WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has won Florida, a crucial victory for his campaign, while still leaving some open paths to the presidency for former vice president Joe Biden.
Decision Desk HQ made the call just after 8 p.m. ET Tuesday. The state has 29 electoral votes.
Florida has been one of the most closely watched states in recent presidential elections, and it’s a major win for the Trump campaign. Had Biden won the state, it would have closed off the president’s best paths to reelection.
Many of the remaining paths to victory for both candidates, however, run through states that will likely take several more days to determine a winner, like Pennsylvania and states in the Upper Midwest.
Biden held a slight polling lead in Florida ahead of Election Day, but it was small enough in most polls to fall within a normal margin of error. Both campaigns focused on the state in the last days of the race, with the two candidates making dueling appearances in Tampa last week.
Many voters in the state voted early: As of last Thursday, according to the United States Election Project, more than 7.3 million voters had already cast their ballots in Florida, making up about three-quarters of the share of votes cast in the state in 2016.
Trump’s Tampa appearance was typical of his late rallies, focused on personal attacks and downplaying the coronavirus pandemic. He also attacked Biden’s plan to handle the pandemic, telling the crowd in Florida — which saw one of the worst outbreaks in the country as Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis refused to close down bars, restaurants, and other public venues — that the former vice president wanted to deliver “punishing lockdowns” as president.
At a drive-in rally later the same day, Biden told his own crowd, “This election is the most important one you’ve ever voted in. … The heart and soul of this country’s at stake right here in Florida.”
He told attendees that he would not, as Trump said, lock down the country. “I’m not going to shut down the economy. I’m not going to shut down the country,” Biden said, adding, “but I am going to shut down the virus.”
It’s important to be patient and cautious as vote-counting continues across the country. Because of the president’s baseless attacks on mail-in voting in recent months, it’s likely that in-person votes, which will be counted more quickly, will break for Trump, resulting in what one political data firm has called a “red mirage.” (Polling has consistently shown Republican voters prefer to vote in person on Election Day by a giant margin relative to Democrats.) But Biden could still overcome the president’s lead as mail-in votes begin to be more comprehensively reported.