Kelly McKenzie is a Bodenhamer Fellow and senior honors student majoring in electrical engineering and physics from Searcy, Arkansas. She divides her time between solar cell research, the University of Arkansas Women’s Chorus and obsessing about politics. She plans to continue solar cell research in her graduate studies and lead America to a sunny future of solar cells on every home.
Florida is the quintessential battleground state, a highly diverse region that mirrors the diversity of the country. With both a large 50+ and a large minority population, it has a history of incredibly close election results. And as one of the states with the most electoral votes, the candidate chosen by Florida has won nine of the past ten presidential elections. As such, with a FiveThirtyEight tipping-point chance of a whopping 19.9%, it is probably the most important state to follow in this election.
This season, Florida’s polling has closely followed national trends, but with a slight Republican lean. Trump has overtaken Clinton’s lead twice since June: in the wake of the Republican National Convention, and in mid-September, when Clinton’s lead was fading across the nation. Since the first two debates and Trump’s hot mic scandal, however, her lead has bounced back to nearly her post-Democratic National Convention high, with a new Florida Atlantic University poll showing a 6-point lead. Early voting has already begun, which bodes well for Clinton, but her lead has already begun to shrink again.
In the recent Florida Atlantic poll, 22% of respondents responded in Spanish, and 34% self-reported as a minority. Spanish-speaking respondents overwhelmingly supported Clinton 77-18, while African American respondents supported her over Trump 81-6. There were more female respondents than males by 9 percentage points, and with Clinton’s 51-42 lead among females, they are set to give her a substantial boost. Overall, Clinton is running strongly, with 92% of Democrats supporting her.
Only 80% of Florida Republicans are supporting Trump, but he is leading in support from Independents 45-36. His strongest base of support comes from northern Florida, which tends to align itself with the traditional “Dixie” South more so than central and southern Florida do.
One revelation from the new Public Policy Polling report is that voters support President Obama over Trump, 52-43. Considering that Trump’s campaign is built on the idea of being a change from the establishment, that’s bad news for him. Additionally, Clinton holds a 17-point and 23-point lead over Trump among voters aged 18-29 and 30-45, respectively. While older voters prefer Trump, they don’t come close to making up those margins.
Prediction: Given Trump’s remarkably poor performance with Hispanics and African Americans and his massive deficit among young voters, it appears unusually probable that Clinton will win Florida. However, time still remains for Florida to shift again.