One of Florida’s most active political scientists was the guest speaker at the Capital Tiger Bay Club’s luncheon today. Her analysis of this year’s political scene probably won’t comfort either of the major parties.
University of South Florida professor Susan MacManus addressed a crowd of lawmakers, lobbyists and community leaders on Florida’s present and future political atmosphere. MacManus says Floridians who don’t consider themselves Democrats or Republicans will play a key role in the upcoming gubernatorial race.
“Both parties, because there’s such animosity towards them, are really scrambling to push people in their direction and are worried about that 26 percent or so of people that don’t like them and can be pushed in either direction,” she says.
MacManus pointed to a recent Pinellas County special congressional election won by Republican David Jolly in early March. She says neither party could count on the more than a quarter of voters who identify as unaffiliated. Despite having congressional races as precedent, she says the race for governor cannot be definitively predicted.
“In general I agree with what the Washington Post analyst said the day or so after the election,” MacManus says. “The commentator said this: ‘Right now, no one is certain of what the Florida election, congressional district 13, will mean, but everyone will study it for clues, and clues we absolutely do now have.”
MacManus says the absence of many of Florida’s younger and minority voters will affect Democrats’ chances for election in the gubernatorial race as it has in congressional district races. She also says she expects to see much more outside money funneled into this year’s election in addition to an increase in negative campaigning.