For the third and final presidential debate, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are heading to Boca Raton, Florida, a fitting setting for what could prove to be a pivotal moment in the campaign. With the race in a dead heat, the Sunshine State is one of a handful of battlegrounds where both teams are concentrating their resources. But while the Obama crew isn't faring as well in Florida as it would like, Republicans are feeling bullish on their chances, say Jonathan Martin and James Hohmann at Politico:
Florida Republicans are feeling increasingly optimistic that Mitt Romney will carry the biggest of swing-state prizes, and for good reason — he’s narrowly leading in most every poll here and President Barack Obama is under 50 percent in the same surveys.
The rising confidence on the right is owed to three major factors: The GOP rank and file, demoralized four years ago, are brimming with enthusiasm; independents appear to be moving away from Obama, and the Florida economy, while improving, is still worse off than the country at large.
So is Florida out of reach for the president? Romney is certainly looking very strong, says Nate Silver at The New York Times, and the Obama campaign, which does not need Florida to win the presidency, should at least consider diverting their money elsewhere:
Florida has been polled so densely that the overall trend has become clear: Mr. Romney has made larger-than-average gains in the state since the Denver debate, and has now become a definitive favorite there…
Mr. Romney's gains in Florida call into question how vigorously the campaigns should be contesting it over the final two weeks of the campaign. Mr. Romney might consider relaxing his efforts there, while Mr. Obama's capping might consider de-emphasizing the state.
However, it may all come down to which campaign can better mobilize support, say Paul West and Alana Semuels at The Los Angeles Times:
With just two weeks left until the election, both campaigns are wooing many of the same voters: non-Cuban Latinos in central Florida, Jews in South Florida and seniors and suburban women almost everywhere. Romney rallied supporters in Daytona Beach on Friday night, and Obama plans stops in Delray Beach and Tampa this week. Their running mates have also blitzed the state recently.
Republicans remain worried that Obama's extensive get-out-the-vote operation could carry him, and Democrats are concerned that heightened enthusiasm for Romney could give him an edge. As many as 1 in 10 Florida voters may be up for grabs.