January 30, 2008

Why I Think McCain Took Florida… and Why it Might Not Matter That He Did

This isn’t an endorsement of anyone… this is just what I saw in numbers.

If you don’t live in Florida, you don’t know Florida. I’m not an expert, not by any stretch, but I can give you my opinion, based on what I heard and what I know of the various Florida counties. I’ve lived here off and on in various parts of the state for 42 years.

By trade, I’m actually an analyst who got moved into an engineering position. So you can imagine what these primaries have been to me. Its data. It has been making me happy crazy, sifting through the data. As each state has closed its polls, I’ve been on-line, watching what has happened precinct by precinct.

Forget the fact I don’t love any of the candidates. Its data. I love data.

In Florida, this was even better for me… as I know most of the State. I have some questions, don’t get me wrong, but for the most part, I think I have a pretty good idea as to what happened.

I’m not so arrogant as to say ‘I’m RIGHT’, but my opinion, living here in Florida, I believe is a helluva lot better than some of the talking heads who don’t. I listened to one of them last night on TV, rolled my eyes, looked at my husband and made the talking motion with my hand.

Florida is NOT the Bible Belt. We are a pretty good melting pot, with the panhandle views being distinctly different than those of the southern part of the State. Different issues/different views. We’re full of staunch Christians in the northern part and center of the state with a very large Jewish population in the southern end, military, retirees, retired military, New York/New Jersey transplants on the East Coast and Ohio/Michigan transplants on the West Coast, and a completely Hispanic culture in Miami. That’s a broad stroke summary.

We are a State deep in the foreclosure fiasco with economy pretty big on our minds… but for most I’ve spoken to… the thought is that it will iron out, National Security is a very large concern.

Beating Hillary and Obama is BIG on most minds as well. That is a BIG factor down here… WHO can beat Hillary or Obama.

Joe Lieberman came down here (my end of the State) and campaigned for McCain. (McCain took my county.) Mr. Lieberman is very well liked down here, and although most of our Jewish population is Democrat, Mr. Lieberman made many many of our Jewish Republicans think twice and made many of the non-Jewish Republicans think twice too… because Lieberman is just very well respected. I have often wondered if it had been a Lieberman/Gore ticket instead of Gore/Lieberman ticket, if the Dems would have taken Florida.

We’ll never know.

So that’s a broad breakdown of our State. Now let’s look county by county. As the primaries have ended in each State, I’ve looked at their individual counties and it has meant NOTHING to me. I don’t know what goes on everywhere. But in Florida… I know who lives where.

Let’s start with our military counties: Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton in the panhandle, home of NAS Pensacola, Corey Station and Whiting field, where all Naval Aviators are trained and where there is an enormous Navy presence both retired and active duty, and Eglin AFB and Hurlburt field, which is all Air Force all the time, both retired and active duty. All four counties were very strong McCain, nearly 40% of the votes in Okaloosa with the lowest going to Walton at 35%. Romney didn’t even break 30% in those counties… with Huckabee close on his tail.

Moving onto Hillsborough County, which is the Tampa area and also very military, both active duty and retired, McCain raked it in at 37% with Romney trailing at 30%. Tampa is a pretty moderate area also with military.

National Defense is big in those counties. Very big.

Huckabee only took three little counties, one borders on the Alabama line and the others are tiny counties in the northern middle of the state. But even those counties… McCain only trailed by 20 or so votes. That is votes… not percentage points. It was not a large margin.

I think the biggest eye opener when I looked at the stats was how much they really really do NOT like Romney in Miami-Dade, although it should not have been a shock. McCain cleaned house with nearly 50%, Giuliani was 2nd with 26% and Romney tanked at 16%.

Why is that? It’s the immigration policies. McCain is much more liberal, as every Conservative screams about and Giuliani was next in line. Romney was the only one more adamant about illegal immigration and in Miami, he paid the price.

Miami-Dade is the county with the largest population, by far.

I suspect that we will see that same voting phenomena in the southern cities of Texas and California. Anywhere where there is a big immigrant population, I really think Romney is going to take a hit.

Most of the people I spoke to didn’t think Giuliani had a prayer and so they weren’t going to waste their vote. That left them between Romney and McCain and a toss up between National Security and the Economy and McCain won this flip.

A five point spread is NOT a big spread. It’s not.

I think California is more like Florida than any other state up for grabs on Super Tuesday. California isn’t a winner take all, but its 170 delegates for sure for whoever gets the popular vote. With their Governor endorsing McCain, with their melting pot of immigrants like we have in Florida as well as the military presence, both active duty and retired, it can still go either way, but I’ll be a bit surprised if McCain doesn’t make a damn strong stand.

I don’t think Huckabee has a prayer in California.

We’ll see. The bottom line is, however, when you think ‘Conservative State’, Florida and California are not the poster children. They’re too eclectic.

I wasn’t surprised McCain took Florida. I was just surprised by how much the folks of Miami-Dade TRULY did NOT want Romney, which was rather ridiculous of me now that I think of it. That should have been a given. That is a piece of this election puzzle I had not thought out… something that cannot be discounted.

My biggest surprise though was Collier County, nearly right across from Miami-Dade, where Romney absolutely spanked McCain. I was very surprised by that… and wondering how that county ended up so pro Romney in an area that was so… not. I don’t mean that in a negative tone… but whenever you have a county that sits alone in its views, a big spike in the data, one has to wonder what they have in that county. Counties aren’t cookie cutters, but… they are very similar. Collier was not. And for clarification, the vast majority of the State, with the exception of those I spiked out, McCain just barely beat Romney... I mean 5-8 points.

Also, the northeast of the state, where Jacksonville and St. Augustine are located, Romney absolutely SMOKED McCain. There is a lot of military up that way and I was a bit surprised by that as well. However, it borders on Georgia, which is much more traditional conservative. This may be an indicator as to how it will go in the more Southern states like Georgia and Alabama. Where they may have voted for Huckabee, more of the Bible Belt vote, many will once again think he may not have a prayer and choose between Romney and McCain. I have strong suspicions they’ll go with Romney.

Super Tuesday should be interesting. I would not use Florida as a pulse to the Conservative nation. Not by any stretch. And the talking heads are saying McCain’s win is big in Florida because we are the first State where our primaries do not allow voting by Independents.

Don’t believe that.

We are an odd mixture in our State, very independent minded folks, a big melting pot… and I don’t think you’ll find quite our mix in the other States.

I just don’t.

And on a side note, Thompson would have taken some votes from McCain down here. I know a lot of people who wanted to vote for him. If Thompson had stayed in the race and made a good strong show of wanting the big job, I think Romney might have taken Florida. I know many many people who were going to vote for Thompson and ended up voting for McCain. Many. I don’t know any who were going to vote for Thompson and then voted for Romney.

Giuliani was never spoken of as a serious contender down here. He just wasn’t. I don’t think it was the multiple wife thing… there were just big trust issues.

If you live in Florida and see a different spin, feel free to leave it in the comments. I have quite a few Florida readers. No need to be rude. I’m not endorsing anyone… just telling you what I think I read in the data and what I heard.

Oh and the data? Go here for county by county and here’s a map of the state by county.


And let me end with... VOTE in your State. Do NOT let the results of previous States be an indicator as to what is going on in our Nation. Every State has DIFFERENT issues and a different mix of citizens. Florida in my mind is a prime example. You cannot compare Florida with Illinois or Rhode Island or Kentucky.

We are the United States... a sovereign nation of many sovereign states. Each state is different. Wonderfully different.

VOTE. VOTE. VOTE. Even if you don't like the candidates... VOTE.

Posted by Boudicca at January 30, 2008 09:12 PM | TrackBack

You're not the boss of me.

Posted by: Toluca Nole at January 30, 2008 09:27 PM

Bones took after you!!! It is all so clear now... the genetics...

Posted by: Bou at January 30, 2008 09:29 PM

I gotta tell you, McCain scares me. The man may be a Republican but he is no way a conservative. Well, none of them are really conservative but he is probably the least...

By the time the Iowa primaries are here the decision will practically be over. I wish Thompson would have stuck it through just a bit longer...

Posted by: Jody at January 30, 2008 09:30 PM

Nothing left by the time our primaries roll around on February 19th.

Posted by: Peggy U at January 30, 2008 09:45 PM

as a very staunch conservative (think libertarian) I'm hugely unhappy with the choices this time around, it feels like insane democrats and mostly democrats, no real conservative anything.

Posted by: S at January 30, 2008 10:21 PM

Umm... I didn't read your whole post, but my theory is much simpler. People are f-ing lemmings, and they'll vote for whoever the crowd is voting for.
Thus, McCain is going to be the nominee.

Posted by: Shadoglare at January 31, 2008 12:15 AM

I'm still not sure how I'll vote. One of the candidates is going to have to do something to make me either like him well enough.....or to not dislike him so much, that I'll vote for him.

and no. Hillary isn't an option. Even if I 1) thought she'd be a good president (I don't) and 2) I agreed with her politically (ditto) I don't want another dynastic presidency. Two Bushes were enough. Two Clintons would be embarrassing.

Posted by: Nancy at January 31, 2008 02:28 AM

Oh, and I'm tagging you for a meme.

Posted by: Nancy at January 31, 2008 02:29 AM

I have heard many many of my Libertarian and Conservative friends upset with our choices. Looking at the candidates, I absolutely see why. I'm not dancing either.

I think what scares me the absolute most is... Hillary wins and gets her dear husband nominated as a Supreme Court Justice (I didn't think of this, but read this over in the comments at Lex's). With a Dem Senate, I wonder if anyone would stand up and say it was ethically wrong to have a husband wife team on two parts of our three branch government?

Posted by: Bou at January 31, 2008 07:13 AM

Very interesting; I love hearing about our results from the perspective of hard data. Makes me feel better about it for some reason...

Posted by: pam at January 31, 2008 08:03 AM

I live in Maryland, so I have less of a choice. The way that the primary system is set up in this country has pretty much given the power to choose the President to just 15% of the Electoral College voters. My top 2 Candidates are already out of the race, and I (along with 3/4s of the country) will never be able to show my support for them. On the Billery issue: yes, Bill on the Supreme Court would be disasterous. But an even worse, in my opinion, scenario is Bill elected to Secretary General of the UN (they love him) replacing Li Moon. Then with Hillary as Pres, a Dem Congress, 2 replaced Supreme Court Justices, and Bill running the UN, that possibility scares the crap out of me. Talk about a hegemony..... That thought {is almost} might be enough to make me vote for McCain.

Posted by: Web at January 31, 2008 08:18 AM


Why is the Military pro-McCain? I thought McCain wanted out of Iraq and didn't support the war. Is it because he was POW?

Thompson voters voting for McCain just blows my mind as Thompson is far right and McCain is as far left a Republican can be. Why vote for someone that is opposite of your choice?

Why are people so anti-Romney? Is it because they think he is privlidged?

Posted by: Quality Weenie at January 31, 2008 09:05 AM

QW- I am absolutely NOT speaking on behalf of the military... its not my place. But I will tell you that McCain believes we should stay in Iraq and see it through. No pull out date. I think Romney doesn't necessarily believe in a pull out date either (McCain is twisting his words) but Romney is no so forceful.

I work with many retired military and what they have reiterated to me, time and time again, is the DO NOT want Hillary and they think that McCain is the only chance to beat her. They don't think Romney can pull it off and they think McCain will pull unhappy Dems away from Hillary and pull the Independent vote.

The folks down here that I knew voting for Thompson ended up backing McCain because Thompson backed McCain 8 years ago and because they just don't like Romney. I don't understand it completely, but there it is. I know too many people that fit in this category to say its not a trend.

And Romney for some reason is just not connecting with the vast population. I really think it is not an 'Against Romney' but more of a 'Who can beat Hillary'. Everyone thinks McCain can do it and there is much question if Romney can.

Nobody seems to love McCain. Actually... nobody likes any of the choices... but they all truly cannot stand Hillary. I suspect that is what is happening.

Posted by: Bou at January 31, 2008 11:45 AM

Curious ..

Everything I have read says that McCain supports (ed) and voted for timetables and withdrawls if timetables not meet.

Maybe a lot of people don't know that, I can't vote for anybody that supports timetables.

I think I am just tired of voting for the lesser of 2 evils, I just can't do it anymore.

Posted by: Quality Weenie at January 31, 2008 12:02 PM

I have been eligible to vote since 1983 and have voted in every Presidential election since.

I have NEVER voted for someone. Never in a primary, never in a general election.

I have always voted against who I think is the biggest jerk. I look back sometimes and wonder if my choice in who the biggest jerk was, was correct, but... I have never ever in my life voted FOR someone.


Posted by: Bou at January 31, 2008 12:45 PM

You're saying you voted against me?

Posted by: Toluca Nole at January 31, 2008 04:15 PM

I am so glad you wrote this post! FINALLY - I *get* it!! And in this political climate, that's saying something...

And just for the record, I was planning to vote anyway - it just seems more important now.

Posted by: Richmond at January 31, 2008 04:21 PM

Senator John McCain of Arizona
2002 INVASION: Voted to authorize use of force.
TROOP INCREASE: Supports increase as long as it is large enough to assure success and sustained enough to finish the job.
WITHDRAWAL: Opposes deadlines for the American mission. Has called for continued support for Iraqi authorities until they reach a political settlement.

Posted by: h~ at January 31, 2008 06:27 PM

Awesome analysis!

Posted by: Denny at January 31, 2008 07:40 PM

Just so we're clear...this is taken from Wiki

"The myth of lemming mass suicide is long-standing and has been popularized by a number of factors. In 1955, Carl Barks drew an Uncle Scrooge adventure comic with the title: The Lemming with the Locket. This comic, which was inspired by a 1954 National Geographic article, showed massive numbers of lemmings jumping over Norwegian cliffs.[7]. The suicide myth was further propagated by Walt Disney documentary White Wilderness in 1958 which includes footage of lemmings migrating and running head-long over a ledge. An investigation in 1983 by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Brian Vallee, showed that the Disney film makers faked the entire sequence using imported lemmings (bought from Inuit children), a snow covered turntable on which a few dozen lemmings were forced to run, and literally throwing lemmings into the sea to show the alleged suicides.[8] This myth is also witnessed in a German film - The Little Polar Bear (Lars, the polar bear)--in which a group of despondent lemmings are frequently jumping off various ledges.[9]"

Sorry, i just HATE being categorized. If categorization is needed, i'll be the arctic owl. With that said, i have no problem with those who vote, i don't. Because i decided long ago that casting my approval for the lesser of two evils was still, in fact, approving an evil...which i won't. Sorry, Bou, i really appreciate your drive, but no...there's no one for me to cast my approval for. And no, in one year, i won't be complaining about who is or isn't in office. I'll be doing what i've been trying to do since i stopped voting, just trying to make ends meet and providing for my family.

Posted by: Jay- the friendly neighborhood piper at January 31, 2008 10:33 PM

Reading this has not helped my mood any. It just goest to support my belief that the American people are sheep voting blindly just to keep one evil in out only to replace it with another.

If McCain gets the republican nomination, I may just vote Dem... just because at least then I know what to expect.

Posted by: Contagion at February 2, 2008 08:14 AM