With 29 electoral votes, Florida will be one of the most highly-coveted states for President Donald Trump and whoever the Democratic Party nominates.
In 2016, Republicans saw four counties transition from supporting President Barack Obama to supporting then-candidate Trump. Those counties were Jefferson, Monroe, Pinellas and St. Lucie Counties. In addition to those four flips, one county barely maintained its “red” status: Duval County, the home of Jacksonville and a traditional GOP stronghold. Democrats continue to look at Duval County since former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum narrowly defeated Republican Ron DeSantis there in last year’s gubernatorial race.
In 2016, Trump edged out Hillary Clinton among Duval County voters by a margin of 49 percent to 47.5 percent, with Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson taking 2.6 percent of the vote. Voters under 35 could be key on the First Coast. Jacksonville’s recent influx of younger workers in tech industry careers could make these voters crucial in the 2020 election which could tip the state and ultimately, the nation, against a Trump reelection.
Carrying Duval County will require a lot of work if former Vice President Joe Biden remains the frontrunner in the crowded Democratic primary. To date, Biden has failed to gain a large base of support from younger voters. Other challenges could arise outside of the two major parties. While Gary Johnson doesn’t appear to be running in 2020, another third-party candidate could siphon valuable votes from Trump.
Earlier this week, U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., called for Trump’s impeachment. Amash’s impeachment call led to more buzz that Libertarians and some fiscal conservatives will court Amash to make a presidential bid. Other potential candidates that haven’t made formal announcements but could appeal to independent voters include former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and Dallas Mavericks owner and serial entrepreneur Mark Cuban.