September 25, 2011

Swing State of Florida Delays Picking Primary Date

Bill Smith, Editor: The 2012 Florida elections will be important, but right now the news is focusing on when the Florida Presidential Primary will be held.

Ben Smith, Politico reports that:
A special commission in Florida announced today that it will wait a week to set the state’s primary date to see where other states’ primaries fall. The commission will now announce its decision on Sept. 30 — just one day before the RNC requires final dates for all states to be set.
Alex Pareene, Salon reports that:
Complicating their decision is the fact that Arizona has broken the primary calendar rules set by the political parties and set its date for Feb. 28, the same day as South Carolina, which is expected to move its date up earlier. Missouri has also broken the calendar rules and set Feb. 7 as its primary. Michigan is poised to move its date into early February as well. All states must report their primary dates to the parties by Oct. 1.

Florida is determined to maintain its "fifth in the nation" status, so they're waiting for South Carolina and New Hampshire, who in turn are waiting for everyone else to pick dates.
While it is questionable that the Democrats will have a presidential primary race, there will be a Republican presidential primary, and the states historically take it very serious as to the states that will early primaries. Discussions between states, their parties and the political parties is ongoing and fluid. As detailed below Florida will be a bell weather state. In other places like Arkansas, the primary issue has already been settled.

In the previous presidential primary, the Arkansas Democrat controlled legislature changed the election dates for the 2008 elections which resulted in two different primaries - an earlier Presidential Primary and a regular primary. State officials had hoped to garner more national attention for Arkansas with an earlier primary. However, this effort did not garner them any more attention as other states had also moved their primaries forward and the decision was very costly holding an additional but separate presidential primary. After the final elections were over, Arkansas noted the high cost and confusion generated by an early presidential primary and returned to its regular primary cycle with all elections, national and state being held on the same day.

Jay Cost, The Weekly Standard reports on 'Why Florida Will Be Hugh" in the primary and general elections. In his article, he mentions:
First, Florida is a well-balanced Republican electorate. When looking at the Democratic party, it’s often necessary to break it down by demographic groups. However, the GOP is very similar demographically – for generations it has primarily been the white, married middle class – so the better way to examine the Republican party is by ideology.

From that perspective, Florida is pretty evenly balanced, as the following chart shows.

. . . . Second, Florida has a geographically diverse population, Perry and Romney are presumably expecting to carve up the Republican electorate by region – Perry dominating in the South with Romney doing well in the North and potentially the Mountain West (where low turnout caucuses with strong Mormon turnout should aid him).

Florida is kind of a mix of North and South. Obviously, it is below the Mason-Dixon line, but it also has a very national population. To appreciate this, consider the following chart, which tracks the percentage of each Southern state whose population was born outside the state.

Clearly, Florida is far and away the most diverse state on this list. That gives Perry and Romney an angle here – Perry as the Southern governor and Romney as a candidate from Massachusetts (by way of Michigan and Utah).

Finally, Florida is a swing state in the general election – and has been for decades. In fact, the Sunshine State has voted with the presidential winner every time but twice for the last eighty years. Indeed, Florida was one of a handful of states to break the “Solid South” and vote for Herbert Hoover in 1928. . . .

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