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Politics / Issues

Political Strategists Give Florida Primary Post-Mortem

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Steve Newborn
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WUSF News
Political consultants Steve Schale, left, and Adam Goodman, speak at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club

The nation is in the midst of elections where people vote because they're scared of how the economy or country is going. That's the consensus from a pair of political consultants who spoke Wednesday at the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club in St. Petersburg for a primary post-mortem.

The Interstate 4 corridor has more political delegates than the state of Virginia. Political strategist Adam Goodman says that kind of clout makes Central Florida ground zero during this election cycle. The Republican consultant also predicts that Republican front-runner Donald Trump will steer away from his extreme statements.

"I think Donald Trump, if he's going to be the president of the United States, by the time we hit November, will be seen as a different kind of Donald Trump - or he will not be president of the United States," he said. "I happen to think we'll see a whole new Donald Trump in play after the primaries. I think that after an amazingly tumultuous Act One, Act Two is going to be totally different than the first."

Goodman says Republican turnout in the primaries so far is around 61 percent. He says that if Democrats don't show equal fervor, that could help propel Trump into the White House in November.

"Those aren't small numbers. Something's happening out there," he said. "And as much unease as some people in this room may have about a certain potential Republican nominee, something's happening. He's generating something."

Democratic political consultant Steve Schale directed President Obama's campaign in Florida in 2008. He says we're in the midst of a wave of "change elections," where people's votes are swayed by how much they fear economic or social change.

"If you're in that slither of votes - that slither of population - that isn't ready for that economic change, this economy is the scariest thing in the world," he said. "And that security - that basic sort of compact of middle-class life has gone away. And I think that our politics is going to be like this for a generation or so."

Schale says there is a huge number of people who are still undecided about who'll they'll back in the general election, and it's this swath of voters who will be the target of both presidential candidates in the run-up to November.

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