Election 2012: Lessons from Florida

Even though the outcome wasn't decisive, Florida still matters. Per usual in the 21st century, it is the national bellwether.

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Like a slow, elderly Miami driver who’s always got his turn signal on, Florida continually gives us electoral gridlock. In the nation’s largest swing state, the presidential race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney was still too close to call Wednesday—at dawn the President’s edge was 46,000 votes, about half a percentage point. And even though the outcome won’t be decisive—Obama already wrapped things up in Ohio Tuesday night—Florida still matters. Per usual in the 21st century, the Sunshine State is the national bellwether.

For starters, it’s apparent there that the Tea Party, which critics say has pulled the Republican Party far too far right, is faltering. That conservative movement did produce some leadership potential in Florida, including freshman Republican Senator Marco Rubio. But it also yielded quite a few erratic radicals, especially U.S. Representative Allen West, who in 2010 became the first black Florida Republican elected to Congress since Reconstruction. West, who claimed this year that almost all of the House’s Democratic caucus was communist, was upended Tuesday night by rookie Democratic candidate Patrick Murphy in Florida’s 18th congressional district. (West, who spent an astonishing $17 million in the race, has not yet conceded.)

Another right-wing firebrand, Cuban-American U.S. Representative David Rivera, who faces federal and state corruption investigations, was trounced in the 26th District by moderate Cuban-American Democrat Joe Garcia, whom Rivera had called an agent of Fidel Castro. Conservative U.S. Representative Connie Mack, who was supposed to unseat Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, was routed as well. (One caveat: though Florida right-wingers took it on the chin, the state’s left-wing rowdy, Alan Grayson, got elected to Congress again.)

Tuesday was also a debacle for Governor Rick Scott, whose 2014 re-election chances look even slimmer now. Since his own Tea Party-fueled election in 2010, Scott and his government-eradication crusade have seemed more focused on challenging Obama than on solving Florida’s unemployment crisis. The President’s strong showing on the peninsula, as a result, is a stinging rebuke—especially since Scott tried to blunt Democratic turnout by cutting the number of early voting days this year. (It didn’t work: Obama benefited from early Florida voting in 2012 almost as robustly as he did in 2008.) Just as humiliating was the defeat of almost all of a dozen constitutional amendments Scott and the GOP-led legislature heaped on Florida’s ballot, including measures to restrict abortion rights, cut taxes for wealthy property owners and give lawmakers more control over the state Supreme Court.

Perhaps the most significant rebuff for Scott and Florida’s Tea Party in this election, though, is the fact that Romney rejected their red meat approach as he campaigned in the state. As Garcia told me after his victory speech in southwest Miami last night, “Like most Americans, I think Floridians deep down believe that the bipartisan hole in this country needs to be filled again.” In fact, Romney didn’t catch traction in Florida until he ditched his “severely conservative” primary persona and became Moderate Mitt in October. Even if it doesn’t turn out as a win for Obama, Florida proved once again that despite mid-term convulsions like 2010, the color of its politics isn’t red or blue but purple.

As media like TIME predicted it would, the Latino vote also played a big role in 2012—and in Florida that meant the non-Cuban Latino vote. For decades, U.S. politicians only played to Cuban-Americans there. But while Obama enlarged the 67% share of the national Latino vote he got in 2008—he took 71% last night, which may well have helped him win key battleground states like Colorado and Nevada—just as significant was the 60% of Latino voters he won in Florida, three points more than he got there four years ago. That indicates that non-Cuban Latinos, especially Puerto Ricans in the state’s central I-4 Corridor and South and Central Americans in South Florida, came out for Obama in even greater force than anticipated.

It drives home as well the point that Republicans have to look beyond Cuban-Americans if they’re going to build bridges to the burgeoning Latino bloc, the U.S.’s largest minority, which represented a tenth of the nation’s electorate this year. And that means engaging Mexican-Americans, who make up two-thirds of U.S. Latinos and without a doubt punish the GOP for its hardline immigration agenda.

Still, the bottom line is that the final margin in Florida will be less than a point—a reminder of how split the national popular vote was and how scant the President’s second-term mandate is. Like that slow old driver and his eternal turn signal, Florida is always there as a sobering reminder that change is hard.

51 comments
precint13
precint13

@TimPadgett2 @TIMEPolitics Marco Rubio 2016

richardboeke
richardboeke

As a Floridian for 10 years of my life, 

I found your report right on.

Very happy that Florida finally went Democratic!

Wish that the Supreme Court had voted that way in the Bush/Gore Election.

Gore would not have accepted the lies that got us into the BLOOD AND GORE of the Cheney/Rumsfeld invasion of Iraq.

Richard Boeke

Horsham, England

MexicanosUnited
MexicanosUnited

Tea Party supporters like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are disliked by the majority of Mexican Americans, Central Americans and Puerto Ricans. Even Luis Fortuno a Republicans is not the Governor of Puerto Rico any longer.

Marco Rubio voted against the first Supreme court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Puerto Ricans who are the 2nd largest blocks were paying attention as well as Mexican Americans who are the biggest block and Central Americans. This was a slap in the face of not only Puerto Ricans but also other Hispanics. 

Also Mexicans and Central Americans did not like the rhetoric coming from Tea Party candidate Rubio and Cruz who said offensive things about people who were undocumented. Rubio who said he did not support the dream act and said offensive things.

No amnesty for Marco Rubio Flip-Flops!

youtube com/watch?v=O2h3wdJP7_I&feature=related

Its okay though if you float on a raft to get here though? 

parkerpkthn
parkerpkthn

To be honest I don't buy the idea that the Tea-party is dead or dying. It does have some radical crackpots which is probably normal for any new "party". This election to me was more about Obama's campaign machine did right in reaching out to important demographics that Republicans just didn't think we're important. With many of these contests, the candidates just plain and simple didn't appeal to enough of  the demograhic to win whether that was because they said something stupid or just didn't pursue that demograhic.

MrObvious
MrObvious

GOPs effort to restrict peoples opportunity to vote that make the election as close as possible in some states and areas.

But the demographic shows that this might just be the last hurrah. 

Rick Scott is a horrible governor. And what's wrong with GOP today. And if GOP wants to survive they also have to realize that it's their conservative values they need to fight for among the electorate - not to see the exclusion of growing demographics as something that is against their values.

It's going to require a little but more effort than finding some token guys like Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio and Allen West. 

We still remember the GOP convention. Where they claimed to be a big tent by trotting out the few people of varied skin tone but it was not well reflected among the delegates.

And as you could see yesterday among the dems gathered to celebrate Obama winning compared to the people gathered for Romney - diverse. Or for that mattered during the Dem convention.

GOP just need to stop treating this like a game of 'we have one too'. Unless they want to start losing other states in a big way they also need     to have a honest discussion about how they view their tent. Not that it has the 'right' decoration.

CarlaAraujo
CarlaAraujo

Torn here... Proud Florida went Blue or utterly embarrassed Florida can't get a stupid election right because of the idiots that are in charge of it.

germanguy
germanguy

Both these men spent a billion $ on this election.  Romney with the support of casino magnates and the "K" Brothers and other wealthy donors.  Obama on the other hand had fewer wealthy democratic donors and a majority of small donors (like myself).  The point being, that people, not money (for the greatest part) won this election.  That's important to note, because all those small donations were from people who made sacrifices for the sake of democracy.  Yes democracy.  NOT for power, favors or tax breaks, but democracy.  If you are familiar with "U.S. CONSTITUTION", then you will understand "We The People".  Enough said.

BarryOBama
BarryOBama

People got  in line to vote and vanished.  Never to be seen again. 

barriemay68
barriemay68

Now if only the Republicans in Congress can learn to work with the President and Senate and get some useful reforms through instead of trying to block everything for insane ideological reasons, the US might have a chance of getting back on its feet again.  We can always live in hope I guess.....

CerebralSmartie
CerebralSmartie

Tim Padgett

Last night Floridians sent a clear message: "If you make it tough for us to vote, we'll vote anyway, no matter how tough it is. Don't you dare try to suppress us, it will not work." Voter suppression will not work!

A relative was a first time voter in one of the nation's largest universities in Florida  and waited 2 hours to cast the ballot. Why? Because early voting was not possible on campus  at all. When early voting was available, it was only available for a short window. To get to the early voting polls, students would need to call a taxi. The lines in some universities were FOUR HOURS long. Did I say that Florida has some of the most populated Universities? People were using Twitter to coax the students to stay in line. Twitter went wild with #standinline tweets, begging the voters stay in line and not to lleave the line. It seemed heroism was required, just to vote! At University of Central Florida, it was  nearing 11 PM and the poor kids were still in line, with helicopters hovering.

For this election, the early voting  period in Florida was cut short by the GOP. This backfired in a big way. The early polls closed early- 6PM, and people were turned away  and returned multiple times before they could cast their ballots..Mom's brought the kids as they waited in long lines. For the early voting session we saw plenty of old people  waiting in two hour lines and there were no chairs for them, they stayed anyway, and crept forward as the lines moved. Voters were determined to vote.

It was tough just to read the Florida Amendments on the ballot- but national observers please take note, Floridians ought not to be underestimated. Voters had deciphered the coded amendments and they spread the word far an wide about what those amendments meant.  The twelve Floridian Amendments that were included in the ballot had language in them that were purposefully confusing. Double negatives were used. It was lawyer speak on steroids. THANKS go to the ORLANDO SENTINEL Sept. 2, 2012, for the editorial position written by Stephen Goldstein who warned us not to be fooled by :"... compassionate-sounding, but intentionally deceptive, titles...They are not what they seem... These 11 amendments are part of disturbing trend in Florida to ensconce ultra-radical priorities near-permanently in the Constitution. They are issues more properly left to legislation, if addressed at all. Prove to members of the Legislature that they can't fool you. Reject them all."

"If you make it tough for us to vote, we'll vote anyway, no matter how tough it is. Don't you dare try to suppress us, it will not work."

This Floridian is smiling. 

DaveFrancis
DaveFrancis

God helpAmerica. Obama’s won a second term, so we can expect Sky high gas prices as heplays into the Environmentalists zealots hands. Even more rules and regulationsfrom the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to inhibit the drilling ofpetroleum, natural gas and the inevitable extinction of the coal industry.  A massive illegal alien invasion underPresident Obama’s watch to give the 20 million illegal aliens a path tocitizenship, in this once sovereign nation. Instead of small business createdthe demoralization as the companies leaving the U.S.A for less taxed countries.Huge influx of more illegal aliens pouring into the country, for Obama’sentitlement programs bringing their babies in even huge waves and anastronomical burden on taxpayers.  Unionsbecoming even more powerful, buying favors from the already corrupt politicalparties. More draining of the U.S. treasury to pay for so called friends inincompetent foreign countries, and the dismissal of a once powerful militarydefense, conceding to huge cuts in budgets to pay for the spongers, scroungersand freeloaders amongst the population who have no intentions of finding a job.An even deeper recession with this administration printing more money, adding toa growing inflation, more expensive food andeven more crushing threats of the Justice Department against states asArizona, Georgia, and a few others in the 50 states by  bloated agencies.Marxists suchas the notorious Eric Holder, ultra Liberal as Janet Napolitano, CommunistCzars  and his rash of simpletons in hisfederal agency who sued states trying to protect their taxpayers from spendingtheir hard earned money on supporting illegal aliens. A clamp down on freespeech, liberties and freedoms by Obama’s liberal’s goons throughout thestates.  More control by the UnitedNations as Obama administration is subservient to them, to provide a global taxof all the industrialized nations. The United States is becoming a more secularcountry under this government, which is prosecuting the rights of the churchand religion because of the harsh Socialist agenda.  This country is becoming more Balkanized by137 foreign languages instead of the one foundation of everybody speakingEnglish.Politicalcorrectness forced on a nation so that terminology such as terrorist is bannedor words attributed to the murderers spawning seed in the Middle East. Theright to bear arms will be something this administration tries to erase in thenext four years.  However, one brightlight at the end of the tunnel, whichever way you see it?  The Republicans with the growing spread ofthe TEA PARTY in the House of Representatives means another four years ofdeadlock, where no major policies can be passed. No bills of any importancewill also be accomplished in the Senate, with a senile old man called HarryReid of Nevada. Nothing and I mean nothing will find passage under majorityleader Reid, because both parties hate each other. I am extremely grateful thatthe House of Representatives holds reign of the purse strings, so funds can bewithheld from the Tax and spend Democrats.This new America has been built on the backs of takers,that is, those who take the entitlements but, do not produce. The Takers wonlast night. Obama cunningly promised more entitlements to an entitlement drivensociety, and, like a moth to the light they embraced his offer and sold theirvotes (souls) for more stuff. As the takers sold their votes they empowered thegovernment, so now Washington can control of their lives as long as the gravytrain keeps rolling. With gridlock in Congress, little or nothing will be done.Obama’s minions used the racial separation, the illegal migrant and immigrantmajor issue and has shown through his first four years of an administrationfull of derision, anti-conservatism and a serious move towards a European typesocialist Democracy. I worked 29 years in the Merchant Marine and earned my 4pensions; one from Australia. I want to know “WHY” for the my hard work ofgrueling, arduous years at sea, that my taxes are taken to pay for the livingstandards of “Freeloaders” and the largest majority of illegal aliens who areparasites at the public trough.The Tea Party is now more significant than ever before withestimates of 41 million voters. We told the Republicans they should be moreconfrontational, more direct and display Obama’s record for the world to see,but their egotism blinded them to the reality. The accomplishments of the TeaParty is the only shining light in the conservative movement and the GOP took completeadvantage of our work as well as the sweat of our backs, and yet, the blindPharisees refused our wise counsel. This leaves us with little choice but tosuck it up, get tougher and protect our American heritage with all we’ve got.  Mr. Mitt Romney worked hard, but played itsafe, stayed in the safe waters and refused to expose ‘America’s FraudPresident’ and what was the result? Mr. Romney lost, and the Republican Partyfailed America. However, the greater issue is far beyond Obama or Romney. ThisPresidential race clearly shows America is a DIVIDED NATION looking for a toughno-nonsense management with real conservative values. The Tea Party is the lastremaining stronghold of TRUE Conservative values in America, we must not stop!The Liberal stream media hasbeen co-conspirators from the commencement and thus the general publicknew little of ‘America’s Fraud President’ and the hateful measuresperpetrated by the Obama Regime. This is why the Tea Party must bringnational awareness to the dangers of the lame stream press and educatethe public on the impact of their recent actions of the ‘takers’ as theysold their votes. The Tea Party must march forward with a 2 prongapproach. We must bypass the lame stream media with truthful andaccurate information.We must tell the Republican Partythey have proven themselves ineffective and therefore must get out ofour way.Now is the time thatwe must surge. We shall not go quietly into the night, but we are ready to takeour stand here, we will not back down, ever.

LMills259
LMills259

Florida is only the most visible example of an embarrasingly obsolete election system in the U.S.  We think of ourselves as leaders in democracy, but it's no longer true.  The other first-world countries like Canada, France, Brazil, and Germany have moved beyond this fragmented hodge-podge where every state or county can twist its system according to its own political leanings.

But because of our dog-eat-dog win-at-all-costs attitude, we resist fairness and efficiency.  Uniform national elections?  Horrors, that's the big bad government meddling in our affairs!  Is there a Tea Partyer alive who recognizes that there IS a reason for centralized government, and that this is the perfect example?  Or do they all see effective democracy as nothing more than another drain on their wallets? 

wonhahm
wonhahm

Let Tea Party destroy themselves.

BluegrassBetty
BluegrassBetty

Florida needs to learn how to better handle elections.  Why can't they figure out how to count the votes?  Again and Again.  So glad Alan Grayson is back, just love him.  I think we may neve again have to have a GOP president.

DAVE_SIRESS
DAVE_SIRESS

As it goes to show, the minority voters that vote for these changes only to change this once great country into a place that they left in the first place.

outsider
outsider

Florida so has to get rid of lurch.. Foggy!! 

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

" Florida still matters. Per usual in the 21st century, it is the national bellwether."

Sheesh you and Grunwald are getting as bad as Texans.  

Having said that-your evidence is just a laundry list of a politically broken state. I sure hope that isn't how you see the country. 

CerebralSmartie
CerebralSmartie

@CarlaAraujo PROUD- So Proud of the people who waited in looooooonnnnnn lines to vote in Florida. Prout Florida went blue.

BarryOBama
BarryOBama

@barriemay68 They need to get to work and legislate and stop worrying about what the president is doing. 

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@DaveFrancis Keep pushing the Tea Party. You'll have the Republican party in the same history book as the Federalists and the Whigs.

UMMLocal12
UMMLocal12

And that is why you will lose the next election, too.

CerebralSmartie
CerebralSmartie

@DaveFrancis Are you sure you are not the crazy lady in our neighborhood who always picks battles with the Home Owner's Association? Your lengthy rant with a "hater" theme, peppered with Biblical allusions, accusatory tone, frequent usage of caps and tightly tightly packed affected language looks startlingly familiar. It was jarring to skim through this.

Renfield
Renfield

Hmmm. Upon close inspection Dave I have determined that the above is all wrong.  Damn, all that ranting for nothing.  And by the way:

A paragraph is a series of sentences that are organized and coherent, and are all related to a single topic. The start of a paragraph is indicated by beginning on a new line. Sometimes the first line is indented.

Except for the for the organized, and coherent part, you are well on your way.

Adam,Spokane
Adam,Spokane

@DaveFrancis Just another example of the intelligence that streams out of the Tea Party. It makes me feel really comfortable knowing that people like you are allowed to carry assault rifles in this country.

uncletimmyrobinson
uncletimmyrobinson

@DaveFrancis  we can expect you to shut up and pray for the President.......work with him and not against him, if can't find anything to say keep your mouth shut!!!!

ARTRaveler
ARTRaveler

Gas prices reflect world-wide prices and that is due, in no small part, to the Chinese middle class wanting cars because they are making so much money because the Romneys of the world have moved so many higher paying production jobs to China.  Canada is self-sufficient on energy and 10 years leter, their prices at the pump are the same as ours.  It that wonderful "FREE MARKET" and the only way to bring them down would be to nationalize the industry and subsidize it.  Want that??

Sue_N
Sue_N

@DaveFrancis Good God, I haven't even read this and I can tell you're an idiot.

tommyudo
tommyudo

You're irrelevant. You lost. Take a  hike and contact the Canadian Office of Citizenship, but then they don't take undesirable aliens, so you may be out of luck. Schadenfreude is a  b***h and I'm loving it.

Jack67
Jack67

@DaveFrancis Using paragraphs might help get your message across. That and taking your meds.

germanguy
germanguy

@DaveFrancis the election is over already.  Accept it and go back into your hole.  As they say "the best man wins".

TyPollard
TyPollard

@DaveFrancis 

Faith based apocalyptic rantings will not help your cause...such as it is.

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

@DaveFrancis Plus evidence suggests that BHO has used Presidential fiat and banned spelling, grammar, and-perhaps most horrifying-paragraphs! 

Adam,Spokane
Adam,Spokane

@LMills259 Never attempt to understand the Tea Partyers. It will drive you completely insane. These are psychotic people who are unable to care for anyone but themselves. They are people whose parents handed them everything. They have never faced a real challenge in their lives. It's like they are stuck in their "Terrible Twos" for their entire lives.

tommyudo
tommyudo

What we saw yesterday is that GOP voter suppression largely backfired by the determination of the voting public. It's a joke that people should have to wait hours to cast a ballot. For federal elections there should be a standarized voting system where we vote by paper ballots, and if need be wait a day or two for the results. The number of precincts should be alloted evenly in a congressional district, and  should have the same amount of poll workers parceled out proportionally. This shouldn't be rocket science. Why should any of the two political parties in a state have total control  of the electoral process?

As for Florida - Grayson in, West out - great, and it looks as if Barack is going to squeak it out.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@DAVE_SIRESS Right because the countries they left from don't have a fraction of the population controlling everything and buying the elections to further their selfish interests. Do you really think it's a coincidence that many of today's immigrants come from Latin American countries which are dominated by a lack of respect for women's rights and the rich owning almost all assets.

Adam,Spokane
Adam,Spokane

Here is a great example of a serious problem the GOP need to face. People like Mr. Siress whose only justification is hatred. We live in a "Melting Pot" and if you don't like it, find yourself another country to abuse.

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

@DAVE_SIRESS "once great country"?  Once great? How dare you run down the United States of America.

Another bigot who hates our country, how novel. 

VinceNOhio
VinceNOhio

@DAVE_SIRESS Which minority group are you referring; the ones who believe in Democracy and call the United States a melting pot where everyone is welcome and actually mean it? Is that minority you are speaking of?  Are speaking about immigrants, like the ones who came from Europe, committed genocide on the indigenous population and turned the land it a national structure similar to the places they left?  If you are going to be racist, please have the decency to warm your clan garb in your photo.  We are moving forward and I am glad people like you are dying off, cheers to your extinction!!!

MartinFulton
MartinFulton

@DAVE_SIRESS  As it goes to show, the minority white Republicans like Dave are convinced that most "Latino" voters are immigrants. That is wrong. In fact census figures from 2010 show that we are predominantly (58% in fact) 2nd or 3rd generation AMERICANS of Latino heritage. Till racist people like Dave figure this out and stop making inflammatory comments like "change this once great country into a place that they left in the first place", the GOP will continue to lose bigger and bigger chunks of our MAJORITY vote and  elections will slip from the grasp over and over and over.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

@outsider2011 Who you tellin'?  At this stage I wouldn't be surprised if there's a backroom deal afoot by GOP establishment to urge Lurch to not seek a second term. 

Sue_N
Sue_N

@Paul,nnto Hey! Texas has never claimed to be a bellwether.

We don't even know what that word means.

ARTRaveler
ARTRaveler

Why don't they work TOGETHER because they have to live in this country also.  Or we can really clean House in 2 more years.  If they want to cut spending, how about staying in Washington and working and then eliminating your healthcare so you can try to buy on that wonderful "free market", get rid of your pension so you can see how good your 401K picks are,  and  get rid of all but 2 staff per House and Senate members since the rest seem to just be stirring the pot to see if it smell.  Get off your duff and get to work.

And Senate, you want a filibuster, plan on talking and sleeping on those cob-webbed cots and eating K-rations like the FEMA-rescued people are doing until you work something out.  No cafeteria, no leaving, no gym, just work.  Enough of this garbage!

anon76
anon76

@ARTRaveler 

They could also crash the global economy and lead us back into recession.  I believe that was Bachmann's approach.