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Why Red States Turned Blue in 2008 - Florida


Why Red States Turned Blue in 2008 - Florida

Campaign signs stand near at the Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections Main Office on November 4, 2008 in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Photo: Getty Images/Marc Serota
Democrat Barack Obama won the '08 presidential election in Florida over Republican John McCain by a margin of 50.91% (4,073,207 votes) to 48.42% (3,872,553 votes).

Democratic presidential candidates have won in Florida only three times in 40 years: Obama in 2008, Clinton in 1996 and Carter in 1976.

The main reasons for Obama's victory in the Sunshine State include:

Hispanic Voters - Per the Miami Herald, "Marking a historic shift, Sen. Barack Obama won a majority of Florida's Hispanic vote statewide and nearly tied Sen. John McCain in Miami-Dade, where Republicans had long dominated the Hispanic vote.

"No Democratic presidential candidate had ever achieved either milestone since the exit polling of Hispanics first began in the 1980s...

"Polls indicate the state's Hispanic vote may now be divided. On one side are conservative older Cuban Americans, who vote reliably Republican. On the other are younger Cuban Americans coupled with an expanding number of non-Cuban Hispanics, who tend to lean Democratic."

Obama won 57% of Florida's Hispanic vote, compared to Democrat John Kerry winning only 44% in 2004.

New Voters - More than 650,000 new voters, most of them young or members of non-white ethnic groups, have registered in Florida since the 2004 presidential election.

Of Florida's new voters, 71% registered as Democrats, largely in response to a massive voter registration drive by the Obama campaign that used "250,000 volunteers and employees who Democrats enlisted to help the Obama campaign at about 100 offices around the state" per the Wall Street Journal.

Independent Voters - Independent and moderate Repubicans "were turned off by Sen. McCain's decision to focus much of his campaign on the Republican Party's religious, conservative base," per the Wall Street Journal.

To attract older independent and moderate Republican voters, the Obama team dispatched Bill and Hillary Clinton, separately and jointly, and Al and Tipper Gore to campaign extensively in targeted portions of Florida.

President Bill Clinton comfortably won 1996 reelection in Florida, and, of course, Vice President Gore narrowly and controversially lost his 2000 bid for the White House in Florida.

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