“Any hope Donald Trump has of obtaining re-election depends on winning Florida”, explains Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.
Since 1996, Florida has been a great predictor for the future of the White House, says the University of Central Florida’s political science professor Aubrey Jewett. Every candidate who managed to win the state in the last 24 years, regardless of the party affiliation, eventually was pronounced the president of the United States.
According to the professor, this explains why “presidential and vice-presidential candidates visited Florida more than almost any other state and they spent more money campaigning in Florida than in any other state”.
But for Donald Trump winning Florida, “the most consistently competitive state”, becomes “particularly critical”, adds Jewett, as without this victory it would be impossible for the incumbent president “to get at least 270 electoral votes”.
Back in 2016, Trump outstripped Hillary Clinton by a low margin of 1.2%, eventually grabbing all 29 electoral votes the state had to offer. Now the polls conducted among likely and early voters predict that Joe Biden has a slight lead over Trump there. However, among those who are planning to cast a ballot on Election Day, POTUS is said to have stronger support.
Over the past four years, Republicans also have had more registered voters than Democrats in the state, according to Jewett.
Meanwhile, polls are currently showing that the incumbent president “is doing a little worse than four years ago among voters over the age of 65 and white women who live in suburbia”, argues Jewett, who points out that these groups don’t believe that Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has been “adequate”.
The senior voters in the state may indeed be an important group to watch at the moment, says Kevin Wagner, a professor of political science at Florida Atlantic University.
“They are high propensity voters, and they helped Mr. Trump win the state and the election in 2016”, the scholar explains. “There is some evidence that Mr. Biden is doing better with senior voters than Mrs. Clinton did.”
However, the experts agree that this still doesn’t suggest an imminent victory for the former vice president in the state, as Florida has emerged as a real “toss-up in 2020 and either candidate could still win”.
“Voters who think Covid 19 is the most important issue favor Biden”, Jewett says. “Voters who think the economy is the most important issue favor Trump.”
According to the Trafalgar Group, one of the few pollsters that predicted Trump’s victory in Florida back in 2016, the president will again secure the majority of votes in the state, as well as in Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio and Georgia, and eventually will assume the presidency with “a minimum high 270s” due to a “hidden” support base whose preferences are usually not reflected in surveys.