If Barack Obama swipes the Sunshine State's 27 electoral votes from the Republican column, the 2008 election is over. Can he swing it? Right now, the Illinois senator (who finished a two-day visit Tuesday) is doing his best—but John McCain (who arrives tomorrow) has signaled that he's willing to fight to the finish. Here are the latest stats on where Florida stands—conveniently categorized by which candidate they benefit:
- 1 percent: Obama's lead in the RealClear Politics polling average.
- 73,476: Obama's lead, out of 306,444 ballots cast, in early-voting results (not including absentee-ballot numbers)
- 657,775: Amount by which Democratic registrations outnumber Republican registrations (up from less than 370,000 four years ago); Bush beat Kerry by 381,000 votes in 2004
- 120,000: Number of black Democratic voters registered since January
- 25: Number of Obama-Biden events since Sept. 1; McCain and Palin have held 16
- 5: Approximate number of calls per day that Tom Slade, a former Florida GOP chair, was receiving last week from fellow Republicans demanding that he "do something" about McCain's "perilous" position in the state.
- 3-to-1: The margin by which Obama is outspending McCain on local television
- $39 million: The amount Obama is spending overall (more than any other state)
- 2: The number of top field generals—Steve Hildebrand and Paul Tewes—Obama has dispatched to the state.
- More than 60: The number of Obama field offices
- More than 400: The number of paid Obama staffers (up from 250 for Bush-Cheney 2004); McCain currently boasts less than 100.
- More than 100,000: The number of active Obama volunteers.
- 1.3 percent: McCain's average lead in the three non-partisan polls released since Oct. 16, all of which show him ahead of Obama
- 3 percent: Amount McCain has gained in the respected Mason-Dixon poll since Oct. 6
- 6 percent: Amount McCain has gained in the Rasmussen poll over the last week alone
- 5 percent: Bush's margin of victory in 2004
- 220,000: Amount by which Republicans lead in absentee ballot requests
- 55,000: Number of votes by which McCain leads in early voting (including absentee ballots requested, but not returned)
Ultimately, Florida will boil down to a pretty simple question: Can Obama's massive, unprecedented investments in advertising, registration and getting out the vote expand the electorate enough to overcome the GOP's traditional edges in infrastructure and mobilization? Right now, it looks like a jump ball—perhaps with a little bit of momentum on McCain's side. But given the intangibles of turnout, we won't know who's won until Nov. 4.
UPDATE, Oct. 23: A new St. Petersburg Times/Bay News 9/Miami Herald poll shows Barack Obama leading McCain 49 percent to 42 percent in the Sunshine State. Adam Smith reports:
The biggest factor? Less partisan independent voters moving to Obama by a margin of more than 2 to 1... At a time when economic anxiety trumps all issues in Florida, about half of the voters surveyed — and almost 6 in 10 independents — said Obama has a better plan to improve the economy, while one in three voters say McCain does. Forty-five percent said Obama has shown the most leadership on the economy, and 34 percent said McCain.
This should increase Obama's average RCP lead to two percent.