Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fighting for Florida

If polls keep trending the way they have in recent weeks, there will be little of the Election Day drama in Florida that defined the previous two presidential elections.

Up by nearly five percentage points in current projections, Barack Obama could conceivably claim Florida's 27 electoral votes early on the night of Nov. 4. That is absolutely amazing. And a testament to the Obama campaign's work ethic and gameplan.

While opponents have tried to reduce Obama to a precocious, lightweight wordsmith (they can't decide whether he's naive or a slickster), the Democratic nominee has doggedly gone about the business of kicking ass at the hard work of culling new voters. This development has gone virtually unnoticed because of the economic collapse, the inanity of Sarah Palin and the Republican resurrection of Bill Ayers as a line of attack.

But Obama's lead in the polls in Florida is even more impressive when you consider that he didn't even visit the state during the primaries. Thus, McCain seemed to have all the advantages this fall: Florida tends to trend conservative; popular Gov. Charlie Crist endorsed him early in the GOP primary; and McCain had a four-month headstart in campaigning.

None of it mattered in the face of Obama's expansive ground game. And, in short, this could be part of the reason McCain seems to have grown surlier on the trail in recent days. McCain and his campaign probably never could have dreamed that Obama would be so willing and able to outwork them in this way.

Florida, in many ways, might be a microcosm of all the little things the respective campaigns did and didn't do over the past few months. Once again, McCain seems to be coming up short.

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