Battleground States: Florida
by findingDulcinea Staff
Recent surges in Democratic voter registration have caught the attention of both McCain and Obama, who are campaigning to win the support of Florida’s large Hispanic population. Florida is one of several battleground states in which local races may influence the outcome of national contests.
In the 2004 presidential election, Republican nominee George W. Bush won this swing state, which held the largest number of electoral votes and was at the time governed by his brother, Jeb Bush. South Florida, home to large Hispanic and Jewish populations, voted largely in favor of Democratic candidate John Kerry. This year Governor Charlie Crist helped Senator McCain easily win the Florida Republican Primary in January. Senator Obama lost to Hillary Clinton in the state’s Democratic primaries and did not campaign in the state for nine months, his first commercial advertisement not airing until late June.
Governor Charlie Crist, moderate Republican, was accused of going overboard in his attempts to be McCain’s running mate when he supported McCain’s decision to allow states to use offshore drilling to reduce gas prices. Even Crist’s former opponent for governor, stark conservative Jeb Bush, opposes drilling, which would put the state at risk for disastrous oil spills right off its coast.
A recent Quinnipiac University poll shows Senator Obama pulling in front of McCain in Florida for the first time, with a 47 to 43 lead. In a recent partisan shift, the majority of Latino voters identify with Democratic Party, particularly young voters. This demographic composes approximately 14 percent of Florida’s 2008 electoral vote. According to the Miami Herald, 24 percent of voters in South Florida have yet to decide which candidate they favor, a large group that could influence which way Florida swings in the November elections.