Election 2008: Obama makes big move in Florida

Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic today notes a crucial development in the presidential campaign:

The Obama campaign's top two field generals have decamped to Florida, a sign of its confidence that the state, with 27 electoral votes, is tilting toward the Democratic candidate.

Steve Hildebrand, the deputy campaign manager, will oversee operations from Miami, and Paul Tewes, the chief general election strategist, will help supervise the get-out-the-vote program from the campaign's state headquarters in Tampa. [...]

Both will work with Obama state director Steve Schale, who has put together the biggest field team ever field by a party, Republican or Democratic. There are more than 50 open field offices and more than 10,000 active volunteers. In addition, the Obama campaign is outspending McCain on television in the expensive state by a factor of five to one, records show.

Polls show that out of the three big Southern swing states -- Florida, North Carolina and Virginia -- Florida is the one that has most decisively turned in Obama's favor in the last three weeks. The state's 27 Electoral College votes also make it an especially coveted prize.

But chronic problems with Florida's election system add risk to this strategy for the Obama camp. As of earlier this week, some 5,000 newly-registered voters had their registrations thrown out due to the state's controversial "no-match" rule.

The state's massive disenfranchisement of ex-felons -- a key factor in Gore's loss in 2000 -- was eased with new rules by Gov. Crist that allowed 112,000 ex-felons to vote, but as of late September only 9,000 ex-felons had registered because the changes were poorly publicized.

And then there are the ongoing snafus like the 3,500 missing ballots in Palm Beach County last month which reversed a judicial election and led citizens to call for the removal of the county elections supervisor.

As Ambinder notes, Florida "holds mythic attraction for some Obama staffers" -- a state that seems just within grasp, but after 2000 a state where others fear Democratic dreams could just as easily die.