Decision 2020

Trump Takes Florida Over Biden, Wins Biggest Battleground Prize

The perennial battleground state offers 29 electoral votes, the largest among the country's prized swing states

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What to Know

  • Florida's 29 electoral votes were up for grabs on Tuesday
  • Florida's electoral votes have gone to the winner of the last six presidential elections
  • Whether it goes with the winner or not, Florida's margin of victory was close once again

President Donald Trump has won Florida and its 29 electoral votes, the biggest prize among the perennial battlegrounds and a state crucial to his reelection hopes.

A victory in Florida means reelection is within Trump’s grasp. A loss in the state would have made it nearly impossible for Trump to reach the 270 electoral votes needed to retain the White House.

Democrat Joe Biden’s campaign had hoped the devastating toll of the coronavirus pandemic, particularly among older adults, would put him in a strong position in a state popular with retirees.

Trump moved his official residence to his Palm Beach estate Mar-a-Lago from New York last year.

Florida's electoral votes have gone to the winner of the last six presidential elections, and the state has backed the losing candidate only twice dating back to 1928, for George H.W. Bush in 1992 and for Richard Nixon in 1960.

Whether it goes with the winner or not, Florida's margin of victory was close once again. Trump won the state over Hillary Clinton in 2016 by about 1.2 percentage points, with just under 113,000 votes separating the two.

Four of five presidential elections in the 2000s in Florida have been decided by 3 percentage points or less, with the 2000 race ending in the infamous recount where Republican George W. Bush defeated Democrat Al Gore by 537 votes.

By Monday, more than 8.9 million Floridians had already cast ballots — approaching the 9.5 million total cast in the 2016 presidential election.

There's a good possibility Trump cannot reach 270 electoral votes without carrying Florida, where polls show a tight race. Some had suggested a slight Biden advantage, including the final NBC News/Marist Florida poll.

Both the Trump and Biden campaigns put a heavy focus on visiting the state over the final weeks of the election.

Trump held a late night rally in Opa-locka Sunday, one of a handful of appearances in Florida over the past month. Trump's children, his wife, First Lady Melania Trump, and Vice President Mike Pence have also crisscrossed the state in recent weeks.

"We win Florida, we win the whole thing," Trump told the crowd at Sunday's event.

Biden also made multiple trips to the state in recent weeks, along with his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris, and former President Barack Obama, who was back in Florida on Monday.

A final flurry of campaigning whipped through the crucial state of Florida in the waning days of the election season, including another visit by President Donald Trump, as beleaguered voters took solace that Election Day was finally close at hand.

Biden, like Trump, was aware that the state may be a key to his victory.

"You hold the power. If Florida goes blue, it’s over," Biden told supporters at an Oct. 29 event.

If Florida is the key to winning the presidency, the key to winning Florida may be its Hispanic and Latino voters.

About 2.4 million Latinos are registered to vote for the 2020 presidential election in Florida — about 17% of the state’s total, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Florida state government data.

A look at a possible shift in Cuban-American voting ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

A Telemundo/Mason-Dixon poll released Oct. 29 showed Biden with a slight lead over Trump among the state's Hispanic voters.

The poll showed Hispanic voters in southeast Florida were split between the two candidates, 46% to 46%. Biden was preferred in central Florida (53% to 37%) and the Tampa area (53% to 35%). But Cuban voters continue to support Trump (71% to 23%) while Puerto Rican voters support Biden (66% to 23%), the poll showed. The poll's margin for error was plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Miami-Dade County is where more than 40% of Cuban Americans live, though Clinton won the county by 30 percentage points in 2016.

NBC 6 and AP
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