Friday, November 14, 2008

Election 2008 Analysis -- Presidential Election

This is the first in a series of posts I'll do this weekend looking back over the 2008 election. This one will cover the presidential, others will cover Florida's congressional delegation, the Florida legislature, the constitutional amendments and Leon County.

I'm not going to talk a whole lot about the national election in this post, as others have done that ad nauseum and I've linked in previous posts to a lot of the people who have already talked about it. I'm going to focus on what happened in Florida.

Obviously, Obama won Florida with a 51%-48% margin, almost an exact flip of the 2004 percentages where Bush beat Kerry 52%-47%. How did Obama turn Florida blue?

Misperception: People thought that Florida was a red state. Particularly on the Republican side, this meant that people didn't put quite the effort into the state as they might have otherwise done.

Money: Obama had a big lead in money, which allowed him to way outspend McCain in Florida, while at the same time forcing McCain to target other places he historically wouldn't have had to, which sapped potential resources from Florida.

Registration: The Obama campaign's fanatical devotion to registering new voters in Florida worked out very well. Hundreds of thousands of new voters were registered during the campaign and they were 6-1 or so Democratic. And many of them turned out.

Minority/youth turnout: African-Americans almost double their turnout over past elections. Young people increased their absolute numbers and percentage of the elctorate. The Hispanic population in Florida shifted in the Democratic direction. Even without the other factors here, this might have been enough to shift the state to the Democrats.

The economy: The bad national economy is even worse in Florida and with the majority of both our state and national representation being Republican, the GOP was bound to take the brunt of the anger from pissed-off voters. McCain was seen as the symbol of that.

Sarah Palin: Independent voters in Florida seemed to hate Palin and many of them voted for Obama just because of Palin.

John McCain: McCain ran one of the worst Republican campaigns in recent decades. Decision after decision and strategy after strategy either didn't work or actively backfired.

Steve Schale: The leader of the Obama campaign in Florida has a better command of the map in Florida than just about anyone else on the planet. Choosing him to run the show was a master stroke.

Staff: The huge paid staff for the Obama campaign around the state was loaded with smart people who knew what they were doing and knew the state. They worked together very well and had the resources they needed to get the job done.

Volunteers: Even more enthusiastic than the staff were the thousands of volunteers around the state who fought for Obama simply because they wanted change and felt hopeful that Obama would bring it. McCain and the Republicans just couldn't measure up.

There are probably a few things that I'm forgetting, as my mind is blanking on me at this point, but these are at least most of the key things as far as Obama's victory in Florida. It is a tenuous victory and winning again in 2012 is far from certain, so we can't give up and we can't forget why we won in 2008.

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