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SWFL impact on the 2016 presidential election

Posted at 12:09 AM, Oct 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-16 00:09:36-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Ahead of President Donald Trump’s visit to Fort Myers Friday, we took a look into the role Southwest Florida played in the president’s 2016 victory.

And what impact will his visit to the City of Palms could have in the 2020 election?

Administration officials say the president will give a speech at the Caloosa Sound Convention Center at 1:30 pm.

With Southwest Florida being heavily Republican, Dr. Peter Bergerson, a political science professor at Florida Gulf Coast University, says it played a major role in President Trump’s 2016 victory.

“The question in 2016 was, as it will be in this election, is the turnout factor and the significance of having a large turnout,” said Bergerson.

While major counties like Miami-Dade and Broward heavily favored Hillary Clinton in 2016, voters in other counties like Lee and Collier offset votes in President Trump’s favor.

In Lee County, President Trump won by 66,416 votes, while in Collier County, he was ahead by 44,356, and in Charlotte County by just under 27,000.

Bergerson believes the president's visit to Fort Myers is a turnout strategy for this election.

“It’s not necessarily winning or losing; it’s to boost the numbers of those who vote because many do tend to be Republican,” said Bergerson.

White House officials confirm President Trump’s White House visit will focus on his efforts to protect seniors' well-being — a key demographic of Southwest Florida.

President Trump will talk about his administration's action to strengthen medicare and social security and lower healthcare.

“It’s a very important voting bloc, a voting bloc that in 2016 was very supportive of President Trump,” said Bergerson.

Bergerson says the polls this time around don’t seem to be quite so favorable with the senior population.

A recent CNN poll showed former Vice President Joe Biden up by 21 points among voters 65 and older.

“I think, yeah, he’s coming here to reassure them of his agenda for senior citizens,” said Bergerson.

The event is not open to the public, and 400 guests will attend.