By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
Are you ready for Tuesday's election? Having flashbacks to 2000, when Florida's sleazeball recount decided the election of George W. Bush?
Well, as likely as not, we in Florida will choose the president again this year. With 29 electoral votes up for grabs, ours is by far the largest swing state — and several polls have shown the race to be a dead heat.
But this time, the whole thing won't be decided by Palm Beach butterfly ballots — or even law-breaking Miami balloteros flooding the town with absentees. The folks most likely to choose the next president live in Central Florida, near the 132-mile east-west artery known as the I-4 corridor, which includes Hernando, Pasco, Pinellas, and Hillsborough counties on the Gulf coast, Polk in the middle, and Osceola, Orange, and Volusia on the east.
Sandwiched between Tampa and Daytona Beach, this strip of concrete is Florida's very own Mason-Dixon line, subdividing the state into red and blue halves in which the conservative North votes Republican and the liberal South usually sides with the Democrats.
More than two-thirds of voters back President Barack Obama in the southeastern part of the state, and a similar majority supports former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney on the Panhandle's Redneck Riviera.
However, the cluster of Central Florida counties along the corridor is as unpredictable as it is diverse. The counties are made up of a unique blend of old Florida crackers, immigrant farm workers, white-collar businessmen, and semi-insane race-baiting preachers. But more on that later.
Says Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn: "You're as likely to hear a Christian radio station as you are Mexican or Cuban music, which is why the I-4 corridor is so important in presidential politics. [It's] a perfect petri dish of America in all of its extremes."
Last week, a Scripps-WPTV poll showed Barack Obama trailing Mitt Romney in Florida by a single percentage point. A CNN poll showed exactly the same thing. Both results are within the margin of error.
Why is it so close? And what's likely to happen Tuesday?
To determine the answer, New Times followed the lead of those luminaries from the Wall Street Journal, CBS News, and Jon Stewart's Daily Show by traveling the I-4 corridor with microphone and reporter's notepad in hand. Except we didn't do it for just a day, but rather we spent months interviewing homeless folks in the woods who follow the debates on a battery-powered boom box, several conspiracy theorists, some first-time voters, and a guy who still uses the word mulatto.
These are just some of the people behind decision 2012.
Along the potholed stretch of highway known as U.S. Route 17, one of the best places to grab a "Jesus Is My Homie" trucker cap and fresh tacos al pastor at 9 a.m. on a Saturday is a flea market near Beresford Avenue and South Woodland Boulevard, about two miles from Stetson University in DeLand.
It's a fascinating melting pot of political theory and religious idolatry.
Interviews with dozens of voters here turned up a consensus: The country is floating around like a dense chunk of shit in an Arby's toilet that hasn't been sanitized since the Clinton administration. But like both Romney and Obama, no one in DeLand can seem to agree on a plan to flush and start anew.
"If I had to choose, I would choose Romney," says Mike Buck, an Army veteran and born-again Christian dressed in grungy denim. "But overall, I really think people need to worry more about who they put in office for the Senate, because the president can't do anything without Congress."
Buck is on the hunt for trucker caps. He is sorting through a bin of $2 headwear as the midmorning sunlight reflects off his sweat-soaked forearms. "I came down to pick up some Christian hats," he says between drags of a Bronco 100 cigarette. "I like to go out and meet other people, introduce them to Christ, and give 'em a hat."
He argues that there's "not enough faith" in politics. "I think that if this country would stand together, pray together, and vote for the proper people to be put into office, it would happen," he says.
But what would electing the first Mormon president do for women? we wondered. After all, females in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are not eligible for the priesthood. And members including the Mittster continue to struggle with the negative stereotypes associated with the faith — polygamy, restrictive reproductive rights, special underwear, etc. — that may have a negative effect on Romney in the general election, especially among women.
"He doesn't know anything about them!" says Paulina Hernandez. She's in her early 20s, a first-generation Mexican-American who, together with her sister, helps her father sell tacos each weekend at the flea market in DeLand. "If [Romney] were in our shoes, he'd understand why some women need help and why he shouldn't take [rights] away from us."
Patriotism is to politics what faith is to religion: The unquestioned acceptance of information that is either unverified or that may actually be in conflict with factual evidence. Patriotism is the incubator of wars.
Similar to religion, patriotism is an emotion, as opposed to a rational thought process. Studies and surveys have consistently indicated that approximately 90% of persons in any given country have strong patriotic sentiments. This percentage is similar to the percentage of people involved in other faith-based activities, such as religion. This same percentage also reflects the bell-curve of the general intelligence level of a population: 90% of all persons in a Caucasian population group register an IQ below 120.
The high IQ people of this world run the world and earn high incomes. The higher the IQ of a person, the greater will be his rationality and his ability to see Objective Reality clearly and without blinders.
Our worldview is of our own making. For better or worse, we all have to lead our own lives, one day at a time.
Gods do not exist and we have to sleep in the bed we make for ourselves. We, as individuals, have the cognitive power to choose happiness or unhappiness. No other person, and certainly no gods, can make us happy or unhappy. Only we, ourselves, can choose to be happy or unhappy. The choice is ours.
I will be glad when this is over. The name calling and hate mongering is almost too much to take anymore. People have lost their sense of civility in political discussion. The infiltration of political operatives in almost every social medium is pathetic. I'm sure there are people who are afraid to voice their opinions about a particular issue, or support a particular candidate, out of fear for their own safety.
People complain about the childish behavior of our politicians; their unwillingness to even consider differences of opinion. In my opinion they, in many ways, reflect the electorate; intolerant and unbending.
God Bless America...
What the hell does the fact that he doesn't use his full name have to do with any damned thing? Do you always use your first, middle, and last names? I don't and I know no one else that does either. I also know a lot of people that go by their middle names instead of their first name. If my middle name was "Hussein I would damn sure keep quiet about it.
Many people dont even know why theyre voting for their particular candidate, know who to vote for and why! http://lovexlife.com/barack-obama-mitt-romney-positionsviews/
Willard Mitt Romney IS HIS FULL NAME DID YOU KNOW THAT IF YOU DIDNT YOU SHOULD VOTE AT ALL AS YOU ARE TO STUPID TO EVEN KNOW THE NAME OF THE PERSON YOU WANT TO RUN THIS COUNTRY. HE NEVER USES IT AND HE NEVER CHANGED IT EITHER WHAT DOES THAT TELL YOU PEOPLE HUH !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Lets how good Florida has done in the past. HMMM we got G.W. Bush elected now that was good and helped getting him elected 4 yrs later. Well look and see just who it the spotlight again Jeb Bush the man whose FRAUD got his brother elected Listen to Colin Powell he know what happened not the lies you been fed
Know who to vote for and why! http://lovexlife.com/barack-obama-mitt-romney-positionsviews/
I wonder if Romney would do the same thing after he leaves the office of Presidency like he did when he left the Governorship of Massachusetts. Romney and his 11 top aides took 17 hard drives out of the computers leaving no possible trace of any bad conduct as well as leaving the commonwealth in a complete mess. People, do you think he had information he was trying to hide like Richard M. Nixon? Everyone should be aware and skeptical of this man’s intentions regarding the representation of the American people.
The Economist has endorsed Obamas as sadly Romney's economic policies do not add up mathematically. Somehow however he has fooled alot of the media and voters into thinking that it does...shaking my head.
I just read part of your I-4 corridor story. You racist piece of shit! Crackers is just as offensive as nigger or spic. Go somewhere else and spew your crap. We do not need it here.
Nobody thinks Florida will decide the race this year. Ohio remains the key, with Obama holding on to his (slim) edge there. If he wins there, Romney has virtually zero shot regardless of how Florida goes.
Whatever happened to the seperation of church and state? Did evasive, unaccountable, sworn to secrecy, and buzzword Republican presidential hopeful Willard Mitt Romney say he plans to get tough with China? I truly do not think he would do such a thing, especially since the religion to which he is a devote member (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints - the Mormons) has for years pleaded with the Chinese government to allow Mormon missionaires to proselytize in their mainland country. The LDS church has settled for having only a "presence". Now as for controlling government spending. I certainly hope Mitt Romney makes it a priority to eliminate all of U.S. federal tax dollars spent to support the funding of the LDS Missionary program (60,000+ worldwide). In October 2012 the number of enrollees increased from 700 to 4,000 per week since LDS church leaders lowered the eligibility of missionary minimum age. There seems to be no maximum age limit (55+). Worst yet upon their return of serving their LDS missions, U.S. federal tax dollars will then be used to pay for an educational stipend they recievie for tuition assistance (which can be transferred to another family member) because they supposedly served as community "volunteers". The loophole being exploited is the proselytizing cannot be in "scripted" form. The U.S. federal tax payers can hold Utah Senator Orin Hatch (senator of host state of worldwide headquarters of the LDS/Mormon Church and Romney's 2002 Winter Olympics) and other LDS faithful lawmakers, responsible for sponsoring early amendments to and finally the 2009 Kennedy-Hatch bill Serve America Act. The irony of the entire situation is the LDS faithful pay zero to little U.S. federal tax dollars (and in some states lower state taxes) to payout to the Hatch Serve America Act since their 15% tithings are considered eligibile federal tax deductions to a private non-profit. The LDS church collects a tithing for a Missionary fund and a Temple Building fund why are these monies not being used instead of U.S. federal tax dollars to support its growing worldwide missionary program?
There are many dumb right wing fools, who don't care if they work for .99 an hour under Vulture Capitalist, Willard the Rat Romney.
Thankfully, President Obama has the Electoral Votes to counter the idiots, bigots and buffoons
North of I-4 is decidedly Romney's territory. South of I-4, democrats and independents are split between Romney and Obama as republicans are for the most part voting for Romney. Broward County has over 500,000 registered democrats, about 280,000 independents and near 230,000 republicans yet the county newspaper: Sun-Sentinel is endorsing Romney. I strongly believe that floridians are voting on the economy, because without a sound financial health, it is difficult to talk about social issues. Florida is definitely voting for Romney.
I hate to tell the American public if you are waiting for any President to help you. I will promise you that you will wait a long time. Its a sorry state of affairs that our goverment is burring us the middle class. They need to remember that when they suceed in doing that they will not have anyone to pay for there f__kups. They need a strong middle class to pick up all the mistake they make. Since they dont realize this the next big one is on them. Good Luck
@speck_of_star.dust Are you sure your not sniffing this dust as your statement has nothing to do with the tea in china either. For those who can think on there and really want to know what happening the read and due research to learn the answers. Other listen blindly to other that also considered FAITH and that is dangerious in the way those people do thing and never know why. So faith yes can be a wonderful thing used correctly. But deadly if used the wrong way
@speck_of_star.dust Wow do you shift gears. I'd would sure be careful of you as you come from both sides &that is scarey.
@speck_of_star.dust can I have what your smoking please
@clearingaccount We have a smart man here. Boy do we need blessing's
@hlain9152 first he didnt conseal it and second he running for president you moron his full name isnt on the ballet either stupid. I guess that doesnt mean anything to you. Oh by the way do you have alias also or maybe a few AKA's also
but you know better.
@Carter I sure hope you know your left from your right or you could hurt yourself
@peterperez1976 you dont think at all that is clear
@Veteran68 Yes Willard would so it wouldnt show that he didnt have an orig. thought
@Veteran68 these people dont do there homework like us. He is a liar and a fraud see Perez knows because Romney told him. I can now understand how stupid a country we have become. We dont research anything anymore we listen to the media has to say. How sorry the media is because they let these lies stand so these candiates can get away with this. They could stop this in a heart beat. They choose not to they dont need these other political people to tell any side of there stories. It all in black and white. Its the old saying if you dont look you wont find anything !!!!!!!!!!!
I am not fighting for me it to late for me. I am fighting for my grandchildren like you should be also. Look what we are leaving them. I know they dont deserve this. I know Obama has had a hard time of it and didnt deliver on some of his promises. Remember this NOTHING THAT ROMNEY HAS SAID ADDS UP HIS TAXS CUTS FOR THE WEALTHY. HIS PROGRAM TO LIMIT THE MIDDLE CLASS DEDUCTIONS. HE HIMSELF SAID HE DOESNT CARE ABOUT 47% OF AMERICANS & HE GOT CAUGHT SAYING IT. HE ONLY SAID HE WAS SORRY CAUSE HE GOT CAUGHT.THIS IS WHAT YOU WANT TO RUN THIS COUNTRY SOMEONE WHO ONLY CARES ABOUT THE 53% OF AMERICANS THINK ABOUT THAT. WOW I CAN GO ON AND ON BUT YOU PEOPLE THINK IM BABALING. LOOK IT UP AND SHE IF THIS IS THE MAN YOU REALLY WANT. ONE LAST THING REMEMBER ROWE VS. WADE. IF THIS IS WHAT YOU WANT DONT COMPLAIN WHEN HE'S DONE WITH YOU.
And you know this because ...................................Obama told you.
1/10 of one per cent lead ? and 4% undecided in Ohio don't think Obamy will take it.
@Amasuah Good thing most people stopped reading the Sentinel a long time ago. Worst newspaper ever and rarely correct on politics. I live in Fort Lauderdale and know of nobody voting for Romney..
What does "burring" mean?
What in the HELL are you trying to talk about now? Everyone in the fucking country knows that Romney's first name is Willard. And no, I don't have any aliases or Also-Known-As's. No one said that Obama has tried to conceal his name and Mitt Romney chooses to go by his middle and last name. SO FUCKING WHAT? (and, no, it does not mean anything to me.) What in the hell is your problem. It doesn't matter because the election was today and I voted for Romney and you voted for Obama so we canceled each other out. Happy now? Let's end this dialogue.
@dol1phins1 @Veteran68 It doesn't add up because Obama said it doesn't add up , you repeat stuff like a well trained Liberal Parrot. You and Obama do not understand business because you and him never ran a business , that is why it doesn't up and Obama has brought this economy to the ground as a good communist would !
@dol1phins1 I agree, Romney and his boy toy are lower than a snakes belly. This is for Romney, Ryan, Indiana GOP U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock declared he opposes aborting pregnancies conceived in rape because “it is something that God intended to happen.”and those other middle state republican weirdoes who think women should take a back seat to abortion even if forcibly raped, its gods will. I believe they are all nimwits. They all have to get their religions in for votes. What is it with Republicans, can't they leave their religion out of their politics. You can believe in what you believe in, but the Republicans always need to sell their bible banging beliefs in their political speeches. Politics and Religion do not mix. I realize this is a free country of speech, but when you use your religion to try and gain votes you are the one who is a hypocrite. If you cannot separate your religion from your politics, how can anyone be sure that you can take a national problem and look at with a complete open mind without interference from your religious background or any other organization that you might belong to or for that matter taking an opinion from a close friend or a relative? You are already passing your judgments on a subject matter based on your religious background. God is not going to make you a President, Vice President, Senator, or congressman and neither is the general public if you republicans continue to try and shove your religion down peoples own thoughts, maybe their own religion which might see things differently from your religion. That is why Politics and Religion do not mix. Mr. Mourdock you need some more education sir.
@peterperez1976 I know this because I live in Massachusetts, and if you did your homework, you would see where the truth is coming from and its not Obama. Romney is a greedy snake.
@hlain9152 I hope you have a wonderful life and be happy. As the good book says god looks out for the confused.
He didn't have to change anything. He used his middle and last name, this is perfectly legal. You have severe mental problems and emotional issues, possibly brain damage. The fucking election is over, your boy won. So be happy and leave people the fuck alone now.
@hlain9152 You fucking moron he never legally changed it so he was on the ballot with an AKA or a alias you stupid bastard. What does that say for your assclown HA HA
@peterperez1976 @dol1phins1 Whatever, believe what you want it no skin off mine, and further more I have run a business for over 35 years, have you???
Isn't it cute how dol1phins1 calls everyone else "stupid" and he has to be the dumbest son of a bitch I have ever encountered in my life. He's even raising hell about the media supporting Romney. I don't know what planet he's living on but it seems to me like the media has been as pro-Obama as they can get.
dolphins has to be either off of his meds or on some really badassed street drugs.
@peterperez1976 @dol1phins1 @reality I think you are the one who has the wool over your eyes why don't you take some time and really investigate the history of snake Romney. Read everything you can possibly find. You just might change your mind.