Here's a map that says everything about how Barack Obama won Florida, and all those Democratic wins should make Republicans nervous. The map does not reflect the counties actually carried by Obama or John McCain, but rather where each party improved its showing from four years earlier.
McCain and Sarah Palin gained in low-population, rural counties. Obama and Joe Biden increased their wins or cut their losses almost everywhere else.
Early vote, solid win
By Election Day, 360,000 more Democrats than Republicans had already voted, and Obama wound up winning Florida by about 200,000 votes. So clearly the focus on early votes paid off. One startling factoid: The Obama campaign estimates that 300,000 first-time voters cast ballots early.
Remember how Obama was going to face a serious challenge winning Florida because he was weak with Jewish and Hispanic voters? Forget it.
The Hispanic vote — 14 percent of the electorate — swung 27 points from 2004, with exit polls showing Obama beating McCain 57 percent to 42 percent among Florida Hispanics.
Measuring Florida's Jewish vote is trickier because it accounts for only 4 percent of the electorate. But it's likely to have tracked the national exit polling that found 78 percent of Jews backed Obama. U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Boca Raton, noted that Obama did only one point worse among Jewish voters than Al Gore, who made history in 2000 by naming a Jewish running mate, Joe Lieberman. He credits the strong showing to three things: Biden, whose presence reassured a lot of Jews and other South Florida seniors; Palin, who did just the opposite; and Obama's performances in debates and the economic crisis.
Fracas at the top in GOP
State GOP chairman Jim Greer has been quietly angling for chairman of the Republican National Committee, but first faces the little matter of getting re-elected as state chairman in January.
Martin County GOP state comitteeman Eric Miller is running to unseat Greer, pledging to not interfere in local and state races, reverse a recent move giving the governor and chairman more party control, end "excessive travel and entertainment expenses," and return to conservative roots.
Words from the winner
Check out Political Connections on Bay News 9 today featuring newly elected Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner, who scored an upset in unseating Republican incumbent Brian Blair. The interview airs at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Crist on the election
Obama's victory had a distinctly Interstate 4 element. The Buzz's research unit looked at which counties that backed Republican Gov. Charlie Crist in 2006 voted for Obama. Five of the eight are along I-4: Flagler, Hillsborough, Monroe, Orange, Osceola, Pinellas, St. Lucie and Volusia. Asked about a Democratic surge in and around Orlando, Crist said: "I think that's true … Florida is a microcosm of America, and there are so many of our fellow Floridians who have come here from other states. It's not surprising to me that Florida would reflect what America did."
Steve Bousquet contributed to this week's Buzz.