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News at Noon: How the I-4 corridor picks presidents; why Democrats won't take the state Senate; grading the Bucs: D for disaster; Pokémon Go changes at Ballast Point

Trump supporter Clyde Smith of Lake Wales urges passing drivers to stop for Trump yard signs during a giveaway outside LeadFeather Guns & Archery in Winter Haven on Aug. 25. Smith, a maintenance worker at Bartow Municipal Airport, experienced everything from supportive honks to middle fingers. A handful of drivers stopped to pick up signs. (LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times)

Trump supporter Clyde Smith of Lake Wales urges passing drivers to stop for Trump yard signs during a giveaway outside LeadFeather Guns & Archery in Winter Haven on Aug. 25. Smith, a maintenance worker at Bartow Municipal Airport, experienced everything from supportive honks to middle fingers. A handful of drivers stopped to pick up signs. (LOREN ELLIOTT | Times)

The basic political math for winning statewide races has been consistent for decades: Republicans rack up votes in conservative north and southwest Florida; Democrats clean up in the population centers of South Florida; and the two sides battle it out in the high-growth areas along Interstate 4. Who knew this asphalt ribbon would one day become the ultimate political barometer.

WHY DEMOCRATS WON'T TAKE THE FLORIDA SENATE

Republicans have dominated state government for the past two decades. This year could have been different. A legal breakthrough changed circumstances so that Democrats had a chance to take back the Senate. But that won't happen. A Tampa Bay Times interactive graphic explains why.

GRADING THE BUCS' LOSS TO FALCONS: D FOR DISASTER

It was John Lynch Ring of Honor night, a night for defense. "You didn't go and get a hot dog when our defense was on the field," Lynch said of the great Bucs defenses. "You wanted to watch us." Could have grabbed as many hot dogs as you wanted Thursday night when the Bucs lost 43-28 to Atlanta. Another disaster. And on prime-time national television. Times sports columnist Martin Fennelly breaks it down.

[ZACK WITTMAN | Times]

Pokemon Go players, shown here in July during the peak of the game's popularity at Ballast Point Park, are finding fewer game features there now because the manufacturer has complied with a request from Tampa police.

POKÉMON GO DEVELOPER MAKES CHANGES AT BALLAST POINT PARK

Confronted by a wave of players parking illegally and lingering after hours at Ballast Point Park, Tampa police officials asked Niantic in late July to remove the PokéGyms as well as the PokéStops, where players can replenish their avatar's supplies and drop "lures" that cause creatures to appear. After months of silence, the company finally replied.

PARTIES DEADLOCKED AS FLORIDA'S EARLY TURNOUT NEARS 5.3 MILLION

Florida's early voter turnout is at a record 5.3 million with Republicans and Democrats nearly dead even in ballots cast four days before Election Day. Reports posted on the Division of Elections website this morning showed Republicans cast 39.74 percent of votes and Democrats 39.71 percent through Thursday.

TROUBLE IN BIOTECH, YEARS AFTER GOV. BUSH TRIED TO KICK-START INDUSTRY

All is not well in Florida's biotech industry. The latest controversy is being played out in Orlando's 650-acre, once highly touted health and life sciences park called Lake Nona Medical City. That's the Florida home of Sanford Burnham Prebys, an elite California life science research organization recruited at great cost 10 years ago to expand to Florida.

WHAT'S THE BUZZ WITH THE ELECTION DAYS AWAY

With the election four days away, there's plenty buzzing in politics: Donald Trump's in Tampa on Saturday; how did President Obama's Florida visit affect the black vote, Clinton and Trump's TV ad war hits $115 million, and lots more. Check out the Times' Buzz blog for the latest.

SEE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A REPORTER AFRAID OF HEIGHTS PILOTS A PLANE

Fear of heights? Check. Bad experience on a small plane? Check. Seen a few too many episodes of Why Planes Crash on The Weather Channel? Check. Times reporter Jerome R. Stockfisch has never been a big fan of hurtling through the air, trusting the physics. But with enough cajoling and questioning of courage, and an ICON Aircraft staffer extending a clipboard and pen within reach, he took a deep breath and signed the release.

[SCOTT PURKS | Special to the Times]

Tampa Catholic senior defensive back Bentlee Sanders leads the Crusaders into Friday night's game against rival Jesuit. After that, Sanders and the Crusaders head into the playoffs.

FOOTBALL'S A BEACON AFTER DARK DAYS FOR TC'S BENTLEE SANDERS

When Bentlee Sanders arrived at Tampa Catholic as a freshman, he immediately started thinking about his future. He wanted to play football in college. He had a schedule, a plan, to earn a scholarship. But a knee injury on top of two tragic family deaths were difficult to overcome. "I just kept saying, 'Why me?' " he said. Bentlee had to repair his psyche, as well as his knee. He never gave up and has committed to play at USF to be near his family.

SEEMS LIKE A LOT OF GREEN FOR COLLARD GREENS

Neiman Marcus caused an Internet uproar this week when it listed frozen collard greens on its website for $66. They come in four, separate, 12-ounce portions. That comes to $22 per pound of greens. Is that too much? Apparently not.

News at Noon: How the I-4 corridor picks presidents; why Democrats won't take the state Senate; grading the Bucs: D for disaster; Pokémon Go changes at Ballast Point 11/04/16 [Last modified: Friday, November 4, 2016 11:51am]
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