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October 2012

Florida official says 2.27 million votes already cast Dems lead

Chris Cate, commuications director for Florida Secretary of State, just tweeted the lastest election results:

"Total Votes Cast: 2.27 Million. Early Votes: 817k w/ 291k GOP & 392k DEM. Absentee Votes: 1.45 M w/ 635k GOP & 574k DEM."

Voting machine
Absentee ballots are nearly doubling early votes at this point. Democrats have a 100,000 vote edge in early votes while Republicans hold a 61,000 vote edge in absentee ballots cast. What does it all mean? Too early to tell. Early voting continues for the next five days.

One trend may be emerging....early voting appears to be below 2008 levels.

According to a 2008 story in USA Today: About 4.3 million people cast votes during early voting and absentee balloting; Democrats outnumbered Republicans by almost 360,000 among those voters, but it was unknown how they voted.

Should Democrats be worried? Perhaps.

Allen West gets swapped for Adam Hasner

South Florida voters can be forgiven if they start to feel a bit confused. Many saw this ad...featuring among others a little girl...suggesting that because of Congressman Allen West, people are being denied life saving research. 


Now, there is new ad - and we use that term loosely - that is the same execept for a little picture swap. West is replaced by Republican Adam Hasner.



The ad is by the Democratic House Majority Pac. Both West and Hasner are locked in fierce races with their Democratic opponents. West and Democratic political newcomer Patrick Murphy have had one of the nastiest races in the nation. Hasner and Democratic rival Lois Frankel are not far behind on the stink meter.

In fact, compared to some of the ads their own campaigns have run, this one is pretty mild. Similar ads are being aired by the House Majority Pac in at least six other congressional races around the country.

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Now we have the is Allen West crazy ad

Republican Congressman Allen West has been in a dogfight with Democrat Patrick Murphy to keep his seat in Congress. West, who has never been shy about saying outrageous things, is having some of his most interesting comments tossed back at him in this new Murphy ad.

Floridians are a bit like Carrie these days, drenched in the blood of relentlessly ugly campaign ads from candidates up and down the ballot. West and Murhpy have been particularly brutal. 

Here's the latest:


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Is Obama making us the United State of China?

Yup, back with another new ad from Karl Rove and American Crossroads. In this little ditty, Rove would like voters to believe that we are bowing to China - you know where all those iPhone are built.

Apparently if you own an iPhone or other item made in China you are contributing to our demise. Start tossing that stuff out.


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American Crossroads and small businesses

Karl Rove is very busy lad these days. If Obama wins, Rove and his American Crossroads Super PAC would be among the big losers. Here's another new ad.



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Clint Eastwood does a 30 for Romney

Most celebrities that you meet during a campaign are very passionate about the candidate or cause they support but frequently don't really have a clue. They tend to be strident and ill-informed. There are certainly exceptions. 

They also tend to perform better for a candidate when they have a script. You saw Clint Eastwood at the Republican National Convention without a script. Here you can see him with one. Is he the execption to the ususal celebrity endorser?

This ad comes from the Karl Rove Super Pac - American Crossroads.

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Tampa Bay Times endorses Barack Obama

No one should be surprised that the Tampa Bay Times has endorsed President Obama for a second term. The newspaper is long known for its thoughtful, liberal editorial view and the odds of Mitt Romney getting the endorsement were always nil.

Still, one should take the Times endorsement seriously. While the I-4 corridor is vital to the presidential election - no section is more vital than the one that goes through Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

Florida newspaper endorsements are evenly split with Romney picking up the Orlando Sentinel yesterday.

It is a shame that neither newspaper wanted to wait until the finish of Monday's debate. 

Some excerpts from the Times editorial:

This is not the time to reverse course and return to the failed policies of the past. Without hesitation, the Tampa Bay Times recommends Barack Obama for re-election as president.


By many measures, the economy is improving steadily even if growth remains painfully slow. There have been 31 straight months of job growth, and more than 5 million private sector jobs have been created. The unemployment rate is down to 7.8 percent — not great, but the same as when Obama took office.


There is still too much economic pain, but America is better off than most of the rest of the industrialized world.

Continue reading "Tampa Bay Times endorses Barack Obama" »

Why was the Nelson-Mack debate kept off some front pages?

This first appeared in Columbia Journalism Review.

PenheadBy Brian E. Crowley

One of the shameful things about Florida’s US Senate race is that the two candidates, Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson and Republican challenger, Congressman Connie Mack, agreed to meet in just one debate.

That statewide television debate was Wednesday night. And while it was extensively covered by the media, I was amazed that some of the state’s newspapers did not put their stories on the front page Thursday morning.

My view is that in making that choice, they did a serious disservice to Florida voters. This is an important race not only for Floridians but for the nation, as the contest could help determine which political party will control the US Senate.

It’s true that the content of the hour-long debate left much to be desired (the candidates argued at length about a tax credit for cows on Nelson’s property, and whether Mack was claiming more than one homestead exemption), but as an editor I would have done what most Florida newspapers did—played the debate story prominently on A1.

Editors at The Palm Beach PostThe Miami Herald, and the Tallahassee Democrat took a different route, pushing their stories to the inside pages. The clear signal to readers was that these newspapers did not deem the debate—and by extension, the Senate race—important, and perhaps neither should the readers.

Continue reading "Why was the Nelson-Mack debate kept off some front pages?" »

Orlando Sentinel endorses Romney does it matter

Republicans may hate the "main stream media" but right now they are in love with the Orlando Sentinel which endorsed Mitt Romney for president and slammed President Obama for what it describes as his lack of leadership.

Does the endorsement matter?


Especially if Romney and his surrogrates move quickly to get ads up on television touting the Sentinel's endorsement.  Unless another major Florida newspaper endorses Obama in the next couple of days, Romney will have bragging rights all to himself.

And with Florida's fragile voters it could make a difference. Florida is no sure thing for the Democrats and Obama's lead has always been tenuous. 

The Sentinel may help Romney gain momentum and sway independent voters in the critical I-4 corridor.

Some excerpts from the endorsement:

We have little confidence that Obama would be more successful managing the economy and the budget in the next four years. For that reason, though we endorsed him in 2008, we are recommending Romney in this race.


Other presidents have succeeded even with the other party controlling Capitol Hill. Democrat Bill Clinton presided over an economic boom and balanced the budget working with Republicans. Leaders find a way.


The next president is likely to be dealing with a Congress where at least one, if not both, chambers are controlled by Republicans. It verges on magical thinking to expect Obama to get different results in the next four years.

Continue reading "Orlando Sentinel endorses Romney does it matter" »

Todd Harris flushes Lois Frankel in new Hasner campaign ad

Republican consultant Todd Harris appears to be very proud of this ad that, well, goes where few ad have gone before. This is in the hotly contested congressional race between Democrat Lois Frankel and Republican Adam Hasner

Will this ad help Hasner? You decide.

You might note the product placement in this ad - there appears to be a National Enquirer and a can of Lysol spray in the final scene.



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Does Cuba really matter in the presidential campaign?

This first appeared in Columbia Journalism Review.

By Brian E. Crowley

FLORIDA — Does Cuba really matter?

If asked that question by a reporter, both President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney would likely reply: Yes, absolutely.

Unfortunately, the question of whether Cuba matters—and how, and to whom—is rarely explored in the media, even as Cuba’s role in shaping politics in this key swing state is taken for granted.

Instead, most reporters take the easy way out, especially those from outside Florida. The reporting will generally be something like this:

Presidential candidate X came to South Florida today to assure Cuban-Americans that if elected he will strongly oppose the Castro regime and refuse to lift the embargo until human rights and freedom are restored. Florida’s Cuban exile community is one of this swing-state’s most important voting blocs.

This is careless and cliché-laden reporting. And while President Obama’s shifts in policy and rhetoric have introduced a slightly different frame, too much is obscured when reporters accept politicians’ sound bites, whether it’s Mitt Romney’s declaration that “the regime will feel the full weight of American resolve” or Obama’s promise that he will “send a signal that we are prepared to show flexibility and not be stuck in a cold war mentality dating back to when I was born.”

The United States embargo against Cuba is a complex topic that creates deep divisions in Congress and, perhaps more importantly, within the Cuban-American community. Agricultural interests and other industries outside of Florida have long questioned the validity of continuing the embargo—but have largely failed in their efforts to shift the policy because of the influence of hard-core, pro-embargo Cuban-Americans who long ago learned how to wield political power.

Continue reading "Does Cuba really matter in the presidential campaign?" »

Obama and Romney have more courage than Nelson and Mack

No matter what you think about Barack Obama and Mitt Romney you have to give them credit - they are willing to debate each other. Not once but three times before a national audience. And as much as their strategists may try to control the event, once the camera is on - the two men are on their own.

Everything is on the line for them. Whichever one of them loses this election, it will be the end of his political career. We may not want to have a moment of silence for them at the start of this first debate but we might want to have a silent moment of respect for this important element of our democracy.

Unfortunately, the only silence in Florida is coming from the candidates. Florida's U.S. Senate candidates -  Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Connie Mack - have agreed to just a single debate.

After much squabbling, they will get together on Oct 17 for a debate that will be broadcast on many Florida television stations. One debate. That's it. 

That's wrong.

Florida's voters deserve better. Our politicians enjoy telling us about their courage and leadership but cowering behind 30-second political ads is neither courageous nor the sign of a leader. 

Sadly, Nelson and Mack are not the only pols who fear debates. We see it in congressional races and local races. It's a shame. Even personal contact with voters is limited largely to friendly crowds who already agree. 

Florida voters deserve better. They deserve to hear from their candidates. They deserve to have more than one debate.