Despite general elections being eight months away, the 2016 presidential election cycle has already been the craziest in recent memory. On March 15, Florida will get its say in the chaos, as the state holds its presidential preference primary election.
According to the Duval County Supervisor of Elections’ records, of the over 12 million registered voters in Florida, 549,872 (or 4.6%) live in Jacksonville. The city, therefore, makes up a relatively large portion of the vote in the state.
Of the city’s registered voters, 431,542 are registered as either Republicans or Democrats, and therefore will be eligible to vote in the Florida primary. Voters who are registered under a third party, or listed as non-party-affiliated, are ineligible for voting in the primary election; those who qualify can only vote within their own party.
One huge question remains when factoring in Jacksonville’s potential impact in the primary: how many of those 431,542 voters will actually show up?
Back in 2008, the last time both parties held primary elections, only 35.99% of registered voters showed up to the polls. In 2012, 45.01% of registered Republicans voted in their party’s primary.
So, if Jacksonville voters do show up, what results can be expected? Of the city’s voters, 41% are Democrats and 37.3% are Republicans.
On the Democrats’ side, the numbers in Jacksonville would seem to favor a victory for Hillary Clinton. Sen. Bernie Sanders has struggled to win among African-American voters, and 55% of Duval County’s registered Democrats are black. Furthermore, Clinton earned around 33% of the vote in the 2008 Florida primary, coming in second to President Barack Obama, and therefore already has an established base of supporters in the area. That being said, a victory for Sanders is certainly not out of the question; Jacksonville’s growing population of young professionals could give a boost to Sanders, who thrives among such voters.
On the Republicans’ side, Sen. Marco Rubio would seem to be the likely winner in Jacksonville. Mayor Lenny Curry recently endorsed Rubio, and the Florida senator is seen as having a home-field advantage throughout the state. Donald Trump, however, could challenge Rubio. A Trump campaign stop at the Jacksonville Landing last fall drew a crowd of thousands, and there remains a dwindling demographic of Jacksonville residents that hangs onto Deep South views that could line up with Trump’s immigration policies.
Regardless of who Jacksonville voters choose, their impact will ultimately be decided by how many of those voters show up to the polls. While the city accounts for 4.6% of registered voters in Florida, it can easily account for either more or less of actual primary voters depending upon voter turnout.
No matter who you’re supporting in the Florida primary, it is extremely important that you vote and help insure that the city’s voice is heard!
To find your voting location and find out more, visit the Duval County Supervisor of Elections website.