Presidential campaigns make last minute push in Tampa Bay area for voters before polls close

Posted at 6:34 PM, Nov 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-03 18:34:00-05

TAMPA, Fla. — Presidential campaigns have had their sights set on Florida with good reason: it’s a critical state in the presidential election. Political experts say campaigns are laser-focused on Florida for last-minute voters even hours before polls close.

“Joe Biden is fighting for you, and when we come together, everything is possible,” said Dr. Jill Biden. “So hey, are you ready to vote?”

Dr. Biden rallied supporters for her husband, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, in Tampa Tuesday afternoon. She also visited a polling site in St. Petersburg Tuesday morning, greeting supporters and volunteers. It’s the second time in just a matter of days the former Second Lady has been in the Tampa Bay area.

Both President Donald Trump and the former Vice President rallied in Tampa last week, too. Looking back to 1980, USF political science professor Dr. Ed Benton says Florida has picked the winner in every election except 1992. On why candidates are focused on the Bay Area, Benton said if Florida is a microcosm of the nation, Tampa is that of the state.

“There are people here historically, but especially blue-collar workers, lower income people that would vote democratic, so it doesn’t surprise me,” said Dr. Benton. “Her husband was here a few days ago, and even although Trump was here, but this is the area in which they would hope to pick up votes.”

Benton says it’s unusual for a candidate or a surrogate to campaign on Election Day. He explained it could be an indication campaigns think the race will be very close. But are final hour rallies for voters worth it? Benton pointed to the 2000 presidential election and razor-thin margins in Florida.

“In a close race, we know it from the 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore, a mere 535 people out of millions who voted in Florida, that was the difference," said Benton. "In Hillsborough County, in Tampa, it could be even less.”