U.S. House of Representatives Elections in Florida, 2008

Introduction

In 2008, the Democratic Party in the United States saw most of its candidates elected to the House of Representatives. A majority of the elected democrats won in cities that were in the past dominated by Republicans and Conservatives. One of the main reasons that led to their being elected is their campaign that criticised the Republicans as well as President Bush’s regime. In other instances, these people won because President Obama was in charge of the Democratic Party. Good policies established by Democrats saw them scoping most of Florida’s House of Representative seats. Among issues that dominated the campaign included property tax that was being remitted by Floridians. Development rate of the state as well as access to quality health care by the citizens also dominated the campaigns. Despite the Democrats scoping the seats, they have done little to fulfil their campaign promises. Speculations are high that most of the incumbent Democratic congressmen will lose their seats to Republicans. Health care, state development and tax are some of the issues expected to dominate this year’s campaign.

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Socio-economic status of the District of Florida

In the early days, Florida’s economy was dominated by naval store industries, farming and lumbering. Railroads extension in the 19th century to the peninsula led to other people accessing areas that were initially dominated by Indians. As southern and central Florida had favorable climate, people started practicing agriculture in these areas. Railroad builders also fostered tourism. This later became one of the major economic activities in the region after First World War. Even today, tourism remains one of the major economic activities in Florida. Winter residents with homes in Florida as well as tourists earn the economy of Florida billions of dollars every year. The state depends on discretionary spending by tourists and winter residents. This culture may have adverse effect to the state’s economy in case of a recession. This is because visitors may cut down on their spending meaning that the state would get fewer revenues. Most of the state’s economy; especially Miami has benefited from the arrival of Latin Americans. These people have heavily invested in the state. Miami is categorized as one of the American States with a stable economy. This is due to high rate of cashflow from drug traffickers and the influx of Latin Americans who work for low and undisclosed wages. In 2007, its gross Domestic Production was $734.5 billion (Lengell para. 1). This was ranked as the fourth largest economy in the country. Major contributors to this economic growth were identified as financial services, trade, general services, transportation and construction.

The State ranked twentieth in per capita income where every person averaged $38, 471. The state remained for many years without laws directing on minimum wages to be paid to employees. This was until 2004 when voters passed a bill that established the minimum wages. Currently, the minimum wage in the state is $7.21. It is one of the States that do not impose income tax. In 2008, approximately 2.4 million people in the State were living in poverty. This year, about 2.5 million people in Florida are under food stamps. Last year’s report on rate of employment in the State indicated that approximately 11.5% of the population was unemployed. Phosphate mining industry in the State is ranked as the third largest industry. 75% of phosphate consumed in the country comes from Florida. The state also produces about 25% of the phosphate used in the world. The State has also a sizable aerospace industry. Another major factor that drives the States economy is United States Military (Lengell para. 2-5). Today, there are twenty four military bases in Florida. With the State having 109, 390 military officers, they contribute to the state’s revenue thus promoting its economy. Fishing is also practiced in the State and fishing industry employs at least sixty thousand people for commercial and sports purpose.

2006 and 2008 Congressional and Presidential elections

In 2008, Obama emerged the winner in Florida. This was attributed to his ability to come up with a team of experienced campaigners as well as fund raising skills. Republican Party candidate John McCain could not managed competing with Obama for the state’s votes. Obama was found to easily scope votes from the major counties. His main supporters were the Latin Americans especially the Puerto Ricans and African Americans. For many years, the contest in presidential elections in Florida had been easy to predict. The trend changed in 2004 where Bush won with a slight margin against Kerry. In 2000, the controversial results saw Bush again winning with a very small margin this time against Gore. Among all the elections that have ever been conducted in United States, 2008 presidential election was the most contested elections in Florida State. Numerous opinion polls were conducted to determine the most convenient candidate. At the beginning of the year, Obama was found to be the favorite candidate leading McCain with a margin of four percent (MacAskill para. 2). This made most people believe that Obama could win the State. However, as time progressed, McCain was seen to close the gap and they eventually tied up. McCain later overtook Obama and by 9/11/2008, he was leading Obama with a margin of seven percent. This was as per opinion poll conducted by Quinnipiac.

In congress battle, Democratic candidate Tim Mahoney enjoyed the lead in most of the campaign period. However, he was later implicated with adultery scandal a few days to elections. This made him lose the battle to Republican candidate Tom Rooney. Rooney had trailed Maho0ney for a long time but later gained the ground and emerged the winner. In 2006, Mahoney had won the elections through the help of his family. In this year, the Democrats scoped thirty one posts bring to an end twelve years of domination by the Republicans. Additionally, two counties went for December runoffs. Eventually, the Democrats won the posts.

Dominant issues in 2008 elections

Florida’s election campaigns were dominated by social and economic issues. Every candidate vying for senate and presidential post tried to sell his or her policies on how he or she could do to improve the social end economic standards of people living in the state. The previous political system practiced by Bush regime had failed the public in improving social and economic conditions of the state. Just as the entire country, the state continued incurring trade deficits day in day out (Martinez 2). A lot of people lost their jobs in the manufacturing industry. Retirement security and household saving deteriorated with time. Despite the economic status of the state getting worse, the reigning government did little to ensure that every citizen had access to good health care. The cost for health care continued sky rocketing making it hard for people to afford. Most of the citizens had no health insurance cover. Another issue that dominated the campaign was the failure of the past regime in containing the price of gasoline. War in Iraq; which was supported by Bush government was seen as one of the factors that contributed to price of gasoline going up. Despite the economic status of Floridians deteriorating, they were heavily taxed. Property tax had doubled with time. This made most of the citizens feel that their life was not improving. Development of the state slowed despite them being determined to develop their state. This acted as another campaign strategy with the Democrats blaming the Republicans for not coming up with favorable policies which would help in improving the living standards of people of Florida.

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Marriage between people of the same sex had been an issue in the country for many years. Some of the politicians were found to be opposed to the issue while others supported it. States such as Florida mobilized its citizens to pressure the government to make constitutional amendments that would declare this practice illegal. With Republican and Democratic candidates hotly contesting for Florida votes, it meant that they had to come up with campaign strategies that best attract the voters from the state. Presidential candidates as well as those vying for congress were put in hard situations in attempt to explain their stands and policies with respect to marriage between people of the same sex. In the past, the two presidential candidates had been found to have diverse positions with respect to the issue. Obama was not found to be categorically against the issue with him saying that this was a matter of human rights. On the other hand McCain had been found to categorically oppose constitutional amendments that were aimed at banning the exercise in the country. With people from Florida being completely opposed to the issue, it required the two candidates to give their positions about the matter (Martinez pp. 3-7).

Key Votes in Florida’s 2008 elections

In the past, most of the voter turnout in Florida was reported from the old generation. The young generation did not participate in the exercise in large numbers. However, in 2004, 2006 and 2008 young voters turned out in large numbers. This was seen as the key group of voters that dictated who won the elections in the state. In 2008, 66% of voters who were under thirty years voted for President Barack Obama. This group of voters coupled with increased knowledge among the group about the country’s politics signaled a turning point in political allegiance in the state. Young voters were more distributed with respect to race than the old voters who are religious oriented. Their diverse views in regard to race made them more likely to vote for any candidate who had viable policies that could help in developing Florida. This led to every candidate I the state targeting this group. On the other hand, old voters were seen to be more racially and religious oriented with most of them not making a lot of considerations before deciding on the candidate to vote for. The number of young voters who turned out for campaigns during this year also increased. As a result, every candidate aimed at luring this group of voters to buy to his policies (Keeter para. 2).

The other groups of voters that appeared to be key in the state comprised of the Hispanic group and the Jews. In the past, it was difficult to predict Hispanic group voting trend. This made it hard for candidates to know whether they were backed by the group. As a result, candidates from both the Democratic and Republican parties targeted this group with each trying to come up with policies that addressed their interest. For instance, despite the Republican Party being blamed for harsh immigration policies that adversely affected the Hispanic people, McCain came up with advertisements that tried to convince the Hispanic population about his liberal position on issues to do with immigration. They tried to bring out how he fought for immigration reforms when he was a senator. In the past, the Jewish group had been found to vote for Democratic candidates. This made the Republicans target the group (Keeter para. 3-6). According to executive director of National Jewish Democratic Council, he blamed the Republicans for fabricating false information about the Democrats to lure the Jewish community to vote for Republican candidates in the state.

Speech from Florida’s Congressman Alan Grayson

Alan Grayson is a Florida Congressman from the Democratic Party. He is one of the Congressmen in the state aimed at giving the citizens a public option. This was evidenced by a four page speech he issued regarding the public option Act also referred to as ‘Medicare You Can Buy Into Act.’ According to him, he asserted that the American government spent a lot of billions to come up with a Medicare plan that covered for a small group of the entire population. This meant that only those aged sixty five and above could be allowed to use central highways which according to him were a waste of state resources. In support of his proposal, Grayson gave an example of personal experience on how it was hard for him to cater for the bill accumulated in the hospital when his wife gave birth to twins. This was what the Americans were going through every time despite those paying tax (Kapur para. 3-5). He declared that there was need for Americans to be given a public option whose absence had led to lack of competition in the private insurance industry. He reminded the citizens that this was not a strategy for subsidies. He said that every citizen was expected to pay for their own cost. Grayson blamed private insurance industry in his speech for the massive deaths reported in the country. For him, most of these death result because of insurance companies denying such patients care as well as withdrawing medical cover from sick patients. The conservatives and Republicans were opposed to the proposal. These made Grayson urge them in his speech not to shoot down the proposal if they were not interested in it rather to give the public an opportunity to enjoy its benefits.

Republican Party criticism

Among some of the criticisms that were directed towards the Republican Party were that its presidential candidate was opposed to bid by Conservative to make the incumbent government reduce on the tax burden that was being experienced by citizens. They also criticized him for being opposed to the motion that aimed at bringing to an end the act of marriage among people of the same sex. He was also seen to be inclined towards strict environmental rules and to support stem cell research. It was against the rules for people in power to use public resources to cater for their education. However, Republicans used the opportunity of them being in power to use public resources in catering for legislators’ education (Wildermuth para. 4). Vince Lofink; a Republican had received $12,124.50 to compensate for his masters degree. This was greatly criticized by Democrats and used it as one of their reasons as to why Republicans were not supposed to lead the country. Other mismanagement of Country resources criticized against the Republicans was benefits being awarded to employees. The Party was criticized for not following the established guidelines in allocating benefits to employees. For instance, Wozniak and Rodney Brittingham were paid for vacation and sick time they had not spent. The two had not been employed for a long time to qualify for retirement. This meant that they did not deserve to be paid sick and vacation allowance.

Republicans were also criticized for funding their political ambitions using state resources. They did not follow state rules. The Delaware Stateahouse.com web site that describes the Republican leadership was said to be maintained through money from the government. This was against the regulations. Parties are supposed to fund their websites through their campaign fund. The party discussed campaign matters within public offices rather than looking for their personal time to discuss the matter. This was a misuse of the powers they had been given by people.

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Media reaction During Florida House of Representative elections

Despite the media participating in United States elections by briefing the public on campaign progress as well as organizing for debates with candidates, it was found to have minimal reaction towards any election. This was because it is not supposed to be inclined to any political party or to appear as supporting specific candidate. Candidates quit from the race based on the amount of money they had to sustain them in the campaign or the support they got from the public. However, the 2008 house of representative elections were different. These elections saw the press candidly asking some candidates to quit the race. For candidates who were seen not to get a lot of support from the public, they were requested to quit the race by media houses. This trend was also experienced when Senator Hillary Clinton declared that she would vie for presidency. Lack of support from the public as well as enough money to fund her campaign led to press asking her to step down (Boehlert para. 2-5).

Voter survey

Based on voter survey conducted in Florida, it was found that parties contributed significantly to the manner in which people voted. Hispanic voters were found to vote for democratic candidates by 67% while Republican candidate got 31% of the Hispanic votes. It was also found that 9% of the total voters were Latino. Latino voter turnout had significantly increased compared with other years. Form the voter survey conducted in the State, it was found that 64% of Hispanic male and 68% of Hispanic female supported Democratic candidates. For many years, Republicans were found to enjoy Latino support in Florida. However, in 2008, Latino vote in the state were found to go to the Democrats. 57% of the Latinos voted for Democratic candidates in to the House of Representatives (Lopez para. 1-4).

Prediction of the 2010 race and Issues that will dominate the campaign

America’s House of Representative elections is scheduled for November 2, 2010. All states are expected to hold the election with only one seat not being contested. This is the seat for Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico. The holder of this seat s supposed to serve for four years without the seat being contested. There is high prediction in the next elections that the Republicans will scope most of the seats giving them a chance to retake control of the house. This was from poll results conducted in February 2010 which showed most of the Democrats candidates facing the challenge of losing their seats. The current race in Florida’s congressional districts is heightening with second Congressional district having three contestants (Martinez pp. 8-10). The incumbent democratic candidate Allen Boyd will face stiff competition from his two other Democrats colleagues. These are the state senate minority leader Alfred Lawson and Florida Whig Party representative Paul McKain. Two Republican candidates have also showed their interest in vying for the seat. The eighth congressional district is currently under Allan Grayson. The seat has seen many people declaring their interest for it. National Republican Party is currently glooming its candidate and businessman Bruce O’Donoghue in preparation for the elections. Bill Young is the incumbent congressman for Florida’s tenth district and who is a Republican. He is facing a hot challenge from Democratic candidate who is the state senator Charlie Justice. Eric Forcade; a tea party activist has also declared his intention to vie for the seat. There are speculations that Young will not contest for the seat due to lack of finance. However, he has neither showed interest in defending his position nor has he declared that he will resign.

Adam Putnam is the incumbent congressman of the twelfth congressional district. He is from the Republican Party. He is expected to leave the post in his bid to pursue his ambition for Florida Commissioner of Agriculture. Republicans will be represented by Denis Ross who is former State representative and Randy Wilkinson. Democrats will be fielding former United States navy chief, Doug Tudor and Lori Edwards a Polk county elections supervisor.

Conclusion

Despite the incumbent candidates promising to improve the conditions in the state, most of them have not been seen to do anything since they were elected. There are high speculations that most of the incumbent congressmen will be toppled by their contestants. The current group of congressmen have not facilitated in developing the state. Still citizens are complaining about the pace at which the state is growing at. After the hurricane, most of the state’s resources were affected. This led to reduction in the rate of tourists visiting the state. Some of the issues that are expected to dominate the 2010 campaign include strategies that will be taken to develop the state. Voters will expect those vying for the seats to have viable strategies aimed at conceptualizing the development goals of the state. Over the time, it has not been possible for candidates voted in to reduce the tax burden on the citizens. This has been a major issue that has dominated the state politics. The same issue is also expected to dominate the campaign as people still find it as one f the major problems. Health conditions in the state are not convincing. With every person in the state requiring having access to good health care, this year’s campaign is expected to see most of the House of Representative candidates trying to sell their policies about health care in the state.

Works Cited

Boehlert, Eric. “So now the press tells candidates when to quit?” 2008. Web.

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Kapur, Sahiol. “Grayson urges vote on new Medicare buy-in bill.” 2010. Web.

Keeter, Scott. “Young Voters in the 2008 Election.” Web.

Lengell, Sean. “Florida – Economy.” 2008. Web.

Lopez, Hugo. “How Hispanics Voted in the 2008 Election.” Web.

MacAskill, Ewen. “US election: Candidates vie for votes in crucial state of Florida.” 2008. Web.

Martinez, Michael. “Battleground Voters: Partisanship, Issues, and Retrospective Evaluations in Florida 2008.” Florida Focus, 5.2(2009): 1-10.

Wildermuth, John. “Same-sex marriage may be key issue in November.” 2008. Web.

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