Florida, the ultimate swing state, has played a decisive role in too many presidential elections. Every single vote counts in any statewide election there. In 2018, Republican Ron DeSantis beat Democrat Andrew Gillum 49.6% to 49.2% in the gubernatorial race and Rick Scott beat Bill Nelson 50.1% to 49.9% in the Senate election. Two years earlier, Trump had beaten Hillary 49.0% to 47.8%.
This cycle there's only one statewide election: U.S. president. Republicans in Florida are lucky that Ron DeSantis isn't on the ballot. He's more hated by his constituents than any other governor in America. Recently, his job approval rating dropped from an already horrible 40% to an astonishing 29%! Perhaps that's because no other governor has mishandled the pandemic as badly as DeSantis. Yesterday, Florida reported 2,787 new cases, bring the state's total to 714,591-- 33,271 cases per million Floridians. That's far worse than Texas or California, the only two states with numbers of cases anywhere near Florida's.
And luckily for the GOP, neither Marco Rubio nor Rick Scott is up for reelection either. Floridians rate them both badly. Yesterday, a NY Times/Siena poll of likely Florida voters showed the bottom falling out for Trump among independent voters, a cohort where Biden leads statewide 45-33%. And the debate accelerated his decline. The Times wrote that the revulsion against Trump’s performance "extended well into his reliable base. One-third of the president’s supporters said they disapproved of his performance. And 60% of Floridians say they find Trump neither honest nor trustworthy. Only 36% of likely voters say he is.
That's the state of the race in Florida, the most likely state to try to steal the election for Trump regardless of what the voters want... and the state opening up everything with no restrictions despite a horrific and raging pandemic.
Right now we're suddenly down to the final days of this election cycle. In Florida, the state candidate fundraising deadline is 5 days prior to election day, giving state candidates there about 3 weeks to raise the money they need to run successful campaigns. I asked Fergie Reid, the principal at 90 for 90, one of the organizations that went against Florida Democratic Party wishes and recruited Democratic candidates in the districts the Democrats had decided to cede to the GOP uncontested, how the campaign is looking a month out.
He reminded me that the Florida Democratic Environmental Caucus worked with 90 for 90 to recruit 36 candidates for legislative districts the Florida Democrats were, for one reason or another leaving unchallenged in the state Legislature. They successfully filled each and every ballot line without a Democratic contestant.
"For the first time in anyone’s living memory," he told me," Florida Democrats are contesting Republican incumbents throughout the state. The Biden/Harris campaign has not yet fully understood the awesome value of this important fact; but, they may be catching onto that value now. These 36 candidates are running in the most Republican districts and areas of the state: the western panhandle, 'the Villages', the 'First Coast', the Everglades, the Southwestern coastline, etc. These campaigns will help Joe Biden flip Florida's 29 electoral college votes."
Reid seems confident that if the Biden/Harris campaign and their strategists finally understand this fact-- and how these down-ballot candidates, whether they win or lose-- can turn out voters, Biden will take the state of Florida. And some of these candidates, who once looked like long shots, now look like winners, particularly Kathy Lewis, whose victory will, in all likelihood, flip the state Senate.
There are candidates running for Congress, the state House and the state Senate. The 2020 thermometer on the right is strictly for Florida candidates who could make a pivotal difference in re-jiggling the state power structure. The state Senate is on the verge of flipping-- and Kathy Lewis, Rachel Brown and Katherine Norman could do exactly that, giving the Democrats a seat at the table when it's time next year to redraw the district maps.
In terms of the presidential race, there has been talk that the decision could be made in the U.S. House of Representatives. Each state will get one vote based on a canvas among the members of the state delegation. Right now Florida has 14 Republicans and 13 Democrats. A victory by either Adam Christensen or Cindy Banyai could literally make the difference between 4 more years of Trump or a Biden/Harris administration. Please think about that when you consider contributing to making Florida a better place.