Decision 2020: Trump vs. Biden in Florida

Miranda Zamora ’23

Florida Presidential Election Results 2016
Florida Presidential Election Results 2016. Ali Zifan, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

President Donald Trump cast his ballot in Palm Beach County, Florida, on October 24. As we know, winning Florida is crucial for a presidential candidate in the election, yet it has always been difficult to determine how Florida will vote. The state does not typically show a strong loyalty to either political party and has often been called the “bellwether state” for accurately predicting the national moods of the presidential elections. In fact, since 1928, Florida has only twice voted against the winner of the presidential race.

There are many factors to consider when looking at the 2020 presidential election. One issue that looms over the whole election is COVID-19 and the President’s handling of the virus. When examining this issue in the context of Florida’s election, President Trump faces the potential “Gray Revolt”. A “Gray Revolt” against Trump would mean more older voters who backed his campaign in 2016 would shift their votes and vote for Joe Biden. In The Villages in Sumter County, people stared as a parade of 500+ golf carts decked in patriotic apparel and Biden-Harris signs drove by, all driven by older voters in The Villages’ community. The parade was certainly a sight to see, considering that The Villages is located in one of the most Republican areas of Florida. Many older voters have been disappointed in the way that the President has handled the COVID-19 virus and look to Biden for change.

Over the past two decades, the presidential elections in Florida have always been close. An example of this would be the 2016 election where President Donald Trump won Florida’s 29 electoral votes by a slim 1.2 percentage points against his opponent, Hillary Clinton. In the past, we have seen similar election outcomes in which winning candidates only took the state by a slim margin and election experts expect to see the same type of margin in the 2020 presidential race in Florida. These experts have mostly ruled out Trump’s reelection should he not win Florida’s electoral votes. As of October 25, Real Clear Politics has shown Biden leading by 1.5 percentage points. However, experts have not dubbed Florida as a Democrat win because of its often-unpredictable outcomes.

The close margins in polls along with the use of mail-in voting also pose another potential issue for the upcoming election: a repeat of Bush v. Gore. COVID has certainly caused many complications throughout the year, including complications with voting. Throughout his campaign, President Trump has encouraged people to vote in-person rather than by mail and questions the integrity of mail-in voting. However, many Democrats in Florida have already voted by mail. Now that early in-person voting has opened in Florida, Republicans have started to slowly decrease the lead that Democrats have held in pre-Election Day ballots. Florida is accepting mail-in ballots until 7:00 p.m. on Election Day, and not counting any ballots received in an untimely manner. If we see margins similar to those of the 2000 election, combined with the uncertainty of mail-in voting, a new case could come to the courts questioning things such as mail-in ballot procedure and possible questions involving the Equal Protections Clause, similar to Bush v. Gore. As always, Florida will be one of the focal points of the presidential election. The polls have provided almost no hint as to who will win but have shown that this will most likely be an incredibly close race.