Why is Florida so crucial for Republicans?
Democrats and Republicans are circling each other's throat’s in the Sunny State - as a preamble to the 2020 elections.
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President Donald Trump believes that Florida is a state he can and should win because he won it before. Yet, after two and a half years of a confusing and damaging presidency, this time - Florida is not in the bag.
His carnivalesque campaign rally last week, accompanied by a threat of raids and mass deportations, was a small taste of the battle that will be waged this time for Florida and its Electoral Votes.
Joined by his family and closest advisers, Trump descended to the podium as a Messiah from heaven. He droned on about his eternal bad guys: Hillary Clinton, the Mueller investigation, the wall, jobs… A picture of the country’s reality which is far from anyone’s truth – at least from anyone that wasn’t in the crowd applauding his antics.
Now, why Florida?
If we look back at that fateful day November 2016, we see the entire country - on the edge of its seat - waiting for the results of the voting in Florida. When the map turned red, it was clear that Donald Trump had been elected the next president of the United States.
Although Hillary Clinton had won the majority of the popular vote (47.7%), the final decision was in the hands of the Electoral College, especially in states such as Florida - which has 29 votes.
By then, the state had 4.6 million registered voters as Democrats, 4.4 million registered as Republicans, and 3 million as independents, a difference so close that it reinforced his swing state condition, that is, unpredictable.
Today, that demography is even more noticeable among the Latino community, which has a majority of exiled Cubans and Puerto Ricans recently arrived after the tragedy of Hurricane Maria.
As they case this battlefield, the urgency to take control of the state is more imminent than ever for both parties.
Trump hasn’t forgotten what happened almost four years ago and has made Florida his main target, focusing on Republican Latinos, business moguls, and the robust GOP machinery that’s so deeply rooted in the state.
So rooted, it was a phenomenon in itself during the midterm elections.
Politico describes the November elections as “soul crushing” for the Democratic Party, even though candidates like Andrew Gillum – a “young, dynamic, African-American” nominee for governor – managed to “drive youth and black turnout.”
However, and according to a new Quinnipiac poll, Trump is having a hard time maintaining his numbers high among Floridian voters, and Democratic candidates like Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are fighting head-to-head in the lists.
With a small margin of 2 points in favor of the blue candidates, the early polls indicate that the Trump will have to do much more than Super Star rallies to win decisive states.
Recent analyses have shown that the Republican sentiment in the state is also declining.
Vanity Fair recovers a “blistering editorial” by the Orlando Sentinel, which has a long history of endorsing Republicans. Just before the President’s rally, the paper stated “plans to endorse literally anyone but Trump in 2020.“
“After 2 ½ years we’ve seen enough,” the editorial board wrote. “Enough of the chaos, the division, the schoolyard insults, the self-aggrandizement, the corruption, and especially the lies.”
Trump’s weapon of choice in these circumstances has been, once again, the hardline against immigration
According to the Tampa Bay Times, the Nº1 issue for GOP supporters during the midterms was the fight against “illegal immigration.” No wonder the President decided to kick-off his reelection campaign with the promise of massive raids and deportation.
But Trump’s inability to pursue his campaign promises – his consequent “threat-and-conquer” policy – has reaped the skepticism on the most traditional lines of the Republican Party, highlighting the possibility of an unexpected turnout next year.
One way or another, Florida is the perfect example of a white-majority state, divided on ideals, and prone to support whatever suits best the maintenance of the traditionalist status-quo.