Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Though a minority, Republicans could run the table in Florida

TAMPA -- When the votes have been counted next Tuesday, Florida will almost certainly have come up R -- not roses, Republicans. And conservative Republicans at that.

In a state where Democrats have about five percent more registered voters than Republicans, those outnumbered Republicans are early-voting at a rate 20 percent higher than Democrats. And there's no end of the "enthusiasm gap" in sight here. Republicans also out-voted Democrats in the primary here in August.

Polls show Republicans with statistically significant to comfortable leads in every state-wide race save that for governor, where Florida CFO Alex Sink and former health care executive Rick Scott are within the margin of error. Even in this race the latest Rasmussen Poll, an outfit which had a good record of predicting races in Florida in 2008, gives Scott a six-point lead.

Republican candidates for all four Florida cabinet posts, all of whom are running on conservative platforms, are taking poll leads into the final week of the campaign. If they win, they will work with a Florida Legislature that now sports Republican advantages of 26 to 14 in the Senate and 76-44 in the House, and shows no signs of being bluer after next Tuesday.

Republican strength is being felt down the ticket as well. Two east-coast liberal Democratic Congressmen are getting strong competition from conservative challengers. Even Florida's 11th Congressional District -- Tampa and bits of St. Petersburg and Bradenton -- is in play this year. This is remarkable as Florida 11 was drawn by the Republican state legislature to be a sump to pour Democratic voters into so the adjoining districts could remain comfortably Republican. No Republican has ever represented Tampa in the U.S. House since this seat was created in 1962.

To win in Florida 11 a Republican must get all the Republicans to the polls, virtually run the table with independents, and convince some moderate Democrats to go R. Normally this would be out of the question. But 2010 is not a normal political year.

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