Trump projected to defeat Clinton in Florida, according to NBC News

Record number of early votes in Florida
Record number of early votes in Florida

Donald Trump is the apparent winner of Florida in the presidential election, according to NBC News.

NBC News also projected that Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican, would win re-election, besting Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy. Rubio decided to seek re-election after unsuccessfully contesting for the Republican presidential nomination earlier this year.

Florida, with its 29 electoral votes at stake, was a key battleground. Just two other states, California and Texas, have more votes in the Electoral College, which will determine the next president.

According to an NBC News exit poll, Clinton received very strong support from blacks and Hispanics, while whites went with Trump over Clinton by a 2-to-1 margin.

More than 8 in 10 blacks and 6 in 10 whites say they voted for Clinton. One- third of Hispanics say they voted for Trump, according to the exit poll. Six in 10 whites voted for Trump and one-third indicated they backed Clinton.

Before polls opened Tuesday morning, half of Florida's 13 million eligible voters had already cast their ballot in early voting. The 6.5 million early votes was more than any other state in the nation, and more than all the votes cast for the disputed Gore vs. Bush presidential race in 2000.

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll last week showed Clinton essentially deadlocked in Florida with Trump. An earlier October poll showed Clinton with a 3-point edge over the New York real estate mogul and reality TV star.

Already high tensions over the results in Florida escalated Tuesday morning after two polling precinct clerks at a community center in Pompano Beach were reportedly fired by the supervisor of election over complaints about possible voter intimidation by Democratic and Republican poll watchers.

Florida is routinely a battleground state in presidential elections. In 2012, President Barack Obama beat Republican Mitt Romney by less than one percentage point. Four years earlier, Obama won the White House with the help of Florida, where he beat Sen. John McCain by nearly 3 percentage points.

But in 2004, the state gave electoral votes to George W. Bush. Four years earlier, Florida sent Bush to the White House, by just a 537-vote margin in the state, when the U.S. Supreme Court ended an ongoing recount more than a month after Election Day.

Under Florida law, if the final tally comes in with less a half a percentage point margin, an automatic recount kicks in.