What do Florida voters want from a president?

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A man walks out of a polling place on Primary Day in North Miami Beach, Florida, March 15, 2016.  REUTERS/Carlo Allegri - RTSAK2O

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HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: For more analysis of the presidential race in Florida, I’m joined from Tampa Bay by Susan MacManus, a political science professor at the University of South Florida.

So, what does each candidate have to do to try to win that giant prize, looking at that I-4 corridor, right in the Tampa Bay area?

SUSAN MACMANUS, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA: The I-4 corridor is 44 percent of the registered voters of the state, and that Orlando and Tampa media markets together do control or can have 44 percent of the voters. But it’s also true that those two markets are almost evenly divided between the percent registered Democrats and Republicans and a little bit above average percentage of no party affiliation.

And the no party affiliation people in Florida now make up 24 percent of the electorate. So, it’s just a very, very competitive geography. We call the I-4 corridor in Florida the highway to heaven or Hades depending on whether you win or lose. But nonetheless, if you don’t traverse it, you surely are not going to win Florida.

SREENIVASAN: Well, you know, I think the rest will be fine with all of the campaigning just happening there and just take the campaign ads off of the stuff. But also, does it come down to the economy as it is in so many parts of the country as the number one issue?

MACMANUS: It’s a huge issue, yes, it is. Polls here still show that that’s the concern of most people. And there have been a number of studies recently which show the high percentage of Floridians who only make an average or below average wages in terms of the average salary for this state. And polls are also show that a large percentage still say that they are feeling some stress in their lives financially.

I often look at when I’m gauging people’s opinion about the economy, simple things like “how are you doing”, and they’ll say, oh, so-so, instead of you notice any increases in things that really affect your bottom line and almost always a very good benchmark is groceries, and grocery prices have gone up. A lot of other things are important too besides the economy. The environment, we’ve had the Zika episode, we’ve had the algae bloom, we’ve had problems with Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades and issues about sea level rises in South Florida. And, of course, the climate and the environment itself are absolutely closely linked with Florida’s economy.

So, this state is one where even though we’ve recovered on paper, there are a lot of people that really personally don’t feel that they have benefited from the changing economy.

SREENIVASAN: All right. Susan MacManus from the University of South Florida — thanks so much.

MACMANUS: Thank you.

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