Lakeland voters favored Donald Trump in last week's presidential election, but by a lower margin than in 2016. That year, Trump won 54.9% of votes cast in Lakeland precincts; this year, it was 51.9%.

Unlike 2016, when Lakeland voters favored Trump by the same percentage as countywide Polk voters, this year Lakeland's margin was 4.6 percentage points lower than the county's 56.5% tally.

A map of election results shows Democratic influence moving slightly south from downtown and creeping north of Interstate 4 in one precinct since the last presidential election.

Polk precinct results 2016 and 2020
Polk County precincts

View an interactive version of the 2020 map, or click on the map above for a larger version.

The precincts that flipped from GOP to Democrat this election were 216 (Dixieland), 217 (East and South Lake Morton) and 121 (subdivisions west of Lakeand Square mall).

The one precinct that flipped from Democrat to Republican this year was 212, the area west of Wabash Avenue between I-4 and U.S. 92.

In all, Trump carried 16 of Lakeland's 25 precincts this year, compared with 18 in 2016.

For this analysis, we looked at the 25 precincts that vote in Lakeland city elections. It encompasses an area slightly larger than Lakeland city limits because many of the precincts include areas of unincorporated Polk just outside of Lakeland.

Check Lakeland precinct results for 2020 and 2016 | Check all Polk precinct results for 2020

Trump carried Florida with 51.2% of the vote, winning the state's 29 electoral vote. With vote counts still ongoing in several states, national projections currently put Biden at 279 electoral votes, more than the 270 needed to win, although Trump is disputing the results.

Trump's higher-than-expected margin in the Sunshine State is causing some to question whether Florida is still a swing state.

However, some have seen Lakeland as having an oversize role.

The Washington-based National Journal concluded in 2015 that Lakeland swings the I-4 corridor, which swings Florida. They sent a reporter here to interview more than 100 people and see why some people don’t bother to vote in a city where the vote could count more than anywhere else in the country. (Voter turnout in Polk for Tuesday’s election was 73.2 percent - up slightly from 2016's 70.8 percent.

The author of the National Journal article speculated in a radio interview that a few more Lakelanders voting for Al Gore in 2000 could have changed the outcome of the national election.

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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