So which group will tip the scales in Florida on Tuesday and deliver the state’s 29 electoral votes? The Cubans in Tampa and Miami? The growing Puerto Rican population near Orlando? The retired New Yorkers on the east coast? The retired Midwesterner’s on the west coast? The cotton farmers in the Panhandle? The conchs in Key West? The urban voters? The rural ones?
Susan MacManus, a professor at the University of South Florida and one of the state’s most high-profile political scientists, believes the race could turn less on ethnicity or geography and more on age.
“It really looks like it’s going to be a generational thing,” MacManus said in an interview. “The 50 and over vote is leaning Romney, and the 50 and under vote is leaning Obama.”
On Tuesday, she said she will be looking toward a key group of voters who could sway the outcome this time around.
“What I’m watching this election are the suburban counties with a lot of financially pressed 30- to 49-year-olds,” MacManus said. Last time around, many of those voters went with Obama. In 2010, many of them helped Republicans sweep the midterm elections.
“The real story here,” MacManus said, “is who flipped from 2008.”