President Obama wins Florida with 49.9 percent of the popular vote, taking the state’s 29 electoral votes. The race was close, with only a 47,028 vote difference according to The Washington Post.
[Editor’s Update: Click here to read why IVN called Florida for Obama]
Florida was the last state to be called, due in part to long lines at some polling locations and absentee ballots that needed to be counted in such a close race. According to Huffington Post, Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections Penelope Townsley said the delay was due to “an extremely high volume of absentee ballots.” In some precincts voters were still casting ballots past midnight.
It’s possible that a large group of independent voters swung the state in Obama’s favor. The percentage of Republicans was equal to that of Democrats, putting the decision largely in the hands of independents. Obama also got a boost from the minority vote. According to CNN exit polls, an impressive 95 percent of African Americans chose Obama, along with 60 percent of Hispanics. Women, making up 55 percent of the voter population in Florida, also favored Obama.
The Interstate 4 Corridor had been a closely watched area for the election. Historically the candidate who takes the zone, which includes Tampa, takes the state. The I-4 Corridor generally divides the state with Republicans to the north and Democrats to the south. According to News Press, 3.6 million voters live in the cluster of counties, and nearly a million of them are registered as independents.
Political contributors on CNN’s election coverage discussed the possible negative effect Romney’s “self-deportation” comment made earlier in January had on Florida voters. While Romney revoked his former stance, the statement resonated with the large Hispanic population. According to Naples News, in the past six years, the number of registered Hispanic Democrats in Osceola County alone has grown by about 10,000, and Republicans have registered only 100.
Although Ohio gave Obama the election, Florida was a nail bitter for both campaigns. Obama outspent Romney in Florida by $22 million, but according to data compiled from The Washington Post by Dan Lipka, President Obama visited the state a total of 26 times while Romney made 38 stops. Florida made it to the top ten list of most visited states for both candidates. Both campaigns were smart to put their resources into Florida. Although it was an extremely close race, President Obama was re-elected without needing the state.