By Taniel Shant
The Boca Raton Tribune
Without question, the 2016 Election was historic and unprecedented at almost every level in practically every state. From the Electoral College to Florida, and from Palm Beach County to Boca Raton, the following analysis of precinct data, as certified by the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections, and the State of Florida Division of Elections, reveals some very noteworthy and record-breaking results. It begins with statewide results for President and Senate, followed by voting results in Palm Beach County, and the City of Boca Raton.
As we know, Donald Trump is now the President, but how well did he really do statewide and in Palm Beach County? How did Floridians vote overall, in Palm Beach County, and in the City of Boca Raton in particular?
In Florida, Donald Trump defeated Hilary Clinton by 119,770 votes, 49.1% to Clinton’s 47.8%. With over 9 million votes cast statewide, overall turnout (not just President) in Florida was 74.48%, almost 20% higher than the national average of 55%, in the 2016 general election. There are many reasons why Trump defeated Clinton, in Florida and across the U.S. Depending on who you ask, the outcome can be attributed to a variety of factors, such as decreased turnout of African-Americans and Hispanics, who showed up to vote for Obama in 2008 and 2012, but who stayed home for Clinton in 2016. Meanwhile, the Republican Party of Florida invested heavily in a grassroots strategy that helped propel Trump. Another factor is the unpopularity of both major party nominees, as evidenced by third-party Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson’s 2.2% share of the electorate in Florida, up from 0.5% in 2012.
Meanwhile, in the Florida Senate contest, incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) defeated Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL), 52% to 44.3%. Although more ballots were cast for President than for Senate in Florida, Rubio received more votes than Trump in the Sunshine State; 4,835,191 votes for Rubio, to 4,605,515 votes for Trump, a difference of 229,676 votes. As such, Rubio received more votes than any statewide candidate ever in Florida history. Rubio also becomes the first Republican Senator in Florida to win re-election in a presidential election year.
In total, over 3.4 million registered voters in Florida did not vote for President, approximately 27%.
PALM BEACH COUNTY
What we saw play out at the state level was similar in Democrat-heavy Palm Beach County. Voters here should be pleased to know that our turnout was 74.58%, slightly higher than the state. Clinton received 55.7% of the vote in Palm Beach County, compared to 40.5% for Trump. Interestingly, support for both Clinton and Trump was less than it was for Obama and Romney in 2012, who received 58.21% and 41.18%, respectively. Again, both Trump and Clinton were deeply unpopular with Palm Beach County voters, so much so that Libertarian Gary Johnson received almost 5X the vote he received in 2012.
As expected, Murphy outperformed Rubio in Palm Beach County. However, Senator Rubio received over 15,000 more votes in Palm Beach County than Donald Trump. Another interesting statistic is the surge of Early Voting. Approximately 36% of all votes in Palm Beach County were cast during twelve days of Early Voting.
In total, 229,171 registered voters in Palm Beach County stayed home, and did not vote, about 25%.
CITY OF BOCA RATON
In the 2016 general election, the City of Boca Raton consisted of 37 precincts. Although Clinton won 20 precincts, Donald Trump actually won Boca Raton with 48.1% to Clinton’s 47.9%, a difference of 98 votes.
In total, turnout in the City of Boca Raton was 77.2%, while 14,545 registered voters did not vote
In the end, the 2016 general election was wild rollercoaster ride. Records were broken, history was made, and the pieces of the political chessboard were moved around across the nation, in the Sunshine State, and in our county. No doubt, it is time for our elected officials to govern, and get to work on behalf of the people. While there is much to be proud of as Floridians, and especially as citizens of Palm Beach County, there is a lot of work left to be done to expand voter access and information, introduce new technologies, increase voter turnout, and make voting more efficient and accurate.
PALM BEACH COUNTY COMMISSION DISTRICT 5
In my race for County Commission District 5 (West Boca Raton, West Boynton Beach, West Delray Beach), I fell short of my goal, with 36% of the vote. However, the 36,930 votes I did receive were the most for a Republican ever in this seat. Additionally, I raised over $50,000, the most for a Republican ever in this seat. I also won my home precinct on Election Day, and 12 overall, again the most for a Republican ever in this seat. While my opponent clearly won, her share of the electorate was actually 5% less than when she ran in 2012, despite a 9% increase in registered voters. I was able to outperform my party and break some records, prompting the Palm Beach Post to recognize the “strong turnout” for my candidacy, and I am proud of the campaign that my team and I ran.
At the end of the day, I congratulated my opponent on her re-election. This was my first run for public office. Although I was up against extremely high odds – a Democrat incumbent in a “safe” Democrat seat who raised 2.5X times what I raised – it was important to me that my first race be in the district and community in which I was raised. As I stated throughout the campaign, West Boca has been my home since 1984. Public service is about giving back to your community and helping people, and I feel that it is important that those who do run, do so first in their home communities. I met so many wonderful people in this process, and I learned a lot about the people in District 5; their concerns, the challenges families and small businesses face, and how government can improve lives. It is an experience I will carry with me forever and I am truly grateful to have had the support of so many people in my home community.
An edited version of this article originally appeared in The Boca Raton Tribune.
Taniel Shant is a resident of suburban Boca Raton, and former candidate for Palm Beach County Commission District 5. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Florida Atlantic University and Master’s Degree in Political Management from The George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management. You can follow him on Twitter @TanielShant.