As we look toward the general election in November, Central Florida once again finds itself in the crosshairs of the presidential campaign. There is an old saying in Florida politics “that the further north you go, the further south you get.” Every pundit in America knows that South Florida typically votes Democrat, North Florida typically votes Republican, and the I-4 corridor determines the outcome of the Florida vote.
It is interesting to listen to the Democratic pundits who make the argument that President Obama‘s re-election chances grow as Central Florida‘s demographics change. This belief, that there is a Hispanic monolith that moves in only one direction or is motivated by unique issues, is mistaken. Central Florida‘s diversity will certainly be an issue in the upcoming election, however, the real drivers will not be those issues that separate us, but rather the challenges we face together as a nation.
On virtually every indicator—jobs, economic growth, national security, foreign affairs, transparent governance, national debt, Medicare and Social Security—President Obama has failed to deliver the promises candidate Obama made.
We live in difficult times, our families are struggling, and this president’s campaign has been to blame “the other guy” for these problems. He has established no clear path. His campaign has gone from “Yes We Can” to “Why I Couldn‘t.” He will try to make this election a battle of rhetoric rather than a referendum on his performance.
Central Florida and America are much smarter than that. He will not fool us again.
Once again, we enter the closing months of a presidential election. All eyes are on Florida. President Obama stands ready to become the first Democrat since FDR to win Florida twice, and a win in Florida will all but guarantee a return to the White House. Nearly 50 percent of all Florida voters live in the I-4 corridor, with 10 percent of the state’s voters coming from the Orlando metro area. The I-4 corridor is vital for a Democratic win. With every passing cycle, our tri-county region becomes more central to Democrats, and in this case President Obama, winning Florida.
As all of us who call the region home know, Orlando is changing before our eyes. We are quickly becoming a diverse metropolitan community, home to one of the largest Puerto Rican populations in the world. This growing Hispanic population is not only changing our region’s demographic makeup, but also its politics. Formerly a red zone, the Orlando metro area gave the president almost half of his entire margin of victory in 2008, and it is Orlando that is truly changing the nature of the I-4 corridor.
Since the president‘s win in 2008, our area has become even more diverse. This political reality should only strengthen President Obama’s chances here this year. If President Obama capitalizes on that growth, he will win the region by a larger margin than he did four years ago.
By winning Florida a second time, with a great deal of help from Central Florida, President Obama will leave behind a state that is friendlier for future Democratic presidential candidates.