Trump Leads in FL

News: Campaign 2020US News
by Paul Murano  •  •  September 28, 2020   

GOP registration surging in Sunshine State

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MIAMI ( - Delegate-rich Florida — the largest swing state — has a new leader in the presidential horse race, according to a new poll of likely voters.

Former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

An ABC/Washington Post poll released last week now has President Trump up in Florida by four points over former vice president Joe Biden. By a margin of 51% to 47%, Trump has overtaken Biden for only the second time since March in any major poll conducted for this all-important battleground state. The poll was conducted Sept. 15–20.

Key Influences: Economy, Pandemic

A press release for the poll expounds upon the two issues that could ultimately decide the state of Florida in November.

As in the previous states and nationally, [voters'] views of the economy's condition and worries about catching the [Wuhan] virus both independently predict candidate support, even controlling for partisanship, ideology and race/ethnicity. Were either economic or pandemic views to shift in the campaign's closing weeks, the impact could be decisive.

The window in which the poll was conducted includes two days following the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It has a margin of error of 4.5%.

Why Trump is now up in Florida may be due to the shrinking voter registration gap between Democrats and Republicans in the state.

Why Trump is now up in Florida may be due to the shrinking voter registration gap between Democrats and Republicans in the state. The GOP is spending ample time and energy in the nation's great peninsula canvassing the state to register GOP-friendly voters. Democrats, on the other hand, are seeking to be consistent with their party's politicization of the Wuhan virus. They have chosen not to go door-to-door or hold in-person registration drives within the state.

Traditionally in Florida, the Democratic Party has a significant advantage with voter registrations over Republicans. According to data collected from the Florida Division of Elections and released this week, that registration advantage has shrunk to a gap of only 1.3 percentage points. This amounts to fewer than 185,000 voters. Florida has over 14 million registered voters.

Ground Game Questioned

Democratic activists have privately voiced frustration, feeling shackled by edicts from the Biden campaign in Florida to avoid personal contact with the voters. Their strategy, instead, is to spend much of their time and treasure on media advertising. Yet, Democrat activists note the inconsistencies of the Biden campaign condoning demonstrations in America's cities while disallowing political canvassing.

A top Democrat in the state of Florida who chose to remain anonymous, put it this way:

Democrats sort of said two different things: No one should go out and do political activity, but it was OK to go out and demonstrate. A lot of this was safety and common sense, but the fact is that [the] campaign didn't want us to get crosswise with Biden's message, which, don't misunderstand me, is the right one but we may have gone a little too far.

Kira Willig, a longtime Florida Democratic activist and member of the progressive group Our Revolution, is perplexed about the strategy.

Andrew Gillum

"With Biden, my understanding is that with [campaign manager] Jen O'Malley Dillon, there's a feeling that the ground game is not important," Willig acknowledged. "And I think that's a miscalculation where I hope I'm wrong. Registration is part of the ground game."

Andrew Gillum, the failed 2018 Florida gubernatorial candidate who later got caught in scandalous behavior relating to sex and drugs, had promised to register "as many as 1 million voters" before his scandal broke. After his election loss and before the public scandal, Gillum had announced an upcoming effort to register and energize base voters through Forward Florida, his political action committee (PAC). He subsequently disappeared from public life.

Florida: Must-Win

Political pundits realize how vitally important Florida is, with its 29 electoral college votes, for either candidate to win the election. Conservative talking heads consistently claim there may be no holding on to the White House without winning Florida.

RealClear Politics still has Biden up by 1.3 points in the Sunshine State; however, not all the polls in its cumulative average are likely voters. Polls with "likely," rather than simply "registered" voters are historically more reliable and accurate in their calculations.

The same ABC/Washington Post poll also has Trump leading Biden by one point in the swing state of Arizona. Both Florida and Arizona have heavy Latino populations, with whom the latest polls indicate the president is doing fairly well.

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