After a Trump blow out in Florida, is the Sunshine State a swing state no more?

We turn to political analysts who say not so fast
Posted at 3:49 PM, Nov 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-08 00:15:19-05

TAMPA, Fla. — On election night, President Donald Trump won Florida, for a second time, in a stunning blow out for Democrats. Now, some political insiders are questioning whether it's time to take Florida out of the toss-up column.

Battleground states are used to deciding elections under a percentage-and-a-half between the candidates. But on election night, President Trump won Florida in a landslide. At over three-percentage points, he doubled his 2016 margin.

But does it all mean the long-time toss-up state has gone red? We turned to our ABC Action News Political Analysts.

"You could argue it both ways," said Dr. Susan MacManus. "The Republicans are going to say 'Yes, we're a red state now.' Democrats will say 'well maybe now but not forever,' and I think that's where we are now in Florida."

Dr. MacManus believes Florida is absolutely purple despite Trump's big victory and the Democrats losing down the ticket.

"The bottom line is Democrats lost Florida because they just had a very badly orchestrated campaign," said MacManus.

During the summer, as coronavirus cases increased, traditional campaign efforts like door-to-door knocking came to a standstill for former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign.

Biden also under-performed in Miami-Dade County, where Trump's message resonated exceptionally well with the high turn-out Cuban-American vote.

"I don't think you can take one election cycle and say 'Florida is no longer a swing state'" said Ron Pierce, ABC Action News Political Analyst.

Pierce says you have to look at Florida as a whole. In 2016, Hillary Clinton lost the state by a percentage point. In 2018, Governor Ron DeSantis beat Andrew Gillum by half-a-percentage. In 2012, Barack Obama won the state by less than a percentage point over Mitt Romney.

Pierce says Florida is also notoriously tricky and expensive for campaigns due to its diversity in voters and widespread media markets. One streamlined attack plan is not enough to win over the Florida vote.

Both analysts predict that voters can expect more from Democrats next time around.

"I think in 2022, and beyond, I think Florida is absolutely going to become a competitive state," said Pierce.

MacManus says Democrats have to figure out how to better campaign in Florida.

"Whenever a party loses — that was expected to win — when they lose in a blow out they go back and re-do everything and re-look at things and freshen up, and you can be sure that Florida's Democrats are going to do that ASAP," said MacManus.