Some 300,000 registered Democrats have vanished in the key swing state of Florida since the 2008 elections, new official figures show.
Fewer than 4.6 million will be able to vote in the state's Democratic primaries next week. That's down from 4.9 million who were eligible in
2008 when a bright young candidate called Barack Obama was carrying the party flag.
Now, after nearly four years of Obama in the White House, enthusiasm for the party has waned in the battleground state with the big electoral prize, even as the state's population continues to rise.
Democrats still hold a numerical advantage over Republicans. There are now slightly more than 4.1 million who ally with the GOP, the News-Press of Fort Myers reports. That figure is up by about 1 percent on 2008.
There are 2.4 million registered with no party affiliation, who will not be able to vote in either party's primary, as well as some 340,000 registered with minor parties.
The number of independent and non-party voters has swelled in recent years.
A decade ago it stood at 1.7 million, rising to 2.5 million by 2008. The current figure shows 2.7 million are neither Democrats nor Republicans.
Those figures suggest that the independent vote will be more influential than ever in November and could spell problems for Democrats statewide.
Indeed, Gov. Rick Scott told Newsmax
early last month he predicts Florida will go red in 2012.
“I think this election is going to be about jobs, the candidate that has the best jobs plan," said Scott, a Republican. "President Obama has had his four years to get our economy going. Our economy has not improved under his term.
“We’re doing the right things in Florida. We’ve reduced taxes. We’ve reduced regulation. We’ve streamlined the permitting process. We’re bucking the national trend. Our unemployment rate has dropped faster than almost any other state.
“But we need a federal partner that’s going to do the right thing," Scott warned.
And political analyst Doug Schoen believes Obama doesn't have enough of the Jewish vote to win Florida.
The president, polls show, has about 60-65 percent of the Jewish vote, but, says Schoen, if Obama does not win “a full 75 percent...it could, in fact, be decisive.”
"Jews are necessarily torn, because they see the president as somebody who, aspirationally, has committed himself to Israel,” he told Newsmax last month. “At the same time, there have been concerns about the settlement policy and also about the nature of his commitment to do whatever it takes in Iran."
Indeed, both Romney and Obama have been shoring up their base in Florida;
Obama focused on ratcheting up voter turnout in Florida's university towns, its Hispanic enclaves around Orlando and its Jewish communities in the south.
Romney is working to squeeze as many votes as possible out of north Florida's conservative military bastions, the senior-heavy Gulf Coast and Miami's Cuban community, the Associated Press reported.
And key to both campaigns is their strategies to energize core supporters in the central Florida swing-voting region that's key to winning the state and its 29 electoral votes. Voters along Interstate 4, which stretches from Tampa Bay to Daytona Beach, will determine the outcome of the election, some analysts believe, as about 45 percent of the state's voters live in that 17-county area.
Next week's primaries in Florida will focus on the state's House seats. The most closely watched will be in the 7th District in the center of the state, where incumbent Republican Reps. John Mica and Sandy Adams are running against each other due to redistricting. The district is considered solidly Republican, so the winner is likely to gain re-election.
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