The New York Times is reflecting what I see here on the ground:
Jim Piccillo lost his job as a bank vice president in August, applied for food stamps to support his two young daughters and swore off a life of loyalty to the Republican Party. He now volunteers here in Pasco County for Senator Barack Obama of Illinois.
Madeline Aquanno’s change of heart came more recently. Two weeks ago, she said, she had planned to vote for Senator John McCain of Arizona, the Republican, who impressed her with his knowledge of the world. But as the economy began to scare her more than terrorism, she reconsidered.
This matches my neighbor – a retired architect and registered Republican who voted for McCain in the primaries. It reflects the former Wall Street broker around the corner who is stuck with eight properties here on the island with no hope of getting them sold.
Moreover, there are many more like them.
Also in Mr. Obama’s favor, Florida as of August had 498,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans, up from an advantage of 373,000 four years ago.
125,000 more registered Democrats, and registered Republicans stating they will vote for Obama. Not a bad start.
Areas like Pasco County are deep Republican strongholds, and while they won’t go quietly into that dark night they have tied their boat to an unsteady pier.
Mr. Bunting and other party officials said Ms. Palin had electrified the race. In Tampa, the day Mr. McCain announced that she would be his vice-presidential pick, 20 women showed up to volunteer at the campaign’s local headquarters, said Greg Truax, the office’s campaign director. In Pasco County, 95 new people appeared.
“Every one of them said they were motivated by Palin,” Mr. Bunting said.
Less clear is whether that motivation can be sustained. Polls have shown support for Ms. Palin dwindling, and the McCain-Palin offices in Tampa, Pasco County and Broward County all seemed emptier than Mr. Obama’s during several visits over the last two weeks.
The shine coming off the Palin Petunia seems to be eroding the enthusiasm that had reinvigorated some Florida Rebpublicans. And she has driven Floridian Clinton supporters back into the Democratic fold.
…Sherry Kruta, a Democrat and former Clinton supporter from Highland Beach who only a month ago said she might vote for Mr. McCain. “The thought of her maybe being the president scares me to death,” Ms. Kruta said.
All of this matches what I see here, in “True Red” Republican Sarasota every day.
I’m keeping a bottle of champagne on ice as the Florida votes come in, and my bet is that it is open before Colorado is counted.