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15 posts from October 30, 2012

October 30, 2012

The Cuban Conundrum and FIU's FL poll: Obama 51-Romney 47 among Hispanics.

Call it the Cuban Conundrum — a problem for pollsters who find Florida Hispanics are far more Republican than anywhere else in the nation.

It’s on full display in the latest Florida International University/Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald poll of likely Hispanic Florida voters showing President Barack Obama clings to a narrow 51-47 percent lead over Republican Mitt Romney.

But nationwide, the poll shows, Obama leads by a far bigger margin among likely Hispanic voters.

The difference in Florida: Cuban voters. Without them, the FIU poll shows, Obama would handily win likely Florida Hispanic voters 65-32 percent.

Not only are Cubans reliable Republican voters — they’re about 70 percent of Miami-Dade’s registered Republicans — but they’re also more likely to answer surveys like the FIU poll.

“Cuban-American voters pick up the phone and answer. They want to be heard,” said Eduardo Gamarra, an FIU professor of Latin American studies who conducted the poll with his political research firm, the Newlink Group.

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Video: Is Florida shifting toward Mitt Romney with a week to go?

Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau Chief Steve Bousquet appeared on Fox News this afternoon to discuss the recent Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9 poll of voters along the Interstate 4 corridor and whether Florida is shifting toward Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney as the campaign enters its final week.

Is Obama's FL camp too confident about Hispanic numbers?

CNN today reported that President Obama's Florida team believes there's a direct correlation between Hispanic voter turnout and the campaign's chances in Florida:

"If President Barack Obama wins Florida, it will be thanks to an increase in Hispanic voters, according to leaders of the president's campaign in the state," CNN said.

"One week before Election Day and three days into early voting in the ever important battleground, Obama's Sunshine State director Ashley Walker told reporters during a pen and pad briefing that early turnout among Hispanics is up 50% from 2008 due to an increase in registration and enthusiasm in the community."

Here's what wasn't apparently mentioned: Obama's Hispanic numbers don't appear to be that rosy in Florida.

Public Policy Polling, a firm that typically surveys for Democrats, found that Obama was actually losing the Florida Hispanic vote 46-54 to Republican Mitt Romney. But it doesn't poll in Spanish, and the sample size was small. Two Mason-Dixon polls this weekend had mixed news for Obama. It showed him up 56-37 percent in the crucial I-4 corridor, but he was down 19-76 percent among Cuban voters in Miami-Dade. And they're amped to vote, casting about 44 percent of the 134,000 absentee ballots that have been mailed in so far.

Then there's SurveyUSA, which doesn't poll in Spanish like PPP, that showed Obama up over Romney among Hispanics in Florida, 58-32.

If the numbers are all over the place, there's a reason for it: The Florida Hispanic vote is not monolithic. Survey in one area (like Cuban-heavy South Florida or Puerto Rican-heavy Central Florida) and your poll can move right or left.

And the voter-registration data isn't so helpful, either.

Hispanics prefer the “no party affiliation” label to being Democrats or Republicans. Since 2008, the Hispanic voter rolls have grown 22 percent overall to 1.7 million, about 14 percent of the electorate. Hispanic no-party affiliation growth: 38 percent. Democratic growth: 22 percent. Republican growth: 7 percent.

So Hispanics prefer right now to be independents. And the polls almost universally agree: Romney's narrowly winning independents right now.

But polls are polls. And ground game is ground game. The best campaign will get its voters out. And it'll win, despite what the polls say.

With flooding and damage in the NE, will talk of a cat fund re-emerge?

Remember four years ago, when the candidates actually talked about a national catastrophic reinsurance fund to spread the risk of natural disasters across state lines, provide a cushion for reinsurance and make insuring disasters more affordable? 

The concept, which first came to life after Hurricane Andrew devastated Miami in 1992, emerged again after the seven-hurricanes of 2004 and 2005. Then-Sen. Barack Obama and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani embraced the idea.

A group of U.S. House members, including then-Reps. Ron Klein, a Democrat, and Ginny Brown-Waite, a Republican, won support for a plan to create a voluntary catastrophe fund modeled after Florida’s Hurricane Catastrophe Fund.

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How much did the Bill Nelson/Connie Mack debate matter?

When Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson faced off in a debate against Republican U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, it's clear they were both armed with plenty of barbs and quips to help fire up their supporters.

But how many people were actually watching? 

While nobody has compiled total viewership, television stations estimated that 42,000 people watched in Tampa and 32,000 in Miami.

The event was held at Nova Southeastern University on Oct. 17, and is the only time the candidates will face-off before voters go to the polls Nov. 6.

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Couriel's latest mailer criticizes Margolis, but it's not what it appears

Photo (2)The latest campaign mailer sent out by supporters of Republican John Couriel’s state Senate campaign has a bit of a Through the Looking Glass feel to it because things really aren’t as they appear. 

For starters, the ad by a political committee backing Couriel attacks his opponent, Democrat Sen. Gwen Margolis of Miami, of being so close to lobbyists that “she travels on a lurxurious private jet to the State Legislature in Tallahassee…paid for by an H.M.O. special interest lobbyist and the taxpayers.” 

Then, it repeats the misleading claims that as a state senator Margolis had something to do with the Affordable Care Act and the $716 billion by claiming it’s a cut to Medicare, which it isn’t. 

Margolis supporters confirmed she does travel on a private plane, usually the one owned by Scott L. Hopes, who also happens to be a candidate for state Senate. Hopes, a Republican, is running against Rep. Dwight Bullard in the Democrat-dominated Miami district.

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Consumer advocate: New trick from insurance companies 'doesn't treat consumers fairly'

Thankfully for Floridians, Hurricane Sandy skipped the Sunshine State. But that hasn't stopped insurance companies from giving Florida homeowners the run-around, according to Florida’s insurance consumer advocate.

Robin Westcott penned a letter to Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty highlighting a new anti-consumer trend has emerged among the state’s property insurers.

After a homeowner submits a claim, the insurance company digs into the homeowner’s financial past to find evidence of a bankruptcy, lien, or foreclosure. If the homeowner has such a blemish on their credit history, the insurance company finds that the customer was never eligible for coverage, and then drops them, without covering their claim.

“This activity threatens not only homeowners’ financial stability but also the state’s economic recovery,” wrote Westcott, calling the practice “potentially unlawful” and “abusive.”

According to Westcott, several homeowners are being dropped from coverage after they file a claim, despite paying premiums to their insurers for years.

The insurance companies wait until the homeowner files a claim before dropping them due to ineligibility.

Westcott letter points out that Universal Property and Casualty Insurance Company is one of the insurers involved in the practice.

“This is a real-life Halloween trick that does not treat consumers fairly. We must give consumers relief from this game of ‘gottcha’,” Westcott wrote.

She has asked McCarty to investigate.

Read her letter here


State ends contract with education website company amid warring lawsuits

Florida is terminating a $20 million contract to build a website intended to help students, parents and teachers master new academic standards.

The Department of Education officially ended the contract on Tuesday, or roughly a week after the Tallahassee technology company hired to build the website filed its own lawsuit against state education officials. Florida has already spent nearly $2.5 million on the project.

The bitter contract dispute leaves in limbo the fate of the Web-based system that was intended to provide practice lessons and tests for the standards that will be phased in for math, English, science and civics over the next two years.

A spokeswoman for the department said that the state is committed to getting the website up and running. But the letter that terminated the contract makes it clear that the state plans to rebid the contract - a process that could take months.

More from the Associated Press reporter Gary Fineout here.


Company says answers about Tampa's flawed nuke plant still months away

Those hoping for an answer by the end of the year on whether the busted Crystal River nuclear plant will be mothballed or repaired will just have to wait some more.

Duke Energy told a state Public Service Commission hearing Tuesday that it may not have a decision until summer 2013 because the company continues to evaluate risks of repairing the broken plant and continues to negotiate with the insurance company about its claim.

Under the terms of a previously negotiated agreement, the continued delays in deciding what to do about the plant mean customers will get a $100 million refund if Duke ultimately decides to repair it. The utility agreed earlier this year that it would provide the refund if it decided to fix the plant but did not begin work by Dec. 31.

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Mack makes a prediction: he won't win majority but will win election

Forget those pesky poll numbers, at least one campaign in Florida is predicting it will win despite them.

Wait? You say that's not news? Well, take a look at the press release sent out by the Mack for Senate campaign. We think it's a rather loose link to his baseball heritage, a kind of Babe-Ruth-like called shot. (Maybe Mack's legendary great grandfather, Cornelius McGillicuddy, the former manager of the Philadelphia Athletics, passed down probability instincts of some sort.)  

MIAMI – With seven days left until Election Day, the Connie Mack for U.S. Senate campaign today predicted that Connie Mack will win the race for the U.S. Senate based on the ongoing internal polling and analysis conducted by the campaign.

Continue reading "Mack makes a prediction: he won't win majority but will win election" »