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Conclusion Matthew T. Corrigan and Michael Binder Even in the most unpredictable presidential election since 1948, the state of Florida remained central to the presidential campaign in 2016 and continued its recent legacy of voting for the eventual winner by the closest of margins. Since 1996, the state has voted with the winner 100 percent of the time, although with a razor-thin average winning margin of 2.6 percent. No other state, with the exception of Ohio, comes close to voting for the eventual winner of the contest, and no other state has had such a close margin for the winning candidate. Simply put, in the last twenty years, if a presidential candidate wins Florida, that candidate becomes president. While a staple of political science literature argues that donors, party leaders, and activists decide presidential nominees, Donald Trump did not follow the Republican Party; he changed the Republican Party. Trump’s victory in Florida in the primary had him beating two favorite Republican sons. Jeb Bush, a two-term governor and a son and brother of former presidents, was the perfect institutional foil for Trump’s populist campaign. Bush’s effort came up so short he did not even make it to the state’s primary before folding his campaign. Trump changed the Republican Party so much that Senator Marco Rubio, once seen as a dynamic Tea Party conservative, was vanquished easily by Trump. Trump beat the Cuban American rising star in sixty-six of the sixty-seven counties during the primary in March 2016. 176 · Matthew T. Corrigan and Michael Binder Trump’s campaign rolled up huge margins in suburban and rural areas of the state. The ten counties that Trump won by the largest margin over Hillary Clinton in the general election represent rural counties in the panhandle and the central part of the state. Trump won these counties with up to 90 percent of the vote. While these counties are small in population, the tremendous Trump victory margins in these areas represented over half of his statewide winning margin in a state decided by just 1.2 percent. An analysis of voting in the I-4 corridor shows that Trump produced higher turnout for Republicans than four years earlier. In particular, in the Tampa media market, Pasco, Polk, and Pinellas Counties went for Trump and helped produce a large, 6-point margin in the entire I-4 corridor in the central part of the state. Even with some increased turnout from Hispanic voters in the counties near Orlando, Clinton was soundly defeated in the most important political territory in the state. With Trump’s tough language on Mexican immigrants during the campaign, conventional thinking was that a huge upswing in Hispanic turnout would doom Trump in Florida. Yet postelection analysis shows that while Hispanic turnout increased from 2012, it was not entirely antiTrump . While some Hispanic Republicans did cross parties to vote for Hillary Clinton, the majority of Hispanic Republicans stayed with their party and Trump. Moreover, immigration as an issue was not the driving issue for many Hispanic voter in the state—most likely due to the diverse nature of the Hispanic voters in the state made up of Cuban Americans, Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, and others. Economic security was clearly the most important issue to Florida Hispanic voters. Clinton won the overall Hispanic vote in the general election but not by enough of a margin to make up for lower African American turnout across the state. In the light of the Mueller investigation of Russian interference in American elections, how state elections in presidential races are conducted has become a major concern. An examination of convenience voting (combination of early in-person and vote-by-mail) shows that in the general election in Florida almost 70 percent of voters cast ballots before the elections. This represents a 38 percent increase from 2012 and has stark implications for campaigning, messaging, and administering elections . The surprise with the strong Republican surge on Election Day in November also shows that early voting patterns cannot necessarily predict the eventual outcome. Conclusion · 177 Most important, there is no evidence to suggest that the Florida vote might somehow be “rigged” through some type of voter fraud. Even though the elections systems of five Florida counties were targets of a Russian cyber-attack, Florida’s county-run elections offices held up well. Convenience voting and the opportunity for provisional voting if necessary have clearly made a difference in Florida elections and...


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MARC Record
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