Florida: A Complex State Politically, And Hard To Predict Its Impact

With the Florida Republican Primary just eight days away, and with many Republican voters having already engaged in early voting or absentee mail ballots, the question arises as to what one can expect to happen on January 31.

Mitt Romney has the most money and is seen as the moderate in the race, although he professes to be conservative.

Newt Gingrich, flush off his victory in South Carolina, would seem to have an edge, although Florida is not quite the same as South Carolina electorally, being much more unpredictable.

Florida is really multiple states in electoral behavior, as the Panhandle, particularly west of Tallahassee, the state capital, is very much like South Carolina or “southern Alabama”, strongly evangelical Christian and Tea Party oriented. But central Florida, including Tampa and Orlando, tends to be made up of people from the Midwest, while South Florida has large concentrations of Cubans, but also Northeasterners, including Jews in large numbers. And Puerto Ricans are found in Orlando in large numbers, and liberal strongholds exist in Tallahassee due to Florida State University’s presence, and in Gainesville, home of the University of Florida.

So if Florida comes across in the GOP Primary as too conservative, that can affect the balance among Hispanics, African Americans, and Jews, heavily concentrated in South Florida and portions of Central Florida, when it comes to the Presidential election in November.

Florida has a “split personality”, and being a megastate, more representative of the nation than Iowa, New Hampshire, or South Carolina, it could turn out to be very unpredictable in its impact on the Republican Presidential battle, and in the fall campaign against Barack Obama.