In the preliminary stages of the last two presidential campaigns, Florida has been an unrepentant troublemaker by thwarting both parties’ efforts to carve out nominating calendars that each had hoped would be sensible and orderly.
In both 2008 and 2012, Florida officials set January dates for the presidential primary, citing the state’s status as the nation’s biggest electoral battleground and its demographics mirroring the nation’s diversity; these facts, the officials asserted, were compelling reasons to ignore rules established by both national parties to prevent frontloaded primary contests.
The Democratic candidates in 2008 agreed not to even contest their party’s primaries in Florida and Michigan (another state that broke the rules by moving its primary up to January). But the situation was much messier on the GOP side, where the contenders for the Republican nomination fought as hard to win Florida as they did everywhere else.
As a result, the Republican National Committee penalized Florida twice by removing half of its convention delegates.
The RNC further emphasized its displeasure with the Sunshine State at the 2012 GOP convention by exiling the remaining 50 home-state delegates to a hotel 45 minutes from the Tampa venue and stripping them of prized guest passes to the big event.