First of all, thank you to Associated Industries for conducting this poll. I don’t think we political aficionados thank those who poll enough for giving us something to chew on 15 months before the election. AIF’s got money to burn, sure, but they don’t have to poll.
That said, let’s dive into the numbers. President Obama is statistically tied with Mitt Romney, while holding a five point lead over Rick Perry.
The current meme is that Florida is still important to the Obama campaign, but the Midwest battleground states are increasingly more important. That’s why I wonder, at what point next September/October will the Obama campaign all-but-abandon Florida to shore up its efforts in Iowa, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin?
Obama acolytes will tell you (I can hear Steve Schale already!) that there is no scenario in which Obama would ever abandon Florida, simply because the Obama campaign will have more than enough money that they won’t have to make that decision.
Having to make that kind of choice may not have been an issue six or nine months ago, but the horizon is increasingly dark for Obama. I agree with John Ellis that the president himself imagined that he was going to run a re-election campaign that reprised the Reagan ‘Morning in America’ campaign of 1984. He really thought that the turnaround would begin in earnest in 2011 and expand into 2012, thus enabling him to say that he had seen us through the worst and was now leading us to a great and glorious future. In this fantasy, he (like Reagan before him) would barely have to acknowledge his opposition.
Obviously, that kind of campaign is no longer a possibility. As Ellis writes: “All that is out the window now, obviously. Obama running on the Reagan narrative is a complete non-starter. So his options are basically two: he can go scorched earth or he can quit.
Adding Marco Rubio to the ticket, simply put, would be the smartest political decision made by the eventual GOP nominee. Thirty-three percent of those responding said they were more likely to support a Republican for president, if Rubio is a vice-presidential candidate. Of course, twenty-four percent of those responding said they were less likely to support the GOP candidate if Rubio were on the ballot. Still, that’s a seven point spread, more than enough margin to swing Florida.
But the psychological value of adding Rubio — and his patrons in the Bush family — would be absolutely devastating in Florida. In fact, I don’t think this poll can account for the increased enthusiasm that Rubio would inspire. The multiplier effects of his addition to the ticket just cannot be quantified.
What do I mean by this: imagine the little ol’ Republican ladies who hate Obama and man the phone-banks. They’re already going to be there campaigning for Perry or Romney because they hate Obama that much, but imagine if favorite son Rubio is on the ticket? They will work their little fingers off for Rubio.
One other note about the AIF poll: 46% of respondents disagree with the issues and priorities of the Tea Party — 37% do so strongly. If Barack Obama can make his campaign about it being him vs. The Tea Party, it may not matter if Marco Rubio is on the ticket or not.