Chamber Forum: 2020 presidential race goes through Florida

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That takeaway has become political canon, but 2020 adds some interesting wrinkles

Florida could be deciding factor in whether Donald Trump wins a second term or is replaced by one of the many Democrats running for President.

That takeaway has become political canon in modern presidential elections — Florida has voted for the winning presidential candidate in every election since 1996. And in 1992, the only time the state got it wrong since 1964, the election was decided by less than two percentage points.

Still, the point was the subject of a deep dive during a panel at the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s 2019 Future of Florida Forum.

The 2020 elections will be consequential for Florida no matter how it votes at the top of the ticket, said Florida Chamber Executive Vice President David Hart.

In addition to President, Floridians will be picking new lawmakers in 7 open state Senate districts and 25 open state House districts.

“The balance of power in the Senate will be decided by two seats. The Republican Party will still hold the majority, but the only two races in play are held by Republicans,” said Florida Chamber Campaigns & Elections director Andrew Wiggins, referring to Orlando’s Senate District 9 and Miami-Dade’s Senate District 39.

Of the two, Hart said SD 39 is at the higher risk of a flip. In that race, Republican Rep. Ana Maria Rodriguez is the favorite for the Republican nomination while state Rep. Javier Fernandez is currently the only Democrat signed up to run.

The Florida congressional delegation could also get a shake-up, most notably in Florida’s 15th Congressional District, where incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Ross Spano is being challenged by Democratic state Rep. Adam Hattersly.

A possible game changer that’s often overlooked: Northwest Florida.

The region voted heavily for Trump in 2016, but it may not be as big of a factor in 2020.

“How many people have left the Panhandle since Hurricane Michael?” Florida Chamber Political Program adviser Joe Clements asked, adding that the post-Michael recovery could be key next year.

With the 2016 presidential election decided by just over 100,000 votes, a substantial exodus from the deep-red region could have impacts on 2020 results from top to bottom — in addition to the presidential and state legislative races, constitutional amendments to open partisan primaries, raise the minimum wage and outlaw assault weapons ballots could all make the ballot.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.

One comment

  • D-U-M-P T-R-U-M-P !!!

    October 28, 2019 at 1:26 pm

    It’s pretty simple. Is the majority of voters in this country made up of the type of slavish and puerile goombahs one sees at Trump pep rallies – or is the majority of voters in this country smarter, better informed, more reasonable, more responsible, and more committed to better and more democratic governance in this country?

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