Why has the Sunshine State been so important in recent presidential elections? And why do the election results in Florida “paint a new picture of America”?
As I’ve done lately, I’m starting out not knowing the answer but rather, as best I can, following the truth by way of data and reason. Certainly the data could be corrupted and my reason flawed. But as I spoke about yesterday on my Periscope broadcast, if people make decisions based on emotion, then there’s no baseline to provide context for the mistake.
With data and reason, if we make a mistake at least there’s a foundation to return to, so we can assess where we went wrong.
Passion can be helpful, but emotion is like running into a dark forest looking for fireflies without bringing a flashlight. You might see fireflies. Or you might not, and then you’re stuck in the dark without a way to get home.
Many of us who were adults in 1999 remember the doomsday predictions about Earth rounding the corner to the year 2000, like there was a big hairy man with a bowie knife waiting to mug us.
My trauma about the new millennium could be summed up by the following story.
We were living in a rented house in Massachusetts. As New England is wont to be, December can be cold, and our house was heated with an oil burner.
My wife was in Texas with our two sons, and for whatever reason I was up north (Work? Ensuring our house didn’t get incinerated by aliens? Who knows…). Bottom line, I was alone. Also, I grew up in an apartment in New York City that had steam heat, which I never had to worry about. I was a teenager who wanted to drink and chase girls more than be concerned with food, shelter and other survival-related details.
So my wife and I were on the phone watching the ball drop in Times Square and ushering in a new era together.
Around 12:20 AM or so, I told her I was quite cold. I looked at the thermostat. It read 55 degrees.
I called her and said, “Holy shit, honey. I think Y2K has crashed our heat!”
She paused and asked me if I had checked our oil level recently.
I paused and realized I hadn’t. In fact, I hadn’t even known how. Sure enough, I went to the basement and checked. Our oil supply was depleted. December 31, 1999 fell on a Friday, so I would have to wait till Monday to get more oil. Which I did. But I survived to tell the tale.
Why this story?
Because later that year — the same year as aliens incinerating me by invading my house through the oil burner — we had a presidential election. That year was a practice swing before stepping to the plate and getting the high heat of 2020.
The 2000 Presidential Election between George W. Bush (the eventual winner) and Al Gore was decided by humans, none of them trained in psychology or as psychics, divining other humans’ motivation by studying the disposition of small paper rectangles called “chads” on ballots.
Even in this U.S. News & World Report photo I just found, the caption uses the word “divine” related to a voter’s intent. But that’s one of Twain’s “Five-dollar words,” and the 50-cent word is “guess.” These humans were purely guessing about which candidate their fellow humans wanted as their president.
Election results in Florida 2020
We haven’t come to hanging chads, yet there’s still time.
But it would be in a state without a Mar-a-Lago — maybe in Arizona? Maybe Michigan? — because Florida had a decisive knock-out two days ago. A knock-out you’ll recall that was announced only after the defeated foe was taken out of the ring and whisked away in an ambulance.
Donald J. Trump won Florida this year by a margin of 374,500. The referee (#FakeNews) raised his arm when Biden was getting oxygen in his basement.
President Trump’s 2020 victory eclipsed his 112,911-vote win in that state over Hillary Clinton, which reflects 261,589 more voters breaking for the GOP candidate this election over the last one, an increase of more than 300%.
Incidentally, Bush beat Gore in Florida in 2000 by a margin of 537 votes out of six million cast. That’s 0.009% of the total. The chad-checkers’ divination sharpened that race to the tip of a pin to where an angel was dancing alone.
A picture composed of 261,589 brush strokes
That’s the difference of votes Trump got this year versus 2016.
What does this tell us?
First, that polls are unmitigated bullshit. Reuters released a poll five days before the election that claimed Biden was leading Trump by 49% to 47%. Obviously when you want to paint a picture and use polls to do so, you’re going to wind up with finger-painting done by a child with no hands.
Second, massive crowds showed up everywhere in the country to see Trump. No crowd appeared to be less than 10,000 except where the venue required a smaller one. Even my looking for evidence to the contrary ended up with that article above…the unmitigated bullshit article, which talked about photos lied about the candidate’s different crowds. Anyone with even one eye or one ear could see and hear the difference.
Polls like Reuters hang out in the same gin-soaked bar with the AP, New York Times, and cable news, all fighting over the week-old beer nuts.
So: polls are bullshit and you can’t paint with them. And consistently large crowds, at some point, form a critical mass. We can’t un-see them.
Finally, while Trump lost some white male voters since 2016, he picked up significant numbers of other groups: namely, black voters, latinos, inactive voters, and new voters. (We’ll detail this in the days to come.)
Then there’s Miami-Dade County, key to a Florida win. The impact this county made on the election reflects the brush strokes of a new American portrait:
- As of August 31, 2020, Miami-Dade had 1.5 million registered voters, 11% of the state’s 14 million registered voters. If a candidate has to choose where to campaign, it would be in the most-populous county of the 67: Miami-Dade.
- Biden beat Trump by 53% to 46% (source: MiamiDade.gov) here.
- Sounds bad, huh?
- In 2016, however, Clinton beat Trump handily here 64% to 34%. Biden’s win hemorrhaged 11 points over Hillary’s win in that county.
- What changed?
- Cubans and Puerto Ricans constitute 56% of eligible Latino voters in Florida, and Latinos make up 17% of the state’s electorate (source: Pew Research).
- Trump has been campaigning against socialism, which resonates with anyone who’s lived in Cuba over the last half-century. In a future article, we’ll unpack some of the specific motivations of these voters breaking for Trump.
- My divination is that many more latinos, among other groups, broke for Trump in 2020.
In sum, the new portrait of America is a portrait of the Republican Party on November 4, 2020. The Party is multi-racial — more blacks and latinos than ever before — and is the party of the working class. (See the bubble diagram map of donations to the two major candidates. It clearly shows that military and law enforcement, as well as homemakers and trade workers, are solidly in the Trump camp. Source: Bloomberg)
I don’t believe it’s pollyannaish to say that the positive outcome of this election is that Trump has pulled back the veil on how the U.S. government and our politics have worked for longer perhaps than most of us have been alive, and now those people who are “woke” to the state of our country are uniting to defend the Constitution and make America truly the land of opportunity for all citizens.
E Pluribus Unum.