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Susan MacManus on Hillary, Rubio Entering Race


Florida Sen. Marco Rubio announced today that he will be running for president on the Republican ticket  in 2016 - a day after Democrat Hillary Clinton announced her presidential plans. WUSF's Steve Newborn spoke with USF political science professor Susan MacManus about the implications for the race ahead.

She says it's looking like Florida is going to once again be the epicenter of presidential politics.

"No question about it," she says. "The last three elections, including the 2012 presidential, have been decided by just a one percent margin between the winner and loser in this state, so we're the most divided state in the whole country. And our demographics are appealing, because the candidates khow they're are going to really be careful how their message plays by race, by ethnicity, by age, by geography, everything. So Florida is the best singular state to be able to test out their political message.

MacManus says she's amazed the interest in a race that won't be decided for another year and a half.

"It's just incredible to many people that this election is starting at this intensity so far in advance of the presidential race. And I think one of the big questions that we end up asking is will all of this hype now be sustainable, and if it is - we're already seeing political ads run - what will its impact be on turnout. And will people be so alienated by it that you'll see a dip in some of the key constituencies that are needed to elect people?"

She also mentioned there are four potential Republican presidential candidates that may come out of Florida. Besides Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee and Dr. Ben Carson are also considering running.

She says that women voters may be more motivated to come to the polls now that Clinton will be one the ballot - particularly Democrats. And more Hispanics may go to the polls because of Rubio. But she also notes that Cuban-Americans are no longer the majority of Hispanic voters in Florida.

MacManus says it will be interesting to see how a candidate like Marco Rubio will fare with younger voters.

"Republicans cannot nominate an all-white male ticket and be able to beat a Clinton ticket, there's just no way. So you have the divide between the young and the old, the establishment versus the younger members of both parties looking at these candidates and weighing them by age and generational politics and everything else."

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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