The state of Florida is now the center of attention, with its Presidential primary coming up on Tuesday, and polls indicating that former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has a double digit lead over former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, with Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and Texas Congressman Ron Paul lagging behind.
Romney, by going on the attack against Gingrich in the two Florida debates this past week, and spending about four times as much on campaign advertising as Gingrich, seems likely to win despite the decision of two popular Floridians, Senator Marco Rubio and former Governor Jeb Bush to avoid endorsing anyone.
Without an endorsement, it still seems as if both Rubio and Bush are secretly behind Romney, seeing Gingrich as divisive and likely to cause a disruption in party unity.
Both are potential Vice Presidential candidates for Romney, and both are also potential Presidential candidates in 2016 if the Republicans lose to Barack Obama in 2012.
And being the third largest state, with an increase of two electoral votes, and matching New York in electoral votes, Florida becomes the biggest battleground of all, since California and New York are seen as strongly Democratic and Texas as strongly Republican.
Florida, won by Obama in 2008, is definitely up for grabs with its 29 electoral votes, and it is really three or four states. There is the Panhandle of Florida, likely to go Republican for sure. There is Central Florida, including Tampa and Orlando and other areas, which is the real battleground. There is Broward and Palm Beach Counties, likely to support Obama. And then there is the Miami-Dade County influence of Cuban Americans, traditionally Republican.
Florida is the South (Alabama) in the North; the Midwest in the Central area; and Northeast and Cuba in the South. It is also affected by the Jewish vote in South Florida and the Puerto Rican vote in Central Florida. As one observer summed it up, Florida is the Jews, the Cubans, and the “rednecks”! Of course, this is an oversimplification of the state’s political clout, but it is clear that the Republican nominee and President Obama will spend a lot of time in the state, as it may very well decide who occupies the White House in 2013!