Tampa Bay voters crucial to presidential election

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POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) –  Voters in the Tampa Bay area will play a major role in the presidential election, especially along the diverse I-4 corridor which accounts for a large number of Florida’s voters.

From the Tampa Bay area to Daytona Beach, the corridor is a must-win in a crucial swing state. Polk County is right in middle of the fight.

“There are actually 50 different communities that are all very different. Auburndale is different than Lakeland, Winter Haven is different than Bartow, Plant City is different than Tampa, and I don’t think the political analysts are getting that difference,” said Polk County Supervisor of Elections Lori Edwards.

“If my person doesn’t win, I can always say, well at least I voted,” Polk County resident Mary Downes said. Her and her husband are registered voters who cast their ballots early. They know just how important they will be to the election.

“I think this is probably the most important election that we’ve had in my lifetime. I feel privileged to have been able to go in and cast a vote,” said Paul Downes.

Polk County has 407,000 registered voters in a county that could swing either way in the election. “In Polk County we are very evenly divided we have 37 percent Democrats, 36 percent Republicans and 26 percent are affiliated with a minor party,” Edwards said.

That mix makes Polk County a must watch.

“We are truly unpredictable on the I-4 corridor,” Edwards said.

“Polk County is a red county, but it has two big blotches in it that are blue,”  according to Florida Southern College Political Science Professor Dr. Bruce Anderson, who says Polk County voters will play a major role in the election.

“We are at the vortex here in Polk County. We are in the center of the I-4 corridor. The way that Polk goes is the way that the I-4 corridor will go, and the way that the I-4 corridor will go, is the way that Florida will go. It could not be more important for Polk County residents to turn out.”

And so far voters are getting the message. “We are probably approaching 60,000 early voting, and another 65,000 or so voted by mail,” Edwards said.

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