What do Florida's Midterm Results Tell Us About the 2016 Presidential Election?
For all of the jokes made about the swing state and its spotty election history (somewhere Al Gore just sighed), Florida has become an integral component in winning the presidential election. So now that the state's governorship has gone to the Republican incumbent Rick Scott, what does Florida's midterm results mean for the 2016 White House?
First, the election wasn't called totally without some sort of misstep. The Florida Democratic Party filed an emergency request to extend voting hours in Broward County citing "individual and systematic breakdowns," but the judge denied the two extra hours. Even with that, Scott won the election by a narrow margin. Florida really likes to push it close.
So, back to this tricky swing state: In the last 10 elections, Florida's 29 electoral votes have gone to the winning candidate all but once, when the state was awarded to George H.W. Bush in 1992. That makes it a prime state for national politicians, and potential 2016 candidates have already put an early tap into Florida's potential. Democratic bigwigs like Bill and Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Martin O'Malley, and Deval Patrick have all come down to the Sunshine State to promote Charlie Christ's gubernatorial campaign. Republicans Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, and Jeb Bush campaigned alongside Rick Scott. Even Paul Ryan (and certainly his widow's peak) made an appearance for a fundraiser for candidates in safely Republican congressional districts.
Still, the political leaning of Florida's state-level politicians doesn't necessarily dictate the state's presidential voting trends. A Democrat has not been governor of the state since 1999, but the state has elected two Democrats and two Republicans to the White House during that time.
As of 2014, the Republicans controlled the Florida House of Representatives and the Senate by a healthy margin. But two years ago they voted in a Democratic president to office. This year, 17 of the 27 districts voted for Republicans as their U.S. Representatives.
But even while the state house is firmly red, the paradoxes of Florida's politics makes it impossible to tell which way the state will lean based on its midterm races. But you can bet that the candidates are going to make sure that the Floridians are in their corner two years from now.
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