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Political Party with Adam Smith: Pinellas the bellwether

Adam Smith

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Political Party With Adam Smith is a weekly podcast about Florida politics. The host, an award-winning journalist and the longtime political editor of the Tampa Bay Times, describes the program as “a good opportunity not just to talk about campaigns or races, but issues and the things people are talking about. Very casual, very informal, and hopefully fun.”

The road to the White House in 2020 goes straight through Pinellas County – the biggest swing county in America’s biggest battleground state.

That’s the focus of the debut episode of Political Party with Adam Smith, in which two of Florida’s most respected political consultants dissect the political mojo of Pinellas, which comfortably backed Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 and then swung dramatically to Donald Trump in 2016.

“Donald Trump cannot lose the county by more than a thousand votes – and if he wins the county, I think he wins the state of Florida, and it probably portends well for him across the country,” said Republican consultant Nick Hansen, who has worked on multiple high profile campaigns in Pinellas. “If he loses (Pinellas) anything outside of that thousand vote margin, I think it’s probably going to be a rough night, and there probably aren’t many places where he is going to be able to perform where he was in 2016.”

The Pinellas elections web site will be excellent place to see whether or President Trump is poised to be a one- or two-term president, agreed Democratic consultant Matthew Isbell. Along with Pasco County to the north, the Pinellas vote will be a key indicator of whether Trump’s advantage among working class white voters proved to be as strong against Joe Biden as it was against Hillary Clinton.

Florida remains a toss-up, Isbell said, and his chief concern is that Democrats concentrate so much on turning out the Democratic base, that they neglect independent and swing voters.

“The thing that worries me the most is not enough persuasion and talk to some of the voters that were lost in 2016,” he said. “It is very important in a place like Pinellas that there are two unique campaigns going on — operations in downtown St. Pete, and midtown St. Pete to get out the African American vote,  to get out the student vote, and then in Largo, Clearwater, the coast and up on the north end of Pinellas, to try to re-galvanize those voters and say, ‘Look, Joe Biden cares about your issues, he’s a working class guy from Delaware and Scranton, Pennsylvania.’ ”

Listen to the show for a ton of interesting insight on everything from the impact of protests on the Pinellas electorate to the way other candidates on the ballot could be affected by the Trump vs. Biden contest.

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