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Early Miami Voting Shows Signs of GOP Defections

By       Message Sherwood Ross     Permalink
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One-third of a small sample of registered Republicans that voted early in Miami today(Oct. 23) said they voted for Barack Obama for president, according to an exit poll made by this reporter.

The spot poll --- of 50 voters displaying “I voted” stickers as they emerged from the Stephen P. Clark Center downtown --- also indicated that twice as many registered Democrats as registered Republicans voted early.

While the sampling unquestionably is too small to reflect more than a crude hint of what the final tally might be for Miami-Dade County, this reporter believes it is significant that five of the entire sample of 50 said they are registered Republicans who had just cast their ballots for Obama.

By contrast, not one registered Democrat interviewed said he or she had voted for McCain.What’s more, of the 14 per cent of the entire group of voters that identified themselves as independents, all but one said they had voted for Obama.

Of the total of 50 voters interviewed, 76 per cent said they voted for Obama and 24 per cent said they voted for McCain.  Sixty-eight per cent of the group appeared to be white and Hispanic and 32 per cent non-white.

Of the Republican crossovers that voted Democratic, several cited their disapproval of the Iraq war as the reason for their defection. Others listed the economic downturn.

Matalie San Martin, 46, an Hispanic voter that formerly voted Republican, said she voted for Obama because, “He did a lot for Chicago, he’s come a long way, and I’m against the war.”

An 81-year-old Hispanic woman who identified herself as “a former Republican” said, “I think the Republicans are only for the very rich and I’m against the war, so I voted for Obama.” The woman declined to give her name.

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Another Hispanic woman of about 60 who came to Miami from Cuba, said, “I used to give the Republicans $5,000 a year but I’m completely opposed to this crazy war. I listened to all of Obama’s speeches and I think we need a change.”

While few of the McCain voters were young and about half appeared over 50, the Obama voters included a good percentage of youths that voted early.  Indicating that Obama’s ideas for funding higher education had struck a chord, one 18-year-old white student who just voted for the first time and identified himself as an independent, said simply, “He’s for college funds.”

And an independent that said he was employed by U.S. Customs said he voted for Obama because, “In the last eight years we have suffered discrepancies in our jobs.”

One 27-year-old man said he supported McCain because “I’m a traditional Republican and I agree with what he says and less of what Obama says.”  And a 76-year-old Hispanic man said, “I think he’s less liberal than Obama, that’s why.”

One 34-year-old white Republican man said, “I voted for McCain but I didn’t like it. He was the best of the two. This country is in deep deep trouble and I would have gladly voted for Ron Paul.”

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More than 1,000 voters a day have marked early ballots in the Clark Center this week, an election aide said.  At any given time, about 60 people are waiting quietly and patiently in line to vote, and the procedure takes about 20 minutes. Aides seem to be everywhere to help voters with their questions.

Miami-Dade County has about 50 electronic voting machines to service those in line plus eight wheelchair-accessible booths in the Clark lobby, whose brown-and-orange tile floors and aluminum ceiling might be charitably described as “corporate dull.”

The methodology used by this reporter was simple: The only persons interviewed were those emerging from the polling place with an “I voted” sticker displayed on their clothing.  No particular age or racial group was selected; voters were approached as they came out. To get them to speak freely, each was told they would not be asked their name or address but could volunteer that information if they so desired. They were then asked three neutral questions: “Are you a registered Democrat, Republican or Independent?” “Who did you just vote for for President?” “What decided you to vote that way?” This reporter then estimated their age and noted their race and gender.

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Sherwood Ross worked as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News and contributed a regular "Workplace" column for Reuters. He has contributed to national magazines and hosted a talk show on WOL, Washington, D.C. In the Sixties he was active as public (more...)

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