An analysis of Flagler County’s precinct-by-precinct vote last November reveals a few surprises, among them how Grand Haven powered incumbent Palm Coast Mayor Milissa Holland to her win in a seemingly close election. The analysis also reveals how Flagler was not so much “Trump Country” as “Staly Country” as the incumbent sheriff won his second term with 70 percent of the vote, with no discernible weaknesses across precincts. It was the highest winning majority of any sheriff in at least a quarter century.
Precinct-by-precinct breakdowns can point to trends or sharp, partisan divides, if they exist–as they do when electoral numbers are analyzed on a more county-by-county basis, and of course on a state-by-state basis. In the last decade or so, as a New York Times analysis published today suggests, partisanship has reached the neighborhood level, with more people of like minds clustering together. “Democrats and Republicans live apart from each other, down to the neighborhood, to a degree that raises provocative questions about how closely lifestyle preferences have become aligned with politics and how even neighbors may influence one another,” the Times analysis found, with Democrats and Republicans segregated from each other.
Some 180 million voters were included in the analysis, Palm Coast’s and Flagler’s voters not among them. But if a look at Flagler’s precinct-by-precinct numbers reveals clear partisan lines by election results, those seem less pronounced at the precinct level than in larger urban areas, which suggests that partisanship has not yet frayed neighborhood cohesion in Palm Coast, the Hammock and Flagler Beach, where community concerns and debates before elected boards typically transcend politically divisive issues. The pandemic’s debates over masks, civil liberties, vaccines and the like have put a dent in that cohesion, with a few egregious examples, but precincts are not at war with each other. Partisanship is far more pronounced in West Flagler.
While the county is solidly Republican as a whole, voters are less conservative in Palm Coast proper and even less so in the core of the city, but only relative to the county as a whole: Even in Palm Coast’s core it remains almost impossible for a Democrat to win a precinct. No Democratic candidate for any Palm Coast or county races won a single precinct in the 2020 election, anywhere. It’s accurate to say that none even came close. Rather, the races gauged to what extent candidates could draw larger majorities than the standard registration breakdown, which had Republicans at a 44-31 percent advantage over Democrats last October in the county, with independents at 26 percent.
By that measure, Sheriff Rick Staly was the clear winner.
Staly’s lowest result was from the 13th and 15th precincts, covering parts of Palm Coast’s P- and R-Sections and areas west of U.S. 1, though even there he received 63 percent of the vote in his second race against former deputy Sgt. Larry Jones. Staly’s results across Palm Coast ranged from the low 60s to low 70s except in Grand Haven, where he lives, and where he got 76 percent. He was at 75 percent in Flagler Beach, between 77 and 79 percent in Bunnell, and 80 percent in West Flagler, where he plans to retire, though he intends to run again in four years.
Incumbent Commissioner Donald O’Brien and former School Board member Andy Dance, elected to the County Commission after a dozen years on the school board, got the most closely comparable numbers, winning their races with better totals than Trump’s (64 percent in O’Brien’s race against Denise Calderwood and Paul Anderson, 63 percent in Dance’;s race against Corinne Hermle). Dance, like Staly, did best outside of Palm Coast, his numbers rising the further away they got from the city limits, including an 81 percent showing in St. Johns Park in West Flagler, and close to 80 percent in Bunnell (Dance”s children attended Bunnell Elementary). His weakest showings never fell below 55 percent. Those came from central Palm Coast, including the R, P and parts of the W and B Sections. O’Brien’s numbers tracked closely with Dance’s, but a few notches ahead in most precincts. His weakest was the Rymfire Elementary area of the R Section, at 56.5 percent.
Trump’s strength was never in doubt: as in 2016, he didn’t lose a single precinct, though in 2016 the R and P Sections came close to going for Clinton. There were some thin margins again this time in the W, P, R and parts of the B Sections in Palm Coast, where Trump’s winning percentage ranged from 53 to 55 percent. But beyond that core, his numbers rose, with north Palm Coast, areas of the Community Center giving him 60 percent or better.
Trump’s result in Grand Haven fell from 2016, when he got 64 percent of the vote there to Clinton’s 33. This time Trump got 62 percent to Biden’s 37, not a significant difference, and more than offset by improvements even in Palm Coast’s core areas, where several precincts (Wadsworth Elementary, Buddy Taylor, the Lutheran Church) had given him barely 50 percent four years ago. The former president’s best showing in November was in west Flagler, at 80 percent, and in Bunnell, where it broke above 70 percent. He was in the mid-60s in Flagler Beach and the Hammock.
The Palm Coast City Council races between Ed Danko and Sims Jones for one seat and incumbent Nick Klufas and Cornelia Manfre for another were not close, nor was the four-way special election for the two-year term left on the seat left open by the resignation of Jack Howell. That seat went to Victor Barbosa, who’s already announced a run for the County Commission, meaning that he’ll serve on the council only two years (he’s required to resign, win or lose in the commission race).
The race for mayor between incumbent Milissa Holland and Alan Lowe was relatively close, though not as close as it appeared on election night. In the end, Holland lost only two of the 16 precincts where the Palm Coast race was contested, winning 53 to 47 percent, with her weakest showing in northwest Palm Coast–the L Section, parts of the B Section and the Matanzas Woods area, perhaps a reflection of the controversy over a residential development in place of the old golf course there. Holland got barely 47 percent of the vote there, and fell 14 votes short of clearing the 50-percent threshold in the eighth precinct, covering Seminole Woods, a neighborhood that’s at times felt left behind by the city.
Holland was also relatively weak in areas of the F-Section, gaining strength elsewhere. But it was in Grand Haven that she vaulted to a more solid victory. She won overall by some 3,000 votes. Half those votes were in Grand Haven, where she beat Lowe by a 65-35 margin, without which her victory would have been much shakier.
The precinct-by-precinct breakdown of winning races is below. The raw data for the 2020 results are here, those of the 2016 races are here.
Flagler County's Precinct-Level Winning Percentages, 2020 Election
|Bunnell City Hall (1)||73.1||61.4||38.1||64.4||64.4||63.0|
|St. Johns Park, Bunnell||68.4||79.8||19.8||80.9||80.1||77.3|
|St. Mary's Church, Bunnell (5)||88.3||73.7||25.4||79.1||75.0||76.5|
|St. Mary's Church, Bunnel (7)||88.8||70.0||29.4||77.3||71.2||74.7|
|Flagler Airport, Palm Coast (8)||76.2||60.8||38.2||70.5||63.3||63.6||49.8||50.2|
|FCAR, SR100, Bunnell (9)||72.8||60.0||39.2||67.7||62.0||62.6|
|Flagler Schools Bldg., SR100 (10)||80.5||57.9||41.1||68.9||60.1||62.6|
|Rymfire Elementary, Palm Coast (11)||73.1||53.9||44.8||63.4||55.3||56.5||53.5||46.5|
|AACS, Palm Coast (13)||75.9||54.7||44.3||62.8||57.5||58.2||53.0||47.0|
|Palm Coast Bible Church, Whiteview Parkway, Palm Coast (14)||77.3||56.8||42.1||66.8||59.5||61.1||51.7||48.3|
|Buddy Taylor Middle, Palm Coast (15)||71.3||53.4||45.7||62.9||55.4||57.1||52.6||47.4|
|Wadsworth Elementary, Palm Coast (16)||72.6||55.7||43.2||66.6||58.1||61.1||53.0||47.0|
|Belle Terre Swim and Racquet, Palm Coast (17)||71.7||56.3||42.9||66.1||58.5||59.8||52.4||47.6|
|Lutheran Church, Palm Coast (18)||79.4||53.1||45.8||65.1||56.1||59.5||55.0||45.0|
|Public Library, Palm Coast Parkway (19)||75.1||54.0||45.0||63.1||57.1||59.4||51.6||48.4|
|Parkview Baptist Church, Palm Coast (20)||76.6||56.1||43.0||65.5||58.6||60.9||52.6||47.5|
|Belle Terre Elementary, Palm Coast (21)||77.4||57.8||41.1||68.0||60.3||60.6||46.6||53.5|
|VFW Post, Palm Coast (23)||78.2||60.8||38.4||71.5||64.0||64.2||50.3||49.7|
|Matanzas High, Palm Coast (24)||80.0||61.4||37.7||72.8||64.6||66.1||51.0||49.0|
|Palm Coast Community Center (27)||80.0||61.1||37.9||72.2||64.1||65.5||53.5||46.5|
|Adult Education, the Hammock (29)||88.8||64.9||34.2||75.0||68.9||70.7|
|Grand Haven, Palm Coast (31)||87.8||62.1||37.1||76.1||66.4||69.0||65.0||35.1|
|Flagler Beach City Hall (33)||84.2||65.1||34.3||75.0||67.7||68.1|
|Flagler Beach Methodist Church (35)||86.4||58.5||40.4||68.9||61.3||63.2|
|Old Kings Elementary, Flagler Beach (37)||85.1||64.7||34.4||75.1||68.5||68.0||53.7||46.3|
Same cast of players, deck never really ever gets reshuffled for the core county leadership. Any significant change was really more Covid related deaths in the county government.
Robert King says
Yeah, Ms Holland tried to reach out to the L section, unfortunately circumstances happened along with the quasi judicial nature of the case that prevented her from communicating with the neighborhood. If there’s any blame, I’d give it to the PLDRB and the city attorney. Melissa, Ed Danko, and Nick Klufas just went along with the PLDRB’s recommendation, it was really unfortunate. The L section really took it on the chin, we lost an Arnold Palmer golf course amenity while the rest of the city is gaining recreational amenities. Enough said….
FYI – Old Kings Elementary is NOT in Flagler Beach.
By mailing address, by zip code and by supervisor of elections precinct identification, Old Kings Elementary is in Flagler Beach, even though it is not geographically within the city limits.
Unfortunately, the people who live in that district are unpleasantly surprised when they learn they are not residents of Flagler Beach.
Percy's mother says
The only reason Mayor Holland was re-elected is because Alan Lowe, her opponent, was/is an extremely flawed candidate.
Had Mayor Holland had a solid candidate running against her, she would have lost her bid for re-election.
People who have “baggage” (arrests, evictions, no background of which to speak, etc., calling oneself an “inventor” when there’s really no background history of success in any area of life) shouldn’t even consider running for office.
Alan Lowe has already declared himself a candidate for Victor Barbosa’s seat (next year’s election) since Victor Barbosa is already moving on and declared his candidacy for county commission just 3 months into his term as a Palm Coast City Councilman. How dedicated is that?
Considering that county commissioners get over 50,000 a year, plus perks, I would say that is the reason Lowe is dedicated to moving on up;
Concerned Citizen says
This election never mattered for this county ot city.
Folks are so uncomfortable with change they voted for the same. After many of us wanted different. They are so scared of change they are willing to put up with the same corrupt shenannigans for 4 more years.
I honestly don’t look for aything different in future elections.
Celia M Pugliese says
Yes the reflection of voters discontent affected by developers projected, planned, approved already or to be approved multifamily housing in the wisely mentioned sections of Palm Coast specially Matanzas, L, R, P and C sections shows the voters frustrations for those approvals that included land code changes since late Mayors Netts back in early 2,000’s and current Holland and council decisions. Unfortunately developers and their lawyers run Florida and the affected residents yet have not gotten together in time to fight them in droves (that was the case of loss of the Matanzas Golf Course). Just exactly like our affected, sad and frustrated Matanzas Golf Course resident Mr. Robert King wrote above, we had mayor Holland hesitant almost voting against that development when unfortunately city attorney and council Danko and the others decided to go with the PLDRB “ill advise” . As mayor and all of us city dwellers she should have stuck with NO and developer see us all in court and we would have won, That Matanzas GC that Netts back then gave away other than foreclosing on it for less than $300,000 and preserve it for the residents that bought around it and all f us “the people” of the city. Residents had to engage costly attorney’s firm against the 150 ft tall cell towers near homes in Covington and Oaks homes in the PHGC and so then that plan was scraped. Sad residents have to pay lawyers to preserve their quality of life and the value of their homes. Now look at all the new multi families approved all around Palm Coast and my main question is where all that poop will go and what about the additional traffic in residential roads with no road humps to reduce speed or redirect users to major roads other than cut thru like in FPD and others? We should have a moratorium in new housing until the infrastructure and future public services cost to the current residents presented. We just spend 22 millions to start, in a new sewer plant off Rte 1 north of Palm Coast . Did the developer for the 4,000 homes there paid the impact fees for that? because each single home in Palm Coast pays over 10,000 in sewer water connection impact fee, did that developers pay too, because at 10,000 x 4,000 = 40 million right? I want to know because those 22 millions reflect the $100 I pay in to PC utility for a house with only 2 people on it as half of that bill is “base rate” = infrastructure maintenance. Our last utilities increases are bit too much for most Palmcoasters.
Our Mayor and Council should not approve land codes to accommodate developers greed before proper infrastructure, sewer, water, current insufficient roads and immediate public services, fire, police and city maintenance (increased, speeders, litter and code enforcement) for the new thousands of residents is addressed, because why we the current residents have to pay for it or endure the effects of increased population in our current deficient barely enough sewer, drainage, potable water, litter and roads with increase traffic and insufficient traffic units to address speeders? Never mind the increased delinquent drugs problems with population growth. When people gets together to fight the unplanned growth some battles are won and some projects at least delayed and like the county’s The Gardens is one of them. But residents can’t sleep at the wheel: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=714527609238327&id=333953773962381