With voters still waiting in long lines in Florida, it’s much too early to call a winner. But, according to the NBC News Election Desk at 9:00pm Tuesday, President Obama leads Mitt Romney 50% to 49% with 71% of precincts reporting so far.
One key stat: As of 8:40pm, with 213 of 347 precincts reporting in Hillsborough County, President Obama leads Romney 52% to 47.1%, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Hillsborough, which contains Tampa, consistently makes the list of top bellwether counties in the country. It has voted for the winning candidate in every election but one, in 1992. Obama won 53.1% of the vote there in 2008 over John McCain’s 45.9%.
In Orange County, one of the state’s largest, the president is up 58.7% over Romney’s 40.6% with 46.7% of precincts reporting so far. Palm Beach and Broward don’t have many precincts reporting yet, and long lines of voters still waiting in Miami-Dade will likely translate to a long wait for results.
Besides Orange and Hillsborough, three more of the most crucial counties lie along the Interstate 4 corridor, the 132 miles of road cutting through Tampa, Orlando and Daytona Beach, also known as “the mother road of swing voters.” They are: Polk, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia. In 2008, Obama won all but Polk and Seminole.
As the precinct reports roll in, we’ll see if he can win them again. Stay tuned for updates.
Late Update: As of 9:30pm, the NBC News Desk shows Obama and Romney locked in a tie, both with 50% of the vote, with 81% of Florida precincts reporting.