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Our View

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  • | 5:00 a.m. November 11, 2010
  • Sarasota
  • Opinion
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At least the ads are off the air.

But like most other media, we can’t resist from picking at the Nov. 2 election with a few post-mortems of our own.

Analyzing some of the results is revealing. That’s how you spot the trends and changes.

In Florida, there were no big trends or changes. Voters continued to follow the patterns of the past 20 years. Indeed, Florida is a lot like the United States: predominantly red and Republican in the lesser populated and rural areas (with a few exceptions near Tallahassee) and deep blue Democrat in the urban areas and the state’s major college town of Gainesville and the seat of state government, Tallahassee.

This pattern should be no surprise. The blue regions tend to be those where there are the most recipients of government checks. It’s accepted knowledge, too, the large urban areas tend to attract the most liberal voters.

Perhaps an anomaly might be Palm Beach County, among the bluest of the blue counties. Normally, you might expect one of the wealthiest counties in Florida to side with conservative, Republicans, the way Collier County/Naples does. But the roots of the wealth in Palm Beach is much like the Warren Buffett-Bill Gates wealth — once capitalistic, but now that they’ve got their foundations, trust funds and inheritance, they tend to shift to the left.

Palm Beach County, for instance, voted 61% for Barack Obama in 2008 and 58% for Democrat gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink — two of the highest percentages in those elections.

As always, Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade are automatics for the Democrats. Especially Broward. Sink won 64% of the vote there.

But where close elections are often won and lost in Florida are in the urban counties of Orange (Orlando), Hillsborough (Tampa) and Pinellas (St. Petersburg-Clearwater).

When you analyze the gubernatorial voting results in these three counties, it’s evident that this is where Sink ultimately lost the election.

In Miami-Dade, Sink came close to winning by the same percentage as Obama did in 2008. But in the other three central Florida counties, she gave up three to four percentage points to her opponent and the ultimate winner, Republican Rick Scott. Ever-present pundit Susan McManus of the University of South Florida even expressed her surprise on election night at Sink’s less-than-expected margin in Hillsborough County.

The ultimate difference came from voter turnout. As George W. Bush and Karl Rove did in the 2004 presidential election, the Republicans did a better job than the Democrats getting out the vote.

Here are two statistics that illustrate the point: In this year’s general election, Democratic votes amounted to 59.7% of the total Democratic votes cast in the 2008 presidential election. Republican votes amounted to 64.7% as many votes cast in 2008. In short, the Republicans got out the vote.



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