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“Quite Unpopular At Home”: Rubio’s Must-Win State Is His Own — And He’s Losing There

As political observers absorb Thursday night’s tenth Republican-candidate debate and argue over Trump’s untouchability or Marco Rubio’s new fight-club mentality, Nate Cohn of the New York Times takes on the more prosaic chore of examining how, exactly, Rubio might survive a losing streak and still win the GOP nomination.

The good news he offers Rubio and his growing circle of party and conservative-Establishment fans is that he doesn’t have to win a single state on March 1.

[I]t wouldn’t be optimal for Mr. Rubio to lose all 12 contests on March 1, Super Tuesday. His chances of amassing an outright majority of delegates, and becoming the presumptive nominee before the convention, would be quite low. But he would still have a real chance to take a clear delegate lead over Donald Trump, and win the nomination.

Rubio’s key to survival thereafter is to take advantage of proportional award systems by exceeding the 20 percent threshold necessary to win delegates in every (or nearly every) state. If he does that, a more ambitious goal may come into sight: edging out Ted Cruz for second place in enough states — especially in the South — to all but knock him out of the race and set up the long-awaited head-to-head competition with Trump.

On the other hand, says Cohn, excuses for Rubio not actually winning primaries come to an abrupt end on March 15:

Ohio and Florida will award their delegates on a winner-take-all basis. Missouri will award its delegates on a winner-take-all basis by congressional district, and Illinois isn’t much different. North Carolina, on the other hand, awards its delegates proportionally. It figures less prominently in the delegate math and as a result the candidates are unlikely to spend money there on television advertisements or campaign stops.

If Mr. Trump swept the day in the same way he is expected to sweep Super Tuesday, he would net nearly three times as many delegates as he would on Super Tuesday, defeating Mr. Rubio, 282 delegates to 40. For Mr. Rubio, winning Florida would make Mr. Trump’s advantage a more manageable 183 to 139, but his hole would start looking pretty deep.

With that sort of a deficit, Mr. Rubio’s chances of winning a majority of delegates would all but evaporate.

So Rubio really needs to win in Missouri, Ohio, and Illinois on March 15 to stay in the game with Trump (assuming Trump doesn’t stumble on March 1). And it goes without saying he must, must, must win his home state of Florida. Getting skunked there would decimate his delegate math, even if his Establishment friends somehow found a way to madly spin a home-court loss into something other than a disaster.

Signs are growing, however, that winning Florida won’t be easy for the state’s own junior senator. For months Rubio languished in third or even fourth place in Florida public-opinion surveys. Only with Jeb Bush’s withdrawal from the race — giving Rubio a boost in both elected official endorsements and favorite-son status points — has he begun to rise; a post-Jeb Quinnipiac poll has him within 16 points of the longtime leader in the state, Donald Trump. What should be more troubling to Team Rubio, however, is that Trump is now rivaling him on his home turf in all the indices of basic popularity.

This is made most evident by the very latest Florida survey, from Public Policy Polling:

[Rubio’s] approval rating as Senator has cratered to a 31/55 spread, compared to a much more evenly divided 41/44 when we last polled the state in September. Only 40% of voters in the state think he should continue with his campaign, compared to a 44% plurality who think it’s time for him to drop out. And he narrowly trails both Hillary Clinton (45/43) and Bernie Sanders (44/42) in head to head general election match ups. Rubio’s become quite unpopular at home over the course of his campaign.

Winning has made Trump more popular. 64% of Republicans in Florida now have a favorable opinion of him to only 27% with a negative one. That actually puts him ahead of Rubio’s 60/28 standing.

Let that sink in for a minute. From the very beginning of the 2016 cycle, Marco Rubio’s ace in the hole has been high and positive favorability ratios all over the country. Nobody much disliked him, and that made him the likely beneficiary of the winnowing of the field. Now Donald Trump’s more popular than he is with Florida Republicans, at least according to this one survey. And PPP has more bad news for those who assume the fading of other candidates on and after March 1 will put Rubio over the top:

The most remarkable thing in this poll though is what happens when you narrow the field down to just Trump and Rubio- Trump still leads by double digits at 52/38. Rubio does win over supporters of Cruz (56/25), Kasich (47/32), and Carson (64/21) in such a scenario. But Trump has such a big lead to begin with and picks up enough of the supporters of the also rans that it gives him the overall 14 point advantage.

Is the PPP survey an outlier? Maybe, though the Quinnipiac poll that offered Rubio relatively good news also found that Trump’s “negative score” — the percentage of Republicans who say they could not support him — is now lower in Florida than Cruz’s and not much higher than Rubio’s. That may be the overriding reason Rubio suddenly went after Trump with a claw hammer in last night’s debate. A scenario where the mogul is as popular as Rubio in Florida is simply catastrophic, to the point that Rubio is willing to risk his own warm-and-fuzzies to undermine acceptance of Trump.

And Rubio can’t entirely count on another strong finish among late-deciders to win Florida for him: Early voting is a very big deal there, with some local election officials estimating a majority of primary votes will be cast by mail or in person before March 15. The option of lying in the weeds and waiting for Trump to self-destruct or for someone else to take him out has vanished for Marco Rubio. He’s potentially two and a half weeks away from watching his candidacy expire where it started.

 

By: Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, February 26, 2016

February 28, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Florida, Marco Rubio | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Capital Punishment On Hold, For Now”: Supreme Court Strikes Down Florida’s Death Penalty System

The future of the death penalty in the United States is murky, and we know there are some justices who believe the Constitution’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment necessitates the policy’s end.

The resolution of that debate, however, remains on the horizon. Today’s decision on Florida’s death penalty isn’t entirely what it appears to be at first blush.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday declared Florida’s death penalty law unconstitutional because it requires the trial judge and not the jury to make the critical findings necessary to impose capital punishment.

That’s at odds with a string of Supreme Court cases which held that facts that add to a defendant’s punishment – known as aggravating circumstances – must be found by a jury.

It was an 8-1 ruling, the entirety of which is online, written by Justice Sonia Sotomayor. “The Sixth Amendment requires a jury, not a judge, to find each fact necessary to impose a sentence of death,” she wrote for the majority. “A jury’s mere recommendation is not enough.”

The sole dissent in Hurst v. Florida was written by Justice Samuel Alito.

So now what happens? The defendant, Timothy Lee Hurst, will see his case go back to the lower courts, while lawyers scramble to review the convictions of other inmates on Florida’s death row.

For opponents of capital punishment, it’s certainly a victory, but it’s worth emphasizing that it may be short-lived.

In this case, Florida’s current law was struck down, but the ruling focused on criminal procedure in the courtroom. The question of whether the law is cruel or unusual is left for another day.

The Miami Herald reports that state lawmakers are already preparing to “fix” what the Supreme Court said is broken.

Florida lawmakers are prioritizing a fix to Florida’s death penalty sentencing procedures after the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down a state law giving judges the final say on capital sentencing.

House Criminal Justice chairman Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami, said his committee will take on a bill to address the Supreme Court’s problems.

The article added that another member of the Republican-run legislature intends to use this opportunity to consider broader reforms to the system, including a proposal to “require jurors to unanimously find that there are aggravating circumstances in a case, which would warrant a death sentence. Right now, it only takes a simple majority – 7 of 12 jurors.”

Capital punishment in Florida is, for now, on hold. That may not last long.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, January 12, 2015

January 13, 2016 Posted by | Capital Punishment, Death Penalty, Florida | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Willful Suspension Of Disbelief”: See No Climate Change, Hear No Climate Change, Speak No Climate Change

We already knew that Republicans like to live in their own alternate version of reality, sanitized of any inconvenient truths that might interfere with their ideology. But Florida (as usual) is pushing even the GOP’s incredible willful suspension of disbelief:

The state of Florida is the region most susceptible to the effects of global warming in this country, according to scientists. Sea-level rise alone threatens 30 percent of the state’s beaches over the next 85 years.

But you would not know that by talking to officials at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the state agency on the front lines of studying and planning for these changes.

DEP officials have been ordered not to use the term “climate change” or “global warming” in any official communications, emails, or reports, according to former DEP employees, consultants, volunteers and records obtained by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting. The policy goes beyond semantics and has affected reports, educational efforts and public policy in a department that has about 3,200 employees and $1.4 billion budget.

“We were told not to use the terms ‘climate change,’ ‘global warming’ or ‘sustainability,’ ” said Christopher Byrd, an attorney with the DEP’s Office of General Counsel in Tallahassee from 2008 to 2013. “That message was communicated to me and my colleagues by our superiors in the Office of General Counsel.”

The creepy Orwellianism on display is exacerbated by the fact that of all places in the U.S., ignoring climate change is particularly suicidal for Florida, a state that will be almost entirely inundated as sea levels rise.

For state officials in Florida to ban the words “climate change” from even being uttered for ideological reasons verges perilously on death cult territory. And for what? So that a few rich extraction-based millionaires can stay just a little richer, just a while longer? So that the people who still buy into objectivist ideas about the economy can live in their delusional bubble for a few more years before drowning in the oncoming tide?

On a smaller scale, this kind of behavior would indicate a need for a social services intervention. At this scale it’s basically a human rights issue, and merits some sort of federal intervention. And possibly some form of libertarian cult deprogramming.

 

By: David Atkins, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, March 9, 2015

March 11, 2015 Posted by | Climate Change, Florida, Global Warming | , , , , | Leave a comment

“Guns On Campus”: Lawmakers Cooking Up Recipe For A Bloodbath

The very first bill being rammed through the Florida House of Representatives this year would allow guns to be carried on college campuses.

This screwball idea comes from Rep. Greg Steube, a young Republican from Sarasota. Remember his name in case he’s ever daft enough to run for statewide office.

In the macho comic-book world where Steube’s imagination dwells, armed college kids will stand ready to whip their pistols out of their book bags and shoot down crazed campus intruders with flawless aim.

This delusion has been nurtured by the National Rifle Association, which owns so many stooges in the Legislature that a dozen others would have been thrilled to introduce the campus gun bill, if Steube had balked.

Florida is currently one of 20 states that prohibit concealed weapons on university property, the wisdom being that firearms don’t belong in college classrooms, football stadiums or booze-soaked frat houses.

Most of the remaining states allow universities and colleges to decide their own firearms policies, and — no surprise — the vast majority of institutions don’t allow anyone but police officers to carry guns on campus.

Seven states do, thanks to the NRA. Florida is next on its list.

If Steube’s bill passes, it would open the way for firearms to be carried at private colleges as well as public universities, although each private school would be able to implement its own weapons ban.

Steube said he was working on his guns-at-college bill before the Nov. 20 shooting at Florida State University, where a mentally disturbed alumnus named Myron May shot and wounded two students and an employee at the school library.

Police arrived within minutes and killed May. Steube has speculated that an armed undergrad might have been able to drop him even quicker.

Or missed the shot completely and hit a bystander by mistake, which sometimes happens even when experienced police officers are pulling the triggers.

“School safety has always been the paramount issue I’ve dealt with,” said Steube, dead serious.

He’s eager to point out that only students with concealed-weapons permits would be allowed to pack heat. “These are 21-year-old adults who have gone through background checks, who have gone through training, who do not have a criminal record.”

Well, that certainly should reassure all worried parents, because 21 is the age of instant responsibility and maturity. Binge drinking, all-night partying, fighting — all that magically ends on a person’s 21st birthday, right?

And just because they lose their car keys now and then doesn’t mean they’d ever misplace a loaded Glock, or leave it out where their roommate could take it. You might wonder if Steube has ever set foot on a college campus. In fact, he has.

He graduated from the University of Florida, and stayed to get a law degree. During all that time in Gainesville he must have encountered at least a few fellow students who were unstable, angry, depressed, or battling drug and alcohol abuse.

In other words, troubled young men and women who shouldn’t be sitting in a classroom (or anywhere else) with a loaded weapon.

This would be a nightmare scenario for families who’ve sent their kids off to college believing they’ll be safe, at least while they’ve got a book in their hands. It’s also a nightmare scenario for teachers and professors, who’d be left to assume that every student in every class is armed. Would you give any grade except an A+ to a sophomore with a semiautomatic?

Most student and faculty groups are appalled by Steube’s campus gun bill, for good reason. It’s a recipe for another bloodbath.

A House subcommittee endorsed the measure last week, each Republican on the panel voting yea under the hawkish eye of the NRA. Luckily, there are more sane and cautious voices in the Florida Senate, where a similar piece of nutball legislation was snuffed four years ago.

At that time, John Thrasher, an influential Republican senator, opposed the push to put guns on college grounds. He had a friend whose daughter had been tragically killed in an accidental shooting at FSU.

Although Thrasher left the Senate last fall, he still has powerful friends in that chamber who pay attention to his opinion.

And they should, because Thrasher is now president of FSU. He started on the job 11 days before Myron May went to the library and started shooting.

The rampage didn’t change Thrasher’s mind about the danger of arming students. That’s because he lives in the real world, not the Bruce Willis fantasy inhabited by Steube and his reckless cohorts in the House.

 

By: Carl Hiaasen, Columnist for The Miami Herald; The National Memo, January 29, 2015

January 30, 2015 Posted by | Concealed Weapons, Florida, National Rifle Association | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Hey, America… All Of You, C’mon Down”: Hurry On Down To Florida Before South Beach Is Underwater

“I have a message today to the people of New York, Illinois, California, Pennsylvania and others: Move to Florida!”

Such was the sunny welcome put forth by Gov. Rick Scott at his second inaugural last week in Tallahassee, FL.

Quit your jobs, pack up your families and get down here as fast as you can. Twenty million people aren’t enough — Florida needs more!

I was thinking the same thing the other day on I-95, when I glanced in the rearview mirror and actually saw about eight feet of air between my bumper and the tanker truck behind me.

The first thing that sprang to mind was: Hey, another car could fit in there!

Not a regular-sized car, true, but maybe one of those adorable little Smart cars that you sometimes see on the streets of Manhattan or Chicago. It was a revelation.

Probably 99 out of 100 drivers in Florida would say our traffic already sucks, with a little imagination and no concern for the quality of life, there’s always room for more.

So you go, Gov. Scott! Keep on spreading the word.

The thought again popped into my head as I passed a middle school where every classroom has about 30 students, which most teachers will tell you are too many.

Know what? That school didn’t seem so crowded, at least from the outside.

The county had trucked in rows of windowless portable classrooms and painted them the same earthtone color as the main school building, so they looked hardly anything like warehouse storage.

Also, there was plenty of space for more portables at the east end of the soccer field.

So, everybody, listen to Gov. Scott! Bring your kids down to Florida and, by God, we’ll find a way to shoehorn the little imps into one of our schools.

And don’t be spooked by the fact that we spend less per pupil on education than 47 other states, because we make up for it in so many other ways.

Low taxes, for example. The governor loves to brag about Florida’s low taxes.

You might think it’s a sore subject among Floridians, this being the time of year when many of us are staring at our property-tax bills and wondering why they keep going up, up, up.

It’s because irresponsibly jamming so many humans together requires somebody (and it’s never the developers!) to pay for the roads, bridges, sewers, fire stations, extra police officers and so on. That somebody who pays is us.

So what’s Gov. Scott really talking about when he says our state has low taxes?

Get ready, future Floridans! Here’s the big celebrated tax break that the governor and the Legislature gave to all residents last year:

They cut the cost of our vehicle license tags by an average of $25. That’s not a typo, folks. Twenty-five whole buckeroos.

I still haven’t figured out what to do with all of it. Treasury bonds? High-cap stocks?

If a double-digit cut in auto-tag fees isn’t enough to bring caravans of U-Hauls streaming into the Sunshine State, then I don’t know what will.

The other morning I was driving through the Everglades thinking: Isn’t this swamp water finally clean enough? Really, how much urban runoff could a few million more people possibly dump?

We’ve probably got enough fish, wildlife and wading birds to last one more generation. What we really need are more subdivisions full of humans flushing toilets.

Aside from water shortages, saltwater intrusion, sink holes, red tides and the ludicrous cost of windstorm insurance, one thing that might keep newcomers away is fear.

Please don’t judge by what you read in the papers or see on TV, or by the latest FBI stats, which show Florida has more violent crimes per capita than New York, Illinois, California or Pennsylvania — all the places Gov. Scott is urging people to flee.

True, all types of criminals love it down here because of the climate. But while our prisons have been wretchedly overcrowded, additional cell space has become available under Scott’s administration due to a surge of untimely (and unexplained) inmate deaths.

So don’t be scared of Florida. Hurry on down before South Beach is underwater. We’re desperate for more people. We love sitting in traffic. We love standing in line.

Promised the governor: “Over the next four years, I will be traveling to your states personally, to recruit you here.”

Go get ‘em, you crazy Martian goofball!

Lie all you want about low taxes, and don’t say a word about the pythons.

 

By: Carl Hiaasen, Columnist for The Miami Herald; The National Memo, January 13, 2015

January 14, 2015 Posted by | Florida, Rick Scott | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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