Dan Gelber: Florida ‘Presidential Primary Karma’ strikes again?

Whenever I am waiting in a supermarket line (or movie theater, department store, or, frankly, any line), every other line always appears to move faster. This maddening phenomenon is, of course, known as Supermarket Line Karma.

Floridians are well aware of this phenomenon because we have watched it play out in presidential primaries. About a decade ago when I was the incoming House Democratic Leader, a fresh-faced, eloquent incoming Republican House Speaker approached me about moving up the Florida primary in the run up to the 2008 presidential elections. Prior to that election, we voted on “Super Tuesday” with so many others.

“It would make Florida more relevant,” was one of the rationales. Made sense, sort of.

I agreed to the move because I forgot that Karma exists in presidential primaries as well.

Karma did weigh in, however, when the RNC and DNC immediately punished Florida in ways that made us less relevant. It probably also helped President Barack Obama by taking out of the equation a state that would have likely gone for then Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Presidential Primary Karma moves in mysterious and unintended ways.

This year, the Florida Legislature – apparently forgetting history and Karma – decided to fiddle around again with its primary. The earlier Republican primaries must award delegates proportionally. In other words, if you win 40 percent of the vote you win that proportion of delegates.

But early last year, with Florida’s then favorite son Jeb Bush certain to run, the Legislature moved the primary back to allow it to be a winner-take-all affair. The plan was that Jeb would easily win, almost assuring that Florida’s massive delegate haul would overwhelm Jeb’s opponents.


Florida Primary Karma may make a big appearance this year if Marco Rubio ultimately splits the hometown vote with Jeb, leaving Florida’s 100 delegates all to interlopers Donald Trump or Texan Ted Cruz.

Don’t mess with Karma.


Dan Gelber is a former State Senator and Democratic Leader of the Florida House. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

Dan Gelber


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