Deep Underground with Raul Groom

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Interesting news from Florida the past couple of days... Virtually every poll, regardless of the absolute percentages, has Florida trending very slightly Kerry in the last few weeks. This is crucial because, as I and others have noted, there is no realistic scenario in which Bush loses Florida and wins the presidency. If Kerry wins Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Florida, it's over, and Michigan has been out of play for a while, while Bush has hauled stakes in Pennsylvania.

If this were a normal election, I'd say it was time for Kerry to ease up on Ohio, which he can afford to lose, and pound Florida, which is more of a must-win for him. But in this case you have to take into account the Jeb factor.

Not much is known nationally about Jeb, but he's an extremely important figure and he's one of the big keys to Dubya's reelection. Jeb was always expected to be the heir apparent to the Bush political dynasty, not George W. Jeb's plan was to use the Florida governorship as a springboard to the presidency, but he lost in 1994 and missed his shot. Thus in the 2000 election, his image in his family as a major political player hinged purely on making sure his own state was carried by his brother. It's easy to see his desperation when, after all he had done to suppress the black vote in Florida, it still appeared based on VNS numbers that Gore was going to win a narrow victory. Remember it was Jeb who called Bush to assure him, even though he had no information anyone else didn't have, that Bush would win Florida even as the networks were calling it for Bush. Jeb later reassured Bush as the counting was still going on that Florida was in the bag, leading to Bush's testy exchange with Gore when Gore had to remind Bush "Your brother is not the final authority on this."

The point is that if George W. loses Florida, thus suffering the same one-term fate as his father, it may well kill Jeb, because it will be seen as the final failure in his once-promising political career. Which will be ironic, since I think we can all agree that the weakest thing about Dubya's reelection campaign is the candidate.

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