Monday, January 28, 2008

The Endorsement War Is Finally Over

Tomorrow, Florida voters will go to the polls a final time. By the weekend, over 800,000 early votes had been cast. An additional 421,000 absentee ballots have been requested. Tuesday is shaping up to be one of the highest voter turnouts in years. I think that means that Floridians are paying attention and they are overwhelmingly hearing McCain-Obama.
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I did a review of the papers that issue endorsements in such races and the high profile politicians who are endorsing. Here's how it shakes out.

McCain sweeps the newspaper endorsements with 10. He also received the University of Florida's student paper endorsement. The big plum, however, was Governor Charlie Crist's endorsement which was a surprise to even McCain. That was the final nail in Giuliani's coffin, by the way.

McCain also captured Sen. Mel Martinez's vote which is meaningless. With McCain's immigration stance, he's okay with the Republican Hispanic community but this single issue will sink him with the Republican base. That's why Romney is still so strong in the polls.

Obama captured 7 endorsements including what I thought were some unlikely ones: Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel and the Pensacola News-Journal. He also captured the student newspapers for UF and the University of Central Florida. He's picked up a lot of local leader support, but not a big name. Still with the national endorsements he has, and the demographic in Central Florida, he could make the race a lot closer than anyone expects.

Clinton captured 2 Central Florida newspaper endorsements and struck out in the rest of the state. Nothing in South Florida is very bad as these are Democrats who turnout and vote - older and very much her demographic. She did manage to pick up Senator Bill Nelson which struck most of us as him jumping on the bandwagon.

John Edwards picked up one endorsement that carries some weight on the Central Florida east coast. The area, though, doesn't turn out to vote and it will lead to him being just a blip. In an aside, I live in a very red county and Edwards led every candidate - both parties - in fundraising here.

Ron Paul captured the UCF student newspaper endorsement which was quite a surprise. UCF is known for being quite conservative relative to other state colleges.

Giuliani managed to pick up only the endorsement of Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum. Like Senator Nelson, he's also run for just about every office in the state (mostly against Nelson). His opinion holds some sway with the Republican base - I think probably more than Crist's. This might be an advantage with Florida's closed primary, but NOTHING can save Giuliani, especially now that Charlie is off-ship.

Romney and Huckabee scored goose eggs in endorsements from any meaningful source. Tom Feeney is Romney's main guy but that's not a good thing with his troubles. Adam Putnam - the 3rd ranking Republican in Congress - was a Thompson man and it's not likely that he'll make another endorsement since he hasn't done it by now.

Overall, I think the Republican race will be closer than we think and Romney may pull it out despite the media lovefest with McCain. Clinton wins going away but Obama may be a little closer that we thought if young voters show up.