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History Of Florida Nominating Primary

The Florida Presidential primary has a long history. 

In 2008, it is a big contest for Republicans with all the major candidates in the mix for the first time in the nominating season. For Democrats, a silly dispute over the timing of the vote means there will be no meaningful Democratic primary competition in the fourth-largest state.    

Here is the U.S Census Florida quick facts page.  Just over 18 million people live in Florida.

The first contested Florida primary took place way back in 1932. This before primaries had the decisive role they have today in selecting nominees. In 1932 Governor Franklin Roosevelt of New York won 88% of the vote against Governor William H. (Alfalfa Bill ) Murray of Oklahoma. (Photo Below)    

Governor Murray was just the piece of work he appears to be in the photo. 

The next contested Florida primary was in 1952. This was again on the Democratic side.

Senator Richard Russell of Georgia won 55% of the vote against Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee. Neither of these men would win the nomination. The honor of losing to General Eisenhower would go to Governor Adlai Stevenson of Illinois with Mr. Kefauver as his running mate.

Richard Russell (photo below) is seen by some as a “Giant of the Senate.” What he really was though was a segregationist who held up progress and freedom for millions of Americans.

In 1956, Mr. Stevenson contested Florida and beat Mr. Kefauver 52-48.

In 1960, “favorite son” candidate Senator George Smathers was the only name on the Democratic Florida ballot. A “favorite son” candidate is one favored almost exclusively in his or her own state. That candidate will then often have a great say in how that state’s delegates will vote at the convention. In 1960, Florida’s first-ballot delegates went to Smathers’ fellow Southerner Lyndon Johnson of Texas.

The Florida Republican primary was the one of greater interest in 1964. Here a slate of uncommitted delegates won 58% of the vote against Barry Goldwater. That suggests that even as late as May 26, when the primary was held, Florida Republicans were not yet sold on Mr. Goldwater. No doubt many Florida Republicans were ex-New Yorkers who did not flock to Mr. Goldwater. ( Ex-New Yorkers are part of Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 strategy in Florida.) 

Also interesting in 1964 was the respective vote totals in the two party primaries.  An unchallenged Lyndon Johnson won 393,339 votes.The Republican primary drew 100,704 votes. This long-standing Democratic partisan advantage would not last.     

Another thing that would change was the date of the primary. The Florida primary had always been held late in the process and did not much effect the outcome. For 1972,  just at the time when primaries began to take a larger role in the nominating process, Florida moved the primary up to March 14. This made it the second primary—One week after New Hampshire.

The primary has kept an early date ever since.  

This change did not change the party. The segregationist wing of the Democratic party took the day as George Wallace  of Alabama won the ’72 primary with 42%. (Wallace is shown here with James Webb of NASA –center–and Wernher Von Braun hugging the rocket. No matter how much Southerners say they hate the federal government, they are always willing to take the federal money) 

However, by 1976 things had changed for the better. (Putting aside the national regression of Reagan 80’s and beyond.) Jimmy Carter beat Governor Wallace 35% 31% in Florida. This marked a New South and a switch in control of the Democratic Party.

In the legendary Ronald ReaganGerald Ford (photo of Ford below) race of 1976, President Ford won Florida 53-47%.  The “Reagan South” would arrive a few years later.  Governor Reagan beat the first George Bush 56-30 in the 1980 primary.

After 1980, the Florida primary became part of the Super Tuesday and large Southern regional primaries and did little to alter the outcome of the nominating races.

Gary Hart beat Walter Mondale in 1984–Though that did Mr. Hart little good.  

2000 was the first time there were more Republican voters in a Florida Presidential primary than Democratic voters. Though Republicans had been doing quite well in Florida long before this point. 

John Kerry was the easy 2004 Florida Democratic winner. The Republicans did not bother with a primary in an uncontested race.

Below is a Florida Scrub Jay. This bird is found only in Florida.

Texas Liberal is going to be your leading source for political history blogging in 2008.  Please click here for a history of the South Carolina primary.  Please click here for a variety of political history posts on this blog.  

January 22, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

History Of The South Carolina Primary

Republicans and Democrats are campaigning hard in South Carolina.

Republicans vote in that state on January 19. Democrats vote on January 26.

Above is the state seal of South Carolina. In the first circle the words mean–“Ready in soul and resource.” In the second circle the words mean–“While I breathe I hope.”

Here is a link to some basic facts about South Carolina. The population of South Carolina is roughly 4.4 million.

Beginning with 1980, South Carolina’s Presidential nominating primary has played an important role in selecting Republican nominees.

Every winner of the Republican primary in South Carolina since 1980 has gone on to win the nomination of his party. In a number of these instances, the South Carolina win played a direct role in the nomination victory.

In 2008, this primary is important for both parties.

The origin of South Carolina as a force in Republican Presidential politics can be traced back to the political consultant Lee Atwater. In 1980, Mr. Atwater helped get the South Carolina primary scheduled early in the campaign season to help Ronald Reagan. (Photo below.)

Mr. Atwater was an architect of the first George Bush’s “Willie Horton” strategy against Mike Dukakis.

Governor Reagan won the 1980 primary with 55% of the vote in a test against former Texas Governor John Connally. Mr. Connally ran a distant second at 30%.

In 1988, Mr. Atwater again used South Carolina to aid his candidate.

This time it was Mr. Reagan’s Vice President, George H.W. Bush.

South Carolina voted three days before much of the rest of the South did on so-called “Super Tuesday” March 8.  Bush scored a convincing win in South Carolina over his main Republican challenger, Robert Dole of Kansas. (Photo below) This helped set the tone for a Bush sweep of the South on the big primary day 72 hours later.

The timing of the South Carolina primary has been critical to it’s influence. Scheduled as the first primary in the South and conducted a few days before Super Tuesday, candidates have seen the state as a springboard to subsequent primary tests.

In these years, Democrats were holding a South Carolina caucus instead of a primary. Intended or not, this fact denied Jesse Jackson likely primary victories in 1984 and 1988. Reverend Jackson was South Carolina caucus winner in 1988.

Jesse Jackson grew up in Greenville, South Carolina.

South Carolina has a substantial black population and a majority of South Carolina’s Democrats are black.

In 1992, a strong showing by President Bush over Pat Buchanan (photo below) helped dash Mr. Buchanan’s hope of winning strong Southern support for his White House bid.

For 1996, while the slightly more moderate Mr. Dole might not seem a total fit for South Carolina Republicans, two former GOP governors of  South Carolina helped orchestrate a convincing Dole win over, again, Pat Buchanan. This win helped solidify Mr. Dole’s status as the frontrunner.

By 2000, Karl Rove (photo below), was running the Republican dirty tricks operation. Mr. Atwater died in 1991.

George W. Bush’s campaign questioned the sanity of rival John McCain. False rumors were spread about Senator McCain’s health. Leaflets were distributed calling McCain the “fag candidate.” This apparently because Senator McCain had met with the gay Log Cabin Republican group. (logo below)

Democrats have held a South Carolina primary in 1992 and 2004.

Bill Clinton was the easy winner in 1992.

John Edwards, who was born in South Carolina, was the 2004 winner. The win did little to help Senator Edwards take the nomination.

Al Sharpton (photo below) had hoped that black voters would rally to his candidacy.

They did not.

Below is a picture of the Sabel Palmetto tree. This is the state tree of South Carolina.

Texas Liberal is going to be your leading source for political history blogging in 2008. Please click here for a variety of political history posts including a history of the upcoming Florida primary.

January 14, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Elections, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments