Election night in Florida: Nelson wins re-election, presidential contest tight

Florida’s vote totals in the presidential race spent all night bouncing around, as waves of election returns from the hour-behind panhandle and the huge Miami-Dade area came rolling in.  Early thoughts of a big Romney lead soon dissipated, and the Sunshine State once again became a nail-biter.  As midnight approached, even after the presidential race had been called for Barack Obama, Florida still had not been called; a fraction of a percentage point separated the two presidential candidates.

On the down side for Republicans, Connie Mack failed in his bid to unseat incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson in the Senate race.  Although polls had tightened somewhat in the final weeks of the race, Mack never really caught fire, and Nelson ended up winning by a comfortable margin – 13 percent at the time the race was called.  This came on a generally outstanding night for Democratic Senate candidates.

In a few of the higher-profile House races, DNC chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz easily won re-election; conservative Adam Hasner, at one point a Senate candidate, lost to Democrat Lois Frankel; conservative talk-show host Trey Radel won his race against Democrat Jim Roach in Southwest Florida; liberal Democrat wild man Alan Grayson returned to the House; and conservative icon Allen West found himself in a very tight race against Patrick Murphy.

One of the most closely watched ballot initiatives in Florida, Amendment 6, which would have prohibited the use of public funds for abortion or health coverage that includes abortion benefits, was defeated by a 55-45 margin.  Amendment 1, which would have banned government-imposed insurance mandates such as those central to ObamaCare, was also defeated, 52-48 percent.