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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Bayonets Fixed for Battle of Florida

Lots of states are claiming to be potential kingmakers next Tuesday. But as the battleground states become more narrowly defined, Florida is shaping up as the Gettysburgh of campaign, ’08, at least in terms of resources deployed. Certainly, no battleground state is attracting more ad money, candidate/surrogate appearances and ground troops massing for the closing week of the campaign.
Political junkies will have no trouble finding good reporting on the battle of Florida. As for the latest opinion polls, a Reuters/Zogby poll released just today has Obama and McCain tied at 47 percent, within two points of the percentage for Obama in nearly all of the most recent October polls posted by Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight.com. Taking a range of factors into consideration, however, Silver gives Obama a 75 percent chance of winning Florida. CQPolitics.com Polltracker, cites a Suffolk University poll of LV’s, conducted 10/23-26, giving Obama a 49-44 edge in the Sunshine State, but notes “telltale signs of the race tightening” in bellwether counties.
E. J. Dionne, Jr.’s column in today’s WaPo, “The Endgame in Florida,” explains why “even Republican bastions are starting to crumble.” In his post “Obama’s Florida Shot: A Key to Victory,” Mark Silva of the Chicago Tribune Washington, D.C. Bureau’s ‘The Swamp’ adds:

…In this state traditionally insulated from national economic woes, unemployment has risen above the national average, the housing market has collapsed and foreclosures are epidemic…the stunning decline of the stock market, and with it the portfolios of a state home to millions of retirees, and an unsettling federal intervention in the banking industry have stood to benefit a candidate who already had vastly outspent and out-organized his rival. Obama has outspent McCain by three-to-one in TV ads here and his drive to register new, particularly young voters, his 50 field offices and plan to turn voters out to the polls represent a Democratic drive unseen in this state before.

The New York Times has a new video clip on “The (Surprising) Battle for Florida,” which cites Obama’s inroads in securing the Hispanic and Jewish vote as instrumental in Obama’s improving Florida prospects.
Dave G. at Digital Journal has an update on what is being done to reduce confusion over polling sites. But after the Republican Secretary of State ordered a new computer match system implemented in September, election officials found that 75 percent of some 20,000 voter registration applications were mismatched “due to typographical and administrative errors,” according to a CNN report. Democrats are outnumbering Republicans 3 to 1 in early voting, according to today’s edition of the Miami Herald. And Timothy Martin has an Alternet post up today, describing a classic Florida Republican tactic to suppress Democratic votes:

Many here have criticized the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections, Deborah Clark, as being responsible for the long waits and irregularities. Clark, considered a partisan Republican, decided to open only three early voting locations countywide. That’s down from seven locations in 2004, despite more interest in early voting. Early voters tend to vote Democratic here, and will likely skew even more toward Democrats given Barack Obama’s visit to neighboring Tampa on Monday, Oct. 20, where he emphasized the importance of voting early in this election.
Clark’s decision to scale back the number of polling stations was blasted in an editorial by the major local daily, The St. Petersburg Times, which had ironically just endorsed her for reelection.

It is estimated that 40 percent of Floridians will vote early, but Republicans have a big edge in absentee voting, says Nicholas Azzara of the Bradenton Herald.

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