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History shows Florida could be the big electoral state to flip in 2016

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If history is any indication, Florida could be the major player in choosing the next president.

With some of the largest votes in the Electoral College, Florida is poised to shake up the political map in 2016, according to the folks at Smart Politics.

In 44 of 46 elections since 1832, at least one state with more than 10 Electoral College votes flipped from the previous cycle; an average of 5.5 of those elector-rich states flipped per cycle.

The particular dynamics of next year’s presidential election cycle points to a minimum of one state flipping parties in the election cycle. Of those with 20 or more votes, a switch happened in 35 elections.

As both parties look throughout the country for opportunities to flip from red to blue – and vice versa — much of the political focus will naturally turn to Florida, one of the nation’s biggest electoral states, with 29 electoral votes.

In 2016, with no incumbent or repeat challenger on the presidential ballot, Smart Politics researchers expect a shake-up of the 2012 electoral map – to some degree – where Barack Obama won re-election with 332 electoral votes over 26 states and the District of Columbia.

Single digits decided 15 states in 2012, of which 11 had moderate to high Electoral College votes (more than 10): Obama won Florida (29), Pennsylvania (20), Ohio (18), Michigan (16), Virginia (13), Minnesota (10), and Wisconsin (10).

Mitt Romney took Georgia (16), North Carolina (15), Arizona (11), and Missouri (10) by the same.

Romney managed to turn two states with double-digit electoral votes from Obama — North Carolina (15) and Indiana (11).

It is nearly impossible to predict exactly which states will flip in 2016, Smart Politics says. And as the presidential campaigns begin to heat up, it is virtually certain that at least one – possibly more – will do so.

Only two cycles — 1908 and 2004 — had no moderate to heavily populated states switch parties.

With the largest state to flip each cycle over time, New York tops the list with the most significant cycle-to-cycle switch in the presidential vote — 22 of the past 46 elections. Florida swapped in three (1996, 2000, 2008), Missouri in three (1864 (tie), 1904, 1956), Ohio in three (1836, 1920, 1944), Pennsylvania in two (1860, 1936), and Iowa (2004), Georgia (1984), Illinois (1952), Michigan (1940), Nebraska (1908), North Carolina (2012), Texas (1928), and Wisconsin (1924 (tie)) in one cycle each.

History proves turning big-ticket states is a winning electoral strategy. Since 1832, Smart Politics found that a presidential candidate who carries the largest “flipped state” wins 70 percent of the time (totaling 32 cycles), counting 12 of the last 14 electoral cycles since 1960.

When the largest flipped state is 25 or higher – like Florida — the winning presidential candidate won 78 percent of the time, carrying the largest state in 25 of 32 cycles.

Offering two leading presidential hopefuls  – former Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio – all signs point to Florida as the center of an active, and interesting, 2016.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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