NAPLES, Fla.—Staffed by three recent college graduates and one who will graduate next June, President Obama’s re-election campaign is waging an aggressive ground game in Collier County, Fla. At first blush, one would think that Collier County would be written off by the Obama camp.
The county, a Republican stronghold since it gave George H.W. Bush 74.4 percent of its votes in 1988, is a bellwether county for Mitt Romney’s presidential aspirations.
In each election since 1988, Collier County voted overwhelmingly for the Republican candidate. In 1992, with Ross Perot in the mix, it gave President Bush the edge over Bill Clinton, 53.4 percent to 26.1 percent.
Sen. Bob Dole received 58.7 percent of this vote in 1996, while President Clinton improved his total to 32 percent. In 2000 and 2004, President George W. Bush received 65.6 percent and 65 percent, respectively, from Collier County voters.
President Obama, in 2008, received the largest percentage of votes in Collier County of any Democratic candidate in the past six presidential elections when he polled 38.4 percent to Sen. John McCain’s 60.8 percent.
According to the most recent census data, Collier County has a population of more than 400,000. It boasts of having the second-largest land mass of any county in the state. Its population is 67 percent white, 24 percent Latino and just 6 percent African American.
The demographics of Collier County are representative of the general election population in the country and are a microcosm of the national political typography.
The Romney-Ryan ticket, with cash to burn, is content to blitzkrieg the Obama-Biden ticket from the airwaves with commercials that paint the Obama presidency as a failed presidency. In recent calls to Collier County voters, Romney’s supporters are quick to vehemently announce they are not supporting the president for re-election. The Republicans’ dislike for President Obama in Collier County is so passion-driven that no one ever cites a reason for giving their support to Romney before terminating the conversation.
Additionally, according to an assistant election supervisor, the Supervisor of Elections for Collier County conducted a voter registration drive on Sept. 16 at the mega-church New Hope Christian Center. They also signed up churchgoers for Florida’s vote-by-mail program, which allows Floridians to vote by mail on the first day of the early vote period.
This same election supervisor, on Sept. 23, refused to allow certified voter registrars’ from President Obama’s grassroots organizing campaign to register voters during an after-church bake sale in a New Hope fellowship hall.
The Republican Party is content to have only one campaign headquarters in Collier County, while the Obama campaign will officially open their second campaign office on Sunday. This new office gives the president’s re-election campaign more than 100 field offices in the state of Florida. The Republican Party has fewer than 45.
The president’s ground game has been busy fettering out potential independent voters through phone banks, neighborhood canvassing and shopping mall engagements. They are seeking voters who can be persuaded to give President Obama their vote in 2012.
Recent polls have President Obama increasing his lead in Florida over Romney by five points.
Perhaps this spike in the poll numbers can be explained by the relentlessly polite and politely relentless ground game of President Obama in Florida, especially coming on the heels of Romney’s “47 percent of the people” video which was brought to the forefront recently by Mother Jones.