by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
New Hampshire and Iowa fall on the extremes of the early battles. South Carolina and especially Florida fall into the middle, with the Sunshine State being particularly well mixed. Why does this matter?
It seems pretty clear that Perry is looking to create a voting coalition on the right-hand side of the party, the “very conservative” voters being his main supporters. Romney, on the other hand, is looking to recreate the McCain coalition of 2008, with a base in the moderate side of the party. Presumably, this gives Perry an edge in Iowa and Romney an edge in New Hampshire. That leaves South Carolina and especially Florida as being potential tie breakers.
Second, Florida has a geographically diverse population, Perry and Romney are presumably expecting to carve up the Republican electorate by region – Perry dominating in the South with Romney doing well in the North and potentially the Mountain West (where low turnout caucuses with strong Mormon turnout should aid him).
Florida is kind of a mix of North and South. Obviously, it is below the Mason-Dixon line, but it also has a very national population. …
… Finally, Florida is a swing state in the general election – and has been for decades. In fact, the Sunshine State has voted with the presidential winner every time but twice for the last eighty years.