Hillsborough Suburbanites Rule — Again

Just checked the unusually high number of early votes cast in Hillsborough County, 25,356 in total. That is quite a bit higher than the other surrounding counties (Pinellas has just above 8,000 with roughly the same voting population).

Breaking down the origin of those early votes, I found a 2-to-1 advantage for suburban voting locations vs. the urban ones. More than 16,000 normally GOP, usually conservative suburbanites cast early votes. Somebody's grassroots machine was working overtime. The county's voting service center near Brandon was the No. 1 location; the Jan Platt Library was No. 2, the highest of the urban sites. Bloomingdale, Plant City and Temple Terrace rounded out the rest of the Top 5.

That could spell trouble for candidates like Sandy Murman (running against Ronda Storms) or Rose Ferlita (running against Brad Swanson for a county commission seat). While it is conceivable that those suburban locations produced votes against the social conservatives, it is more likely that those early voters were in the Storms and Swanson camps.

These voting patterns echo my column about the growth of GOP suburban power in Hillsborough County.

ELECTION NIGHT UPDATE: I don't have the precinct-by-precinct breakdowns, but it appears that early voters went strong for Storms and Ferlita, both eventual winners. Storms' district is more suburban, while Ferlita's contains much of Tampa.

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