The Agenda

Quick Post on Florida

Having cited Tory Newmyer’s profile of Rick Scott, let me draw out another passage:

Florida is the biggest swing state and could well determine the winner of the 2012 presidential election — a fact that has some Republicans sweating what Scott’s fractious performance one year into his governorship means for the GOP there. (The Obama campaign is already making it clear that its Florida strategy involves lashing the eventual Republican nominee to the unpopular governor. “We won’t have to work that hard. Rick Scott has made himself a whopping political liability,” says Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic Party’s national chair.) 

This led me to Sean Trende’s RealClearPolitics latest post on Florida, which notes that Obama is trailing Romney in a Quinnipiac poll of registered voters by 3 points. Given the “enthusiasm gap” between Democrats and Republicans, that could prove significant. So we can expect a tremendous, aggressive paid media effort in the state. The picture changes if Rick Santorum is the nominee: the president then leads by 2 points.

 

Bill Nelson’s campaign has pushed back against the Quinnipiac poll, claiming that it oversampled Republicans. 

In November, AARP surveyed Florida Republican primary voters and found the following, according to Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald:

Florida Republican voters have a clear feeling about cuts to Medicare and Social Security: Don’t do it, according to a new poll by the AARP. 

 

By wide margins, the survey shows that Republicans of all kinds — whether they’re Hispanic, moderates or in the tea party — would rather fix the nation’s budget by withdrawing from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, eliminating foreign aid or eliminating so-called tax loopholes.

In light of the source, one might question the results. For example, Mitt Romney’s Medicare reform proposal maintains a defined benefit. His Social Security proposal aims to slow benefit growth for high-earners, starting with younger cohorts, and to raise the retirement age slightly. He goes no further than Marco Rubio, as far as I can tell. Caputo continues:

The issues are particularly important in Florida, which has the largest number of retirees in the nation. The poll shows that 60 percent of the Republican primary voters in Florida are retired, and that 87 percent of all respondents say Social Security benefits are or will be important to their retirement. Nearly 45 percent say they rely on Medicare for health insurance.

What’s unclear is how much of a politically toxic issue these cuts would be. After all, Marco Rubio advocated raising the retirement age for future Social Security recipients, and he was handily chosen to be the Republican Party’s standard bearer before he won the general election last year in the United States Senate race.

This is an important point. It is possible that older Floridians who sort into the Republican primary are somewhat less inclined to vote on protecting Medicare and Social Security to the exclusion of other issues, like foreign policy and taxes.

Reihan Salam — Reihan Salam is executive editor of National Review and a National Review Institute policy fellow.

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