Trump Or Clinton: It All Comes Down To Florida

Both Candidates Eye Florida As Key To Success

Somehow, I’m sure you always knew the national election could come down to (as the late Tim Russert famously said) Florida, Florida, Florida.

Poll numbers for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are going up and down more than the Cobra’s Curse thrill ride at Tampa’s Busch Gardens. When I checked the Real Clear Politics composite Thursday morning, Clinton was ahead on average by 3 points – within the margin for error. And man, do Trump’s followers believe there are errors.

Trump drew a large, enthusiastic crowd Wednesday in Lakeland. Clinton has been getting big crowds for her stops in the state as well. We should expect to see so much of the two candidates between now and Nov. 8 that they ought to qualify for in-state passes at Disney World.

With 29 electoral votes, Florida is the biggest undecided prize for the national election. It doesn’t stop there, though. Control of the U.S. Senate could hinge on who wins between Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Patrick Murphy.

NBC News had Rubio ahead by only 2 points while Quinnipiac had the margin at plus-4 for Rubio. That’s down a bit in the last couple of weeks, but with early voting going on now the lead is still significant.

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So here we go again. The Sunshine State, as always seems to be the case, is the big prize. I don’t see that changing any time soon.

Florida, with 20 million residents, is the third-largest state in the union. Unlike California, which is reliably Democratic, and Texas (deep red Republican), Florida is diverse. That’s why your phone always tends to ring around suppertime with a pollster wondering how you feel today. This is your mailbox is filled with campaign material.

The southern part of the state usually trends blue. The northern part is solidly red. That leaves the vaunted I-4 corridor running from Tampa Bay to Daytona Beach. That has trended Democratic in the last two presidential elections but it hardly is a lock.

What this also means is that passions are running especially high in our state. Each side is convinced the other would such a disaster that Clinton believers don’t care, as Bernie Sanders might say, about her damn emails and Trump’s legion doesn’t care who he may (or may not) have groped.

The Tampa Bay Times illustrated this perfectly Thursday with a single photo. It showed a Trump supporter with a poster of Hillary in jail, while the Clinton backer’s sign read “Seducing a married woman and grabbin’ badankadonks don’t make us great!”
They appeared to be yelling at each other.

I know you’re shocked.

At any rate, here we are. With less than a month to go the state’s simmering passions are beginning to boil. Whoever your choice in this election, you are guaranteed to have plenty of people on your side and at least as many who think you’re crazy for voting the way you do.
That’s the way it is when you live in Florida, Florida, Florida.
We’re used to it.

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After nearly 42 years as both a sports and news columnist, along with a variety of other roles, at the Tampa Tribune, Joe Henderson brings his slant on politics and sports to NewsTalkFlorida.com and SportsTalkFlorida.com. Originally from the small town of Lebanon, Ohio, Joe resides outside of Tampa with Elaine, his wife of more than 35 years. Their two grown sons stop by when there is time, and their faithful Watch Cat, Sassy is always on guard.