Again, however, Perry's mission in Florida was multi-pronged. Aside from the debate and a chance to discuss the issues, Florida presented Perry with an opportunity to impress potential campaign donors. It was predicted, around that time, that Perry would overtake Romney as the leading beneficiary of extra disposable income in Florida.[footnoteRef:10] the data collected suggests that Perry's Florida events were composed of a majority of fundraising events which further supports this position. Most of Perry's fundraising events were conducted over meals in which donors purchased tickets to attend. [10: (Associated Press)]
Herman Cain surprised many with an upset victory in a straw poll in Florida following the debate of September 22. Cain won with 37% of the vote, more than double his nearest competitor Perry at 15.4%, and far ahead of the rest of the pack, which featured Romney third, at 14%, Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum fourth, with 10.9%, Texas Representative Ron Paul fifth, with 10.4%, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich sixth, with 8.4%, former Utah Governor John Huntsman seventh, with 2.26%, and Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann eighth, with 1.5%.[footnoteRef:11] [11: (Hamby)]
Cain followed up on this surprise boost with a trip to Central Florida in the first week of October; the same place where Romney went and at the same time. Cain used the trip to promote his book, a memoir, and to talk about his 9-9-9 plan for tax reform. Cain said that talking specifics helped him connect with voters, taking a not-so-subtle jab at his competition, in particular Romney.[footnoteRef:12] [12: (Sorentrue)]
The rest of the presidential pack, all Republicans, have made spotty visits to Florida, very few occurring in the period between September 5, 2011 and November 9, 2011, other than for the purposes of the September 22 debate. This debate was attended by Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and little-known Gary Johnson.[footnoteRef:13] Aside from the candidates already addressed, there is a reason that the remaining contenders received their share of the straw poll. Newt Gingrich's last visit to Florida was on January 27, 2011, when he visited Jacksonville. He did make an appearance on "Political Connections" on September 30 in which he discussed the future of the space program. [13: (Seeing Red)]
Bachmann visited Florida just prior to Labor Day in an attempt to reel in funds for her continuing campaign. Huntsman traveled to Florida just after Labor Day, addressing the Republican Jewish Coalition on September 9 and discussing several major issues including jobs, the economy, and international relations. He favors a renovation of the tax code and removal of corporate welfare as potential solutions to the recent and sustained economic woes.[footnoteRef:14] [14: (Bagg)]
Rick Santorum made a brief stop in Naples, Florida on November 5,[footnoteRef:15] where he is establishing his campaign headquarters, and headed to West Palm Beach on the following weekend. He discussed his platform on energy, foreign relations, and economic policy, particularly with regards to the security of Israel and Iran's perpetual nuclear threat.[footnoteRef:16] [15: (Spinski)] [16: (Bennett)]
Faced with a daunting reelection challenge, Barack Obama visited Florida in the middle of October, about a week after the Cain and Romney visits. Obama's October 11 visit was designed to boost his approval rating in Florida, where his popularity is extraordinarily low. Obama, in Florida, has a higher disapproval rating than Governor Rick Scott, which is a rather revealing comparison. Obama spoke to unemployed construction workers and attempted to garner support for a new jobs bill. He also attempted to raise funds for his 2012 campaign. Obama was surrounded by basketball greats Grant Hill and Patrick Ewing, former Celtics coach Doc Rivers, and baseball great Ken Griffey, Jr. who all forked out major campaign donations for an opportunity to be close to the president.
Figure 8 - Obama's Surprise Bar Visit[footnoteRef:17] [17: (Walsh)]
The obvious conclusion is that one must cater to both the short-term and long-term interests of a campaign and therefore must travel to New Hampshire and Iowa in addition to Florida. This would protect the candidate from falling behind before New Hampshire and Iowa even happen but it would ensure a steady stream of momentum heading into those primaries. After all, one has only to look at the straw poll in Florida and the candidates' visits to the state. It should come to no surprise that the four candidates who showed the least interest in the state received the fewest votes there which is evident based on Cain's performance with the Florida
In point of fact, however, no demographic indicator is more important than age in determining what states get political attention. It is widely known that older voters turn out far more than younger ones, and those issues pertaining to the care of the elderly, such as Social Security reform, estate taxes, and health care reforms, evoke more passion and more heated debate than do other political topics. The demographic composition is nearly as important, if not more important, than the sheer number of registered voters because campaigns must be able to generate enough energy to get their people to the voting booths.
With the political unrest, high levels of unemployment, and starkly polarized political platforms the 2012 campaign should be interesting to watch unfold. It is far from clear which candidate will be able to produce the message that will get them elected in 2012. At the core of the debate seems to be the role of government in the U.S. society. On one end of the spectrum the views reflect the idea that government should be suffocated as much as possible while on the other end many people feel like government can play a leadership role to get the economy started back up again. The results of the 2012 election will represent the position that the American people feel represents the solution to how government should operate in our modern society.
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Bagg, M. "Republican presidential candidate, Jon Huntsman, visits West Palm Beach." 9 September 2011. News Channel Five. Web. 19 September 2011.
Bennett, G. "Rick Santorum to campaign at Palm Beach County GOP picnic Saturday." 4 November 2011. The Palm Beach Post. Web. 19 November 2011.
Broward, R. "Rick Perry Visits Fort Lauderdale." 21 September 2011. Red Broward. Web. 21 November 2011.
Cillizza, C. "Live-blogging the Florida Republican debate." 12 September 2011. The Washington Post. Web. 19 November 2011.
Getty, a. "Middle Class Mitt." 22 September 2011. Time. Web. 20 November 2011.
Hamby, P. "Cain upsets Perry as winner of Florida straw poll." 24 September 2011. CNN Politics. Web. 20 November 2011.
Inoljt, B. "Analyzing Swing States: Florida, Part 5." 31 October 2009. My Direct Democracy. Web. 20 November 2011.
Miller, M. "Mitt Romney visits the Villages." 4 October 2011. CNN. Web. 20 November 2011.