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Florida Biggest Battleground State Prize for Bush, Kerry


The southeastern state of Florida remains the biggest prize for the taking among the closely-fought "battleground" states in this year's presidential race.

Whoever wins Florida's popular vote on November 2 gets its 27 electoral votes - one-tenth of the total needed to win the presidency.

With that in mind, the Republican candidate, President Bush and his Democratic Party challenger John Kerry have campaigned frequently in the state, and are spending heavily on television commercials.

Opinion polls show the race to be just as tight as it was four years ago, when President Bush won Florida by 537 votes after a legal battle over recounts in several areas.

The state is split politically, with Cubans and rural whites tending to vote Republican, while blacks and other Hispanics often support the Democrats.

Florida also has an unusual number of voters who care mainly about a single issue, such as retirees who want the government to preserve benefit programs like Medicare.

The president may have a slight edge, since his brother, Jeb Bush, is Florida's popular governor. A recent poll showed that most Floridians approved of how the Bush brothers handled relief efforts after Hurricane Charley in August.

But like other Americans, Floridians are concerned about jobs, the war on terror and the situation in Iraq. Developments in those areas could determine who takes the state on election day.