Sunday, November 2, 2008

Obama is Going to Win Florida and Here is Why

Whenever anyone talks about Florida, they always make it seem as though winning Florida hinges on the votes in South Florida. But Florida is a big state and who wins or loses depends on more than just a handful of Cubans and Jews in South Florida.

In fact, South Florida is in the bag. It always votes democratic, despite the heavily Republican Cuban vote. In the 2004 presidential election Miami-Dade County favored Kerry over Bush 409,732 to 361,095. Broward County, where Ft. Lauderdale sits, was even more democratic with 453,873 voting for Kerry and only 244,674 for Bush.

In the 2000 Presidential Election Gore received 39,275 more Miami-Dade County votes than Bush. And Gore received a whopping 209,801 more votes than Bush in Broward County. That's about 69% of the vote. If it were up to Dade and Broward Counties, Florida would have gone democratic in both of the last presidential elections.

I would expect to see those democratic number rise even higher this election. George W. Bush's disastrous presidency will certainly push the votes in that direction, but so will demographic and generational changes. Look for an increase in votes from the citizen children of non-citizen immigrants who arrived from the Caribbean (particularly Haiti) beginning in the 1950s. Their children can vote, and I'm guessing they will.

Further, the Republicans' main voters in South Florida are an aging group of white Cubans. Their children may still be Republicans, but their ideological dedication isn't nearly as strong. What's more, later arrivals (many of whom are Afro-Cuban and have more ambivalent feelings about the Cuban government) may have a more open mind.

Regardless of how much Obama wins by in South Florida, it is northern Florida where the race will be won. It is northern Florida, which more closely resembles Georgia, that usually votes Republican in national elections. Duval County (Jacksonville) favored Bush in each of the last two elections. In 2000 it was 152,098 to 107,864 and in 2004 it was 220,190 to 158,610.

Duval County is about 30% African American, but only 60% of of African American voters in Duval showed up in 2004. A significant increase in black voting in Duval could turn the county democratic. If northern Florida counties turn democratic, and I believe some of them will, Barack Obama wins the state comfortably.

Another northern and Central Florida trend to keep an eyeball on is the influx of Puerto Ricans to the area. While the Puerto Rican community in the Orlando area has been growing for some time, it is only recently that they have been moving to places like Sarasota. Puerto Ricans tend to vote democratic.

McCain's campaign seems to have assumed that they would continue to pull in the Central and Northern Florida counties that have traditionally gone Republican. Or maybe, as Adam Nagourney reports in the New York Times article While McCain Looked Away, Florida Shifted, they believed that "Mr. Obama, as an African-American, would have trouble winning support from two of the state’s key constituencies: Hispanics and Jews."

If his report is true, it is delightful. Republicans have been trying to convince us that we hate each other and that we do not have common interests for so long that they actually started to believe their own hype. Once again, they counted on racism to help them win an election. But this time it is going to backfire in a huge way. Sweet.

Add to Technorati Favorites

No comments: