Day 1, Stereotypes in the Sunshine State

Palm trees, beaches, beautiful woman, amusement parks, senior citizens and Miami Vice are a few of the many stereotypes that I have about Florida, the so called sunshine state that lies at the northern edge of the Caribbean. Another stereotype is the one of the all time swing state, where the counting of voting ballots has not always been very easy. Back in 2000 Al Gore (D) lost the election after many Floridian recounts and a battle at the US Supreme Court. Ever since, Florida has been an important state during the presidential elections. In 2004 the Floridian voters gave then President George W. Bush the benefit of the doubt above democratic candidate John Kerry and in 2008 they went for current president Barack Obama. Florida, with its 29 electoral votes, is an important state. Whoever wins Florida can win the White House.

Every year I tend to visit the United States, a country that I have been studying for at least ten years now: first as a student at the UvA and later as a journalist. During this decade I have traveled trough at least 16 states, including New York, California, Ohio and Texas, but Florida was never on my list. It was just too far away from the states that I visited. But today that is going to change: as a reporter for the John Adams Institute I will fly to Miami and write about the presidential elections in this battle ground state. Journalistic photographers Rick Nederstigt and Freek van den Bergh will join me. Together we will chase the Floridian election circus and see more of the American campaign trail in the coming week in states like Michigan and Illinois.

Important to know is that both candidates and their running mates have visited Florida over a dozen times (Obama 23 times and Romney 32 times). They attended rallies in places like Tallahassee, St Petersburg and Kissimmee. These are places where undecided voters want to listen to them, but where they will normally never come. But election season turns everything around. Also former president Bill Clinton gave speeches in Florida. Today he will speak at a rally in Palm Beach. Unfortunately for us, our plane will tip the ground when Clinton finishes his speech. So we will try to attend a Republican rally with Veep-candidate Paul Ryan, in Panama City, on Saturday. This place lies in the so called ‘pan handle’ one of the most conservative places in the US. Or as one could say: is that again a stereotype?