Florida Primary News
"McCain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney traded political punches as they crisscrossed Florida on Sunday hoping to break their deadlock in the state's winner-take-all presidential primary." "GOP hopefuls make final zip across Florida". See also "McCain, Romney on the attack as Florida campaign draws to a pitch", "Florida primary offers winners a critical burst of momentum", "Bickering, bravado as 4 comb Florida for GOP votes" and "Sunday no day of rest: Campaign round-up".
Who are these voters?: "Of about 10.1 million registered voters in Florida, 22 percent have no party affiliation or are members of a minor party. That's up from 16 percent eight years ago."
Democrats and Republicans still outnumber independent voters. Florida leans Democratic statewide, with 4.1 million Democrats and 3.8 million Republicans. By comparison, there are 2.2 million unaffiliated or minor-party voters."Florida voters show growing independent streak". In Hillsborough County, of all places: "Democrats say they are energized as the party posts gains in local registrations." "New voters find 'D' good fit".
But the gap is closing.
Since 2000, the number of unaffiliated and minor-party voters -- those who shun the two major parties -- has swelled by nearly 900,000. Meanwhile, the GOP has added 543,512 members, and the Democratic Party 477,773.
Huge turnout in early voting: "A surge of early voting by Florida Democrats and Republicans has startled officials here and injected additional complexity into the state's presidential primaries on Tuesday." "Voters flocked to early polling sites". BTW, can we stop using the word "surge"?
"'There was a theory out there that many Democrats weren't going to vote,' said Mary Cooney, spokeswoman for the Broward Supervisor of Elections Office. ... 'Obviously, [the turnout] contradicts that theory,' Cooney said." "Broward Democrats turn out in large numbers for early voting".
Pledge? What pledge?: "Sen. Hillary Clinton appeared to break her pledge against public campaigning in Florida on Sunday by greeting a group of neighbors waiting outside a private fundraiser."
The crowd cheered when Clinton's motorcade stopped. She stepped out and smiled and waved, posed for pictures with supporters and even answered a question from a reporter."Clinton apparently breaks Democrat's pledge not to campaign in Florida". See also "Hillary Clinton attends 2 fundraisers in South Florida".
When asked whether this meant she was breaking the Democratic boycott and campaigning before Florida's primary Tuesday, Clinton said, "I just wanted to say hello to a few people who were nice enough to wait for me."
She then promised to return on Tuesday.
Calculating delegates: "The presidential campaign is entering a new phase as Democratic and Republican candidates move beyond state-by-state competition and into a potentially protracted congressional-district-by-congressional-district scramble for delegates."
Given Democratic rules, it is entirely possible for one candidate to win a majority of Feb. 5 states, and enjoy the Election Night ratification that comes with a network map displaying the geographic sweep of their accomplishment, while his (or her) opponent ends the night with the most delegates."Delegates are campaign focus".
On the Republican side, it is possible for one of the candidates to win the overall popular vote in California, but end up with fewer delegates than a rival, since most of the delegates are awarded in winner-take-all congressional district races.
McCain: "Republican Sen. John McCain is skipping President Bush's State of the Union address tonight even though Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton plan to attend." "Campaigning McCain to skip Bush address". See also "McCain, Crist surprise Tampa diners".
Brain trust: "In the days before the Republican primary, John McCain campaigns with three of his most prominent supporters: Gov. Charlie Crist, Sen. Mel Martinez, and Sen. Joe Lieberman." "It's a lovefest!".
The endorsement: "For Rudy Giuliani, Nov. 18 was to be a pivotal day on his march to the Republican nomination."
Crist was to anoint him as the best choice for Florida Republicans, and the two of them, starting in St. Petersburg, would fly from city to city in Florida, revving up supporters and donors."By Halloween, the Giuliani campaign realized it needed to scrub the plans for Nov. 18. On Sunday, they were fuming."
There may be no move Crist has made as governor that stunned so many friends and political insiders as his last-minute endorsement of McCain on Saturday. ..."Crist endorsement is surprising, risky". See also "Behind the scenes of Crist's risky McCain move".
For Crist, the move is a risky one, but one with a big payoff if it makes him look like a kingmaker.
In becoming the first governor of an early election state to endorse, Crist risks antagonizing allies, damaging the prospects of the Amendment 1 tax initiative so closely associated with him and, if McCain loses, raising questions about his influence.
Mitt: This opinion piece by Peter Brown seems to have been written before the most recent polling data was released: "Mitt Romney's home stand is over. If the former Massachusetts governor is to win the Republican presidential nomination, he is going to have to do it outside the friendly confines that the primary calendar put at the top of the schedule. Romney, who leads in delegates won so far, enters Tuesday's crucial Florida primary as the candidate with perhaps the best chance to stop Arizona Sen. John McCain from winning the GOP nomination." "Romney's home field edge is gone".
Anti-Obama slime: Tom Blackburn writes about receipt of "an e-mail with the suspicious CAPITAL letters that used to signal crank snail mail. This one goes on about the Illinois senator's - are you ready? - MUSLIM roots. ... The letter is plainly bunk. But I am hardly the only one who got it. The urban legends site, Snopes.com, listed it and three other Obama items as the hottest topic last week." "E-mail lies, undecided voters".
Edwards: "A day after his third-place finish in the Democratic primary in his home state of South Carolina, Edwards stressed he would continue to run a campaign focused on progress, not politics." "Edwards vows to stay in race".
What does this mean for the Dems: "Democratic voters have already turned out big for Florida's early primary this year. The candidates have not. What that all means is up in the air."
Supporters of New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, who has led by more than 20 points in statewide polls since July, insist Florida's Tuesday primary is important because of the state's size and diversity."Weight of state primary debated".
Illinois Sen. Barack Obama's followers, meanwhile, downplay the pending results, saying the election is nothing more than a beauty contest because the Democratic National Committee has said Florida's delegates won't count at the nominating convention.
But independent strategists say a close finish would be difficult for the voters in New York, California and 20 other states to ignore when they go to the polls in the Feb. 5 Super Tuesday elections, which could decide the nomination.
"If you see Obama coming within 10 points of Hillary Clinton in Florida," said Florida Democratic political consultant Robin Rorapaugh, who is not working for either candidate, "I think you'll see some problems for her, because there has been no campaigning in a state that has been strongly behind Hillary Clinton from the beginning."
On Sunday, Obama supporters were claiming momentum.
Out here in the fields ... slavery
"It should have been shocking to hear that two weeks ago, federal authorities indicted six people from Immokalee on slavery charges. But most Floridians have learned enough in recent years not to be too surprised by revelations regarding brutal violations of human rights in the state's farm fields. ... As politicians remain stuck on the issue, the Immokalee story shows that the state has more immigrants living as slaves, hoping to be freed." "End the new slavery".
The Palm Beach Post editors: "Instilling this 'conservation ethic' will depend on water managers showing that it applies to everyone, from mansion dwellers to condo commandos, and from golf courses to mom-and-pop restaurants. If people get into the habit during the current cutbacks, the habit will be easier to keep when the rains return." "State water challenge: Use less, don't pay less".
Amendment 1 "is far less than meets the eye"
The Tallahassee Democrat editors: "We recommend voting "no" on this amendment that —at worst — further pre-empts local governments' ability to respond to their communities circumstances, needs and willingness to pay for services. While a narrow group of homeowners may benefit modestly, most Floridians will be quickly disappointed and disillusioned by an amendment that is far less than meets the eye." "In Florida, stakes are big in Republican race".
In the meantime, the "Sides stretch truth on tax plan".
"Alan Crotzer deserved better treatment from Florida's criminal court system. He spent 24 years in prison for a rape and robbery he did not commit. And when DNA evidence finally freed him, he deserved better than the treatment he got from the state. He had no job skills, no way to support himself, little help with readjusting to a life outside of a concrete cage." "Fair compensation".