Florida determined the last presidential election, and this year could well see a replay. Florida has 10 percent of the electoral votes needed to become president. It’s probably impossible for Bush to win without Florida and next to impossible for Kerry to prevail without it.
So what’s happening down there? Plenty, as it turns out.
A new Miami Herald/St. Petersburg Times poll shows that as of last week Kerry “holds a 49 to 43 percent lead over a president who just four months ago led every potential Democratic challenger by as many as 18 percentage points.” Ralph Nader drew 3 percent support in the poll.
Among the findings of the survey, which had a 3.5 percent margin of error:
-- More Florida voters disapprove of Bush’s job performance than approve.
-- A majority of voters believe that the United States is ''moving in the wrong direction'' under Bush -- a marked reversal from two years ago, when 7 in 10 voters, including half of Democrats, approved of Bush's job performance.
"Florida is on the knife edge of partisan balance," Lance M. deHaven-Smith, a professor at Florida State University who has studied voting patterns tells the New York Times (free site registration may be required). "It's a place where little things can alter the turnout just enough to tip the scales."
Unsurprisingly, both campaigns are working feverishly to organize their voters, get their ads on the tube and get their candidates on the ground. Bush has visited Florida 19 times since he took office and Kerry is campaigning there now.