On the Ground in Florida
Paul Lucas is a self-employed resident of Tallahassee and former soldier who served in the 70s and 80s. A lifelong Floridian, Lucas supports Newt Gingrich:
I want a candidate who is going to seriously challenge Barack Obama, give no quarter in debate, while supporting American exceptionalism.
Lucas, who is black, voted for Mitt Romney in the 2008 primary because he thought the governor "was best situated to attract sufficient independents to defeat the Democrats while supporting our historic global role."
Lucas says he does not consciously concern himself with electability:
Given the financial crash and the Democrats' increasingly repugnant reliance upon class warfare, I suppose Gingrich is the most electable candidate. ... Foremost in my mind at present is the fact that Thomas Sowell seemed very supportive of Newt in an opinion piece I read last month.
National security and the economy are Lucas' top issues.
Fernando Botero is a Miami-based industrial engineer from Latin America who leans toward Romney:
Even if I believe none of the candidates represent a solid alternative to the incumbent, whom I still believe has the strongest chance right now, I like Romney’s balanced vision of the country’s domestic and international problems.
Botero's most relevant issues are international relations, commercial competitiveness, social matters, and education. In his late 50s, he’s excited about his first American election after immigrating in 2000 and becoming a citizen in 2010:
I’ve voted in my native country, but now my kids are building their own destinies here. ... Therefore, after 12 years of having materialized my aspirations of becoming part of America, I’m glad to be able to elect my leaders.
A native New Yorker, 30-year-old Jon Levy is a high school history teacher in Jacksonville. He also prefers the former Massachusetts governor, voting for him in the 2008 primary as well:
Romney's executive experience should serve the country well in tough economic times and help stimulate small business, which in turn will stimulate hiring. ... I think he will also help ensure government money is spent more prudently than it is now.
Levy also likes Rick Santorum, but does not see the former senator as a national candidate:
He might be one of the greatest local politicians in America, as he's able to go into states, run a great grassroots campaign, and do well. ... But I doubt he would be able to do that in the national election against Obama.
Levy says Romney is the most electable candidate nationally:
There's no doubt that Mitt Romney has the best chance at beating Obama. ... Romney got it done in a very liberal state, he has the look (we know it's important to a lot of Americans), the polish, and he has the gubernatorial experience.
Twenty-six-year-old Andres Arango is a graduate student in the Orlando area who plans to support Ron Paul:
In the economic realm, Paul's positions will benefit the country most. ... He's very firm on the issue of federal wastefulness and vowed to never raise taxes.
Originally from South America, Arango will also be voting in his first United States election. He is currently working toward a master's degree in economics:
I like the congressman's stance on free trade. ... He'll be a president that will finally tighten America's budget in order to stop accumulating debt, while allowing citizens to hold onto their wealth and create more opportunities for economic growth.
Though Rep. Paul is largely skipping Florida, Arango thinks the country is ready for "a radical change that will bring their jobs back":
Ron Paul can influence voters whose lifestyles have been affected by the crisis, but also those higher income folks whose wealth is constantly being threatened by the menace of increasing taxes.
Diverse views from diverse Republicans in a diverse state.