Has Romney Figured Out A Way To Win Without Florida?
This week's big news from Florida isn't really about poor ex-Senator George LeMieux dropping out of the GOP Senate primary or even about Romney's pathetic botch-up over the way he crossed off Marco Rubio from his VP short list. As NBC reported there’s "a little rule of thumb in American politics: If you have to say you’re vetting someone, is that someone really under serious consideration? Indeed, despite being the party’s rising star and a favorite of the GOP base, the signs always have pointed AGAINST Rubio being Romney’s pick. Why? For starters, he’s only been a U.S. senator for a year and a half, and he didn’t endorse Romney until late in the GOP primary season. Then there’s the opposition research out there on him-- something that the Romney folks who worked for Charlie Crist’s 2010 Senate campaign know pretty well: Rubio charged more than $100,000 to state GOP credit cards, had racked up nearly $1 million in personal debt, and had nearly had his home foreclosed on. No doubt that Rubio has plenty of assets (young, Latino, from Florida). But he also carries a lot of risk for the usually risk-averse Romney."
But there was worse news for Romney out of this must-win state. The Hispanic population of Florida isn't just a bunch of fascist-leaning Castro-haters. It's not even overwhelmingly Cuban the way it used to be. And the younger Cuban-Americans in Florida are far less Republican than their grandparents. As Trip Gabriel reported in the NY Times in April, Florida's Latino voters are wary of Willard. "Although," he wrote, "Cuban-Americans in South Florida favored the Republican candidate, John McCain, in 2008, President Obama won 57 percent of Hispanic votes in the state thanks to Puerto Ricans and immigrants from Latin America... Much of the fight will be waged in and around Orlando, a region where population growth led to the creation of a new Congressional district for 2012 in which Hispanics, many of Puerto Rican heritage, are 41 percent of the voting-age population. The new district is centered here in Kissimmee, the seat of Osceola County. Hispanics registered as Democrats outnumber Republicans by 35 percentage points." And the Democrats have one of their strongest and most admired congressional candidates anywhere in America-- Alan Grayson.
In the Republican debates, Mr. Romney had fiercely attacked a Texas Dream Act that allowed some undocumented students to pay in-state college tuition, calling it a “magnet,” and he alarmed Hispanic leaders with talk of “self-deportation,” which would induce illegal immigrants to leave voluntarily by making life more difficult through tougher enforcement measures.
Wednesday's Washington Post pointed out the 8 states where Latino voters could sink Romney's campaign and Florida was high on the list. Romney is worried that if he puts the ole etch-a-sketch into high gear, he'll lose the racist base of the GOP that is still excited about his tough self-deportation campaigning during the primary but, as Aaron Blake explained, "Republicans’ emerging problem with Latino voters looks even worse when you factor in the electoral college."
A look at Latino population trends in swing and key red states shows just how ominous the GOP’s future could be if it doesn’t do something about its current struggles with Latino voters.
We noted yesterday that nationwide population and minority voting trends paint a haunting picture for the GOP. But the problem is particularly acute because of the states where Latino growth has been strongest-- particularly several key swing states and red states that Democrats are hoping to put in play in the coming elections.
Almost quarter of Florida's population are Hispanics. It was just 18% when Bush was able to steal enough votes there to claim the presidency in 2000. And Hispanics are far less likely to support the virulently anti-immigrant Romney than they were the pro-immigrant Bush.
And all those creepy Rubio gaffes this week about whether or not Marco Rubio's shady record in Tallahassee is keeping him off the Romney VP short list, aren't the only disses Floridians are suffering at the hands of an increasingly inept Romney campaign. Romney is frantically trying to figure out how to deal with one of the most polarizing political figures in America, Florida's hated Governor Rick Scott.
Florida Governor Rick Scott keeps alienating the people he’s trying to befriend.
The Republican’s effort to win support from Cuban-Americans resulted in threats of a lawsuit. At a lunch to charm black lawmakers, he offended them. He turned a goodwill mission into comedy-show fodder when he greeted Spain’s king by asking about the monarch’s politically sensitive elephant hunt.
The governor’s gaffes, along with an approval rating that hasn’t gone above 41 percent in Quinnipiac University polls, may hurt his party’s presidential contender, Mitt Romney. Florida is one of the most competitive electoral battlegrounds, with the past three presidential races decided by 5 percentage points or less. Romney hasn’t campaigned with Scott.
“Rick Scott doesn’t seem to have any political skills at all,” said Tom Slade, the former co-chairman of Scott’s campaign and ex-chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. “I’d give him a B for governing. I’d give him an A for strangeness.”
...The governor’s approval rating is 39 percent, according to a poll today from Quinnipiac University. That’s down from 41 percent on May 24, his best in any 12 surveys from the Hamden, Connecticut school, and up from 29 percent a year earlier.
The state Republican party has tried to improve his ratings with nine weeks of television ads that started running in March in four cities, highlighting Scott’s record. The state party also has paid for recorded calls to voters, websites and Facebook ads promoting Scott since he’s been in office.
Scott’s unpopularity may help President Barack Obama’s re- election effort, said Tom Jensen, director of Public Policy Polling in Raleigh, North Carolina
“Obama’s more competitive in Florida right now than I would have expected,” Jensen said in an e-mail. “The damage Scott has done to the Republican brand is part of that.”
Romney’s staff has concluded there’s no benefit in appearing with Scott, said two campaign advisers who asked for anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the matter.
“The safe thing is for he and Romney to go their separate ways,” said Slade, the former Republican official.
Scott is furious that Romney has vetoed his request to do a televised keynote address at the Republican National Convention in his own state. Romney has insisted that Scott keep a low profile at the convention. The Democrats haven't won the Florida governorship since 1994 but Scott's colossal unpopularity points to a Democratic win in 2014. Scott was counting on the glow of the GOP convention to help boost his sagging ratings. Instead all he gets is Romney telling him to stop highlighting job growth in the state during his public appearances.
Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign asked Florida Governor Rick Scott to tone down his statements heralding improvements in the state’s economy because they clash with the presumptive Republican nominee’s message that the nation is suffering under President Barack Obama, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Scott, a Republican, was asked to say that the state’s jobless rate could improve faster under a Romney presidency, according to the people, who asked not to be named.
Unemployment has dropped for 11 straight months in Florida, though the rate is still above the national average, at 8.6 percent, and Scott has been touting the drop as good news. The Romney camp’s reported objection to this highlights the tension between GOP governors, who want to point to the recovery in their states, and the Romney campaign, whose chances depend on casting economic news in the ugliest conceivable light. We’ve already seen this tension on display with Ohio governor John Kasich, and Iowa’s Terry Branstad has even explicitly called on Romney to stop downplaying good news in his state.
And the upshot: President Obama has pulled ahead again in the most recent poll of Florida voters and now leads Romney 46-42%, largely because independents are leaning towards Obama.
In the presidential race, Obama's lead reflects the coalition that elected him four years ago. He carries women 49 - 39 percent, African-Americans 91 - 5 percent and voters 18 to 34 years old 55 - 28 percent. Obama also leads 48 - 41 percent among voters 35 to 54 years old. Men split 44 - 45 percent. Romney carries white voters 50 - 37 percent and voters over 55 years old 48 - 43 percent.
Independent voters shift from 44 - 36 percent for Romney in a May 23 Quinnipiac University poll, showing Romney ahead 47 - 41 percent overall, to 46 - 37 percent for Obama today. In today's results, Obama carries Democrats 88 - 4 percent, while Romney takes Republicans 91 - 5 percent.