Florida’s I-4 corridor, long considered a bellwether for this swing state, may no longer be the toss-up it once was. The region, which consists of six Florida counties, is slowly but surely shifting to the Democrats’ column. Today on The Daily Rundown, Adam Smith, political editor for the Tampa Bay Times said, “The map is fundamentally changing and that’s largely because of Orange County, Osceola and that exploding Puerto Rican population.”
A closer look at Orange, Osceola and Hillsborough counties finds that between the three of them, the Latino vote increased by an average of 98% between 2000 and 2010 while the non-Latino vote increased by an average of just 18% across those same three counties.
The president took full advantage of that shift on Election Day, winning Orange, Osceola and Hillsborough counties by a combined 144,000 votes. That margin more than made up for narrow losses in the other three I-4 counties of Polk (which Obama lost to Romney by 17,000 votes), Seminole (14,000 votes), and Volusia (3,000 votes).
So back to our initial question: Is the I-4 corridor still a toss-up? “I’m not so sure,” says Smith. “Tampa Bay…is a swing area, but you see what’s happening in Orlando, Orange County… that is on its way to being the number one market and that is very much going heavily toward the Democrats. Republicans have a lot of reason to be worried about the demographics.”