TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – As he defeated Democrat Joe Biden in Florida, President Donald Trump on Tuesday used a familiar Republican playbook for statewide races: Dominate in rural and mid-sized counties and try to hold down losses in urban areas.
But Trump also was bolstered by a strong showing in Miami-Dade County, where support from Cuban-Americans and other Hispanics helped prevent Biden from running up large margins in the Democrat-rich county.
Trump defeated Biden in 55 of the state’s 67 counties, losing only one rural county — Gadsden, west of Tallahassee, unofficial results show. In all, he beat Biden by about 375,000 votes statewide, compared to a nearly 113,000-vote Florida margin over Hillary Clinton in 2016.
A large part of that improvement can be attributed to Miami-Dade, where Biden topped Trump by 84,792 votes, according to the unofficial results. That was down from Clinton’s 290,147-vote margin in Miami-Dade in 2016.
Biden also won by slightly smaller margins than Clinton in Democrat-heavy Broward and Palm Beach counties, but he won by larger margins in Orange and Hillsborough counties. In addition, the Democrat won by relatively small margins in Duval and Pinellas, which both were carried by Trump in 2016. The only other county that flipped to Biden was Seminole, where he won by 7,178 votes.
But along with improving his performance in Miami-Dade, Trump relied on the GOP’s longstanding dominance in regions such as Southwest Florida, Northeast Florida and Northwest Florida and cleaned up in other huge swaths of the state. Consider this: Biden won in only four counties north of Orlando — Alachua, Duval, Gadsden and Leon.
Collier County, a Republican stronghold, had the highest turnout in the state at 90.25 percent and went for Trump by a margin of 51,291 votes. More broadly, the Southwest Florida coastal counties of Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota and Manatee went to Trump by a combined 220,551 votes, according to the unofficial results.
Though Biden topped Trump by 18,096 votes in Duval County, the rest of Northeast Florida went to Trump by large margins. For example, Trump won by about 130,000 votes in Baker, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns counties, the four counties that surround Duval.
The picture was similar in the Panhandle. Trump won by a margin of about 184,000 votes in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton and Bay counties — roughly the area stretching from Pensacola to Panama City.
North of Tampa, meanwhile, Trump won by a combined 131,632 votes in Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties.
And in Sumter County, where Trump campaigned in the massive Villages retirement community, turnout was nearly 88 percent, and the Republican won by a margin of 33,427 votes, according to the unofficial results. The results were similar in neighboring Marion and Lake counties, where Trump won by a combined total of 95,356 votes.
(©2020 CBS Local Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service of Florida’s Jim Saunders contributed to this report.)