US President Barack Obama’s top aide in Florida said Democrats have won the vote in the officially undeclared Sunshine State, where officials are under fire for mishandling the ballot.
Obama in the end did not need the biggest swing state because he won enough states across the country to romp to a decisive electoral college victory in Tuesday’s election, but his team believes they triumphed in any case.
“On behalf of Florida Democrats, I wish President Barack Obama congratulations on his re-election and on winning Florida’s 29 electoral college votes,” Florida Democrats chairman Rod Smith said in a statement on Thursday.
Republican US presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s senior campaign adviser in Florida hinted earlier that Romney had lost the state, where the result has yet to be announced more than two days after the election.
Electoral officials have said all vote returns must be completed no later than today, but the statement from Romney’s campaign published in the Miami Herald suggested his team had already accepted defeat.
“The numbers in Florida show this was winnable. We thought based on our polling and range of organization that we had done what we needed to win,” senior campaign adviser Brett Doster said in the statement. “Obviously, we didn’t, and for that I and every other operative in Florida has a sick feeling that we left something on the table.”
Florida Deputy Elections Supervisor Christina White blamed the vote count delay on an unusually long ballot and a high voter turnout, but at least two Florida vote experts saw the chaos as the result of a bare-knuckled Republican attempt to suppress turnout.
Lance deHaven-Smith of Florida State University said the count was running late because “an entrenched Republican political class is trying to fend off a rising tide of Democratic voting.”
Republican state officials have been “intentionally under supplying voting places and equipment” to create bottlenecks in Democratic strongholds, he said.
Charles Zelden, a history and law professor at Nova Southeastern University, pointed to a law signed last year by Florida Governor Rick Scott reducing the number of early voting days from 14 to eight and eliminating early voting on the Sunday before election day. Democrats tend do better in early voting.