- Title: Bellwether Florida County has a knack for picking presidents
- Date: 6th November 2016
- Summary: SUN CITY CENTER, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES (RECENT) (REUTERS) WIDE OF SUN CITY CENTER RETIREMENT COMMUNITY ENTRANCE COMMUNITY SIGN VARIOUS OF SENIORS ATTENDING SUN CITY CENTER REPUBLICAN PARTY CLUB MEETING MAN WEARING 'MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN' HAT (SOUNDBITE) (English) NORMA EVERETT, 89-YEAR-OLD TRUMP SUPPORT, SAYING: "We have to have someone other than Hillary and we have to have a change in Washington." (SOUNDBITE) (English) MAURICE JOYLES, TRUMP SUPPORTER, SAYING: "No choice, Trump all the way. We have to make America great again." MORE OF MEETING
- Embargoed: 21st November 2016 18:41
- Keywords: Hillsborough County Florida election election issues United States Donald Trump Hillary Clinton
- Location: SUN CITY CENTER, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES / TAMPA, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES / NORTH TAMPA, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES / WEST TAMPA, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES
- City: SUN CITY CENTER, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES / TAMPA, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES / NORTH TAMPA, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES / WEST TAMPA, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES
- Country: USA
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA00157B3VBB
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: THIS STORY ORIGINALLY RAN ON SEPT 30, 2016 AS STORY NUMBER 5275
Hillsborough County picks U.S. presidents with uncanny accuracy. The third largest county in the battleground swing state of Florida has correctly chosen the next commander and chief every time since 1960 with one exception.
"Hillsborough County has long been considered a bellwether of how Florida will vote," said Susan MacManus, a professor of political science at the University of South Florida. "So the saying around here goes 'As Hillsborough goes so goes Florida, and as Florida goes, so goes the Nation," she added.
It's not just luck, says MacManus. Hillsborough is a kind of statistical reflection of what the U.S. electorate looks like, consisting of mix of predominately white suburban middle class voters, minority urban voters with a fast growing Hispanic community at its core, rural voters, young and old voters, gays, blue and white collar voters, all living in one county.
Just south of Tampa, the old vote rules. Sun City Center is a retirement community the size of a large town. The seniors in this voting bloc usually lean Republican and voter turnout is always high, exceeding 70 percent on average.
"We have to have someone other than Hillary and we have to have a change in Washington," 89-year-old Norma Everett told Reuters during a meeting of the Sun City Center Republican Club.
"No choice, Trump all the way. We have to make America great again," added Maurice Joyles, who was sitting next to her.
Surrounding downtown Tampa are large predominately white suburbs where the vote historically leans Republican as well.
But Karen Clay, a Clinton supporter that hosts 'get out the vote' phone parties at her house weekly, thinks Donald Trump is dangerous.
"Right now this election is the most important of my lifetime for sure," she said while sitting next to her disabled son. Clay says she is reminded daily of when Trump ridiculed a disabled reporter. The video is part of a Clinton campaign TV ad.
But according to Rebecca DeBeor, co-chair for the Trump campaign in Hillsborough County, Trump is getting more support than any Republican candidate she can recall.
"There is such a grassroots movement for Trump. We've got ten times the people that have already come and said 'get the office open we are ready to make phone calls," she said at an event to open a new campaign office in the Tampa suburbs.
Clinton has more campaign offices than Trump in Hillsborough, but MacManus says Trump is reaching a Republican voting pool that hasn't been tapped in years. But, she adds, one of the biggest factors will be turnout in the minority urban areas of the county. Barak Obama won in Hillsborough with a strong African-American and Hispanic turnout and the question is if Clinton can do the same, MacManus adds.
"It kind of scares me. I just had a daughter and I don't want her to be living in a world where Donald Trump is the president with all of the crazy things he says and he doesn't even think before he speaks," said Michelle Perez, who works in a legal office in the predominately Hispanic West Tampa neighborhood.
"I am Republican. Maybe Trump (will) change is attitude and he thinks different and acts different, then, you know, maybe I can vote for him. If not, I don't know," said Racendo Parapar, a member of the city's older Cuban community who historically leans Republican.
MacManus says younger voters will also play an important role in the Hillsborough presidential vote. She says Clinton and Trump nearly split the vote with her political science class students. But she says most of them are choosing against a candidate as opposed to supporting one.
"Hillary Clinton," said-year 19-old student Sarah Guerrero. "I am a Hispanic female, college educated immigrant... so," she added.
"I am leaning towards Trump. I am kind of more like a 'never Hillary' supporter," said 21-year-old Taylor Sanchez.
Elections Supervisor of Hillsborough County, Craig Latimer, says there is also one new trend this election cycle.
"We are seeing a huge influx of the No Party Affiliations or other party's that are registering now. The other ones are staying pretty static for what the percentage is for Republicans and Democrats, but the NPA's are leading the pack right now, which is the first time that's ever happened."
"When you have softness in opinions like we have, and you have record levels of dislike in the candidates, it really creates a fascinating election to the point of where some 85 percent of Americans say 'I just can't stop watching it' even though they don't like what they see. Particularly," MacManus added.
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