Saturday, July 21, 2012

Today's Florida Political News and Punditry

"George W. Bush To Skip Republican Convention In Tampa". Our digest of, and commentary on today's Florida political news and punditry follows.

Poll: Obama defeats Romney 48% to 43% in Florida

"In an election for President of the United States in the pivotal state of Florida today, 07/20/12, three months till early voting begins, Barack Obama defeats Mitt Romney 48% to 43%, according to a SurveyUSA poll conducted exclusively for WFLA-TV in Tampa."

There is no gender gap in Florida, unlike many other states, but there is a material age gap and race gap: Romney leads by 4 points among voters age 50+; Obama leads by 14 points among voters age 18 to 49. Romney leads 5:4 among white voters, Obama leads 10:1 among black voters.

3 key groups propel Obama today: Hispanics break 5:4 Democrat. Moderates break 2:1 Democrat. Independents break 4:3 Democrat. Obama leads among voters who earn less than $40,000 a year; Romney leads among voters who earn more than $80,000 a year. Those Floridians voting for Mitt Romney 3:1 prefer Marco Rubio to be Romney's running mate over Condoleezza Rice.
However, in the U.S. Senate race
incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson does not fare as well as fellow Democrat Obama. Republican U.S. House member Connie Mack leads Nelson 48% to 42%, and is positioned for a possible Senate-seat takeaway.

Hispanics, who vote for Democrat Obama by 10 points today, vote for Republican Mack by 12 points, a 22-point difference. Independents, who vote for Democrat Obama by 11 points, vote for Republican Mack by 4 points, a 15-point difference. Middle-income voters, who vote for Democrat Obama by 11 points, vote for Republican Mack by 2 points, a 13-point difference. 9% of Obama voters cross-over and vote Republican in the U.S. Senate contest. These factors combine to tip the balance to M
"In Florida, Rising Barack Obama Tide Does Not Float Democrat Bill Nelson's Boat" ("SurveyUSA interviewed 800 Florida adults 07/17/12 through 07/19/12. Of the adults, 725 were registered to vote. Of the registered voters, 647 were determined by SurveyUSA to be likely to vote on or before Election Day 11/06/12. This research was conducted using blended sample, mixed mode. Respondents reachable on a home telephone (75% of likely voters) were interviewed on their telephone in their preference of Spanish or English. Respondents unreachable on a home telephone (25% of likely voters) were shown a questionnaire on their smartphone or other electronic device.")

FlaGOPers cry in their caviar

"The national media might be abuzz about the names on Mitt Romney’s vice presidential shortlist, but in Florida many folks are mourning the prize they thought they had in the palm of their hands. A shot at a place in the White House: either U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio or former Gov. Jeb Bush as Romney's running mate." "Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio as Romney's VP Choice -- While Hope Fades, the Dream Lives".

"Political headwinds favoring Romney in America's biggest battleground state"

Adam C. Smith: "Razor-thin presidential elections are typical in Florida, and there's no reason to think 2012 will be any different, particularly as undecided voters here tend to make up their minds late in the campaign. But the fundamental political headwinds are favoring Romney in America's biggest battleground state."

Recent polls consistently underscore Romney's advantages:

• 54 percent of likely Florida voters believe the country is on the wrong track, and only 35 percent believe Obama's policies have improved the economy, according to a July 9-11 Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald/Bay News 9 poll conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research.

• A poll this month by the bipartisan firm Purple Strategies found 50 percent of Florida voters said Obama was a failure as president, and only 40 percent said Romney couldn't do a better job improving the economy.

• Recent national Gallup polls have found the president's support among Jewish voters has dropped 10 percent since 2008, and the number of voters younger than 30 — a key group for Obama — who said they definitely will vote at all has dropped 20 percentage points to 58 percent.

• In poll after poll this year, the president's approval rating has remained below 50 percent, ominous for any incumbent.

"An incumbent struggling to stay at 45 percent — after plowing through $20 million in negative advertising, and holding more than 20 campaign events in one state — is in trouble," Republican consultant Brett Doster, a senior adviser to the Romney campaign, wrote in a memo welcoming Obama to Florida last week.

Obama, just as he did in 2008, is building the largest campaign organization Florida has ever seen, and his allies say that methodical effort is right on track. Democrats have out-registered Republicans for five straight months.
"Florida's a tougher sell than four years ago for Barack Obama, and Mitt Romney has an edge".

Obama cuts out

"Obama cuts Florida campaign swing short".


"President Barack Obama campaigns in Jacksonville and West Palm Beach, but he faces a more pessimistic electorate than in 2008 and he’s grappling with tougher opponent in Mitt Romney." "As thrill fades, President Barack Obama fires up supporters on Medicare, tax cuts".

"A handful of gimme and a mouthful of much obliged"

"There was a hint of 'it's about time' Thursday, as Florida port leaders praised a federal announcement to speed up work at JaxPort. State officials took it as a sign the feds are joining their effort to push upgrades at Sunshine State port facilities." "Finally! Feds Recognize Urgency of Florida Port Upgrades".

SD 39

"SD 39: Ron Saunders Leads Crowded Dem Primary in Money Chase".

"Yes, Jennifer, you do look like a lesbian"

Lloyd Dunkelberger:

WINNER OF THE WEEK: Florida’s counties. They saw the state’s claim that they owed $316 million in Medicaid payments reduced to $146 million. The counties are considering dropping their lawsuit against the state over the issue.

LOSER OF THE WEEK: Connie Mack. The Tampa Bay Times, the state’s largest newspaper, endorsed Mack’s opponent, Dave Weldon, in the Aug. 14 Republican primary for the U.S. Senate. Mack accused the newspaper of pursuing a “liberal” agenda. He was rebuked later in the week by the conservative Wall Street Journal.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Yes, Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, you do look like a lesbian,” Nadine Smith, head of Equality Florida, a gay rights group, said in an opinion piece criticizing Carroll’s comments that women “who look like me don’t engage in relationships like that.”
"Recession takes toll on government workers".

DOE miscalculates school grades

"DOE miscalculates school grades in Orange, Osceola, Lake, Volusia". See also "Error by state leads to higher grades at 11 schools".

18 percent of Floridians receive federal food assistance

"As Congress considers a farm bill that could slash federal food assistance, Florida — with nearly 18 percent of its residents relying on that help — could find its poor still further submerged beneath the poverty line. ... Since 2007, before the recession, the number of Florida residents receiving food assistance has more than doubled, said Rebecca Brislain, executive director of the Florida Association of Food Banks." "Food aid cuts would hit Florida hard".

Movin' on

"The Department of Health has a new chief of staff and the wildlife commission's finance director retires." "Arrivals and Departures". See also "TB outbreak point person leaves job for corrections department post" and "DOH deputy secretary moves to DOC".

"State's jobless rate stalls"

"State's jobless rate stalls at 8.6 percent". See also "Florida gains 9,000 jobs in June, but unemployment rate doesn't budge".

"Democrats sharpen their knives"

"This week in the roundup, Republican leaders try to tone down a Tampa-area Senate race, and Democrats sharpen their knives for three fierce campaign battles in the upper chamber." "Campaign Roundup: Tampa Senate race intrigue; Dems home in on 3 Senate races".

SD 12 Dem primary

"Democrats voting in the primary election for the Florida Senate's newly drawn District 12 will find a choice between an experienced legislator, Rep. Geraldine Thompson, and a candidate with a familiar last name — Victoria Siplin, the wife of outgoing state Sen. Gary Siplin. And nowhere is the contest between the two African-American women more visible than in the historically black neighborhood of Washington Shores. Signs for Siplin and Thompson dot many front yards in the community west of downtown Orlando." "Thompson-Siplin state Senate matchup tests experience vs. name recognition".

"Florida can't grow its way out of this one"

Aaron Deslatte: "Policymakers insist that if businesses are freed from costly environmental and safety regulations, developers are untethered from state-mandated comprehensive planning and citizens are unburdened of already comparatively low tax burdens, the state can recapture the glory days of its adolescent-growth phase."

From 1990 through 2007, Florida saw average population growth of 2.12 percent annually, or 321,991 people a year.

Those 5.8 million new people helped power a real-estate boom, fueled tax-revenue growth and exacerbated environmental threats and urban-planning challenges. But those problems were generally less severe that those confronting policymakers in states with declining populations and hollowed-out tax bases.

The money let Republican policymakers experiment with all manner of conservative ideas, such as the FCAT school-accountability push, charter schools, vouchers and big tax cuts. When Jeb Bush left the Governor's Office in January 2007, he was bragging about $8 billion in cumulative tax cuts he had enacted.

But the Republicans also enjoyed the feel-good luxury of being able to throw money at problems. Billions went into affordable-housing programs and expanded tax incentives for corporations. During Bush's final year, he even pushed lawmakers to pour $1.5 billion into tough growth-management measures — measures that were gutted five years later.

Back to the point: We know now that Florida's population growth never stopped completely during the Great Recession — although it did shrink to 0.89 percent during the past four years, or about 168,662 people a year. In 2009, just 73,000 people moved here.

And according to an estimate the Legislature's Office of Economic and Demographic Research released last week, annual growth is expected to hover around 1 percent or less through 2040.

With Florida's senior-heavy population and aging baby boomers, the state's natural growth (births minus deaths) is projected to become a smaller and smaller percentage of overall population growth, from roughly 20 percent this year to about 9.4 percent by 2030.

That will make Florida's growth-addicted economy even more dependent on people moving here. That is necessitating the vicious cycle of trying to make an already low-tax, small-government state even cheaper — to the detriment of many public goals.
"Gov. Rick Scott has presented a lot of policy conflicts. He wants to encourage population growth with lower taxes and stimulate trade with port investments. But he minimizes policies for how to move these people and goods around once they get here."
He wants to strengthen Florida's "knowledge-based work force," yet he has cut funding for public schools and universities. ...

The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. And it looks like Florida can't grow its way out of this one.
More here: "'Grow, baby, grow' no longer working".

Week in Review

"This week a study suggests the real reason the jobless rate is falling; there's movement on Internet sales tax; state prisons look to privatize health care; the voter purge catches break, then stalls; and a shooting in an Internet cafe raises two issues." "Week in Review for July 16 to July 20".

"Rubio and Scott won’t admit it"

"President Barack Obama’s “health exchanges” are similar to Rubio’s 2008 idea of a Florida marketplace to make health insurance more affordable."

In the months before he became Florida House speaker, Marco Rubio crisscrossed the state searching for ways to make Florida better.

The best proposals, dealing with topics ranging from property taxes to education, became a book: 100 Innovative Ideas for Florida’s Future.

Chapter 8 is titled “Quality Healthcare at an Affordable Price,” and it includes Idea No. 87: “Florida should launch a marketplace of affordable health insurance.”

Why is any of this important now, more than five years later?

While Gov. Rick Scott has said Florida will refuse to participate in optional provisions of the federal health care law, including the creation of a state health insurance exchange, Rubio’s vision for an insurance marketplace is about to come to fruition.

It’s called Florida Health Choices.

And though Republicans such as Rubio and Scott won’t admit it, Florida’s marketplace is a lot like President Barack Obama’s exchange.
"President Barack Obama’s health exchanges mirror Marco Rubio's 2008 'marketplace' idea".

Is it "something larger and more sinister and apt to the times?"

Fabiola Santiago: "Sometimes, the threats to media freedoms aren’t blatant and up front, but they’re no less dangerous. They take the guise of regulation, behind-the-scenes intimidation, and in the latest case in our state, in a housekeeping directive by the administration of the University of Florida that the signature orange newspaper racks carrying The Independent Florida Alligator on campus be removed."

What is really behind this attempt to undermine the student newspaper and tax what is essentially a public service?

Is it a crass attempt to collect more fees, or something larger and more sinister and apt to the times?
"UF’s actions hurt student paper".

Tough talkers

"Amid tough talk about severance negotiations, Miami Beach commissioners may have unwittingly given their ousted city manager an extra $45,000 in unused leave and allowed him to fatten his pension while sitting at home." "More time off possible for former Miami Beach city manager?".