Both presidential candidates spent time in Florida in the past couple of days, fighting hard for the battleground state’s coveted 27 electoral votes. Hispanics –especially those living in Central Florida– are considered an important voting population to achieving that goal. But in a troubling sign for John McCain, one of his key Hispanic supporters in Florida is apparently unhappy with how the campaign is being run.
“They have completely ignored the Hispanic vote” in the central region of the state, Bill Negron, a member of the McCain steering committee in that area, told correspondent Maribel Hastings of the ImpreMedia Spanish-language newspaper chain.
Negron expressed bewilderment over the way the Republican campaign has been conducted in central Florida. As we’ve said before, that part of the state is considered crucial because of its high numbers of swing voters. Hispanics in the area –mostly Puerto Ricans– tend to counterbalance the heavily conservative south Florida Latino voters, who are mainly Cuban American.
“People ask me where McCain’s people are, where McCain is,” Negron told Hastings. “And it’s not only the Hispanic vote, but the vote in general. I don’t know if they took it for granted, or it’s just that they don’t know what they are doing, or that they don’t have the funds. But there was no work with churches, nor with civic groups and organizations here.”
The complaint is one more expression of Republican disenchantment with the way the McCain campaign has been conducted. But it also adds to other discouraging signs coming from the Sunshine State:
– Most of the polls conducted in October in the state put Obama in the lead, although in most cases the advantage is minimal.
– A new Pew Hispanic Center report shows that this year “more Hispanics in Florida are registered as Democrats than as Republicans,” a very important shift.
– Other GOP Florida operatives criticize the campaign; one told the Orlando Sentinel it was the “most poorly run presidential campaign of the last 25 years. It’s truly Dukakis-like.”
– While a NALEO poll quoted by ImpreMedia’s Hastings puts McCain over Obama, 38% to 35% among Florida Hispanics, President George W. Bush won 56% of Latino votes in the state in 2004, according to the Pew Hispanic report.
Still, the Republican may have ground to recover in these final days. Negron says people ask him for reasons that will sustain their decision not to vote for Barack Obama. If people were sure about voting for Obama, he said, the Democrat would have a double-digit advantage by now, considering the economic situation and the general dissatisfaction with the Bush era.
“If McCain wins in Florida,” he said, “it’s not going to be thanks to his campaign’s efforts but because of Barack Obama’s screw-ups.”