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News from the Votemaster

Why Did the Republicans Pick Hurricane-Prone Tampa?

While Tampa is subject to disruptive hurricanes from time to time, for either party it is an attractive pick in other ways. First, Florida is the mother of all swing states with the most electoral votes (29) of any swing state, so picking Florida is easy (if you don't mind the oppressive heat and hurricanes). Tampa is in Hillsborough County, which gave Bush 53% in 2004 and Obama 53% in 2008, so it is a large (1.2 million people) swing county. Neighboring counties, including Hernando, Pasco, and Polk are reddish, and Romney needs to win big there to counter expected losses in South Florida. The area has also been hit hard economically, so an economic pitch is likely to resonate. All in all, the area is a big battleground and showering attention on it is a smart move for the Republicans.

What Does Romney Have to Do at the Convention?

What Mitt Romney needs to do at the convention is not so much hammer Obama on the economy--he has been doing that all year--but to try to make people like him. History shows that people will not vote for someone they don't like, even if they like his policies (think: John Kerry in 2004). Humanizing himself will be tough, though, He is famously private and his life story (born the son of a wealthy and powerful governor into a religion few people understand and many find strange) is not quite the American dream. He could make jokes about minor disagreements with his wife, but that is unlikely to work. He could get a good speechwriter to make a soaring speech about the future of America, but that is likely to fall flat. He could talk about new policies, but long ago he made the decision not to discuss any specific policies. Some probably all that is left is attacking Obama some more, but although that might make Obama less likable, it doesn't make Romney more likable, which is what he needs to do.

Up-and-Coming Republicans Will Speak at the Convention

In theory, Mitt Romney will be the star of the Republican National Convention, but he's not a very good speaker, tries to be as vague as possible about what he would do as President, and most people have heard him speak hundreds of times, if only for 30 seconds. For this reason, there will be a lot of attention paid to some of the party's rising stars, such as these.

Yet Another Guide to the Republican Party

Analyzing the various factions within each party has been a popular activity. Here is another guide, to the Republican Party, this one from the New York Times.

Charlie Christ Endorses Obama

The one-time Republican governor of Florida, who is currently an independent, has endorsed President Obama. Crist is still popular in Florida, and if he campaigns for Obama, that could help the President. It could also help Crist, who is now likely to complete his conversion to becoming a Democrat and to run for public office as one, perhaps for the Senate against Marco Rubio or for governor against Rick Scott. Crist is definitely not a spent force in Florida politics.

Ron Paul Exits Gracefully

Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), whose libertarian views scare much of the Republican Party, held a farewell party for himself yesterday. The 77-year-old congressman is retiring from the House and politics. He could have disrupted the Republican convention, but chose to hold his own event yesterday. He was offered a speaking slot at the convention, provided Romney got to vet his speech in advance. He refused because he doesn't fully endorse Romney.

No Bananas at the Republican Convention

The world is full of crazy rules (e.g., airlines allow heavy bottles of duty-free wine on flights but not small external hard disk drives because you could throw one at the pilot) and one of these is that RNC attendees may not bring bananas into the hall, along with 24 other items. Despite heavy rain, umbrellas are also officially forbidden although small ones might be able to sneak in. Needless to say, security is extremely tight in Tampa this week to make sure that there are no unexpected visitors and no security incidents.