Archive for July, 2008

“We’re Getting Killed Out There”
July 31, 2008

   The headline– word for word- was the reaction of one long-time Republican Party official who called after seeing our story on voter registration stats on Monday.  The GOP’s getting swamped in South Florida signups this year. 

   Here are the stats we didn’t have time to put on TV–

BROWARD

Democrats

Jan 1   451,855

July 31   493,947

Change  +42,092

Republicans

Jan 1  228,968

July 31  237,085

Change  +8117

“Other” 

Jan 1  174,444

July 31  219,052

Change  +44,608

BOTTOM LINE– Democratic registration is up 5 times as much as Republican.  “Others”– minor parties and “independent” voters are gaining most of all.

MIAMI-DADE

Democrats

Jan 1   459,370

July    510,037

Change  +50,667

REPUBLICANS

Jan 1    360,458

July      367,878

Change  +7420

No Party Affiliation

Jan 1    217,498

July   226,512

Change  +9014

BOTTOM LINE– Democratic registration is up 7 times as much as Republican.  Far fewer new “independent” signups than Broward is seeing.

  

 My Republican friend– a fixture in Miami-Dade party activity– was stunned by the figures.  She knew times were bad for the Republican “brand”, but not this bad.

   She says the “527’s”– groups like “People for the American Way” and “Mi Familia Vota” are a huge factor, and even hints darkly that they may not be turning in applications from people who want to register Republican, though she has no proof.

   Democrats say, of course, that these registration figures are proof of change in the air– that Republicans will pay the price for Florida’s and the country’s hard times under GW Bush.  The Congressional campaigns of Joe Garcia (facing Mario Diaz-Balart) and Raul Martinez (Lincoln Diaz-Balart) trumpet each registration “book closing” as fresh evidence that their Districts are growing ever-bluer.

   But Florida never votes its registration numbers– Democrats still have a 42-37% registration edge, but Republicans have had the edge when it counts, statewide– the Governor & Cabinet & US Senate races.

  And, of course, the presidential races of 2000 & 2004.  The Quinnipiac poll released this morning has Obama two points ahead of McCain– within the poll’s margin of error.

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FL’s One-Sided Ad War
July 30, 2008

    Nearly every Florida viewer/voter has to have seen at least one– those Barack Obama “here’s who I am” ads that have been running since the Illinois Senator wrapped up the nomination.

    Well, the University of Wisconsin’s “Advertising Project” reports today that Obama’s spent $5,028,000 on Florida’s airwaves thus far… more than in any other state.  Because he and other Democrats skipped our outlaw primary, perhaps that’s no big surprise– Obama’s airing the introductory ads that ran in other states months ago.

    Overall, Florida ranks #4 in campaign-ad spending since the general election race came into focus in early June.  The combined spending of the McCain and Obama campaigns is greatest ($10-million) in Pennsylvania, followed by Ohio, Michigan, and then Florida.

    Other interesting factoids from the UW study:

·        In terms of issues, the two campaigns largely appear to be talking past each other. The top three issues that Senator Obama addressed in his television ads were jobs, welfare, and defense policy, respectively.  Senator McCain talked about energy policy, national defense, and economic recession in his ads.

 ·      Throughout the primaries Senator Obama labeled himself the candidate of change.  Since winning the Democratic nomination, however, less than 1 percent of his ads mention the word change.

·        Senator McCain used the word hope in over 34 percent of his ads, while Senator Obama has not used the word hope since June 3rd.

·        Once the target of much criticism for not wearing an American flag pin on his lapel, Senator Barack Obama featured the flag in over 68 percent of his ads. The flag appeared in approximately 37 percent of Senator McCain’s television advertisements.

·        In terms of total campaign advertising, the Philadelphia market has received the most campaign spots, followed by the Detroit and Cleveland markets.  (No FL city made the top 20)

Time Mag– Again!
July 14, 2008

  At least this time, we’re not the cover story.  Still, a Time magazine article is again full of gloom and doom about Florida, which the magazine’s headline suggests may be the “Sunset State”. 

   Last time, it was Miami that came in for a withering Time assessment– “Paradise Lost” blared the headline on the cover.  That was in November 1981, when crime and drugs and refugees and race riots were dominating local headlines.

  I covered the fallout, and watching some of WTVJ’s coverage of the “Paradise Lost” controversy brought back memories and spurred some reactions in me. 

   Back then, it was all about tourism.  Locals fretted that bad publicity would keep visitors away.  Visitors were, after all, phoning up the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce and asking “Is it safe to trravel there?” The immediate response was to increase the tourism ad budget, and print up buttons declaring “Miami’s for Me”. 

  Eventually, Miami’s image was restored.  “Miami Vice” made the area look a little dangerous, but way too cool to pass up.  And it’s certainly true that the history of the state is one of big booms and big busts.  Another big boom may be a few years away.

  But now, it’s not a matter of localized problems scaring off visitors.  In fact, tourism hasn’t been in bad shape.  It’s residents that are leaving.

  Just last week, census figures showed cities like Hollywood and Coral Springs losing population– unheard-of in South Florida history.  Friends just back from visiting their second home in North Carolina report (maybe with some exaggeration) that 25% of the license tags they saw up there were Florida plates.  These friends say they’re considering moving up to NC.

  The term for FL transplants in NC is “halfbacks”… people who moved from NY down to Florida during boom years, but are now moving halfway back home.

   The problems seem bigger now than in ’81 (though maybe problems always look easier to solve in the rear-view mirror).  This time– it’s all of Florida facing a big “piper must be paid” moment.  Pessimism about the state’s economy is near-universal (though, as long as Charlie Crist draws breath, it won’t be universal among Floridians).

   And even if the economic challenges are of the usual, cyclical variety, the threat of global warming on a low-lying peninsula looks less and less like it’s subject to cycles, certainly not cycles controlled by the hand of man.