Poll: Mitt Romney leading Barack Obama on crucial I-4 Corridor
It has been a fundamental rule of Florida politics for decades: Statewide campaigns are won and lost on the I-4 corridor.
Today that celebrated swing-voter swath stretching from Tampa Bay to Daytona Beach is poised to deliver Florida's 29 electoral votes to Mitt Romney.
An exclusive Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9 poll of likely voters along the Interstate 4 corridor finds Romney leading Obama 51 percent to 45 percent, with 4 percent undecided.
"Romney has pretty much nailed down Florida," said Brad Coker of Mason-Dixon Polling and Research, which conducted the poll for the Times and its media partners. "Unless something dramatically changes — an October surprise, a major gaffe — Romney's going to win Florida.''
The formula for Democrats to win Florida has long been simple: win big in the Democratic stronghold of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, avoid overwhelming losses in conservative North Florida, and stay close to even along the I-4 corridor. Obama and John McCain essentially tied in the battleground four years ago.
"Being that this is I-4, the Florida battleground, the region of the state that usually tells you how it's going to come out, for Romney to be up 6 points right now … they should be able to call Florida as soon as the polls close in Pensacola if they do their exit polling right," Coker said.
The Oct. 22-24 survey focused only on voters in the I-4 corridor, but Tampa Bay on the western end has an uncanny knack for almost exactly matching Florida's statewide results. Four years ago Obama beat John McCain in Florida and Tampa Bay — defined as Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, Polk and Citrus counties — by the same margin, 51 percent to 48 percent.
Today? The poll shows Romney leading Tampa Bay 50 percent to 46 percent.