As the US presidential election nears, FRANCE 24 takes you to Florida, a state where both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are campaigning hard. In this “swing state”, voters hesitate between the two main parties from one election to the next. Our reporter went to meet residents of the Sunshine State, who may hold the key to victory for either the Republicans or Democrats on November 8.
In the United States, winning Florida often means winning the White House. In 2000, it was victory in the south-eastern state that allowed George W. Bush to become the 43th US president, beating Al Gore. It was the 537 votes in Florida that made the difference, after a legal battle that lasted over a month and had America and the whole world on tenterhooks.
Florida is undoubtedly "the swingiest swing state". Trends in the Sunshine State vary from one election to another. Voters who voted Republican one year can easily opt for the Democrats in the next election, and vice versa. With 29 electoral seats to offer, this key state is seen as one of the most crucial victories for any presidential hopeful.
It’s therefore no surprise that both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have invested a lot of their time and money to win the hearts of Florida’s voters. Trump has been travelling through the state in recent days, holding far more rallies than Clinton. Meanwhile, Clinton’s campaign has spent more money on ads in Florida than anywhere else in the country, while also criss-crossing the state and holding numerous rallies.
For both presidential candidates, the stakes are high but obstacles remain. Clinton is often considered too elitist and too far removed from the concerns of the average voter. Meanwhile, Trump has to face criticism within his own party and from traditional Republican voters, such as the conservative billionaires of Palm Beach, who do not feel represented by such a controversial character.
Our reporter in Miami, Surabhi Tandon, spent several weeks meeting Floridians in a bid to sound out their voting intentions. She also followed the campaign teams of Clinton and Trump to see how they are fighting it out on the ground 24/7. Negative campaigning, direct attacks, insults, door-to-door canvassing — the sunny peninsula of Florida has seen a tense and aggressive campaign. The only certainty is that Florida’s voters do not want to relive the fiasco of 2000.