Op-Ed: Why Florida Will Flip in 2020
By Ali Bin Zahid
I will be closely watching three counties in Florida, on Nov. 3. I believe that these will set the tone for the entire state, as well as the rest of the night. It is no surprise that both campaigns have started to spend a lot of time in Florida. In addition to Trump and Biden themselves, the state has also seen recent appearances made by both Vice Presidential candidates, as well as former President Barack Obama. As has been the case in many elections, Florida will be key in 2020.
Since the Florida Democratic Party focused all its resources on the main urban centers, such as Miami, Tampa, and Orlando, it was left to grassroots organizers to devise a viable plan in getting out the vote in other regions.
After studying all 67 counties in Florida, I identified Duval, Pinellas, and Seminole as the ones to watch. Muslims for Biden, in collaboration with Muslim Delegates and Allies, immediately mobilized our volunteers in these counties. Over the last couple of months, we have held dozens of community events and virtual outreach programs, with prominent guest speakers, including political activists, House Representatives, and US Senators. In fact, our group is the only one on the Biden campaign hosting daily phone banking events in these counties and has already reached out to thousands of voters.
Duval county, home to the most populous city in Florida, has voted Republican in every election since 1980. But with a large African American population of 30%, most of whom are flocking to support Biden, all signs are pointing to him doing really well here.
For the past 40 years, Pinellas county has been very accurate in predicting the eventual winner of the Presidential election (the rare exception being 2000). In order to win this county, Biden would need to better Hillary Clinton’s numbers in precincts covering Clearwater and Palm Harbor where she won around 40% of the vote – something that he is expected to do.
The real headline would be if Seminole, the most diverse of the three counties, turns blue for the first time in 70 years. This county is home to one of the largest percentages of registered Muslim voters in Florida and that – coupled with its growing Hispanic and college educated population – could be enough for Biden to win.
There are a few more days of early voting left, but in all three counties, the Democrat turnout for early voting, especially amongst young voters, has comfortably exceeded 2016 numbers, with 100,000 mail-in ballots yet to be returned. This is the clearest indication yet that these counties are ready for change.