“It’s a way for us to stress-test the network,” said Rick Wiley, political director for the RNC last month, which is running the voter contact effort jointly with the Romney campaign. The results are being tracked in real time through software applications that allow volunteers to enter information into their cellphones on the voter’s doorstep. Information from phone calls is also recorded. A “dashboard” allows Wiley and campaign staff to monitor results as they happen.

“We learn a lot about what our volunteers are capable of doing. As we get into the fall, there’s a ton of voters to cover,” said Dave Kochel, Romney’s Iowa consultant. “More than testing specific messages, we’re testing the effectiveness of our organization.” The GOP is running these Saturday tests once a month. The information is used as the campaign progresses to guide decisions such as where to deploy volunteers, where to focus early-voting turnout efforts, and which areas have the most undecided voters.

Major Media Blitz to Coincide with VP Announcement August 10th? Probably

As you can see from the limited blogging (and lack of Battleground state news) everyone is taking a bit of a time-out during the Olympics.  That will change soon as Mitt Romney completes his overseas jaunt and is now beginning a major media buy across the Battlegrounds:

Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign is quietly laying the groundwork for a high-profile blitz of several key battleground states in the run-up to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, and Republicans briefed on the plans say it has all the trappings of a vice presidential rollout tour.

Beginning August 10th, Romney will ramp up his campaign operation with a splashy four-day bus tour targeting the largest media markets in several of the states that will decide the November election, CNN has learned. And in a show of force and party unity, Romney will be joined at each stop by prominent Republican officials and campaign surrogates.

Some details are still murky, and Republicans cautioned that they are subject to change, but:

  • August 11, Romney will hit three of Virginia‘s biggest population hubs along I-95 – the Washington, D.C. metro area, Richmond and Norfolk
  • August 12, Romney heads down to North Carolina
  • August 13, the Monday after the Olympic Summer Games finish in London, Romney will arrive in Florida for campaign stops in Jacksonville, Orlando and Miami
  • Romney aides are also scouting multiple campaign venues in Ohio for later that week, knowledgeable Republican sources told CNN. Other states may also be added to the itinerary that week

“Sounds like V.P. week,” said one Republican familiar with the schedule, who did not want to be identified revealing the campaign’s plans. “Hitting the big markets in the big states. It just makes sense.”

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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Obama Vulnerable in Florida

Florida remains a marquee state among the Battlegrounds due to its rich electoral count.  But the state has been trending Republican and Obama’s 2008 victory in the state was only by 3 percentage points, well below is national margin.  The landscape today is even more treacherous for the Obama campaign as he spends two days stumping in the Sunshine State:

The sour economy and housing market are creating problems for Mr. Obama in the state. Home prices have begun to rise, but nearly half of residential mortgages are underwater. Unemployment has dropped to 8.6% from its peak of 11.4%, but a state report found that most of the drop in the last six months came from people abandoning the labor force. Those data help explain why polls show Mr. Obama running dead-even against Republican Mitt Romney after carrying the state by three percentage points in 2008. Of all the battleground states, Mr. Obama’s aides say Florida and North Carolina are the biggest stretches for him.

Obama tries medi-scare

On Thursday, Mr. Obama tried to blunt Mr. Romney’s advantage among seniors, who make up about a quarter of the state’s voters. He said Mr. Romney would reduce the federal deficit in part by turning Medicare into a voucher program, a decision Mr. Obama said would hurt the state’s seniors. Mr. Romney and House Republicans have proposed similar plans for overhauling Medicare that would allow future seniors to buy insurance from private companies, which would receive federal subsidies for providing the coverage. Republicans say this would help reduce the deficit and shore up the finances of Medicare; Democrats say it would shift costs to seniors. Seniors could remain in the traditional Medicare program under the GOP plans, but Democrats say they would eventually have to pay more to do so.

Seniors remain soured on Obama

After Jacksonville, Mr. Obama flew to West Palm Beach’s Century Village, a retirement community and traditional Democratic stronghold. Florida’s seniors are a tough audience for Mr. Obama. Polls show the president’s support among them to be about as weak now as it was in 2008, when 45% voted for him and 53% voted for Republican John McCain. A Mason-Dixon poll of registered voters in Florida, released last week, showed 42% of the state’s seniors backing Mr. Obama, compared to 47% for Mr. Romney. It was the weakest hold that Mr. Obama had on any age group.

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Hello Florida! Romney Takes to the Airwaves

An interesting subplot to this early election season was whether President Obama was even going to complete in Florida with a lot of anecdotal evidence that the Sunshine State may be a bridge too far for him in 2012. Strangely no Florida market was in the top 10 in ad spending in the weekly surveys despite its rich electoral college haul.  That changed this past week when the Obama campaign opened up a new front with major spends in Fort Myers and Tampa-St. Petersburg.  From my vantage point, these were ad dollars previously spent in North Carolina that are being shifted to Florida — a state with better prospects for the President. Well, it looks like Mitt Romney is meeting the President head-on with his own new spend in the state:

Mitt Romney’s campaign bought its first ad spots in Florida since he became the presumptive Republican nominee for president, according to a GOP ad buying source. The campaign is spending $631,685 on ads that began airing Friday in four of the ten Florida media markets – Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, and Ft. Myers. They represent essential battleground territories as Romney will need to win Florida’s 29 electoral votes this November. Featured in the spot that airs until July 3rd is the president’s former opponent – Hillary Clinton. Using footage from a 2008 press conference, the Romney campaign accuses the president’s team this year of dishonest tactics a charge similar to one from Clinton four years ago.

The “Hillary ad” will face steep competition on Florida air waves. The Obama campaign is spending $1,347,066 from June 21st – July 2nd in the same media markets as the Romney ad, as well as in Miami, West Palm Beach, and Gainesville, according to the GOP ad buying source. This brings the president’s reelection ad buys in Florida to $12,208,554 since April.

Obama Lost the Mood, the Muscle, and the Message this Month…and it’s Only June 10

To control the weekend news cycle the President called a Friday White House press conference so his pearls of wisdom would be the dominant story over the weekend.  It was … for all the wrong reasons and Obama has yet to recover from his own unforced errors.

As ABC News’ Rick Klein smartly writes:

First went the mood. Next, the muscle failed. Finally, to close out a horrific week for President Obama’s reelection bid, went the message…The beginning of June 2012 may be remembered as a time period that shook the pillars of the Obama reelection effort. If nothing else, it’s shown the 2012 landscape to be so different from 2008 as to make assumptions based on four years ago seem worthless.

In an attempt to avoid a similar disaster, the President is playing small ball on Monday by doing interviews from the White House with 8 local TV stations in key Battleground markets.

There are few surprises regarding states the President chose: Virginia, Florida, South Carolina (media reach is North Carolina), Iowa, Wisconsin, Colorado, Nevada and California (key fundraising market).

And the 8 TV stations are all in blue media markets central to any Democrat’s chances in statewide elections:

Battleground Media Markets

Roanoke, VA Green Bay, WI
Jacksonville, FL Colorado Springs, CO
Greenville, SC Reno, NV
Sioux City, IA Fresno, CA

What stands out in that list is the Green Bay, Wisconsin TV appearance in a post-Walker world.  There could be more than a few sore union members unhappy the President didn’t stand with them in their time of need as he promised. He better hope they don’t tweet their vote in November the way he tweeted his support or he will have to start thinking about what to do in a post-Obama Presidency.