Reporting Tim Kephart
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – When Florida Republicans cast their vote on January 31; it may be too late to make a difference in the eventual nomination. But, any candidate who chooses to overlook the Sunshine State will do so at their own peril.
For Republican presidential candidate and likely GOP-nominee Mitt Romney, he will likely win Florida the GOP Primary in a landslide.
Romney faces a steeper mountain to climb amongst many of the Hispanic Republicans in the state for the general election, especially in the heavily Hispanic areas of South Florida.
Romney said in a debate Monday night that he was opposed to a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrant living in the U.S., according to Univision.
In addition, Romney’s campaign is getting immigration policy advice from the man who helped craft both the Arizona and Alabama immigration laws, Kris Kobach.
Kobach, the current Kansas Secretary of State, has worked with the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in the past, which the Southern Poverty Law Center said was founded on the wish that America “remain a majority-white population: a goal to be achieved, presumably, by limiting the number of nonwhites who enter the country.”
In addition, Romney said he would veto the DREAM act, which according to the Pew Hispanic Center, is supported by more than 80 percent of Latino voters.
Beyond the push to land the growing Hispanic vote in Florida, the January 31 primary will be the largest state to hold an election thus far in 2012.
While numbers were small both in campaign spending and voter turnout in the first few states, it will cost millions to advertise in the Florida markets including Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, Miami, and West Palm Beach.
But, with the primary election ending up likely just being a king-maker in Florida; millions may not have to be spent by the presumed nominee, Mitt Romney, especially in a condensed election cycle that will only have about ten days of campaigning in the state.
Early voters will also dwarf the total number of votes cast in Iowa. More than 400,000 absentee ballots have been mailed out and more than 110,000 have already been returned to the state. This again displays the enormous size of the Florida electorate politicians are craving.
South Florida’s population is probably the oldest overall population candidates will face in the coming election. That means if any candidate says something to anger voters over Social Security or Medicare, it could cost them dearly at the polls.
All of it reiterates a point made late in the night on election night in 2000 by the late-Tim Russert, “It’s all about Florida.”