Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Curb Your Enthusiasm...It's Florida!

If you're shocked that Rudy is going down tonight, you really weren't listening, or you didn't believe me when I wrote this:
The current conventional wisdom is that Rudy Guiliani will do very well in the Republican primary in the Sunshine State because so many New Yorkers have relocated there, either in search of job opportunities or to retire. Giuliani, himself, is banking on a strong showing in Florida to offset expected losses in Iowa and New Hampshire.

But there's a big flaw in that strategy. And an equally big fallacy in the conventional wisdom that is fueling it.

What many of the pundits and strategists are missing is that the New Yorkers who have settled in South Florida - largely in Broward and Palm Beach counties - are mostly registered Democrats. And they are as staunch a group of liberals as you'll find. In other words, they are not just Democrats, they are New York liberals. This is especially true of the large retiree population there. Many of them are activists who came out of the depression era and were formed by FDR's New Deal.
That's why I predicted Rudy was going to lose. I think he'll be gone after this. He put too much into Florida and failed to win any place else. His moment has passed and he's been eclipsed by Mitt and McCain. His was a risky and flawed strategy. And it backfired as I predicted back in December.

Ironically, on the Democratic side, it's the New Yorkers who are going to give Hillary a convincing victory that won't yield delegates but will boost morale for her.

You see, unlike for the Republicans, South Florida really is the sixth borough for the Democrats. Hillary is no more likely to lose there than in New York itself. In fact, she'll probably run even better in Florida.

The South Florida Democrats - the condo commandos, as they are called - are mostly senior citizens, who have retired from the lower middle or working class. They are the least likely to be swayed by Obama's new style of politics or his appeal to reach out to independents by being post-partisan. This group of FDR New Deal Democrats are fiercely partisan scrappers who are used to rough knuckled big city machine style politics. They brought it with them from the streets and neighborhoods of New York City to the condos of Broward and West Palm Beach.

On the GOP side, I predict that McCain will win. He got the endorsement of the hugely popular governor, Charlie Crist, who has reached out to independents and even Democrats. He has a 70 percent approval rating. And there is a strong military presence in the Sunshine state, not the least of which is Mayport, a huge Navy base in Jacksonville.

There's also a strong independent demographic in the center of the state composed of young professionals in the Orlando I-4 corridor. And the Hispanic vote in Tampa and Miami has always been Republican but may be turned off by the recent sharp anti-immigration rhetoric coming out of the rest of the GOP field. McCain was the one who supported immigration reform measures that were tolerable to them.

Interesting night in a volatile state.

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