Mitt Romney will be campaigning in the Tampa area today and will be at the Tampa Convention Center when the polls close tonight. Newt Gingrich will spend primary day in the Central Florida area, waiting out the results at the Rosen Center in Orlando. Each of the candidates is confident and predicting that he will take Florida.
Florida is a crucial state in this primary, as in every Presidential year. Every four years, U.S. citizens elect a new president. And every four years, candidates, the news media and political consultants head for Florida. Florida is perennially important in presidential politics because of its large number of votes in the Electoral College, and because the voters in the state, at least in recent memory, are sharply divided.
U.S. presidential races are decided by the Electoral College. Each state has electors to the college based on the number of representatives it sends to the Senate and House of Representatives. There are 100 senators, two for each state; 435 members of Congress, apportioned according to population; and three electors from the District of Columbia for a total of 538. Candidates need 270 votes in the Electoral College to win.
Winner Takes All
- in softball.
In 48 states, the candidate with the most votes wins all of that state's votes in the Electoral College. Two states, Nebraska and Maine, send select electors according to votes in the Congressional district. Florida, with 27 Electoral College votes, contains 10 percent of the winning total.
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Many states vote reliably for one party or the other. Utah, for example, is reliably Republican. New Jersey votes predominantly for Democratic Party candidates. Florida is not one of those states. It has, historically, been a swing state. According to 270toWin, "influxes of Cubans, retirees, service workers to the theme park economy booming near Orlando and other groups have resulted in a state much more diversified -- both economically and politically -- than many of its southern brethren." As a result, although still leaning slightly Republican, Florida is today seen as perhaps the ultimate swing state, with its population a microcosm of the country as a whole. Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan are also considered swing states. Florida, however, is the largest swing state. It trails California, which has trended Democrat in recent years and has 55 Electoral College votes; Texas, with 34 votes and mostly Republican; and New York, with 31 votes.
- A credible presidential candidate must find a way to come up with 270 votes. Both sides typically start with a batch of states widely considered to be safest for its candidate. Then, the candidates use polls to tally which "lean" toward their candidate--states that aren't a sure thing, but can be won with minimal effort. Next are the toss-up states, which require more significant investment. The math, according to one Los Angeles Times article, can sometimes fill a classroom blackboard. But in the end, a handful of states are truly contested. These are the swing states."