Mitt Romney’s top campaign official in Florida conceded Thursday that President Obama will win the state, acknowledging a vote count that was moving inexorably against the Republicans.
Several Florida counties are still counting ballots, but most of what remains are in areas of south Florida that Obama carried by significant margins. When all those ballots are tallied, they likely will add to the president’s edge in the state, which was 55,832 votes as of Thursday afternoon, a lead of about 0.7%.
“The numbers in Florida show this was winnable,” Brett Doster, the senior advisor to Romney’s Florida campaign said in a statement to the Miami Herald and the Tampa Bay Times. “We thought, based on our polling and range of organization, that we had done what we needed to win. 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. I can assure you this won’t happen again.”
In addition to absentee ballots still being tallied, the state has an undetermined number of provisional ballots. Those are cast by voters who for one reason or another could not cast a regular ballot – a person whose name does not appear on a precinct’s voter list, for example. How many of those are valid is unknown. In the past, provisional ballots have more often been cast by Democrats than Republicans.
With Florida added to his column, Obama ends up with 332 electoral votes, just 26 fewer than he received four years ago. By comparison, his predecessor, George W. Bush, won 286 in his re-election bid in 2004. Both men ended up with margins of just over 2% of the popular vote.
The Florida vote count was delayed in part by long lines at polling places. In some precincts in Miami, voters were still casting ballots when Obama made his victory speech, after 1 a.m. EST. The long lines and other polling problems have led to political recriminations in Florida where elected officials had promised reforms after the contested election of 2000.