ORLANDO, Fla. – As the presidential candidates continue their campaigns across the country, the Sunshine State is clearly their highest priority.
Over the past month, both President Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden have regularly made stops in Florida hoping to swing undecided voters in the nation’s largest swing state.
With its 29 electoral college votes, winning Florida is paramount for the presidential hopefuls. After President Barack Obama won Florida in 2008 and 2012, President Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by 1.2 percent in 2016. News 6 political expert Dr. Jim Clark told anchor Justin Warmoth on “The Weekly on ClickOrlando.com” the president needs a repeat performance if he wants to be re-elected.
“The last Republican to win the White House without winning Florida was Calvin Coolidge in 1924,” Clark said. “It’s been almost a century since that’s happened.”
To win Florida, history tells us you must win the I-4 corridor -- a stretch of seven counties from Daytona Beach to St. Petersburg.
“There are 67 counties in Florida, and I can tell you right now how 62 of them are going to vote,” Clark said. “Since 1996, whoever won four the seven counties along the I-4 corridor got to go to the White House. It’s as simple as that.”
Two counties in particular are receiving the most attention: Pinellas and Seminole. President Trump won them both in 2016, but they both flipped blue during the 2018 midterm election, and Biden supporters believe he’ll be the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Seminole since Harry Truman in 1948.
“That’s why when President Trump recovered from the virus his first stop was Seminole County,” Clark said. “He, Joe Biden, everyone knows the importance of Seminole.”
According to the latest voter registration numbers from the state, Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 183,000 registered voters, but it’s Florida’s 3.6 million NPA voters who Clark believes will be the difference.
“The NPA vote went for Donald Trump four years ago and broke slightly with Obama eight and twelve years ago” Clark said. “They’re going to decide the election.”
While the presidential election has the most attention, there are many down-ballot races that have huge implications at the federal and state levels.
“The one that’s caught the attention of everyone, even on the national level, is the Seminole County state Senate race to replace David Simmons,” Clark said. “This has become a very expensive race and it’ll probably be the most expensive state Senate races on record. If the Republicans lose control of the state Senate, they’re really in trouble.”
The two candidates squaring off in the race for Florida Senate District 9 are Patricia Sigman (D) and Jason Brodeur (R).
Watch the full interview Sunday at 7:30 a.m. on News 6.