ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — How important is Tampa Bay to winning the White House? According to experts with experience in previous elections, it’s critical.

“I always describe an election year in the Tampa Bay area as having the fifty-yard line seat at the Super Bowl of politics,” said Susan MacManus, a Distinguished Professor Emerita of Political Science at USF.

“Tampa Bay media market is the state’s largest of ten media markets,” added MacManus. “A lot of people don’t realize that one-fourth of the registered voters of Florida watch television in the Tampa Bay market. And by the way, it’s also fairly evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans and Independents. So it’s, in a way, a microcosm of the state at-large.”

“I don’t think you can overstate the importance of the region,” said Susie Wiles, who served as a Senior Strategist on Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign in Florida and Chair of Rod DeSantis’ 2018 campaign for Governor.

“Florida is legitimately a 50/50 state,” added Wiles, who said Tampa Bay can make or break an election for Presidential candidates. “Whether it’s a Democrat, whoever is ultimately the nominee, or President Trump, spending time in the region, talking about things that matter to people that live in the region is critical to success.”

Charles Zelden, a professor of history and political science at Nova Southeastern University, told WFOR-TV Trump must win Florida and its 29 electoral votes to win a second term as president.

Winning the critical I-4 corridor, of which Tampa Bay anchors the western end, may be among the most important regions when it comes to winning the 2020 Presidential election.

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