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I covered congressional races in Florida in 2018, and do I know why Trump won the state in 2020

When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez accused her own party of incompetent campaigning, just days after a presidential victory, reactions spanned the gamut from defense to counter-criticism. But for me, the result was different: a flashback.

In 2018, I covered the midterm elections as a foreign correspondent, reporting from a series of districts swinging across the Sunbelt; disputed ground in Arizona, Texas, California and Nevada. But the most lasting impression was left by two tight congressional seats in South Florida: Florida 26 and Florida 27.

Located in and around Miami, these neighborhoods make up one of the most volatile and interesting political territories in the United States. FL-27 voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in 2016, but the House seat had been occupied by a socially liberal Republican, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, for 30 years. Ros-Lehtinen was retiring, and on paper the neighborhood seemed a natural pickup of Dem’s. The districts also straddled Miami-Dade, Florida’s most populous county, whose turnout would be critical in deciding a narrow governorship race.

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