Florida – Clinton Beats Obama, McCain Edges Romney

State of Florida Map

FLORIDA – January 29, 2008

Democratic Primary Results Votes Republican Primary Results Votes
Clinton – 0 delegates 50% McCain – 57 delegates 36%
Obama – 0 delegates 33% Romney – 0 delegates 31%
Edwards – 0 delegates 14% Giuliani – 0 delegates 15%
Huckabee – 0 delegates 13%
Paul – 0 delegates 3%

Last night in Florida, Hillary Clinton’s campaign of middle-class relief and insurance reform clearly outperformed Barack Obama’s call for change in Florida, with Clinton beating Obama
50% to 33%. The Democratic primary vote is thought to have little impact on total delegates because the Democratic party’s national leadership said it would not allow Florida’s delegates to participate in the national convention. Why? Because Florida moved its state primary up ahead of Super Tuesday voting. Florida countered that it wanted its votes to be relevant since half of the country votes on Super Tuesday and a Presidential party nominee emerges at the end of the day. Primaries extend all the way through to June 3, 2008 (Montana-Dem, New Mexico-Rep, South Dakota). So, does the Clinton win and Obama loss matter? It depends of course with whom you speak. My Lamppost thinks it matters and agrees with Clinton. The Florida win gives CLinton momentum heading into Super Tuesday, it gives her relevance, a voice and an ability to raise more money for Super Tuesday campaigning. Obama, of course, will say, it doesn’t matter because no delegates were awarded. Word on CNN last night was that Democrats, especially Clinton, will fight hard to have Florida delegates seated at the nominazting convention in Denver, August 25-28.

Demographic Keys to Victory

Clinton outpolled Obama and Edwards on issues relating to the economy, health care and the war in Iraq. Demographic analysis shows that women, seniors, Latino voters and men (by a narrow margin) supported Clinton more so than her rivals. Obama had a step up on Clinton with voters under the age of 30 years but that demographic comprises only 10% of the voting total. Florida is mostly a seniors state (many from the Northeast) which is why Rudy Guiliani campaigned so heavily here. About 23% of voters said that experience was a determinant and Clinton won that round also. Obama had the support of blacks and probably will carry that support into Super Tuesday.

On the Republican side, McCain stunned Romney in a closed primary (only Republicans are allowed to vote for Republicans – no crossover voting is allowed) which is quite significant given the acrimonious history McCain has had with the party. Romney believed he had the economy vote given his long tenure as a successful businessman in Massachusetts. He was wrong and so were many of the pundits. McCain won the economy vote. McCain also won on national security (given his stellar military career and Florida ties). McCain also won amongst moderates and Hispanics but the one variable that seemed to put him over the top was the endorsement by Florida Governor Charlie Crist, a very popular governor. In an exit poll, almost half of the voters cited Crist’s endorsement as important in their decision-making and half of those voted for McCain. The true conservative vote did sway in Romney’s favor but only by a 10% margin, not enough to turn the overral totals in his favor.

Which Presidential Candidates Have the Edge Going Into Super Tuesday?

It appears that McCain and Clinton are on their way to gaining the official nomination of their respective parties as long as the trends hold true: McCain commanding the economy vote and Clinton winning big amongst women and holding on the experience vote. Romney’s focus on his business experience is not working. In years past, voters – although encouraged by candidates supporting change in a time of political, fiscal and economic turmoil – want their President to still be experienced enough in Washington politics to get things done. Although Romney was Governor of Massachusetts, his focus remains on his business leasdership. Moreover, McCain is a more of a known commodity. If McCain can address some semblance of a conservative platform and unite the parties base, he should have no problems gaining the Republican nomination. Clinton is competing against a Senator (Obama) that has limited political experience and it seems that experience will always beat high profile endorsements (Oprah, Caroline and Ted Kennedy endorsed Obama). Moreover, Obama’s heavy support within the black community will be more representative of Florida’s outcome. Although he controlled the black vote, blacks comprised only 10% of the overall electorate. Similarly, the only southern states voting on Super Tuesday are Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas and Tennessee. There are 17 other states, all mostly located in the Midwest and West involved in Super Tuesday voting. Here’s the wild card: Former President Bill Clinton. He apparently feels or has been advised that a 2-for-1 Presidential ticket (Bill/Hillary) is appealing to voters. If you didn’t know any differently and have been watching TV these past few weeks, you’d swear that Bill and Hillary are running mates. At times, its hard to distinguish Hillary’s voice in his. Could this hurt Hillary? Possibly. However, many voters doubting President Bush’s maturity level and experience had their fears assuaged because of his lineage (former President George H.W. Bush is his father obviously) and political ties (choice of Dick Cheney, a longtime politico in many Administrations). I believe the thinking is the same here. Bill Clinton enjoys a solid approval rating and may judge Hillary on Bill’s record. If so, the gamble may work. But, it is our belief that Hillary’s voice still needs to eclipse that of her husband’s to beat the Republican Presidential nominee.

The Democratic and Republican fields will narrow today with Guiliani and Edwards leaving the race. Guiliani is reportedly going to retire from the presidential race and give his support to McCain. It is believed that Guiliani will also campaign for McCain, a good friend. On the Democratic side, it is believed that John Edwards will also leave the presidential race, as soon as today. So, what happens to all of the delegates amassed by presidential hopefuls who retire from the race prematurely?

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