Destination 270

SMU Students Analyze the 2012 Presidential Election

The Swinging Pendulum in Florida– Obama, Romney at a virtual tie

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On Saturday the Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald and the Tampa Bay Times released a poll of likely voters that had Barack Obama at 48% and Mitt Romney at 47%, a virtual tie when taking in to account the expected 3% margin of error.  With only 4% declaring they are still undecided, this race could really go either way.

Marc Caputo of the the Miami Herald wrote an interesting article yesterday in which he completely dissects the electorate in the Sunshine State.

Not surprisingly, the number one issue to Florida voters is the economy, with 51% who say they are not better off than they were in 2008 and 41% who say they are.  More than two-thirds of Florida voters believe that Obama should bear at least some of the blame for the economy, but 45% of them believe their state’s economy is still relatively stable.  This is a contrast that shows both candidates messages are resonating in the state.   Interestingly, on the issue of Medicare, a traditional democratic strong-suit, Romney and Obama are virtually tied.

On the other hand, Obama has gained six percentage points regarding his handling of foreign policy since the recent attacks on the American embassies in the Middle East.

The demographic makeup in Florida is equally a confusing for those trying to predict state’s outcome.  Currently, Democrats outnumber Republicans in the state 44 -39 percent.  However, this still falls within the 5 point estimated margin of error.

Obama also leads Republicans in the Hispanic vote by about 9 points.  Winning the Hispanic vote is key for both candidates, however, Obama would need an even larger lead to counterbalance Mitt Romney’s large lead with white voters.  Furthermore, the Hispanic vote in Florida is a little different than it is nationally, with Cuban-Americans tending to lean predominately Republican. In Miami-Dade alone, Cuban-Americans make up 70% of the Republican electorate, and although they only make up roughly one-third of the state’s Hispanic population, they tend to be the most active voters.

Aside from his lead in the Hispanic population, Obama is also leading tremendously among African-American voters, polling at about 90%.  He is also enjoying a double digit lead with young voters ages 18-34.

On the other hand, Romney holds a double digit lead with Non-Hispanic white voters and with seniors.  This is a significant factor as this demographic make up roughly two-thirds of the registered Florida electorate and is more likely to vote.

Miami Herald writer, Marc Caputo, also pointed out the interesting correlation between the Florida electorate and the entire American electorate.  With the recent gallup poll showing Romney and Obama are tied nationally at 47% each, Florida resembles the national scene as well.

Brad Coker, who conducted the Florida survey being discussed said it well.

“We’re a toss-up state,” Coker said. “We were a toss-up state last time. We were a toss-up state eight years ago. We were a toss-up state 12 years ago. There’s absolutely no reason we shouldn’t be a toss-up state now.”

To read more of Marc Caputo’s insight in his Miami Herald article, click here.

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