For a county expected to go all in for Donald Trump, the results of a district-wide election held Tuesday in Flagler County schools may be a surprise: Hillary Clinton beat Trump by a 74-vote margin, out of 6,406 votes cast, or by 1 percentage point. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, got 5.6 percent, Jill Stein of the Green Party got 3 percent, and two others, from the Constitution and Reform parties, got nearly 4 percent between them.
The Supervisor of Elections conducted the election, with all students in grades four and up eligible to vote. Students got a registration card and a voter ID, so they’d know that they must be eligible to vote, though they did so with the equivalent of same-day registration: a right offered only in 13 states and the District of Columbia, where turnout tends to be higher because of it. In Florida, voters must register a month or longer ahead of the election in which they wish to vote, though this year they got an extra week because of Hurricane Matthew.
Voters in Flagler schools got an “I Voted Today” sticker after casting their vote, as do adults 18 and older who do vote in the regular process. Older voters have been voting early in Flagler since Oct. 24, and for a week or two before that for those voting by mail.
Flagler’s results track closely with the results of a poll released earlier today that projects Florida giving Clinton a 1-point advantage, though in Florida as a whole, Clinton carried the student election 59-32, and she carried the national election with 57 percent of the vote, in elections organized just as they were in Flagler. National and state-by-state results were tabulated by Newslea, the web-based reading comprehension organization that provides students and educators news-based reading materials calibrated to different reading levels.
More than 384,000 students took part in the mock election nationally. Clinton won most swing states, as current polls project her to do, but Trump maintained his hold on Ohio and Utah. Clinton also, curiously, won Republican strongholds such as Texas, Georgia and South Carolina. Younger students overwhelming picked Clinton. It was a much closer race among high school students.
As in national polls, white voters were for Trump while minority students were much more in favor of Clinton mirroring current polls.
In Flagler (as across the state), Trump’s core voters tend to be concentrated among the whiter, older, generally retired segments of the population, with younger families with children tending to lean more Clinton’s way, though those younger family members vote less frequently than their older neighbors. When weighed to take those demographics into account, the closeness of the vote in Flagler schools is less favorable to Clinton than it appears. If children’s votes are a mirror of their parents’, then Clinton’s apparent good showing among working-age families–and families that reflect the racial make-up of the county–would not be nearly enough to compensate for the older, retired, childless vote, which Trump commands. Clinton’s weak showing, in other words, presages a sizable victory for Trump in Flagler. But it’s a different story in the rest of the state.