Road Trip, Florida’s I-4 corridor: The mother road of swing voters

Yahoo! News
November 4, 2012

By Bob Sacha and Maisie Crow

Interstate 4 bisects the center of America's most notorious swing state, running 132 miles from Tampa, through Orlando and ending near Daytona Beach. Fifty-five percent of Florida voters live in the I-4 corridor. It is often where elections are decided in a state that has frequently switched sides, voting for Republicans seven times and Democrats three times in the past 10 elections, and voting for the winning presidential candidate 90 percent of that time.

For the final installment of our Road Trip video series for Campaign 2012, Yahoo News headed to Florida in search of the exotic, perhaps mythical, undecided voter. Here are three of our conversations.

'I have been registered to vote for seven years, and I have never voted.'

In a state filled with colorful characters, Eve Banks, 25, entertains many of them at the Mons Venus club in Tampa. She also travels extensively for her work as an exotic dancer. Eve Banks is a stage name: "I don't want girls from my sorority looking me up online," she says.

"I'm living a version of the American dream," she told Yahoo News. "It's not like the white picket fence, but I do have the dogs and I do have the husband. And I have everything I want. It's just kind of a different way of achieving it."

In the 2012 presidential election, Banks will be voting for the first time, casting a ballot for Barack Obama, she says, because of his support for women. "I generally don't care about politics because I feel like little old me does not make a difference," she said. "But this year I think is a lot different than previous years because of what's at stake right now.

"There was a lot of discrimination against women, believe it or not, not even that long ago really if you think about it. And that'll all change if we don't put the right person in the position," Banks said. "No woman wants a government to control her body or her choices."

'It has gotten pretty ugly between the two. I'm not sure I would want to be a part of it.'

Lloyd Parker, 33, hasn't decided how he is going to vote. He was working for a land development company in Lake Tahoe in Nevada until business started to slow down. His best friend lured him to Florida to become an entrepreneur by starting the Savage Race, an obstacle race in the mud. We hung out with him during their third race in Dade City.

"The Savage Race is a four- to six-mile mud obstacle course," Parker said. "It's timed. Twenty to 25 military-style obstacles that challenge you in many different ways. And afterward it's a fun gathering with live music and a party atmosphere."

Parker called Florida a Savage Race of sorts for Obama and Mitt Romney: "It is everywhere. It seems to be all over Facebook, everything. Maybe that has turned me off a little bit. That it's just been too much of back and forth and negativity, and it probably pushed me away a little bit.

"I have not been following it very much lately," he told Yahoo News. "In the last month I have been extremely busy with this course. I'm out on a ranch with no cable."

'I think somebody that's been in the farming business as long as we have—I don't think we should have to pay any inheritance tax.'

When Dave Black, 73, started in the citrus-farming and ranching business 42 years ago in Clermont, he stood on his 22 acres and saw fruit trees everywhere. Now his property is down to 14 acres, and it is hemmed in by new housing developments on three sides.

"We've got enough houses," Black told Yahoo News. "I mean we should leave a little open space."

Black is voting for Romney because of his opposition to the inheritance tax, in the hope that he can pass his property to his children undivided and tax-free.

"The Electoral College, I don't care for," he said. "I want the people to decide, not this state or that state. You know, Bush, the first election, he won on electoral votes. He didn't win on popular votes. Gore beat him on popular votes. So, that's wrong. That's just my opinion."

Bob Sacha is a multimedia producer, a documentary filmmaker, a photojournalist and a teacher. Maisie Crow is a documentary photographer, a filmmaker and a visual storytelling teacher. Earlier this year, Bob Sacha and Zach Wise traveled to Nevada to talk to Hispanics about the presidential election. In October, they talked to small-business owners along Colorado's Colfax Avenue. In July, Bob Sacha and Miki Meek traveled to Northern Virginia to talk to Mormons about what a President Romney would mean to them. In March, they drove Ohio's I-71 and talked to Republicans before Super Tuesday.