As election results begin to trickle in, the main questions of the election seem far from unanswered. Although several states have already been called by some major media outlets, those are primarily states whose results were already pretty predictable. The country may not know results from the infamous swing states for quite a while, which seems to be inducing a lot of anxiety and speculation across the country. It would be extremely difficult for Donald Trump to win without winning Florida, and the idiosyncratic state could once again decide the presidential election. This state in particular is a huge deciding factor on this Election Day, as it has been in the past, and it could completely ruin one candidate's chance at winning the presidency.
Election statistics website Five Thirty Eight predicts that Trump's overall chances of winning the election are about 29 percent, predicated apparently on his winning Florida. However, in statistician Nate Silver's current model, that probability drops significantly if Trump can't capture Florida. Without the perennial swing state, Trump's likelihood of winning the election freefalls to a mere seven percent. If he can win the state though, his probability of taking the election shoots from 29 to 59 percent.
Florida was a statistical tossup going into Election Day because Trump and Clinton were polling within the statistical margin of error. The latest averaged poll gave Trump a 0.2 lead over Clinton statewide, but she had been in the lead by nearly a full two points a few days ahead of the election. High Latinx turnout there could bolster Clinton to the lead, but the state's population is about 55 percent white non-Latinx, a demographic that breaks for Trump. If Clinton does win, it could indicate that Trump has "awoken a sleeping giant" of Latinx people going to the polls in response to his racist comments about Hispanics and Latinxs throughout his campaign.
Historically, it's very atypical to win an election without Florida — the state has elected the winner in nine out of the last 10 presidential elections. There's also the possibility that the state could take a long time to call a winner due to the razor-thin margin, just like the 2000 election. That being said, this election has broken all the rules, and if Trump loses Florida, there's still a path for him to get to 270 electoral votes and that's the only number that matters at the end of the night.