In a great column in the Huffington Post, blogger Sam Stein reports that the Obama campaign is "months ahead" of where the Gore and Kerry campaigns were in Florida in years past.
Obama's Communications Director in the state, Mark Bubriski, said:
We are building an unprecedented campaign for change in Florida. [We are] months ahead organizationally of Gore/Kerry.
Obama is setting up campaign offices in over a dozen Florida cities- including Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Jacksonville, Sarasota, Miami-Dade, Ft. Myers, Tallahassee, Orlando, Miami-Dade (2nd), Homestead, Naples, and Hollywood. The campaign already has headquarters in Tampa, Gainesville and Ft. Lauderdale.
The move is a reflection of two variables marking the Obama campaign's machinations: the Senator has a tremendous amount of money with which to play and seems more than willing to pour it into competitive locales. Last week it was reported that Obama had opened his 24th office in the swing state of Virginia, a remarkable devotion of staff and resources to a traditional Republican state. He has 15 such locations in Wisconsin as well.
As for Florida, early conventional wisdom held that the Illinois Democrat would have a difficult time competing there; the main factors being his somewhat tepid support within Jewish communities, the stronger support for McCain among older voters, and the possibility that Democratic voters had been turned off by issues surrounding their state's primary. But a recent Quinnipiac poll had Obama with a 47-43 edge over John McCain. Moreover, the state may be not as GOP-leaning as previously believed. In the past two years, Florida Democrats picked up nine state house seats, a cabinet seat, two congressional seats, and reelected a U.S. senator by 20 points.
This is move is hugely important for Obama to win the sunshine state, especially with those voters still angry over the primary struggle with Clinton.
It may also help the LGBT community to have his volunteers in the ground organizing high democratic turnout. A higher Obama voting block could provide the needed boost in Florida to stop the marriage amendment, as well as help elect more fair-minded politicians on the bottom of the ticket.
Here's hoping things turn out better in 2008 than in years prior...