“We won states that we weren’t expecting to win,” Trump said of Florida in the early hours of Wednesday, 4 November, at the White House.
United States President Donald Trump’s win in the crucial battleground state of Florida which has 29 electoral college votes has upset Joe Biden’s electoral mathematics.
The south-eastern state is critical for both candidates and Trump’s retention of a state he won by a narrow margin in 2016 snuffed out Joe Biden’s chances of a first-round knock-out punch in the presidential race.
Trump maintains a decisive 3.4 percent lead of over 3.77 lakh votes in the bellwether state known for siding with the winning candidate. While Trump has a vote share of 51.20 percent with 56.47 lakh votes, Democratic candidate Joe Biden trails with 52.70 lakh votes.
As the election shapes up to be a nail-biter with Biden holding a razor thin margin of 220 electoral college votes against Trump’s 213, the state’s habit of correctly predicting the winner and its importance in the electoral college has denied Biden of a victory assurance just yet.
Barring the big urban pockets like Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, Palm Beach and Tallahassee, Biden lost most of the counties in this key state that is crucial to his chances of defeating Teump.
What Happened in 2016?
In 2016, the US president had won Florida by a slim margin of just 1.2 percent more votes than his rival Hillary Clinton, dealing a strong blow to the Democrat’s chance of making it to the White House.
Trump had edged past Clinton by just 1.12 lakh votes, winning 48.6 percent of the votes compared to Clinton’s vote share of 47.4 percent. Despite Barack Obama taking Florida in 2008 and 2012, where and how did Clinton lose Florida in 2016?
According to Politico, the Deep South Panhandle to the interior of Florida to peninsula’s southwest which are bastions of working-class whites and retirees from the Midwest got him past the victory line.
“Trump ran up huge margins with white Florida voters, who comprise 64 percent of the state’s voting rolls, and have always been the most reliable voters in terms of turnout,” Politico stated.
The Latino turnout in Democrat strongholds of Miami-Dade and Orange County, two of the most populous counties in the state, was just not enough for Clinton.
Florida A Bellwether State
Hisorically, election pundits have considered ‘The Sunshine State’ as a bellwether that correctly predicts who gets to enter the White House. Since 1964, it has sided with the winner of every presidential election, with the exception of 1992.
Since 1992, when it voted for Republican George H Bush while Democrat Bill Clinton won the presidential race, the Sunshine State has correctly predicted the winner consecutively in the last six elections. In fact, Florida has backed the losing candidate only twice since 1928.
Joe Biden was looking to to deal a decisive blow to Trump’s chances of a second term with an early win in Florida. The loss has indeed come as a setback to the Democrats and makes the race to Washington DC all the more challenging.
Florida By the Numbers
Florida has a total of 67 counties, the US equivalent of a district in India. According to data provided by The New York Times, Joe Biden has won only 12 while Trump has taken 55.
This election saw a higher voter turnout in the state by over 1.5 million votes compared to 2016. While over 11 million votes have been recorded this time, the previous election saw 9.5 million votes.
In fact, Biden has performed better than Clinton in the state. He has retained all the nine counties that his predecessor had won and took three counties from Trump. His vote share is 47.8 percent while Clinton’s was 47.4.
But Trump’s vote share has also surged. He has a 51.2 percent vote share this time compared to 48.6 percent last time, a significant jump of 2.6 percent.
Interestingly, 4 percent of the total votes in 2016 had gone to neither Trump or Clinton but to other parties such as Libertarian, Green, and independentends. This time round, that percentage has dropped to just 0.8 and a bulk of those votes apepar to have sided with the Republican party.
Trump Takes White & Chunk of Latino Votes
Donald Trump has retained the white vote base in the state that compises 64 percent of all votes. Importantly, the Flordia result has shown that the Latino vote is not a monolith that votes en masse one side or the other.
For example, Cuban American voters have been reported to have sided largely with Trump, and have stayed away from Biden who was projected as a “socialist” by the Trump campaign.
Al Jazeera’s analysis states that the result comes after Trump’s campaign heavily invested in Latino outreach for months before election day.
“The campaign aired ads in Spanish throughout the summer and aimed to tie prominent Democrats who embrace the “socialist” label to Biden to woo Latinos who fled oppression and economic depression in failed socialist and communist states,” Al Jazeera states.
The most telling demographic statistic, however, comes from the most populous county in the state , Miami-Dade county. The county, with a population of 2.7 million, has a 79 percent Hispanic/Latino population. It is here that Biden has failed to meet expectation.
With 93 percent of precincts reporting, Biden secured just 53.5 percent of the vote; four years ago Hilary Clinton won 63.7 percent, according to Al Jazeera.