Donald Trump’s hopes for a successful re-election bid in 2020 may be in jeopardy after population surges altered the voter landscape in three battleground states that are poised to play a large role in the next presidential election.
According to new data by the U.S. Census Bureau, states such as Arizona and Nevada are likely to become true 2020 swing states after experiencing hefty demographic shifts over the past year, while Florida’s position in the next election becomes increasingly unclear following historic Republican turnout in the midterm elections.
Nevada, a state Trump narrowly lost to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, could become even more difficult for the president to win after the state recorded the greatest population growth in the country between 2017 and 2018. Nevada’s population grew by just over 2 percent, tying Idaho for being the nation’s fastest-growing states.
Nevada leans Democratic and has one of the fastest-growing Latino populations in the West, a demographic that Trump struggled to gain support from in 2016. Two years ago, Clinton clinched the state by more than 2 percentage points, and in 2012 former President Barack Obama won the state by nearly 7 percentage points.
Arizona’s population growth ranked fourth in the nation this past year, growing 1.7 percent. Trump won the state by nearly 4 percentage points in 2016, but there are already signs that the traditionally red state is becoming bluer. In the 2018 midterms, Arizona elected its first Democratic senator in over three decades, Kyrsten Sinema, despite Trump’s endorsement of Republican candidate Martha McSally.
Arizona also has more Electoral College votes than Nevada, making it a potentially more dangerous loss for Trump come 2020.
Florida trails both Arizona and Nevada in terms of population growth, but it did have more U.S. residents move there than any other state over the past year. Of the people who moved to Florida in the past year, 132,000 came from elsewhere in the country, and the state ranked second in terms of total new residents.
A notorious swing state, Florida went to Trump in 2016 by just over 1 percentage point, while in 2012 the state favored Democrats and was won by Obama by 0.9 percentage points. But this midterm election cycle saw a historic turnout for Republicans in Florida, which could signify that the state is shifting toward the right.
Florida’s outgoing GOP chairman, Blaise Ingoglia, attributed the high party turnout in November to the growing number of retirees moving to the state from the Midwest and Northeast.
“The more older, white voters who move here from higher-tax, higher-regulation states, the more we win,” Ingoglia told Politico for a report published Thursday.
Democrats are not completely demoralized in Florida, however, after candidates like Andrew Gillum and Bill Nelson both sparked recounts in some of the most highly watched races of the midterms.
Along with state demographic changes, the country as a whole saw shifts in the voting-age population. Over the past year, the amount of U.S. residents who are 18 years or older increased by about 1 percent.
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