Election 2010: Prediction for Florida Governor

Will the Governor's Mansion stay in the GOP hands with Scott?

I know, many of you have been asking me how could I do the predictions on other state races and yet not do the Florida election predictions, when I am supposedly a “Florida-specific blog”? Don’t worry, I was just waiting until the last day for my predictions to add more suspense.

So, lets dive right into it.

First, lets look at the Governor’s race. Of course, polling in this race has been all over the place. One minute, you have Alex Sink winning by 7%, the next minute you have Rick Scott winning by 7%. Basically, the polling for this race has been all over the map, and predicting any winner based on polling alone is nearly impossible.

Therefore, we are going to try to put a little more sense into the race.

Most races in Florida are determined in the I-4 Corridor. And while Orange County has been overinflated as the bellwether predictor of what happens in statewide races, the real predictor is usually Hillsborough County. The only time that Hillsborough usually doesn’t go with the flow is when a candidate is from the Tampa Bay area. And where is Sink from? Yep, the Tampa Bay area. So we can junk that idea.

Still, as with every election, the I-4 Corridor will be considered the determining factor in a tight race. And this time, Orange, Osceola and Volusia Counties might elect the next Governor. If either candidate is able to sweep all three counties, they should win the race.

But even with I-4 being as important as it is, other parts of the state that aren’t usually determining factors in statewide races might come into play.

First, lets look at North Florida. For our non-Florida followers, North Florida and the Florida Panhandle are two different areas. North Floria is the area of the peninsula that is located in the northern part of the state. Jacksonville, Gainesville, Lake City and Live Oak are all communities that are in this area.

North Florida tends to vote very Republican, yet has a number of registered Democrats. Many of these voters still consider themselves “Dixiecrats”, and remain registered Democrats. But unlike other southern states, like Mississippi and Alabama, North Florida Democrats have swung over to the GOP in most local elections.

Still, even though they are gravitating toward the GOP, one thing that North Florida hates is carpetbaggers. They love to vote for their native Southerners. In 1980, while Jimmy Carter was getting destroyed in the Presidential election throughout the United States, he still won North Florida. Yes, he won it even against conservative hero Ronald Reagan. Therefore, North Florida sticks close to its roots.

Therefore, with Rick Scott being this “outsider” with a northern accent and Alex Sink, with her strong southern accent, the vote in North Florida might not go exactly the way people expect. Yes, Scott is expected to win over Sink in this area, but if Sink is able to at least make it close in some of these counties (mostly the ones closer to the Gulf of Mexico compared to the ones near Jacksonville, which Scott is expected to do very well), then Sink can offset any possible gains of Scott in Central Florida.

Another place that might be in play is South Florida. Again, when I am talking South Florida, I primarily mean Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade Counties.

Do we expect Sink to lose these counties? Well, in the case of Broward and Palm Beach, no. But, the margins might not be as large as expected for Sink, which can hurt her in the statewide race.

First, liberals are not really thrilled at having a former bank executive as their candidate for Governor. Therefore, they aren’t going to rush out to the polls and vote for Sink.

The second factor is that Marco Rubio is expected to bring higher turnout in Miami-Dade County. If Rubio is able to have his voters vote heavily for Scott as well, there is a possibility that Scott actually carries Miami-Dade County. And with the loss of Miami-Dade County, Sink will more than likely lose the election, even if she does sweep the three Central Florida counties that we mentioned earlier. But if Sink wins Miami-Dade by a small margin, and is able to do well in Central Florida, then she is in decent shape.

In this election, the Scott campaign has the advantage as far as demographics. They can really concentrate on only four counties (Orange, Volusia, Osceola and Miami-Dade) if they want to. On the other hand, the Democrats really need to run a statewide campaign. In other elections where they might not worry about voter turnout in Broward and Palm Beach, they will have to worry about it in this election. Low turnout in these counties will lead to an Election Day defeat for Alex Sink.

So, the prediction.

With all the analysis that I have put into this race, I expect Rick Scott to take it. In addition to the last-minute debate gaffes by Sink, I don’t expect Sink to perform well in the four counties that she needs to perform well in. Not only does she need to win Orange, Volusia and Osceola (which I expect her to lose at least one), there is no proof out there that South Florida voters in highly Democratic areas that motivated to vote for Sink.

Therefore, we give the Election Night nod to Rick Scott.