Editor's Note: Florida is one of the key swing states in the 2012 election, along with Indiana, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Nevada. For the next several months, we'll be asking voters in each of these states to describe the mood in their state and discuss what it's like to live in a swing state. Here, we caught up with Florida voter Jack Brookner.
President Barack Obama has been campaigning in Florida, where polls show he is in a dead heat race with Republican challenger Mitt Romney. The GOP candidate will grace a huge in-state stage at the Tampa GOP convention. Obama will mostly be talking about the economy - reminding Floridians - as Gov. Rick Scott has been doing - that things are looking up and jobs are returning. Romney is seen favorably by 47% of Florida voters and unfavorably by 46%; only 43% approve of Obama's job performance, with 54% disapproving.
Florida has been hearing the GOP’s negative but relatively mild ads. “He tried…You tried…It’s okay to make a change now,” the ad says. Another ad by American Crossroads is called "Smoke," which opens with a third party criticism of Obama's negative ads, and then explains why Republicans believe the President is running. President Obama "can't run on that record," the ad states. There are also lots of negative anti-Bain ads.
On the other hand, the Democratic Party has been out-registering the GOP with new voters for the fifth month in a row. Their grassroots organization has organized earlier than the GOP’s. I get calls from the Obama organizers every month to help register voters. But I don’t get calls from the Romney organization - I get emails. The Republicans work through local party groups.
However, some economists feel that the Florida economy has been slowing down lately, so the future is unclear. The U.S. economic recovery is wavering again because of the global economic crisis and political uncertainty, said Sean Snaith, University of Central Florida economist, in his latest quarterly forecast. Snaith said "masochistic" policies implemented over the past few years are resulting in "a cloud of uncertainty that has restrained economic growth and shackled the private sector."
Most of my friends are small business people who are more excited for Romney. I do have some small business friends in construction who are very excited for Obama as well. In fact, their only criticism of him is that he agreed to extend the Bush tax cuts. They say they will abandon him if he continues with that strategy.
Obama's critics talk mainly about economic policy, but they also love to talk about conspiracy theories about his motivations. A former Venezuelan who still owns a private school in Florida, a fierce critic of Obama, wonders why he doesn’t think Chavez is a national security threat to the US.
Fla. Senator Marco Rubio is very popular not only among Hispanics, but generally in Florida. He is a powerful speaker, and would certainly help Romney if chosen to run for VP; it might even be disappointing if he's not chosen.
The Florida primary in February was also exciting, and the political battle here motivates political activity and discussion among all my acquaintances. This has been especially true since the 2010 convoluted and nail biting senatorial election.
Enthusiasm is much higher this year in Florida among Romney supporters than in 2008 for McCain, when economic crisis, disappointment with Bush’s record of “big spending," and unpopular wars dampened the mood. Support for Obama was high in 2008, but seems subdued this year with the economic recession. Obama has not articulated a positive plan to end it.