MIAMI — In a state where the governor race is neck and neck, and a bitter senate race has captured national attention, at least South Florida residents can rest assured that the polling precincts are running smoothly. This is especially encouraging considering the last time Florida was in the political spotlight was for the infamous hanging chad of the 2000 presidential election.
The Miami Herald reports that South Florida voters began trickling into voting polls at 7 a.m. Meanwhile, the five leading candidates for the governor and U.S. Senate began their busy days with stops planned all over Florida.
In the nail biting governor race, Democrat Alex Sink planned to vote in her hometown outside of Tampa. Her opponent Republican Rick Scott planned to vote in a polling precinct outside of Naples, and then head to campaign stops in Jacksonville, Tampa, and Ft. Lauderdale. Naked Politics, The Miami Herald and St. Petersburg Times collaborative political blog, reported that as of this morning Rick Scott was leading Alex Sink by 112,000 votes.
In the Senate race, Republican Marco Rubio is leading opponents Charlie Crist and Kendrick Meek by double digits. Rubio will be watching the returns at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables accompanied by 282 media outlets, including 75 members of the foreign press.
Meanwhile Crist traveled about 1,338 miles on Monday before returning to St. Petersburg where he will be watching the returns. Democrat Kendrick Meek, who is trailing behind in the polls will be watching the returns from the Rusty Pelican in Key Biscayne.
Many other news outlets, including The Washington Post, are calling for a big Republican win in Florida; mostly, due to the fact that Florida was hard hit by the economic downturn with double digit unemployment all over the state. Additionally, foreclosures and plunging property values continue to bring down households and local governments.
There is also an expectation that voters will lean to the right in protest of President Barack Obama’s administration.
According to the Florida Department of State about 1 million of Florida’s 11 million voters already cast their ballot via absentee and early voting, in which Republicans outnumbered Democrats by 250,000. If early voting is any indication of voter turnout then Florida will have a repeat of the primary election where Republicans were almost double the Democrat vote.
However, other measures on the ballot may not hinge on party affiliation as locals decide on school boards, city commissions, and counties. Key amendments are also on the ballot including lifting class size restrictions and an amendment that would require a public vote for massive development plans.
Regardless of the results, one thing is certain: Florida’s high profile election will be far from dull.
The Miami Herald
The Washington Post
Florida Department of State Media Advisory