Florida’s role and prospects after Super Tuesday

03-04-20 Florida pollsFlorida attitudes toward Democratic presidential candidates as of March 3. Since then, Mike Bloomberg has dropped out of the race and endorsed Joe Biden.     (Chart: FiveThirtyEight.com)

March 4, 2020 by David Silverberg

While the results of March 3rd’s Super Tuesday presidential primaries give former Vice President Joe Biden an impressive lead in delegates, state victories and endorsements, the race isn’t over yet—and Florida could still play an outsize role.

With former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg announcing his withdrawal from the race this morning and Sen. Elizabeth Warren far behind the front runners in delegates, the remaining contests increasingly look like a two-man sprint between Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders.

There are plenty of Democratic primaries and caucuses between now and the Florida primary on March 17.

Next Tuesday, March 10, there will be primaries in Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and Washington state.

The Northern Mariana territory caucuses on March 14.

On March 17, Florida will not be the only state holding a primary. It will be joined by Arizona (67 delegates) and delegate-rich, Illinois (155) and Ohio (136). Still, with 219 delegates, Florida remains the major prize.

(A candidate needs 1,991 delegates to win on the first ballot. If after that ballot there’s no winner, “superdelegates,” elected officials, will vote on the second ballot and the candidate who reaches 2,375.5 delegates will be the winner. There are half votes in the Democratic process.)

How to read the polls

Polling will get frenetic in the run-up to March 17 and there are likely to be a spate of polls in Florida.

The best website for polling information and data is FiveThirtyEight.com. Created by statistician Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight aggregates and analyzes numerous polls and rigorously drills down through the noise to the essentials. Rather than just breathlessly reporting topline poll results, it takes into account the methodologies and reliability of different pollsters in reaching its conclusions.

As of March 3, the FiveThirtyEight average of polls taken of Florida voters showed Biden and Bloomberg as the front runners, with Biden at 27.7 percent of voters and Bloomberg at 24 percent. Sanders trailed at 16.7 percent and Warren at 7.2 percent.

The likelihood now is that most of Bloomberg’s voters will go to Biden.

(You can see the real time polling results on one of FiveThirtyEight’s interactive charts, with the Florida results here. To see national results, just put “national” in the drop-down menu or click here.)

Southwest Florida and the primary

Unfortunately, there is no publicly-available polling data specifically on the Southwest Florida region. While polling is likely taking place for those local campaigns that can afford it, the data has not been released to date and Southwest Florida is too sparsely populated and too small a market to merit special polling by outside parties.


A suggestion: Florida Gulf Coast University could start a polling program to sample Southwest Florida attitudes on a variety of matters, not just politics. The value of such public attitude surveys was shown by the Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s 2019 survey of climate change attitudes. Public opinion surveys of this kind, conducted regularly by a dedicated, non-partisan institution, would be helpful to area policymakers on a variety of issues.


In the absence of such current survey data, past elections are probably the best indicator of public attitudes. In the case of Southwest Florida’s Democrats, the principle indicator is the result of the 2018 gubernatorial primary when Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine was the primary winner, followed by Gwen Graham and only then the ultimate nominee, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

This would seem to indicate that Southwest Florida Democrats are temperamentally conservative and centrist and that would be good news for Joe Biden in this area.

Ultimately, though, it will not be Southwest Florida that determines which way the state as a whole goes in this year’s Democratic presidential primary. The state is likely to be a Sanders-Biden battleground, with a struggle between traditionally liberal strongholds like Miami-Dade and Orlando against more conservative rural and suburban areas like the Paradise Coast and the Panhandle.

This will be a good preview of the likely lay of the land closer to the general election in November.

One thing will be certain, however: When the general election comes around, Florida will be ground zero in the fight between democracy and dictatorship. Every lover of democracy will have a vital role to play.

Liberty lives in light

© 2020 by David Silverberg

One thought on “Florida’s role and prospects after Super Tuesday

  1. Another great article and great suggestion about FGCU doing the polling…

    On Wed, Mar 4, 2020 at 11:27 AM The Paradise Progressive wrote:

    > The Paradise Progressive posted: “Florida attitudes toward Democratic > presidential candidates as of March 3. Since then, Mike Bloomberg has > dropped out of the race and endorsed Joe Biden. (Chart: > FiveThirtyEight.com) March 4, 2020 by David Silverberg While the results of > March 3rd’s ” >

    Like

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