I-4 Corridor Predicts Florida for Romney

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.

Mark, a Democrat, and friends live in the woods outside of a DeLand, Fla., flea market.
Jacob Katel
Mark, a Democrat, and friends live in the woods outside of a DeLand, Fla., flea market.
Holy Land visitors are split on a candidate.
Courtesy of The Holy Land Experience
Holy Land visitors are split on a candidate.

Sandwiched between Tampa and Volusia, 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."

It's also one of the main reasons the GOP chose Tampa as the host city for this year's Republican National Convention.

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."

In 2008, Buck asked God to send John McCain and Sarah Palin to the White House, but his prayers didn't pay off.

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."

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frankd4 topcommenter

well comparing my notes on these things i find it difficult to see how anyone can be so supportive on such short notice - and i don't care who anyone actually VOTEs for - just that they VOTE - period


all politicians are self-promoting grandstanders who sling mud - there is too much money in it to be CIVIL anymore


NONE of our founding fathers would QUALIFY for public office today ! NONE ! NO ONE !


truth is: wE aRE brOKE - and just like a chicken still runs around immediately AFTER it's head is cut off, it's going to soon meet it's demise - just like the USofA and "we the people" today without any possible hope for the future


if you think a politician, any politician, gives a damn about YOU personally....you are delusional


JESUS only saw elected officials as a necessary evil to overcome civil disorder with laws and anticipate needs with resources used efficiently OTHERWISE a person could just go off into the wilderness and live unattached and disinterested and self-sustaining on one's own which is impossible today because everyTHING is owned by someone who want rent


How about covering some breaking news tomorrow?  On September 11th, there was a terrorist attack on our under-protected Embassy in Benghazi.  It was Al Quada, and they murdered our Ambassador, and three other people, including two Navy Seals who refused to stand down after three requests to the White House, State Department, etc. to send help.  


Obama and Hillary Clinton (and others) watched real time and refused to send anybody, watching Ty Woods be murdered on video.  Then they blamed it on a silly video riot which never happened.  They lied about in for six weeks - still refuse to talk about it.  Answer any questions at all.  Rather than do a press conference regarding the deaths, Obama packed up and went campaigning in Vegas, then to Denver.  Then to  the East Coast for the hispanic vote.  I know that sounds like treason.  And it is.  Everyone in the know understands they're buying time until 11/6, stonewalling.  But American people should know what a coward and liar their president is so they can see him for the unpatriotic self-centered and arrogant person he is. Why did he do it?  According to first rate patriotic sources, Obama's campaign was about getting binLaden, destroying Al Quada and that the millions we have to Libya were worth it because they're now our "friends and a terrorist attack was not acceptable  (A few of our Libyan "security friends" assisted Al Quada is the timeline.  How fun!) 


Obama and his staff allowed U.S. citizens to be murdered on U.S. soil for political purposes.  They knew that Obama couldn't win the re-election if the truth got out , so they covered it up, in as disgraceful a manner as possible  Right now, four people are dead (one sodomized before he died), leaders who are whistle-blowers are being relieved of their command, Obama administration announced true American hero Ty Woods who (after 7 hours) could no longer stomach the idea that our president would let these people have a death sentence, and his lost own life in the rescue that did save 20 people,,,this hero is not going to get a pension because he was recently retired.  You know, all that $1,000,000,000,000 lost green energy money given to his supporters has us in a pinch.


 Oh! And the innocent guy they blamed that bogus video on?  They perp-walked him and he's still in jail right now.


I think (and hope) Mitt Romney wins and throws Obama's happy ass out on the street.  Either way, there is a rallying cry being heard around the world. And it's from the Navy Seals whose motto is "No Man Left Behind".  Obama's White House sanctioned Facebook,  not allow the Seals to tell their story,in a depicable act of a dictator, but this is too big to be contained much longer, there are three scandals of epic proportions on his hands.   Leon Panetta, Patreas, Clinton, Obama, Biden...despicable actions won't go silently to the background. Oh!  The rallying cry:



BTW, the Navy Seals are furious over Obama using them for political gain and campaigning about  getting binLaden in his re-election.  That wasn't the understanding, that wasn't the deal.  He didn't get binLaden, and the GM bailout?  Lucky him if he gets re-elected...he gets bail them out again!  They're on the verge bankrupty and taxpayers will forever have lost $254 million dollars on that "bailout". 


What, if anything, in the above story do you or your liberal readers not believe?  I could continue, but karma on this one will be fast and furious.  Maybe not until after 11/6, but it will come.  


Right this wrong of 2008 and vote Romney/Ryan. I dedicated my vote for Mitt Romney to fallen American hero Ty Woods.  Consider doing the same.


Now get out there and cover this atrocity.  Your government betrayed you.  The only people who didn't get the truth were the American people.  Al Quada and everyone else knew.  Barack Obama has double-crossed America for four years...you're gong to hear about two big stories, probably by friends.  One is mass fraud in the green energy payouts (Obama) and two agencies (today) have put video and evidence into senator's hands to explode this lie.  While people have demanded Obama answer questions and release the drone video, he has said  "it's under investigator and will be addressed after the election" and "the video/audio tapes are classified".  So Intel on the ground has found some extra copies. 



DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Jesus was a Liberal ... and a Jew.




 @bcconfidential Strange all the attention now on these four victims, but no mention of the thousands of dead soldiers and innocent civilians of the illegal and completely unnecessary Iraq war. Smells like desperation.