Florida Primary Predictions

Florida Primary Predictions:  McCain and Clinton Yes, it’s that time again: trying to make predictions in a political season that’s largely defying predictability. Polls are open today in Florida, the last primary state before next week’s Super Tuesday extravaganza, and it’s an important contest, at least on the GOP side.

As for the Democrats, it’ll be a complete shock if Hillary Clinton doesn’t win the meaningless beauty contest. She’s ahead by an average of 19 percent in recent polls and by no less than 13 in any of them.

Florida Primary Democratic Polls

My guess on the final numbers:

    Clinton 51
    Obama 35
    Edwards 14

No delegates are at stake, at least theoretically, and the media attention will be mostly on the Republican side unless a monumental upset occurs. Still, Clinton will be able to claim victory and gain a tiny bit of momentum heading into next week’s 22-state megaprimary.

The Republican contest is a coin toss between the national frontrunners, Mitt Romney and John McCain.

Florida Primary Republican Polls

The most recent polls give McCain a slight advantage and the trend lines seem to be moving his way. Those results, though, are well within the margin of sampling error making the race too close to call.

The other wrinkle a key to remember here is that absentee voting has been going on for weeks, so recent events are not going to have the same impact that they might in a caucus or polling place-only contest. While Rudy Giuliani’s numbers have plummeted since New Hampshire, as many as a million people had already mailed in their ballots by then.

McCain got the 11th hour endorsements of Florida governor Charlie Crist and Senator Mel Martinez, which should help a bit, and rumors that Giuliani is calling it quits may help McCain a bit. One wonders, too, whether Huckabee fans will decide not to “waste their vote” on a guy the polls show has no chance at winning this winner-take-all primary. If so, most will likely decide that the war hero is preferable to the flip-flopping Mormon.

The fact that Romney has outspent McCain 10-to-1 in television advertising and isn’t leading makes me think his support is a bit soft, too.

With very little confidence, then, I predict the following finish:

    McCain 35%
    Romney 32%
    Giuliani 17%
    Huckabee 11%
    Paul 5%

Actual results may vary, of course. The polls have been uncannily accurate throughout this season with the notable exception that they have occasionally vastly under-counted the winner’s support.

The winner here will get a large boost going into Super Tuesday, since both McCain and Romney are vying to establish themselves as the clear favorite. If it goes anything like this, though, both Giuliani and Huckabee are toast.

Ron Paul, of course, will be sitting exactly where he intended all along, poised to win the whole thing once the field clears. (Well, not really.)

UPDATE: Scott Elliot sees both races tighter than my predictions, albeit with the same outcomes. He’s also rounded up other blogger predictions.

Feel free to add your predictions in the comments below. The closest for each contest will get a mention in tomorrow’s postmortem.

Update (Alex Knapp): Because James asked, and because I love making completely false predictions, here are my scores below. Frankly, I think that the sheer amount of early voting is really going to skew the results:

Clinton 48
Obama 32
Edwards 20

This, by the way, is a Clinton victory that should be spun by the media as completely meaningless, due to early voting, the lack of campaigning by Obama and Edwards, and the actual “under-the radar” campaigning by Clinton. It will, however, be spun as a “change in momentum” for the campaigns heading into Super Tuesday.


McCain 30
Romney 25
Giuliani 25
Huckabee 12
Paul 5
Thompson 3

(I’m assuming that the early voting returns will include some Thompson ballots, and will also produce a surprisingly strong showing for Giuliani.)

Update (Chris Lawrence): Here are some completely off-the-cuff predictions:

Clinton 50
Obama 38
Edwards 10
Kucinich 2

McCain 29
Romney 29
Giuliani 18
Huckabee 15
Paul 6
Thompson 2

Florida Recount II, here we come!

Update (Dave Schuler): Goodbye Rudy Tuesday

My guess is that in today’s Florida primary, at least partly because of the number of older voters, the regular party candidates win on both sides of the aisle. That means that Romney will narrowly beat McCain leaving Rudy Giuliani a distant third on the Republican side (Ron Paul should poll has customary 6%). Giuliani well may withdraw after such a finish although it hardly seems worth it with Super Tuesday mere days away.

On the Democratic side it means that Clinton will beat Obama narrowly with Edwards a distant third.

Update (Steven Taylor): I predict McCain wins by 2 points and that Giuliani eeks out a third place finish based on early voting. Meanwhile, Hillary wins 50% of the vote and cashes in on 0 delegates.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Robert says:

    Romney 34%
    McCain 32%
    Giuliani 17%
    Huckabee 11%
    Paul 6%

  2. Michael says:

    Romney: 35%
    McCain: 32%
    Giuliani: 9/11%
    Huckabee: 100% chance of Chuck Norris round-house kick to your face
    Paul: 85 gazillion%

  3. Tano says:

    I sense the Dem race will be a lot closer than everyone seems to expect.

    You have a perfect confluence of factors:

    No campaigning, nor much media attention, meaning low turnout, meaning a tilt toward the side with the excitement and energy.

    A possible bounce from SC, especially amongst black voters.

    All those northeastern retirees suddenly being enticed with a replay of Camelot.

  4. Clay says:

    I say McCain has a slight lead now, gets a slight majority of undecideds, and gets a slight majority of Huck/Rudy slippage, enough for a fairly decisive 4 point win. Rudy quits tomorrow.

    McCain 39
    Romney 35
    Huckabee 12
    Giuliani 10
    Paul 4
    Thompson less than 1%

  5. floyd says:

    With such “conventional wisdom” extant a “convention” seems redundant.