Ron Paul Needs to Focus on Florida
Around the State
Ron Paul’s supporters insist their candidate is gaining momentum as the Texas congressman makes his second bid for the Republican presidential nomination. He certainly has more name recognition and a larger war chest this time around -- but he is flopping badly in the Sunshine State.
With the 2012 presidential election on the horizon, Florida remains the ultimate prize on the electoral map. New York and California look solidly Democratic while Texas is reliably Republican. The Sunshine State, on the other hand, looks -- once again -- to be reliably purple. Not only is Florida important in the general election, it will be one of the most important battlegrounds in the Republican nomination fight.
Paul did badly in Florida in 2008. He garnered 3 percent of the vote and came in a distant fifth in the Florida primary that year. Nor, according to an American Research Group poll unveiled on Monday, is he poised to do that much better in 2012. The poll of likely Florida Republican primary voters found Paul standing in seventh place with 4 percent. Paul has struggled in Florida polls all year.
Retired and active servicemen could be one of Paul’s weaknesses here in the Sunshine State. While the Texas congressman’s supporters boast that their man has the most donations from active-duty servicemen, a poll released in May looking at Jacksonville -- a Navy town and one of the citadels of Republican support in Florida -- found Paul with the backing of 1.2 percent of those surveyed, putting him in ninth place. If Paul, a critic of American military involvement overseas, wants to do better in the Sunshine State, he’ll have to make inroads among Florida’s population of retired military personnel. Florida has more retired members of the armed services than any other state.
The Paul camp seems to understand the importance of Florida and the congressman has been active in the Sunshine State during 2010 and 2011. At this early stage in the campaign, Paul has the foundation of a better ground team in Florida than he did in 2008 and he should have the money to hit the airwaves, always an important factor in a state that stretches almost 450 miles in length with several media markets.
But the fact that Paul’s standing in Florida has not improved over the past four years should trouble his supporters. The knock on Paul is that he will always command the support of his dedicated following but that he cannot appeal outside of it. The American Research Group poll and other surveys of Florida seem to confirm this -- and if Paul does not do better in the Sunshine State, his campaign will be a replay of his 2008 effort, when he made a lot of noise but did not win a single primary or caucus and took less than 2 percent of the total delegates. Not exactly the stuff of revolutions, despite what his backers claim.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com or at (850) 727-0859.