Florida is often called a microcosm of the U.S. electorate. Our state has sided with nine of the past 10 winners.
The moment of decision is almost here. Thank goodness.
For what seems interminable — what, two years? — we have endured the national news media’s obsession with the day-by-day horse race for the presidency; the national media’s obvious, egregious and disgracefully slanted bias against Donald Trump and for Joe Biden; and since March the media’s fear-driving tallies of the pandemic.
Altogether, the incessant barrages have been mentally and emotionally exhausting. Indeed, we have all heard the same refrain from family, friends and co-workers: “I can’t wait for 2020 to be over.”
If only we could know now what we’ll know next week. Will the American people side with the Trump American nationalism of, in the words of former Florida Gov. Rick Scott, “jobs, jobs, jobs” and the Constitution? Or with the Biden-Harris-Sanders shift toward socialism, aggressive expansion of the federal Leviathan and rejection of America’s historic ideals?
Our advice: In these next few days, don’t pay attention to the polls. Pollsters acknowledge their results are growing increasingly unreliable. Even NBC’s Chuck Todd has said his network won’t be relying on exit polls on Election Day.
But one place on which you might focus as election results pour in Tuesday night is our own home state. With our diverse 23 million population, Florida is often considered a microcosm of the U.S. How Florida goes on election night, so goes the nation.
And a reflection of that are the results of the presidential elections over the past two decades. Florida’s electorate has been close to split nearly 50-50. No time was that ever truer than in 2000, when George W. Bush beat Al Gore by 537 votes out of the 5.96 million votes cast. In the past three presidential elections, the margins of victory have been 1.2 percentage points, Trump; 0.9, Obama; 2.8, Obama.
But here’s the key: Since 1980, with the first election of Ronald Reagan, Florida voters have favored the eventual winner in nine out of 10 elections. The only presidential election in which Florida favored the eventual loser was in 1992, when Bill Clinton defeated George H.W. Bush.
But even that one was close. Bush won Florida that year by 1.9 percentage points.
In 2016, Trump’s margin of victory was 112,911 votes over Hillary Clinton, 49% to 47.8%. Trump won in 58 of Florida’s 67 counties. The nine he lost included the five populous counties of Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Hillsborough and Orange; the two big university counties of Alachua and Leon; and the smaller counties of Gadsden (home of many state capital employees) and Osceola (home of many hospitality workers and Puerto Ricans, who traditionally vote Democratic.
Not much is expected to change this cycle, except for this:
- Watch for Biden’s margins of victories to increase in Greater Orlando (Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties), which saw an influx of Democrat-voting Puerto Ricans, who fled their island in 2017 after Hurricane Maria.
- Just as significant: That increase for Biden might be offset and perhaps overtaken if Trump narrows his losing gaps in Miami-Dade and Hillsborough (Tampa) and increases his margin in Duval County (Jacksonville) as a result of Hispanic and black voters swinging over to Trump.
If you follow the numbers closely, Trump’s percentage of votes in 2016 in Miami-Dade, Hillsborough and Duval were 34%, 44.7% and 49%, respectively. If those percentages change much, they will be key indicators of Florida’s final results — and perhaps the U.S. altogether.
In the end, we all know none of us really has control over the outcome. We are all just one small voice in the process, and all we can do at this point is our part: vote for the candidates who best reflect our own ideals.
It’s a shame we all must endure the ugliness, the acrimony, the lies, the media. But it’s almost over. And perhaps it’s a useful reminder at this moment to recall what Commander James Stockdale told himself day after day in the Hanoi prison with the late John McCain during the Vietnam War.
“The invincible man,” Stockdale told himself, “is he who cannot be dismayed by any happenings outside of his control.”
Let’s ask the Lord to give us all the strength to accept Tuesday’s outcomes, to take the high road no matter what and to do our best at whatever endeavor we undertake.
God bless America.