Shelby: Welcome to the political showdown in the sunshine state! With high stakes and slightly different rules, the Florida primary could be the most important contest yet. As voters cast ballots in Florida today, they will decide which political candidate will win a key victory in the race.
What is up for grabs? Florida’s fifty delegates. So what exactly is a delegate? Well, each state sends delegates, or representatives, to the national conventions of each political party. In this case, we are talking about the Republican party. At the national convention, those delegates will choose one candidate to be the Republican nominee and face off against President Obama in the general election.
In order to be nominated, a candidate must win more than half of the country’s 2,286 delegates, meaning they need at least 1,144. But here is where it gets tricky. States don’t award delegates in the same way. For example, in New Hampshire, delegates were awarded proportionally and each candidate got one delegate for every 10% of votes won. But in Florida, it is a winner-takes-all primary. That means that whoever gets the most votes gets all of Florida’s fifty delegates. It doesn’t matter who comes in second or third.
Right now, Newt Gingrich has 25 delegates, Mitt Romney has 35, Rick Santorum has 14, and Ron Paul has 4, according to the Associated Press.
So with Florida’s fifty delegates totaling more than the delegates of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina combined, whoever wins the Florida primary will be the frontrunner heading into February.
So that is what is at stake in Florida’s primary. And to show you how it works, we asked our friends at South Miami Senior High if they would have a mock primary. After a lot of research, planning, and hard work, they were ready to teach us the ins and outs of their state’s key contest.
So, lets meet the candidates! We have got four key players in today’s race. Candidates, will you please introduce yourselves, starting with you, Governor Romney.
“Hello, Florida! I’m Mitt Romney, and it’s time for a comeback! Let’s see what you got, sunshine state!”
“I’m Newt Gingrich, and I’m on a roll after my big win in South Carolina.”
“I’m Rick Santorum, and I’m over re-counts. What I need here is a big win!”
“And I’m Ron Paul. I might be the underdog, but I’m going for the top.”
Shelby: Thank you, candidates. I am glad you have your game faces on because before we take a vote, we are putting you on the hot seat. Voters, are you ready for a debate?
This first question is for all four of you. What qualifies you to be the president of the United States of America? We will start with you, Congressman Paul.
“I am a libertarian, and I believe that the Constitution should be first before any act, any law that goes against your civil liberties. A vote for Ron Paul is a vote for freedom!”
“Why should you vote for me? Well, I’m a man with strong family values that has great experience serving in government, and I could lead this country to a better future.”
“A vote for Newt Gingrich isn’t just a vote for change, or a vote for simply America, but a vote that says we are not going down without a fight.”
“In my term as governor of Massachusetts, I helped relieve a $3 million debt. And as a very successful businessman, I know what it takes to have our economy back to strength. And let’s face it America, that’s what’s wrong with us today. So, vote Mitt Romney, because Mitt Romney believes in America.”
Shelby: Ok, for your next questions, we are turning to the audience.
“Hi. My name is Karina and my question is for Governor Romney. Governor Romney, what are your views on gay marriage?”
“Marriage is a religious institution between a man and a woman. It would be wrong for the government to try and change that definition. I do not agree with same-sex marriage, but I do believe that gays and lesbians should have equal rights and should be able to serve equally and honestly in our nation’s military.”
“Hi. My name is Yenni, and my question is for Congressman Paul. Should abortion be legal in america?”
“I see this more as a state issue than a federal issue, and it should be left to the states to decide if abortion should be legal or not.”
Shelby: Alright, Senator Santorum?
“I believe that life begins at conception, and any type of abortion is murder to a child.”
“Hi. My name is Andres Angel and I have a question for Newt Gingrich. What are your views on medical marijuana legalization?”
“Unlike Ron Paul, I do not want the children of the United States to get the idea that is ok to do drugs. The law continues to define marijuana as a drug with no accepted medical use.”
“Hi. My name is America and my question is for Mitt Romney. The federal debt is increasing to 16 trillion. What are your plans for this issue?”
“I believe a balanced budget limit is the answer. We should also cap federal spending at 20% of GDP. I am a successful businessman and one of my strengths is helping companies grow and make profits, and I am confident that I can do that for the American economy.”
Shelby: Thank you, candidates. That concludes today’s debate and now it is up to the state of Florida. It is time to take a vote!
While the students cast votes, there are a few things you should know about today’s election:
1. Florida is big.
Compared to the states that have already voted, Florida has more cities, more media markets, and more voters. And that all adds up to more costs. Candidates have to spend a lot more money to win a vote in the sunshine state.
2. Florida’s primary is closed.
That means that only registered Republicans can vote for a Republican candidate, which is much different than an open primary, like the one in South Carolina, where any registered voter can participate.
Analysts say that that Florida voters will give a better indication of who Republicans want to win the Republican nomination.
3. Florida voters are diverse.
When compared to the states that have already voted, Florida has more older voters, more Jewish voters, and more latino voters. In fact, hispanics make up about 13.1% of the state’s registered voters.
Now that you know the facts about the Florida primary, let’s check in with some voters.
“I voted for Ron Paul.”
“I’m voting for Newt because I feel like he is so ready to take on the job as president.”
“Mitt Romney. I like the fact that he opened with the economy. I feel like it’s our most important issue.”
Shelby: Two hundred and fifty students cast ballots. So, which candidate got the most votes?
Ladies and gentlemen, the students voted, the committee counted, and we have a winner! Taking all 50 delegates in the Florida primary at South Miami Senior High is Congressman Ron Paul!
It is not such a surprise, since Paul has a huge following among young people.
“Thank you voters. I knew I could count on you. Now that we won this important state, our message of freedom will continue onto Nevada. Thank you very much!”
Shelby: Let’s hear it for the candidates and for all of you students at South Miami Senior High!
So, the voters here chose Ron Paul, but who will win the state’s real primary?
We will have the results for you tomorrow!