So did those visits with Space Coast officials, statements about space policy, and endorsements from former NASA administrators have a significant effect on the results of the Republican primary in Florida yesterday? John McCain, the winner of the state, also won in Brevard County, the heart of the Space Coast. However, the results mirrored the state in general: McCain got 36% to Mitt Romney’s 31%, with Rudy Guiliani a distant third, just ahead of Mike Huckabee. McCain’s margin of victory over Romney in the statewide voting came effectively from big wins in three south Florida counties: Palm Beach, Broward, and (especially) Miami-Dade, none of which are known to be hotbeds of space interests. The statewide margin of victory for McCain was higher than the entire turnout in the Brevard Republican primary.
Undoubtedly some people in Florida, especially the Space Coast, based their decisions at least in part on what the candidates said, or did not say, on space issues, but it seems that did virtually nothing to affect the outcome of the election. One wonders if the window is now closing on the candidates to elucidate their space policy positions during the primary season: if it’s not an effective tool to win votes in Florida, it’s probably not going to be of much help in other states. Of course, we can still hope the candidates will be asked about the issue in the debates tonight and tomorrow night, although for tonight’s Republican debate, the most popular space question has dropped to ninth overall. (Assuming, of course, that those votes have any weight on the question selection process.)