The Florida primary has been polled and re-polled, but is there a whole new voting bloc that the current estimates are leaving out - a bloc that could lead to another upset as big as Sanders winning Michigan despite huge polling numbers in Clinton's favor?
Since the one-two punch of the Florida real-estate crash followed by the Great Recession, the way many people live in Florida has changed in drastic ways and this primary will test the influence of a whole new class of Florida voter - the rise of renters.
As a real-estate owner and developer of large rental apartment communities in Florida that has helped build many new communities in the last ten years, I have had a front row seat to just how much the Florida landscape has changed, and I think the pollsters may be underestimating how much this may affect the primaries.
Renters have different priorities than home-owners and many in our communities come from different backgrounds than what you think of when you say, "Florida voter." Renters are both upwardly and downwardly mobile; overwhelmingly Millennial; many are of Brazilian, Bajan, Jamaican and Haitian decent, rather than Hispanic; and most move around too much for the polling to catch.
And in Florida, moving frequently can make a big difference since this is a state where traditionally families buy a home and settle down for longer than the national average. Zoning influences where your kids go to school and property taxes encourage you to stay put in a way that for decades has kept districts fairly predictably Democratic or Republican.
The rise of the voting bloc may have changed that. Young Millennials tend to move frequently while chasing jobs in a challenging employment market or suddenly need more space when they get married or have children. This could be very interesting, since despite commanding leads by both Trump and Clinton in Florida polling, Millennials are the least supportive demographic of either party's current front-runner. Could this save Sanders for a real fight with Clinton or rescue Rubio's flagging campaign that has him down 23 points behind Trump even in his home state?
Millennials have the potential to affect the Democratic primary just as much as the Republican one. Miami Dade College recently held a "Millennial Summit." They conducted an experiment where they listed candidates' positions on various issues while hiding their names. Students were told to drop a marble into the bin next to the positions they most supported. Bernie Sanders won, overwhelmingly.
On the other hand, the new renters' varied demographics could work in the opposite direction, too. Donald Trump's talk of building a wall along the Mexican border and other controversial statements have hung upon him an 80 percent unfavorable rating with Latino voters according to polls revealed at this year's recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
Yet, while Florida has a huge number of Hispanic home owners, a great many of our renters are from Haitian, Jamaican, Bajan or Brazilian backgrounds. We have so many Brazilian residents in our South Florida Properties that we have constructed Brazilian-style soccer courts like those popular in Rio de Janeiro. When we talk with our Brazilian neighbors, they do not seem to have the same animosity towards Trump and might make his victory in Florida even more of a landslide.
There is, quite literally, 'a whole new voter in town' all across Florida. They are renters, and they have made the state a more interesting place to live. They may also make it far more difficult to predict politically which GOP candidate will take home the Florida's winner-take-all 99 delegates, or how many of the state's 246 Democratic delegates will wind up with Clinton versus Sanders. The Sunshine State's new voting bloc of renters have the potential to shine a whole new light on each campaign's strengths and weaknesses.
Eric Granowsky is a real estate entrepreneur who splits his time between Florida, New York and Los Angeles. His company, ESG Kullen, has become one of the leading owner/developers of multifamily assets in Florida. Between 2010 and 2015 alone, Granowsky's company has added seven new rental communities in Miami, Boca Raton, Orlando and Tampa - housing many thousands of new renters.