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|DKL’s Analysis of the Florida Primary|
Jan. 28th, 2008 at 11:52 pm
Spoiler alert: If you want to wait to find out what’s going to happen to the GOP candidates in the upcoming Florida primary, do not read the following post.
Giuliani will do much better than the polls indicate. He’ll still come in 3rd, but it won’t be as distant as polls predict. Absentee ballots will strongly favor him, since many of them were cast back when he was a front-runner. This better-than-expected showing will keep him in the race.
Huckabee will take 4th place behind Giuliani. He is a spent force. He’s now campaigning to serve in a McCain administration. Though he’ll continue to be very negative against Romney, he won’t end up saving McCain from having to do dirty work of his own. Moreover, news media budgets cannot afford to continue to track 4 Republican candidates, and they’re going to have to vote Huckabee off of the island. He will quickly become irrelevant, and he will fade, Martin Van Buren-like, into obscurity.
McCain has a poor organization in Florida. He has only arrived in Florida recently, having neither money nor significant organization until a few weeks ago when he won New Hampshire. This puts McCain at a disadvantage in a tight race. In New Hampshire things were different, and a close race favored McCain; in New Hampshire McCain had an effective organization and name recognition from winning there in 2000. His lack of people on the ground in Florida is a liability that will hurt him.
Martinez’s endorsement of McCain hurts him more than it helps him, because Martinez’s endorsement highlights McCain’s biggest weakness: immigration. I actually liked George W. Bush’s immigration bill — it had its flaws, but no bill is perfect. And I think highly of Mel Martinez. I just don’t think that he plays to McCain’s strengths.
Crist’s endorsement will help McCain, but not as much as people think. Crist is a moderate and he’s perceived as such, and McCain already has the moderates behind him.
McCain will try to play the victim if he loses, increasing the intensity of his negative theme under the pretense of whining about how shabbily he’s being treated by others. He did this in South Carolina in 2000, when he fabricated from whole cloth the story that George W. Bush supporters performed push-polls that accused him having a black “love child.” (The LA Times was unable to produce a single person who could provide first-hand information about these recorded push-polls that were supposedly played all across the state.) One thing to remember about McCain: He is a man without honor trading on the goodwill he garnered decades ago when he suffered at the hands of America’s enemies as a POW; but nobody lies or changes his positions more than McCain.
Romney has had a strong organization in Florida since last summer, and its composed mostly of Jeb Bush’s senior advisors. In other words, it’s top notch. This favors Romney in a tight race.
Undecideds are likely to break for Romney. Florida’s Republican primary is closed to independents and Democrats. McCain can’t win among mainstream, primary-voting Republicans, and he’s got as much support from them as he is going to get at this point. People who haven’t made up their mind by now will mostly go to Romney.
Conclusion: The polls show a dead heat between McCain and Romney. Moreover, the voter turnout is predicted to break records, and this introduces unforeseen wild cards by problematizing the “likely voter” models of the polls trying to predict the outcome. But there is a good likelihood that tomorrow will deliver Florida to Romney.