You may have heard that we are having a little election here in Florida next week.
Interesting, after many of the talking heads insisted that we had doomed ourselves to irrelevance by losing half of our delegates for moving our primary date to January 31, we find ourselves basking in the warm glow of a national media spotlight, as everyone now seems to be in agreement that the Florida election is a pretty big deal.
|New York City: Not acceptable for salsa|
or Florida political punditry
What puzzles me is that the talking heads start out each discussion by saying how large, diverse and complicated Florida is...but then they turn to some pundit based out of Washington or New York for analysis. It reminds me of the Pace Picante Sauce ads: "That stuff's made in New York City!"
Is it that strange of a concept that it might be easier to analyze this big complex state by talking to some actual Floridians?
Yeah. Anyway, Amy Kaufeldt at Fox 35 Orlando interviewed me regarding the South Carolina primary results and what to expect in Florida this week:
[Heh. Gotta love the joys of live TV. We had a little trouble with my earpiece and didn't get it hooked up until about 5 seconds before I was on the air. Oops.]
Earlier this week, Fox 35 also aired a detailed report on the candidates' activities in the Sunshine State so far (see the full article here).
Political strategist Mark Mills, was a guest for this report and had these comments regarding Rasmussen polls which showed Gingrich surging after the South Carolina reports:
The race is extremely fluid. This poll doesn't mean as much today. Look for polls to start meaning something this weekend.
Here's a little free advice: when the talking heads try to tell you what is going to happen this week in Florida, if they don't acknowledge that the situation continues to be very volatile and highly likely to shift, they just told you that they don't know a darned thing.
On Tuesday, I had a telephone conversation with fellow blogger Robert Stacy McCain, who writes at The Other McCain and also contributes articles for American Spectator. Here's some excerpts from his article, titled "No Need to Rush in Florida:
- Florida is a lot bigger than you realize. If all you've done is fly in and out of Orlando or Miami, you are missing the detailed geographical knowledge that comes from actually driving around the Sunshine State. True, we're never more than about an hour and half from a beach, but there's a lot of land stretched out between all that coastline.
- Accordingly, while we have a campaign-crushingly large number of major media markets, they are spread out and isolated from each other, and from markets in other states. Many news reports cited Gingrich's Georgia roots helping him in neighboring South Carolina, and that makes sense. The two states share a long border and many local news stations in the area will share news from both states, increasing familiarity with the politicians in each other's states. This rarely happens in Florida; in fact, I would argue that the Panhandle and South Florida are more isolated from each other (both by the 600 mile drive and culturally) than other areas within the same state.
- We are also a lot more diverse than you are going to hear from the talking heads. In a general sense, you can classify North Florida as more rural and Southern and South Florida is more metropolitan, but there are wide variations. Our warm weather also means that major agricultural areas are scattered throughout every part of the state.
- As I mentioned on Sunday, absentee and early voting are hugely popular here. Absentee ballots first went out in December, and early voting started this weekend. Election after election has shown clear benefits to the campaign that has a strong and organized "absentee chase" program, to identify the voters who requested ballots and have not yet returned them, and successfully persuade them to vote for your candidate. In this all too important category, Romney has a overwhelming lead, because his campaign was the only one with the manpower and financial resources to chase them for awhile before the others.
- The "Mormon issue" is less of an issue here than it might have been in South Carolina, because Florida has a significant Mormon population, numbering over 100,000 and the Church is one of the major landowners in Central Florida. There were always a few Mormon students in my classes when I went to school. I'm honestly not an expert on the Mormon faith, so I'm not sure what exactly causes this, but all the Mormons I've ever met were friendly, down-to-earth, kindhearted, family-oriented people. Knowing people, and knowing that they are good, kind people, makes it impossible for any rational person to fear them.
- Helpful pronunciations: Kissimmee (town in Osceola County near Disney World): "Kuh-SIM-ee" (not Kiss-uh-me!). Okeechobee (both a Lake and a County): "Oak-uh-CHO-bee." Ponte Vedra (beach near Jacksonville, where the debate is tonight): "PAWN-ta VEE-dra."