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Florida's the Must-Win State, but for Whom?

Florida is usually regarded as the big prize among the nation's swing states this presidential election. But its value to President Obama and Mitt Romney could be changing.

It wasn't Obamacare, it wasn't Israel, and it wasn't even jobs. No. The President's big message during his speech Sunday in West Palm Beach was, “If we win Florida, we win the election!”

And that's not just a campaign platitude, shoutable from stumps in any state. Brad Coker of Mason Dixon Polling and Research says it’s not that Obama desperately needs Florida's 29 electoral votes. The point is to keep them away from Mitt Romney.

Coker said, “Obama has a path to victory - several paths to victory - without winning Florida. Romney has very few. The pressure is on Romney to win.”

But that may be the wisdom of 15 minutes ago in this fast-paced campaign. University of South Florida political scientist Susan MacManus says Obama is trending downward in states he carried four years ago, like Indiana and North Carolina.

“So suddenly, Florida has become the must-have state for both parties, which is exactly why you're going to see these presidential candidates and their surrogates traipsing through our state practically every week through November 6th”, said MacManus.

Unless Florida also goes bad for the president, says Coker, in which case he would disappear.

“Obama may at some point shift his resources into other states”, said Coker “and concede Florida to Romney.”

Coker already thinks that Obama has gotten crossways with too many Floridians on health care and the economy, and the state's tough early voting rules will keep a lot of his minority base from voting. He thinks Romney will win the state. 

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