By Ben Wolfgang – The Washington Times
Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in Florida on Tuesday night, capturing one of the biggest prizes of the 2016 race and handing a massive defeat to the Democratic ticket.
With the win, the billionaire nets 29 electoral votes and dramatically increases his chances of winning the presidency.
The Associated Press called the race for Mr. Trump just before 11 p.m. With 95 percent of the vote in, Mr. Trump had 49.2 percent of the vote to 47.7 percent for the former first lady.
One of the biggest prizes of the 2016 cycle and the site of the infamous 2000 recount that made the state synonymous with the term “battleground,” Florida has been tight throughout the race.
The most recent Real Clear Politics average of all polls gave Mr. Trump a minuscule 0.4-point edge over Mrs. Clinton, though the two candidates have traded leads in dozens of surveys over the past several months.
Both Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton held dozens of campaign rallies in the Sunshine State, barnstorming key counties underscoring each campaign’s realization that their path to the White House would be dramatically easier with a victory in Florida.
The state has routinely swung back and forth between Republicans and Democrats. President Obama captured the state in both 2008 and 2012, but former President George W. Bush also won the state twice, defeating then-Sen. John Kerry in 2004 and besting Al Gore by only a few hundred votes in 2000.
Mrs. Clinton brought Mr. Gore out of political retirement last month to campaign in Florida, and the former vice president — now a leading climate-change activist — told voters that he knows first hand how every vote matters.
“Your vote really, really, really counts. A lot. You can consider me exhibit A of that truth,” he told a Miami crowd Oct. 11.
Former President Bill Clinton won the state in 1996 but lost it to then-President George H.W. Bush in 1992.