2020 Presidential Elections State-by-State Guide: Florida always sees seesaw battle and this year is no different

In one of the biggest swing states in American's politics, the winner is separated from the loser by less than one point and this always makes the Sunshine State a top draw in presidential elections


                            2020 Presidential Elections State-by-State Guide: Florida always sees seesaw battle and this year is no different
Florida state flag (US Public Domain)

State


FLORIDA

Primary dates

Type: Closed

Democratic delegates: 248 (219 pledged, 29 super)

Republican delegates: 122

Governor

Ron DeSantis (R)

Senators

Marco Rubio (Republican) and Rick Scott (R) 

Representatives: 27

Fourteen Republican: Matt Gaetz (1st district), Neal Dunn (2nd district), Ted Yoho (3rd district), John Rutherford (4th district), Michael Waltz (6th district), Bill Posey (8th district), Daniel Webster (11th district), Gus Bilirakis (12th district), Ross Spano (15th district), Vern Buchanan (16th district), Gregory Steube (17th district), Brian Mast (18th district), Francis Rooney (19th district) and Marlo Diaz-Balart (25th district)

Thirteen Democratic: Al Lawson (5th district), Stephanie Murphy (7th district), Darren Soto (9th district), Val Demings (10th district), Charlie Crist (13th district), Kathy Castor (14th district), Alcee Hastings (20th district), Lois Frankel (21st district), Theodore Deutch (22nd district), Debbie Wasseman Schultz (23rd district), Frederica Wilson (24th district), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (26th district) and Donna Shalala (27th district)

Electoral college votes: 29

Donald Trump won all of them in 2016

How Florida has voted in past presidential elections

Florida gained statehood in 1845 and it helped Whig candidate Zachary Taylor win the presidential election in 1848, the last time when neither a Republican nor a Democratic candidate won the poll. The Sunshine State seceded during the Civil War and did not take part in the 1864 election. Also like most southern states, Florida voted exclusively for the Democratic Party from Reconstruction till the mid-20th century before turning Republican in 1952. The state's population has grown rapidly in the past six decades and its electoral importance has also grown with it — like California and Texas. Florida had only eight electoral votes at the end of World War II and it has now gone up by more than three times. It is set to get two more electoral votes after the 2020 poll.

Florida is one of the big battleground states. Influxes of Cubans, retirees and service workers to the booming theme park economy near Orlando and other communities have seen the state becoming more diverse — economically and politically. Over the last many elections Florida has seen close fights with the 2000 contest ending too close to decide the winner. In 2012, Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney by 0.9 percent votes while in 2016, Trump beat Hillary Clinton by 1.2 percent. Since 1964, Florida has voted in favor of the winner of the presidential election except for 1992 when George H W Bush beat eventual winner Bill Clinton. 

Florida is a big swing state

According to the state’s Democratic strategist Steven Schale, Florida may not always decide the outcome of the presidential race but it is likely to maintain its status as the largest and one of the most competitive battleground states in the country. Florida has 29 electoral votes, the same number as New York. Only California and Texas have more. And according to Schale, since 1992, when the Sunshine State became a true White House battleground, over 50 million votes have been cast in seven presidential elections and the winning party has been separated by losing only 0.02 percent. 

Florida and 2020 presidential election

Joe Biden won the Democratic primary against Bernie Sanders by a wide margin to race towards grabbing the Democratic nomination and he is leading Trump ahead of the November 3 election, according to many surveys. In the 2016 primary in Florida, Sanders lost to Clinton by more than 30 points.

In the Republican set-up, Trump had won the 2016 primary by bagging 46 percent, 19 points more than local senator Marco Rubio. Susie Wiles, Trump's former chief strategist in Florida for the 2016 election, felt the president cannot repeat his performance in the Sunshine State this time without the help of swing voters. Trump himself has tried to mobilize his supporters in the state by stressing on hardline immigration policies and low unemployment and even called Florida his "second home" in the recent past. But the Trump campaign will be worried over the fact that several refugees from Puerto Rico have taken shelter in Florida post Hurricane Maria (2017) to which the Trump administration’s response has been controversial. They have become a vital voting bloc in a state where the winner on either side is decided by a few thousand votes. Trump's net approval rate in Florida is three.

Meanwhile, the Democrats in Florida will also have to ensure that there is a high turnout of voters if they fancy a victory in the state. The GOP has done well in the state in the last few elections (presidential, congressional and senate) and to turn the tables around, the blue party has to play it tight.

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