Stress Cases

North Florida Republicans Stressed Out

Hillsborough County goes blue and Romney supporters get glum. Winston Ross on swing state stress.

Emmanuel Dunand / AFP / Getty Images

TAMPA, Fla.— Next to the giant, plastic American flag on the wall at the Americans for Prosperity’s Hillsborough County headquarters is a calendar, titled “days until lame duck,” starting with the number 1. Fox News is on the projector screen, laptops showing the latest results are on the table, and the chicken wings are getting cold.

This group may call itself non-partisan, but there can be no doubt about which candidate the people in this room want to win tonight: former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

Manning those laptops is Karen Jarosch, field coordinator for this chapter of AFP. She swears she’s not freaking out, but as the results keep refreshing on those computer screens, she doesn’t exactly look ebullient either.

Fifty-five of 347 precincts tallied. Obama 52, Romney 47. Statewide, 11 percent of the vote in, Obama up 51 to 49.

On the television, a Fox anchor is talking about how critical not just Florida’s 29 electoral votes are to Romney’s victory chances, but the votes right where Jarosch is sitting, right here in Hillsborough County. Southern Florida is mostly democrat, the north and panhandle mostly Republican. It is here where things could swing either way.

"That’s not true, is it?” someone calls out, seeing Jarosch’s screen. But it is. And then moments later, the crushing news. Hillsborough County, a big chunk of that crucial corridor in the heart of the Sunshine State, is called. It’s Obama. Not good news for this crowd.

"I’ll be disappointed,” Jarosch admits, if Obama wins reelection. “But America will go on, and we will continue to fight for the principles and values we believe in.”