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Trump Is Victorious In Florida, Picks Up The Battleground State

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We're going to take a look at two of the most important states that were called last night by The Associated Press. In a moment, we'll go to Arizona, but we start in Florida, a state that always is at play in presidential races. Both candidates visited Florida many times during the campaign, and it was a state Democrats were hoping to win back. That did not happen.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We won states that we weren't expected to win. Florida - we didn't win it, we won it by a lot.

(CHEERING)

MARTIN: Which is true. President Trump did secure a significant win there with his conservative base turning out big time. NPR's Debbie Elliott is in Tallahassee, Floridus (ph) - Florida for us. I will get the words out. Good morning, Debbie.

DEBBIE ELLIOTT, BYLINE: (Laughter) Good morning. Hang in there.

MARTIN: Long night. OK, so it was a big win, not just for the president in Florida but the whole Republican Party in the state, right?

ELLIOTT: Right. And some of the GOP operatives I spoke with are already arguing that Florida is moving out of battleground territory and more into that reliably red column for the long term. The party already had both U.S. Senate seats and all but one statewide elected office. New gains yesterday include two South Florida congressional seats that were flipped from Democratic control, notably the one held by Representative Donna Shalala, a Democrat and former health secretary in the Clinton administration who lost to Republican Maria Elvira Salazar.

MARTIN: So what did you notice in terms of trends among voters, Debbie?

ELLIOTT: Well, one thing is Trump deepened his support in his adopted home state from four years ago. Former Vice President Joe Biden had been hoping to sort of peel away, maybe, some of the older voters in Florida, but he just wasn't able to carve out a Democratic coalition that was big enough to compete with Trump's strength and the enthusiasm of his supporters. You know, it seems like just about every weekend leading up to this election, there was some sort of Trump boat parade or a golf cart caravan somewhere in Florida. He not only turned out his conservative base in places like the Florida Panhandle, but he showed some strength in South Florida, Miami-Dade County, for instance, making inroads in particular with Latino voters. Trump had been reaching out to Cuban-Americans and other groups, warning them of the spread of socialism in the U.S. Here in Tallahassee, I spoke with Trump voter Ramon Mari (ph), a naturalized citizen from Colombia. He says his mother is from Venezuela, and he worries that there are factions trying to pull America apart and put it on a similar path.

RAMON MARI: It troubles me, having come from another country and having come to the land of the free and where most everyone wanted to create their opportunities.

ELLIOTT: Now, every Trump supporter I spoke with talked about economic opportunity as a driving factor on how they voted.

MARTIN: So for much of the day yesterday, there was this uncertainty about how Florida would go. Then it was called, but now we're all waiting to figure out who won nationally. I mean, as you've talked to Floridians, how do they feel about the unresolved nature of the national election?

ELLIOTT: Well, here's what Evan Power told me, who's the chair of the Leon County Republican Party here in Tallahassee.

EVAN POWER: We've been through a lot as a country. I think we can withstand it. It's just the greatness of the American republic that we're going to solve this with lawyers and not with having a revolution and having people shooting people in the streets. It's going to be a peaceful transfer of power and resolution through the court system.

ELLIOTT: And you know, Rachel, Florida's been there before...

MARTIN: Yes, indeed.

ELLIOTT: ...20 years ago. We'll see what happens now.

MARTIN: NPR's Debbie Elliott in Tallahassee. Thanks, Deb.

ELLIOTT: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.