This is the first part of a new semi-regular series I will be doing called Focus on Florida. The purpose of this series is to give people insight into the politics of Florida and how Obama will make a play for Florida’s 27 electoral votes. Despite Obama’s poor showing in the delegate-less Florida primary, Florida is definitely a state than can go blue this year with enough effort from the Obama campaign. So far, the Obama campaign has risen to the challenge, and shown that they intend to make Florida a top priority this year.
The first diary in this series will be about winning in the I-4 corridor. For those of you unfamiliar with Florida geography, the I-4 corridor refers to the area in Florida that borders the 132 mile stretch of the I-4 highway, which runs spans central Florida from Tampa in the West to Daytona Beach in the East. For those of you familiar with Florida politics, you already know that the I-4 corridor is considered the holy grail of Florida politics. Win the I-4 corridor, and you’re almost guaranteed to win the state. With North Florida and South Florida usually cancelling each other out (North Florida going Republican, South Florida going Democratic), Central Florida is the key battleground area up for grabs in the state.
The Washington Times profiled the I-4 corridor in January in the run up to the primary election.
“We kind of laughingly call it the highway of heaven for the candidates, because if they win I-4, they win Florida,” said Susan MacManus, a political science professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa. “The I-4 corridor is the new growth part of the state, and the most politically competitive part of the state.”
More than 40 percent of Florida’s registered voters live in counties straddling the interstate, which includes the burgeoning Orlando area and popular retirement centers like Lakeland and Winter Haven, while in between are millions of acres of citrus groves and scrub pine woods.
Competing in the I-4 corridor is no easy feat. The corridor is diverse racially and geographically, with a mix of white, African American, and Hispanic voters, and mix of cities such as Orlando, Tampa, and Daytona, and the wide areas of rural land that connect those cities. It is home to two major media markets, the Orlando and Tampa media market, the latter of which is the most expensive in the state (it is also the 2nd largest in the state, and 13th largest in the nation). Read more »