Obama campaign rides on Florida
Published: Sunday, September 9, 2012
Updated: Sunday, September 9, 2012 14:09
President Barack Obama’s presence in Florida this past weekend signifies that his campaign is getting down to business about achieving re-election in November. A boost in poll numbers after last week’s Democratic National Convention may also be a sign that Obama will be successful in rallying support to win the Sunshine State for 2012.
With unemployment hovering above the national average in Florida at 8.8 percent, more talk about job creation and growth needs to be on the agenda. The spirited hope and change rhetoric isn’t going to cut it this time around. Although Mitt Romney has criticized Obama’s frugal economic plans, which include defense cuts and taxes on higher-income households, he has been successful in continuing to focus on jobs, regardless of the fact that there is little experience and planning behind his words. This is what people care about, and Obama must steer the conversation back to job creation to ease the minds of many who are out of work, especially in Florida. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, coined Obama’s stimulus package, has saved or created more than 3 million jobs.
What is rarely taken into account, however, is the massive hemorrhage the job market endured at the end of 2008, a mess that Obama inherited from Bush’s last term in office. Public sector jobs across the nation will continue to suffer due to state-level budget cuts, as Florida residents have experienced. Hiring freezes along with slashes to education and public safety funding have pushed so many into retail and hospitality industries that even entry-level jobs have become competitive. Time after time, federal funding has been rejected by state officials for various projects that would boost jobs, such as health care grants and funding for a rail line. Democratic initiatives to change this during the past four years haven’t been recognized simply because they’ve been thwarted at our state level by the conservative agenda.
Obama’s focus on the Affordable Care Act, an important and essential legislative triumph, should also help sway undecided voters.
“I will never turn Medicare into a voucher system,” Obama promised in St. Petersburg on Saturday. “No American should have to spend their golden years at the mercy of insurance companies. People should retire with the dignity and respect and the care that they have earned.”
This sharp contrast from the GOP platform on Medicare may also help Obama win the senior vote in Florida. The Affordable Care Act’s $716 billion in cuts to Medicare are composed of cuts to hospitals and providers, and do not touch seniors’ Medicare benefits. Obama must effectively communicate this to Florida’s senior population to secure its vote in November.
The RealClearPolitics average of Florida polls shows Obama with a slight advantage at 47.3 percent and Romney at 46.7 percent. With 29 electoral votes, Florida is by far one of the most important swing states for Obama to win, along with Pennsylvania and Ohio. All three states went blue in 2008, and he’ll need a repeat performance with a focus on these issues to get a chance at a second term.