Political Hay

Florida Hearts Hillary

Doesn’t fancy Crist or Scott.

By 7.28.14

Orlando, Florida rally, October 20, 2008 (Creative Commons/Nathan Forget)
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I know, I know, it’s early. But as of now the elves at Quinnipiac say Mz. Hillary leads all of the likely Republican presidential candidates for Florida’s 29 electoral votes in 2016. (29!) Recently reliably red, Florida now trends deep purple. It went narrowly for the little hustler from Chicago in 2008 and 2012.

If Quinnipiac is measuring the Florida political universe correctly, and the presidential election were held last week, La Clinton would have beaten Jeb Bush 49 to 42. She would have bested Marco Rubio 53 to 39, Rand Paul 53 to 37, or Chris Christie 54 to 33. 

Asked who they fancy for their presidential nominee, 21 percent of Florida Republicans go for Bush, 18 percent for Rubio, 10 percent for Ted Cruz, 8 percent for Paul, 7 percent for Mike Huckabee, and 6 percent for Christie.

On the Democratic side, Clinton essentially runs the table, with a few shut-ins favoring Joe Biden (what a dull country we would be without our eccentrics), and the odd Cherokee doing a war dance for Elizabeth “Crazy Left” Warren. All non-Hillary alternatives remain in the mid-to-low single digits.

Although Floridians now prefer the likely Democratic candidate for 2016, they don’t much care for the Democratic president they currently have. Barrack Obama loses in the approve/disapprove category by 52 to 44 percent. A clear case of buyers’ remorse. (See above re “went narrowly for…”)

Quinnipiac also took Florida’s temperature in the much-watched but little appreciated governor’s race. The findings there, to the surprise of no one paying the slightest attention, is that Floridians don’t particularly care for the incumbent Republican or his Democratic challenger. In a head-to-head matchup, Democrat Charlie Crist leads Republican governor Rick Scott by 45 to 40. This is a fall-off for Crist, who led in the head-to-head Q-poll by 10 points on April 30.

When Libertarian candidate Adrian Wylie is thrown into the mix, Crist’s lead is cut to two points — 39 to 37 — which is within the margin of error. Only 39 percent said they think Crist is trustworthy. Just 40 percent trust Scott.

Wylie is the stated preference of 9 percent of voters, which has to reflect more dissatisfaction with Crist and Scott than a genuine preference for the Libertarian as there aren’t nine voters in Florida outside of Wylie’s immediate family who know who he is and what he stands for. (No, he’s not the guy who starred in the “Road Runner” cartoons — that was Wile E. Coyote.) Among independents, Wylie draws more of his support from Crist than from Scott, not a good sign for Florida’ political shape-shifter.

In other Florida political news, newly minted Republican Congressman David Jolly, who represents St. Petersburg and environs, joined a select club and got some blowback for his trouble. Jolly said last week that he supports a recent Florida Circuit Court ruling that overturns Florida law which defines marriage as being between one man and one woman. Jolly becomes only the eighth Republican member of the U.S. Senate or House to support same-sex marriage. For those keeping score, the other seven are: Sen. Susan Collins (Maine), Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Sen. Mark Kirk (Ill.), Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.), Rep. Richard Hanna (N.Y.), and Rep. Charlie Dent (Pa.).

Jolly explains what his critics say is a new position on the issue, and which he says is not, in an email reported by the Tampa Tribune: “As a matter of my Christian faith, I believe in traditional marriage. But as a matter of Constitutional principle, I believe in a form of limited government that protects personal liberty. To me, that means that the sanctity of one’s marriage should be defined by their faith and by their church, not by their state. Accordingly, I believe it is fully appropriate for a state to recognize both traditional marriage as well as same-sex marriage, and therefore I support the recent decision by a Monroe County Circuit Judge.”

Let’s skip the fact that the statement is ungrammatical, or that it is not clear what he means by a “faith” that “sanctifies” same-sex marriage. Jolly caught flack from some of his supporters who claimed he said during the campaign that he supports Florida’s law confirming traditional marriage. A very cross open letter to Jolly from a few dozen of his disappointed supporters and financial contributors states the case:

We recently learned of the complete reversal of your position on homosexual marriage from the Washington Post. Please know how profoundly disappointed we are in this decision.

So many of us worked, walked, called, gave money and voted to help you get elected and defeat the liberal Democrat Alex Sink because you personally assured us that you were a conservative Republican who believed that marriage was between one man and one woman.

In church after church, you publicly stated your support for the policy behind Florida’s law and Florida’s constitution which clearly defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman, as over 30 other states have done. 

These folks may be cheesed off, but they can’t take it out on Jolly in November. He has no Republican primary opposition, and the Democrats couldn’t come up with a candidate to oppose him. Jolly won a March special election to replace long-time Republican Congressman Bill Young, who died last October.

Same-sex marriage may play a minor role in the governor’s race as well. Crist supported Florida’s traditional marriage amendment that 62 percent of Floridians voted for in 2008 when Crist was Florida’s Republican governor. But now that he’s a Democrat, and all-left all the time, he whoops up gay marriage in order to excite the Democratic base, which he must get to the polls if he is to have a chance against Scott.

Scott, who of late has developed a distinct aversion to taking a clear stand on any controversial issue, has adopted a version of Jolly’s I-feel-very-strongly-both-ways dodge. Asked about the issue at an event last week, Scott, who voted for the 2008 traditional marriage amendment, said: "In my case, I believe in traditional marriage. Also, I don't want anybody discriminated against." Translation: PLEASE don’t ask me about this.

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About the Author

Larry Thornberry is a writer in Tampa.