Analyzing Swing States: Florida, Part 1

This is the first part of a series of posts analyzing the swing state Florida. Part two can be found here.

In 2008, Illinois Senator Barack Obama won Colorado by 9.0%, Florida by 2.8%, and Indiana by 1.0%. Guess which one was the “swing state” in 2004.

The answer is Florida, and if that seems strange in light of the above – it is. In fairness, one might counter that Obama did relatively poorly in Florida (where he didn’t campaign in the primaries) and relatively well in Colorado (where the Democratic convention was held).

Here’s another question. Colorado, Florida, Indiana. Only one of these three sends a majority-Republican delegation to the House of Representatives. Which one is it? (A hint: it’s not Indiana.)

It turns out that Florida elects 15 Republican congressmen and 10 Democratic congressmen. Again, to be fair, one might note that Florida’s Republican-controlled state legislature gerrymandered Florida’s congressional districts to achieve an unbalanced result. This is relatively easy – most Democrats live in tightly clustered South Florida.

But that’s just it: Florida’s state legislature is Republican-controlled. In fact, Republicans have 60%+ majorities in both chambers. Florida’s governor is Republican Charlie Crist. Florida was voted Democratic in only two of the last eight presidential elections. John Kerry’s campaign was shocked by the margin he lost by in Florida. Bill Clinton won Georgia, of all states, while losing Florida in1992.

To be fair, I’m picking and choosing my numbers. If you go back to the past nine presidential elections, you’ll find Democrats batting three for nine, not two for eight. And three of those eight elections were big Republican victories.

But there’s only so many times one can say “to be fair.” There’s only so many excuses one can make for yet another indication of Republican dominance in Florida.

Because the closer one inspects as Florida, the more it begins to look less like a swing state than a conservative state with an unusually big Democratic base – which the media happens to call a swing state.

In the next section, I’ll be analyzing why exactly this is so.

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2 Responses to Analyzing Swing States: Florida, Part 1

  1. Brett Heffner says:

    You said that “In 2008, Illinois Senator Barack Obama won Colorado by 9.0%, Florida by 2.8%, and Indiana by 1.0%. Guess which one was the ‘swing state’ in 2004.” Actually, Colorado was closer than Florida was in 2004, with Kerry only losing by 3.5%, so Colorado seems like more of a swing state in that election. It was also among the small number of states where Kerry outperformed Gore.

    • inoljt says:

      That’s why I put “swing state” in quotes because although people regarded Florida as a swing state, it wasn’t as competitive as people thought it was. Kerry didn’t campaign in Colorado – yet it was closer than Florida was.

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