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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

From 'roll-off' to solar, five things to watch for on Election Day



There are at least 55 interesting things to watch for in Tuesday's election in Florida. But for now, we'll highlight five.

* How close was it? Now we find out just how close the polls were (Quinnipiac's latest on Monday had Clinton at 46 percent, Trump 45 percent). Is it a 1 percent race? Or less? Like 537 votes? President Barack Obama won the state four years ago by 74,309 votes out of more than 8.5 million cast, or by 0.9 percentage points.  

* Ballot roll-off: Usually when voters skip a race on their ballots, it's because they don't know enough or it's simple fatigue from too many choices, but some voters are so turned off by the choices for president they will deliberately skip the race. These legal "undervotes," also called "roll-off," will be an expression of voter disgust, but just how many of them are out there? If the race between Trump and Clinton is so close that it triggers a recount, these ballots will be examined by hand.

* I-4. Turnout along the I-4 corridor from Tampa to Daytona Beach is an especially critical factor this election because of the arrival of so many new Puerto Rican voters, many of them in Orange and Osceola counties. Turnout data indicates that many of them are voting, and they will be cited as a key if Clinton wins Florida and deprives Trump the White House. Long-time U.S. Rep. John Mica, running in a redrawn district, looks endangered by the changing demographics along I-4.

* Florida Senate. Five competitive Senate races could shift the politics in the state Capitol if Democrats win at least three of them. But Republicans could effectively defend their turf in a Senate where they hold a 26-14 advantage. Three seats, two of them held by Republicans, are in Miami-Dade, where a huge surge in early voters gave Democrats a lead Monday of 112,000 ballots. The others are in Tampa Bay and in Gainesville. By all accounts, the most vulnerable incumbent is Republican Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla of Miami.

* Amendment 1. The so-called solar choice amendment, heavily backed by utility companies, is a civics quiz. Just how closely are voters paying attention all the way down the ballot? The amendment reached voters by the narrowest of margins -- a 4-3 decision by the Florida Supreme Court -- and it must win approval from 60 percent of voters to be added to the state Constitution.

[Last modified: Tuesday, November 8, 2016 12:10pm]


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