Crist needs strong minority support to beat Scott

Charlie Crist and Gov. Rick Scott continue to battle in the race for the Governors Mansion
Charlie Crist and Gov. Rick Scott continue to battle in the race for the Governors Mansion

Two months ago Charlie Crist, the Democratic candidate for governor of Florida was leading in all the key polls by as much as 15 points. Politics change almost minute by minute and in a new poll taken last week shows that Republican Governor Rick Scott is now beating Crist by 5 percentage points 48 to 43 percent.

For Crist to beat Scott he will have to win over a large block of both Latino and African American voters. Despite both minority groups lack of support for the incumbent Gov. Scott, for his part Crist has not seemed to be able to connect the two groups he needs to turnout if he has any chance of returning to the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee.

Crist’s biggest problem seems convincing voters that he is genuine, as many consider his previous comments about his party switch a mixture or opportunism and sour grapes.

His “stand against racism” has resonated with younger voters in the state, many Hispanics, particularly in the GOP-leaning Cuban-American population, remain skeptical

In the recent polling, Scott secures solid or leaning support of 48 percent of Floridians, against 43 percent support for Crist. He is doing fine with the younger vote but such is not the case when it comes to the demographics of the people who actually vote during mid term elections.

Among those 65 years and over, Governor Scott enjoys overwhelming support of the voters, as 55 percent support the incumbent solidly, with another three percent leaning in his favor. In contrast, Crist garners only 35 percent overall with a constituency that is particularly key in a state known as a retirement destination.

In a state that Barack Obama took by a slim margin in the 2012 Presidential elections, Crist was hoping to capitalize on the coalition Democrats had put together in 2012 and exploit recent racial divisions in the state as a result of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman situation.

Going inside the poll numbers the minority vote was key for President Obama, who captured 95 percent of the black vote and 60 percent of Hispanics. Today Crist has solid support among only 63 percent of black voters, with another 9 percent leaning his way.

This presents a 21 percent drop from the totals the President received just two years ago, indicating that the race baiting tactics of Crist and the Democrat Party may in fact be counter-productive. While the African-American vote is still solidly leaning to the Democratic Party overall, recent signs point to a shift in black politics as the failed policies of President Obama are highlighting a half century of unsuccessful liberal leadership in the inner cities and in particular the black community.

As a result, voters in these neighborhood are beginning to slowly warm up to Republican candidates, as they common cause with the GOP on matters of job creation, school choice, immigration. Strong leftward turns by the Democratic Party on social issues such as abortion and gay marriage have also highlighted cultural differences between African-Americans and a party still largely influenced by the morality and worldview of predominantly white liberals in the urban conclaves of large cities on either coast.

So the path to Tallahassee for Crist means he needs to improve his numbers in the African American community as well as the Hispanic community. If he can’t get big turnout from both groups, he will not beat Gov. Scott.

Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.