Politics

Almost Single-Handedly, Mighty Miami-Dade Delivered Florida to Obama

By: Nancy Smith | Posted: November 26, 2012 3:55 AM
 Ray Austin
No, Florida did not give President Barack Obama a re-election mandate on Nov. 6. But Miami-Dade County did -- and in stunning fashion.  

Of the 4,235,270 votes cast for Obama statewide, the president won Florida by just 73,189 votes.

And some 69,000 of them -- a whopping 94 percent -- came from his increased vote margin in Miami-Dade County over 2008 numbers.

"Obama won Florida's 29 Electoral College votes by saddling up Miami-Dade County, hanging on for dear life and riding it like a bucking bronco in a rodeo championship," said Joe Lawrence, a Democrat-leaning political consultant in Miami-Dade.

Obama's vote margin in Miami-Dade County was almost 50 percent over his 2008 totals. He pulled in 139,280 votes four years ago, but jumped to 208,174 three weeks ago.

Lawrence said the 2012 election was a milestone for the Democratic Party in Miami-Dade. It was the first time a Democratic presidential candidate ever won the battle for absentee ballots in the Gold Coast county -- Obama squeaking by with a 382-vote margin.

"The Democrats had one powerful machine on the ground. In Miami-Dade alone they mustered more than 100,000 unpaid volunteers and got tens of thousands of new voters registered." 

A look at six of the state's most urban counties -- where pockets of likely and registered Democrats are deepest -- Obama generally did better this year than in 2008, but Miami-Dade was the outlier of all outliers.

Consider these numbers in comparison with Miami-Dade's:

-- In Broward County in 2008, Obama's winning edge over John McCain was 254,909 votes (67 percent to 33 percent); in 2012, his edge over Mitt Romney was 263,698 votes (68 percent to 32 percent).

--In Palm Beach County in 2008, Obama beat McCain by 135,206 votes (62 percent to 38 percent); in 2012, he beat Romney by 102,161 votes (59 percent to 41 percent).

-- In Pinellas County in 2008, Obama beat McCain by 38,233 votes (54 percent to 46 percent); in 2012, he beat Romney by 25,774 votes (53 percent to 47 percent). 

-- In Hillsborough County in 2008, Obama's edge over McCain was 36,608 votes (54 percent to 46 percent); in 2012 his edge over Romney was 36,246 votes (53 percent to 47 percent).

-- In Orange County in 2008, Obama took McCain by 86,177 votes (59 percent to 41 percent); in 2012 he took Romney by 85,170 votes (59 percent to 41 percent).

-- The total in all six urban counties, including Miami-Dade: in 2008, 690,413 votes cast (60 percent for Obama, 40 percent for McCain); in 2012, 721,223 votes cast (60 percent for Obama, 40 percent for Romney).

A former Republican state legislator and political observer who asked not to be identified said Obama for America, the president's grassroots campaign team, has put the GOP on notice. "These people had a strategy that worked to connect their candidate and their policies to minorities, to the Hispanic community and to women.

"They went into Miami-Dade with a message. They said we care about you and they don't. We respect your rights and they don't. They want to take things away from you and we don't. They want to make you poorer and we don't.

"They imbued these people with a sense of entitlement as American citizens and made them proud to fight back against a party that is taking America away from them, not trying to give them back the American dream," she said. "They bought the whole Democrat line, but that was because we weren't there to explain, to throw our own arms around them. We never fought back."

Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith has promised to employ the same strategy in the Sunshine State in 2014 as Obama for America did in 2012. Said Smith, "The Obama for America people did a good job finding where the votes are and focusing on them. ... Shame on us if we haven't learned from them how to keep this momentum going."

Said the former legislator, "We had Barack Obama winning in only 12 of 67 counties. That's no mandate. I expect, I hope, the Republican Party of Florida has taken the Miami-Dade avalanche effect under advisement and is scheduling some serious restrategizing meetings."



Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews or at (850) 727-0859.



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