Technically, The Villages sprawls across three counties, but the bulk of its booming population is in Sumter County. Sumter is demographically extreme: it’s 85 percent white and it boasts the highest median age in the country by far, 69.

And it has trended Republican: it voted for Mitt Romney by 35 points in 2012, for Trump by 39 points in 2016, and for Florida GOP Sen. Rick Scott by 42 points in 2018. But the fact the Biden campaign has even so much as a pulse in Sumter gives Democrats hope they can narrow the margins in a Trump stronghold enough to win Florida — and cut off Trump’s path to a second term…

Florida’s counties often report their entire early vote totals in one batch in the minutes after the polls close. And nowhere in Florida is early voting more popular than Sumter County: in 2016, 84 percent of Sumter’s voters cast ballots either by mail or early in-person, by far the highest rate in the state.

That means the first results from Sumter could provide an enormous early clue as to which way Florida — and the nation — are headed on Election Night.