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All eyes on Florida as GOP clinches election marathon

Ballot recounts of the Senate and Governor races in Florida ended this weekend with Republicans winning both seats, though questions remain about counting procedures and why the state was once again among the last to declare results. POLITICO’s Marc Caputo tells Hari Sreenivasan that its delay is in part due to close races, lean political divisions, and other systematic incompetencies.

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  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    The vote count is over but the questions about how ballots were counted and why Florida continues to be one of the last to decide its elections are still to be answered.

    Joining us now from Miami with the latest is POLITICO reporter Marc Caputo. Thanks for joining us. Why does it take so long, in a structural way, for Florida to get through the election process?

  • MARC CAPUTO:

    It usually takes everyone kind of a long time to do it. In fact, I think California's results for president took a number of weeks. It's just that we're paying more attention now. And when you have close races, it exposes all of the margins of error and the muckiness. People will pay more attention to the fact that there are all these under votes there are all these over votes.

    There might have been a problem at this precinct or that precinct, simply because it's a close election. Florida is a cleanly divided state, obviously; we had three statewide races go to recount. And when you have races that close, you're going to have controversy.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    What's the matter with Broward County? I mean, that seems to be one of the places that we end up focusing on. I'm sure there can be a book written about this.

  • MARC CAPUTO:

    Well my colleague, Mike Grunwald at POLITICO Magazine wrote an article called, "What's the Matter with Broward County?" Broward County appears, to my professional and personal eyes, to just be incompetently managed. And that's been a legacy of the place for more than a decade. In fact, 2002, the Democratic primary for governor was botched in Broward County, leading then-Governor Jeb Bush to suspend the election supervisor there. He then appointed the current election supervisor who has been subsequently reelected, Brenda Snipes.

    And every year, every election, it seemed like there was a problem or two and they would always just kind of crop up. And certainly with the benefit of hindsight, it was a disaster waiting to happen. And I think we got a disaster here.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Finally, what does this say? I mean, now we've got the highest profile races in Florida tilting towards the Republicans. It sort of stems a little bit of this idea of the blue wave, at least in a very, very important state.

  • MARC CAPUTO:

    It does. That's a really interesting question. And what we've seen is for all of the attention paid say, on Puerto Rico evacuees from Hurricane Maria, who came to live here — the question is, will they vote, how many of them are there — what was sort of missed, certainly in the national context, was the fact that Florida is still a very big retirement state. And there's been a coalescing of the white vote. And we've had a lot of wealthy, middle class, upper middle class retirees move to Florida in big waves and they tend to vote Republican.

    So, while the state is becoming blacker and browner on its voter rolls, that's being offset by the number of new arrivals who are white, older and vote very Republican. I think one of the troubling signs that we've seen in the exit polls and in some of the polling leading up to the election is the fact that our politics in this state and probably in the nation are becoming racially polarized and that's not a good recipe for democracy.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Marc Caputo of POLITICO joining us from Miami tonight. Thanks so much.

  • MARC CAPUTO:

    Thank you.

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