Today, Florida is expected to live up to its legendary reputation as one of the most coveted swing states. Post-Denver debate, Romney has made larger-than-average gains in the state. A majority of the latest Florida polls show both candidates virtually neck-and-neck with the president clinging to a 1-point lead according to a PPP survey. And Romney leading by 7 points (52% to 47%) according to a poll by Insider Advantage for The Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times.
With 29 Electoral College votes up for grabs, winning the state of Florida is critical for both candidates particularly for Mitt Romney, who is trailing in Ohio another key battleground state. Further, at 185 confirmed electoral votes and another 58 leaning blue, winning Florida will single-handedly carry Obama well over the 270 votes necessary to win the Electoral College.
On the popular vote front, it would most likely come down to which candidate can exert the most muscle on the ground. At the moment, early voting gives a decent but yet uncertain indication of who would win. Obama campaign volunteers have been spotted handing out food and warm drinks to early voters waiting on long lines to vote. Republicans have made attempts to counter Obama’s momentum among early voters by shortening early voting days from 14 days to just 8. Nonetheless, according to Huffington Post, 4.3 million votes have already been casted and Obama leads with 43% while Romney trails three points behind with 40%.
The sharp divide among voters in Florida is why many consider the state the perfect snapshot of the population map of the United States. Ranging from retirees to service workers to the theme park economy as well as a large Hispanic base in Cuban and Puerto Rican Americans, the political polarization among groups in the state is intense.
Although Obama won the state in 2008, a sluggish economy and wave of home foreclosures have made things a lot more difficult for the president than anticipated. As the final showdown approaches, both candidates have poured over $130 million into Florida TV ads in hopes of breaking the impasse and walking.
In the grand scheme of things, Florida stands critical for the Romney campaign. With 180 solid electoral votes and 26 more leaning Republican, winning Florida would put him within 10 votes from reaching the desired 270 votes. In addition, the Governor still stands a chance to win in other key battleground states like Virginia (13 electoral votes) where he is also tied neck-and-neck with Obama. Pulling out a victory in both states will significantly increase his chances of winning the election bid.
Nonetheless, given the gridlock in the state of Florida, anything is possible. A worst case scenario however, would be a repeat of the recount of the 2000 presidential elections.
5:26 p.m. Ron Paul Predicts the Elections
As Americans flock to polls to cast the vote for their preferred candidate, Ron Paul still stands unshaken and unwilling to endorse fellow Republican, Mitt Romney in his bid for election. Paul maintains that both candidates are of the same cloth and the odds are highly in favor of the status quo (President Obama). This is critical for the GOP who really cannot afford any atom of party disunity at this late in the game.
7:59p.m. Malfunctioning machines leave some Florida voters in fear their votes may not be counted
Some Florida voters fear their votes may not be counted as a result of technical malfunctions in the voting booths. Just moments after the poll at Chapel Trail Elementary School in Pembroke Pines opened up its doors to voters, a scanner there for one of three precincts voting completely stopped working. Residents who had already voted handed heir filled-out ballots to staffers, who placed the ballots in a bag. They were then told that their unscanned ballots would be scanned at the end of the night. This is very worrisome and takes away from the democratic process of voting. Voters should be able to walk away from the polls with certainty that they voted for their candidate.
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9:50p.m.: On the popular vote front in the state of Florida, Obama is slowly chipping away from Romney. Yet, uncertainty still looms as several counties are still in the process of tallying up votes.
According to Politico, the latest popular vote results show Obama slightly chipping away from Romney in the state of Florida. Just a half an hour ago, both candidates were tied at 49.6% a piece with the President clinging onto a 2,785 lead. Obama has quadrupled that margin increasing his lead to 14,314 votes. However, most counties (shaded gray on the map) are still in the process of tallying up votes. The position of the pendulum remains uncertain.
PolicyMic will be covering the 2012 election from the state of Florida live. For live updates, bookmark and refresh this page.