Campaign '08

The vote on the Space Coast

All the attention that space policy got in the 2008 general election for president was primarily focused on Florida’s Space Coast: the state was a swing state in the election, and Brevard County was considered part of the so-called “I-4 corridor” stretching through the central part of the state that was key to winning the state, . So how did the election go in Brevard County, one of the few places where space policy is a major issue?

Obama 127,400 44%
McCain 157,402 55%

Compare that to the state at large:

Obama 4,066,057 51%
McCain 3,866,641 49%

So Obama won the state by nearly 200,000 votes, but lost in Brevard by 30,000 votes. The I-4 corridor did play a role in the outcome—Obama won neighboring Orange County, which includes Orlando, with 60% of the vote—but the Space Coast wasn’t anywhere near the deciding factor. The outcome in Brevard wasn’t that much different from 2004, when George W. Bush won reelection with 58% of the vote in Brevard, in an election where space was rarely mentioned by either candidate. So were voters on the Space Coast convinced that McCain had a better space policy in their eyes than Obama, or was space simply overshadowed by other issues?

19 comments to The vote on the Space Coast

  • Chuck2200

    I believe that space was simply overshadowed by other issues. I have said elsewhere on this forum that while space is a big deal for those of us who choose to read and post here, it just isn’t that big a deal to the majority of the electorate, especially not in a year that has problems like what the country has today. That’s going to be one of the undergirding challenges for the leader who replaces Mike Griffin.

  • Brevard County always has a Republican majority. With Brevard going 58% for Bush in ’04, versus 55% for McCain in ’08, I’d like to think that Obama’s positions on space pushed McCain’s numbers down.

    The bigger issue is how Brevard’s push for space issues made both candidates focus on honing their space policies. That was good for the state and the nation.

  • anonymous.space

    The numbers alone tell us that civil space issues were not a deciding factor in the I-4 corridor. The total KSC workforce is only 13,500 civil servants and contractors, while McCain’s advantage over Obama in the I-4 corridor was nearly 30,000 votes. So even if the entire KSC workforce voted for McCain, there’s another 16,500 votes that were made for McCain (or against Obama) on non-NASA issues. Of course, the entire KSC workforce would not have voted for one candidate, so civil space issues were even less of a factor than these back-of-the-envelope figures would indicate.

    Reference below for the 13,500 figure on the KSC workforce (add http://www.):

    usatoday.com/tech/science/space/2008-04-01-ksc-job-cuts_N.htm

    FWIW…

  • anonymous.space

    “The bigger issue is how Brevard’s push for space issues made both candidates focus on honing their space policies. That was good for the state and the nation.”

    That depends on if the policies were honed in the direction of improving the nation’s civil space program, versus just retaining state jobs. For example, additional Shuttle flights will be great for Florida revenues, but arguably delay the introduction of successor vehicles and add costs and risks to the nation’s civil human space flight program.

    FWIW…

  • Anonymous,
    “That depends on if the policies were honed in the direction of improving the nation’s civil space program, versus just retaining state jobs.”

    Amen. Of course, with the final polling results showing that shuttle workforce retention really wasn’t that successful of an issue for him, hopefully he’ll do the right thing. Most of those Shuttle jobs are in counties or states that voted strongly against him–Brevard County, Texas, Louisiana/Alabama, Utah. And the few areas that did vote for him and have Shuttle jobs are also areas that would likely see the majority of job growth with a stronger commercial space industry. But depressingly, somehow I doubt that’ll happen.

    ~Jon

  • The Brevard County results remind me of something my Father used to say of his (Republican) parents, “They reliably vote for whoever is screwing them over the most.” The Democrats greater openness (at least in theory) to government spending and employment projects alone should have been enough to make Mr. Obama the clear choice. The choice is less clear on commercial space grounds, but I would guess that’s not the issue “the space coast” was voting on. . . .

    – Donald

  • The Democrats greater openness (at least in theory) to government spending and employment projects alone should have been enough to make Mr. Obama the clear choice.

    Only to those who don’t understand economics.

  • The KSC workforce is a subset of the Space Coast electorate. The area’s interest in space issues extends to a lot of other folks, including the family members of KSC workers on down the supply chain to the guy who delivers bottled water to Boeing’s offices. The whole region’s economy is effected, and voters of all kinds understood this.

  • Chuck2200

    Rand Simberg’s response to “The Democrats greater openness (at least in theory) to government spending and employment projects alone should have been enough to make Mr. Obama the clear choice.” was “Only to those who don’t understand economics“.

    I believe that he is referring to the Republican brand of economic theory which believes, rightly or wrongly, that concentrating the tax breaks on the captains of industry will result in expanding that industry, resulting in more and higher paying jobs for the middle class. Ronald Reagan referred to it in the vernacular as “Trickle-Down Economics”.

    I would submit that the evidence of the past 8 years of that economic principle in operation has not worked out that way overall. The proof of that is that the average annual income of the middle class has not grown, as predicted, but is now approximately $2,000 less than it was when GW Bush entered office. Does that mean that the theory is wrong? Not necessarily. But it does mean that the theory is lacking, otherwise the predicted results would have materialized. The fact is that they did not.

    The Democratic brand of economic theory on the other hand believes, rightly or wrongly, that concentrating the tax breaks on the middle class will put more income in the hands of the people who are the consumers of the products that the captains of industry want to sell, thus not only raising the annual income of the middle class, but also the captains of industry, because they must expand their businesses in order to handle the increased demand. It has been demonstrated that the average American saves far less than the people of other nations; rather they tend to spend the money they have on goods and services. Americans with cash in their pockets has always been good for the captains of industry who must expand their businesses to meet that increasing demand.

    There is another phrase that Ronald Reagan used that describes this phenomenon; “a rising tide floats all boats”. But President Reagan used that phrase in conjunction with the trickle-down economics statement. Personally, I don’t believe those two statements actually go together. I believe that President Reagan, a man I admired, was incorrect in that aspect.

    I believe that the past several decades under successive Democratic and Republican administrations and their economic policies, from Reagan to Bush II (which had the opportunity to field test both of these economic theories) have proven to be instructive with their documented results.

    Without getting into where the tax breaks should be focused, because there are multiple ways to address that, it think that recent history shows us fairly conclusively that directly empowering the middle class first rather than the captains of industry first results in both groups prospering, while directly empowering the captains of industry first results in the captains of industry prospering, while the middle class remains static. In all cases of history, empowering the middle class first has always lifted both groups. The rising tide did indeed float all boats.

    The earliest example of that in action I can cite is Henry Ford. He was undeniably a captain of industry, and went completely against the standard practice of his economic peers by giving the workers in his factories wages that were far and away above those prevailing in his day. This shocked and outraged several of his peers because of they way it made them look by comparison. When asked to explain himself, he stated simply that by doing so, then his workers and their families would be able to afford to purchase his automobiles, and that therefore not only would they be better off, but it guaranteed that his business would grow. That is exactly what the Democratic economic view describes, and I believe that history shows that to be an accurate view, and a profitable way to conduct economics. Put larger amounts of disposable income into the hands of Americans, and they will spend it on the products that the industrial leaders produce. Both the middle class and the upper income bracket people will prosper. In all cases of economic history I have been able to examine, when this principle of economics was applied, it worked as predicted. It worked. It was win-win for everybody. I believe it’s appropriate to do it again.

  • I believe that he is referring to the Republican brand of economic theory which believes, rightly or wrongly, that concentrating the tax breaks on the captains of industry will result in expanding that industry, resulting in more and higher paying jobs for the middle class. Ronald Reagan referred to it in the vernacular as “Trickle-Down Economics”.

    That is not the “Republican brand of economic theory.” It is the standard caricature of it. And it does nothing to address either my, or Don’s point.

  • Chuck2200

    Rand, you said “Only to those who don’t understand economics“, implying that those who don’t agree with your positions don’t understand economics. That was a completely disingenuous statement to make regarding people about whom you know nothing. My post was to that statement and I stand by it.

  • You can stand by it if you want, but all you did was demonstrate that you don’t understand economics, either. Or Republicans’ economic prescriptions.

  • Chuck2200

    I rest my case.

  • Rand, I’d rather you didn’t put words in my mouth. Actually, Chuck2200′s (excellent) historical analysis does address my comment, albeit indirectly. If it is true that “empowering” the middle class (or even the poor who directly spend all of the money they have) benefits short-term economic activity, than providing Shuttle-related jobs would (and demonstrably does) benefit the local economy. Now, a dynamic commercial space industry may or may not benefit the local economy more than the Shuttle program in the long term. However the people whose jobs would be directly affected by continued government funding of launch activity in Brevard County might be expected to go for the short term benefit of an administration that may be ideologically predisposed to continuing such funding, as opposed to one more ideologically predisposed to the long-term (and at this point largely theoretical) benefits of a dynamic commercial launch industry. That local voters chose the latter hopefully suggest an admirable willingness to give up their current jobs for the greater good of a dynamic space industry — but current efforts to keep the Shuttle flying (which I oppose) suggest otherwise.

    – Donald

  • If it is true that “empowering” the middle class (or even the poor who directly spend all of the money they have) benefits short-term economic activity, than providing Shuttle-related jobs would (and demonstrably does) benefit the local economy.

    Obviously, pumping federal money into a local economy benefits the local economy. The issue is whether or not it benefits the nation. Ideally, investments don’t just provide “jobs”–they should generate wealth (or serve some other vital government responsibility, such as defense). If the government funding is only for job creation, then it’s better left in the hands of those who will use it for wealth creation. The argument that space spending is intrinsically good because “it is spent here on earth” is fallacious.

  • Vladislaw

    Reagan increased military spending and gave tax cuts to the wealthy. This spending and tax cuts were funded by increasing the national debt, we were told deficits didn’t matter because economic growth would increase the tax revenue to the point deficits would go away on there own.

    Reagan increased the national debt and we are still paying about 20-30 billion a year interest on the debt Reagan ran up almost 30 years ago.

    Bush 41 called Reagan’s policies “voodoo” economics, but to win the nominiation he had to promise more tax cuts, which he did and funded the military with more national debt. He finally had to renig on his promise and had to raise taxes because he could not sell “deficits don’t matter”. The national debt once again rose and we are still paying interest on that debt.

    Bush 43 followed the same reagan pattern and cut taxes on the wealthy, increased military spending and said deficits don’t matter and once again raised the national debt.

    Rand said “pumping federal money into a local economy benefits the local economy”

    Well what exactly do you think the republicans have been doing for the last 30 years. They have pumped 9 of the 11 trillion dollars in debt into the economy and there is where are growth as come from.

    We have a 11 trillion dollar national debt, @ 4% interest debt service is running at about 440 billion dollars a year.

    Of course we all know that just because Bush set a record of never vetoing a single spending bill in his first term as president, it is not the republican president’s fault. Is was not republican Bush 43′s fault, it was not republican Reagan’s fault. The republicans and their policies are absolutely not at fault one bit. It is the democrats. It is always the liberal democrats fault. EVERYONE knows this. Liberal democrats sneak into the white house and hold a gun to the republican president’s head and force them, at gunpoint, to sign EVERY piece of spending that comes out of the liberal congress.

  • I’m sorry Vladislaw, but I don’t have time to correct all the economic nonsense that you just posted, but I do agree that George Bush was a disaster in terms of spending.

  • DAVE7007

    FIRST OFF….BREVARD COUNTY FLORIDA IS THE MOST BACKWARDS REDNECK COUNTIES I HAVE EVER LIVED IN IN MY LIFE….LOL…IT IS TRUE…IT IS FULL OF BACKWARDS FLORIDIANS AND NY TRANSPLANTS..IT HAS THE WORST RESTARUNTS IN THE USA….AND IF YOU EVER VISIT YOU WILL THINK YOU ARE GOING BACK IN TIME TO THE CIVIL WAR DAYS…LOL..ALLS YOU SEE IS BIG TRUCKS AND PEOPLE MISSING TEETH…LOL…IT IS AMAZING TO ME AS THE SPACE CENTER IS HERE AND COCO BEACH…BUT IT IS THE LOCALS THEY ARE WELL…NOT THE BRIGHTEST BULBS ON A TREE….LOL….YOU WILL SEE TRUCKS WITH THE CONFEDERATE FLAG ON IT….LOL…TWISTED AND DUMB….THEY NOT ONLY HAVE THE WORST RESTARUNTS IN THE COUNTRY BUT THEIR SCHOOL SYSTEM IS THE WORST IN THE NATION, THAT IS FOR ALL OF FLORIDA…MOST MILITARY BRANCHES WILL NOT EVEN ACCEPT A HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA FROM A FLORIDA SCHOOL….THINK ABOUT THAT FOLKS….LOL….THAT IS DUMB WITH A CAPITAL D……

  • [...] year was his NASA promise gained him votes in the critical Central Florida corridor.” Yet Obama lost Brevard County, the heart of the Space Coast, by 11 percentage points, and it seems unlikely space played a role [...]

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