Florida Winner Must Appeal to '5 States'

Florida primary a 'microcosm' of US politics: experts
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 30, 2012 7:47 AM CST
Florida Winner Must Appeal to '5 States'
Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney talk during a commercial break at the Republican presidential candidates debate in Jacksonville, Fla.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

All eyes will settle on Florida tomorrow as the Republican candidates battle to win the state—or, quips Politico, the "five states of Florida." The state is so diverse in its positions that "it's as good a microcosm of the country as you’re gonna find outside of Ohio," explains one pollster. Which means that of all the early primaries, Florida's is the closest thing to running in a general election, explains Politico, which breaks down the state's regions: The rural Panhandle is reminiscent of the deep South; many there would call Glenn Beck "a dangerous accomodationist," jokes a GOP strategist. North Florida has a major African-American population, while the I-4 corridor in the middle is a miniature swing state.

The Miami-Dade area has many Hispanic primary voters, and candidates can't forget the state's retiree population, many of whom occupy the state's Gulf side. And things get more disjointed from there: The state has 10 separate media markets, and having money is no guarantee of a victory, the strategist notes. "You’ve got to be able to talk about a variety of incredibly complex, sticky issues that alienate people in (other) parts of the state." That has resulted in two different strategies: While Romney "stuck to his guns" on immigration, "Gingrich has gone with the full pandering," he adds. Click through for Gingrich's latest tactic. (Read more Florida primary stories.)

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