The selection of Tampa for this year’s Convention was no accident by the Republican National Committee and then-Chairman Michael Steele. For all Steele’s missteps, placing the Convention in this vital state for Romney was a strategically brilliant move which contrasts greatly with the embarrassment going on with the Democrats in North Carolina were they can’t even name the stadium they are holding their rallies due to special interest control over their party (it’s Bank of America Stadium for those who don’t know). The Wall Street Journal looks at a state Barack Obama would like to win but Mitt Romney must win:
If Mitt Romney is to win the presidency, he probably needs to win Florida. To that end, his campaign has set out this week to make sure the state’s voters feel a lot more appreciated than its delegates. The convention is peppered with high-profile Floridians as speakers, including Sen. Marco Rubio, former Gov. Jeb Bush and Attorney General Pam Bondi. After the convention wraps up, Mr. Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, are set to head to Lakeland, just east of here, for a Florida “farewell” rally Friday. The campaign also will deploy a host of surrogates in coming weeks to barnstorm the state. The race in Florida currently is a dead heat. The Real Clear Politics average of state polls shows President Barack Obama leading the former Massachusetts governor by 1%.
In Mr. Romney’s favor are a sluggish economy and higher-than-average unemployment, both of which have put Floridians in a sour mood and possibly amenable to change. The housing market continues to hurt. And Republicans dominate the state, holding the governorship, both houses of the legislature and every statewide office but one.
Vaunted (and Expensive) Obama ground game
To counter that, the Obama campaign has been organizing for almost a year and a half and has 73 offices in the state. The president also is benefiting from long-term demographic changes that are making Florida more racially and ethnically diverse.
Demographics play a major role
In 1996, the state’s registered voters were 81% white, 10% black and 7% “other”—primarily Hispanic. Today, registered voters are 68% white, 13% black and 14% Hispanic. The Hispanic growth has been fueled largely by non-Cuban Latinos, who tilt Democratic. The totals don’t equal 100% due to “unknown” and similar answers by voters.
Make Romney un-electable
The Obama campaign here, echoing its national message, said Mr. Romney’s work at private-equity firm Bain Capital destroyed jobs and that voters, while frustrated, will cut Mr. Obama some slack. “Floridians know we didn’t get into this mess overnight, and it’s not going to be fixed overnight,” said Eric Jotkoff, a Florida spokesman for the president’s campaign.
Spending advantage about to switch sides
Mr. Obama has been outspending Mr. Romney on the airwaves, but that is poised to change. Once Mr. Romney officially becomes the GOP standard-bearer Thursday and can tap his general-election fund, his campaign plans to unleash a torrent of ads in Florida, “every three minutes on TV,” Mr. Doster said.
How Romney wins
Matthew Corrigan, chairman of the political science and public administration department at the University of North Florida, said Mr. Romney needs to energize social conservatives and tea-party supporters concentrated in the northern and southwestern parts of the state, a task helped by his choice of Mr. Ryan as running mate. He also has to win independents in central Florida, which he hopes to accomplish by touting his business credentials, Mr. Corrigan said.
Democrat advantage turns into Republican strength
Mr. Ryan’s proposals to revamp Medicare raised the prospect that the Romney campaign would lose ground with Florida’s seniors, who make up roughly a quarter of the electorate. But recent polling suggests Mr. Romney is holding on to a significant lead among that group. “There’s definitely a trend of seniors becoming more conservative and moving toward Republicans,” Mr. Corrigan said.
Romney has ground to make up
Mr. Romney’s standing among the state’s Hispanics, however, is more problematic for him. Though he enjoys solid support among conservative Cuban-Americans, many non-Cuban Hispanics have been turned off by his rhetoric on immigration. Some Republicans also criticize what they consider the Romney campaign’s anemic outreach to Latinos. “I keep hearing that part of Romney’s plan includes ramping up the Hispanic efforts,” said Ana Navarro, a Republican strategist in Miami. “Now I’d like to see it in action.” Mr. Doster said the campaign has 13 paid staffers dedicated to Latino outreach in Florida and plans to ramp up advertising on Spanish-language media soon.