Independent Voters Could Be Key In Florida

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Robert Siegel talks with Debbie Elliott as polls close in Florida.


And now on to the biggest state that is really a contested battleground. I mean, we assume New York and California are barely contested by Republicans and Texas is assumed to go to Republican.


Texas, yeah.

SIEGEL: But with 29 electoral votes, Florida is always a state we look at. And our own Debbie Elliott is in Tampa at the Republican Party event there. And, Debbie, who are the key constituencies in Florida who are thought to be the ones who will decide who wins this day today?

DEBBIE ELLIOTT, BYLINE: Well, it's the independent voters. And I am right here in this territory that you hear so much about in Florida, the I-4 corridor that stretches between Tampa and Orlando where there are a good many independent voters, people who swing back and forth between Republican and Democratic candidates. And that's who both of these presidential candidates have been gunning for all along on their visits to Florida. So the question is how that's going to turn out. And I don't think we're going to know that answer for quite a while now.

SIEGEL: I gather that one thing that slowed voting down considerably in Florida today was the length of the ballot.

ELLIOTT: Exactly. There were 11 constitutional amendments. And a couple of the polling sites I went to, people were actually trying to study up before they went in to make things move a little faster and a little smoother. So there have been long lines. I understand in South Florida now there are still people who are waiting to vote, even though the polls closed in South Florida at 7 o'clock Eastern.

People who were in line at that moment will still get to vote. Of course, the Panhandle region up in northwest Florida is on Central time, so those poll is not closing for another 20 minutes or so.

SIEGEL: And, Debbie, you just have a moment to point out that there is also a very important Senate race in Florida. The incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson is being challenged by Republican Congressman Connie Mack IV.


SIEGEL: We'll be checking in lots tonight.

ELLIOTT: Great. Talk to you soon.

SIEGEL: That's NPR's Debbie Elliott in Tampa.

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