NYT Says– FL’s a Battleground

  The New York Times says McCain v. Obama boils down to 13 battleground states, and Florida’s one of them.

   The others are Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Hampshire, Michigan, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Virginia, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, and Oregon.

   Times pundits Adam Nagourney and Jeff Zeleny point out– Obama’s at a disadvantage, not having campaigned here (since our primary was declared off-limits by the Democratic candidates and national party).  Obama will be trying to make up for lost time soon enough– slated to do a fundraiser at the Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood, week after next.

   Florida is mostly red, when it comes to presidential contests.  Only Bill Clinton in ’96 has interrupted GOP dominance in the state in the last 7 elections (well, there was that virtual tie in ’00).  The last statewide poll I saw (Quinnipiac) showed a dead heat between Obama and McCain.

   Obama may have problems appealing to usually-Democratic Jewish voters, because of lingering (unfounded) suspicions he’s a muslim, and more substantial reservations about his association with Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Usually-Republican Cuban-American voters may be irked by his stated willingness to talk to even unfriendly regimes like the one in Cuba.

   But Obama has the inside track on being the “change” candidate, and Floridians beaten down by rising cost-of-living and a sinking housing market may well be looking for change, in the fall.

   And Obama’s been raising money like nobody’s business.  He’ll be able to reverse the usual GOP money edge, if he chooses to forego public financing (Republicans may call that hypocrisy).

   For political reporters, a hot contest in Florida is manna from heaven.  My professional enthusiasm’s tempered by a personal concern.

   South Florida counties will be switching from touch-screen voting to optical-scan ballots.  Shifts in voting technology rarely seem to go smoothly, and a monster turnout could exacerbate logistical snafus.  Could another Flori-DUH vote hang up Decision ’08? 

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