Well, the drama of the Presidential race is now out of the picture and any victory at this point is just icing on the cake. And I believe that is what we are going to witness here: a Trump victory in Florida.
But first, the Congressional races where the GOP currently holds a 14-13 advantage. Two of the GOP held seats are open races with Ted Yoho retiring in the north central Third District and Tom Rooney retiring in the 19th District. Both of these districts are relatively safe GOP ones. In the 15th District, which encompasses the suburbs to the east of Tampa, GOP incumbent Rick Spano lost his primary bid to Scott Franklin. If there was a district to worry about for the Republicans, it would be this one. Even still, his Democrat opponent, Alan Cohn, will have to fight hard to overcome Franklin and likely had to change tactics assuming he was running against Spano. The Cook Political Report rates this district +9 GOP and that may be enough to get Franklin over the finish line.
Hence, at the very least, the GOP should retain their 14-13 advantage. If there are any targets out there, they number three: Stephanie Murphy in the 3rd (eastern suburbs of Orlando), Charlie Crist in the 13th (St. Petersburg), and Debbie Powell in the 26th (southern tip of the state). If I had to choose the most likely to be defeated, it would be Murphy, but it might be a tough task. This area has been trending blue with an increasingly diverse population base. While Cook rates it +4 Republican, Murphy won this seat in 2018 by 15 percentage points.
It would be nice to take out the well-tanned, actually first Orange Man, Charlie Crist in the 13th, but electoral history dictates otherwise. Debbie Powell did not exactly overwhelm her GOP opponent in 2018 winning by a single percentage point in an open race. There is a large Hispanic population and with a GOP Hispanic challenger, who knows what happens this year? Still and all, I do not foresee a change in the partisan delegation to DC with the GOP holding a 14-13 advantage. Just some faces will change.
As for the Presidential race, there is no secret Trump has an affinity for the state and has changed his residency status. He announced his reelection bid in 2017 from Florida, the earliest point in the tenure of any incumbent President. Some of his most raucous rallies have been in Florida. Democrat polling firms showed that his populist economic message played well in the state across all demographics. Even more recent polling shows Trump playing well with the state’s growing Hispanic population. And more than any other President in history, Trump has spent more time in Florida than any other state.
Democrats claim they were caught flat-footed in 2016 in the state and do not intend to make the same mistake this time around. Still and all, although Biden has traveled to the state, it was usually for fundraising efforts rather than campaign appearances. And although 2018 was a bad year for the GOP nationally, Florida elected a Republican Governor and flipped a Democrat-held Senate seat.
All this spells a Trump victory here in 2020 despite the maelstrom that surrounds this election. Of course, given previous entries in this series, the victory is simply icing on the cake. And like trends nationally, Florida is no different for the same reason: a lack of true and concerted enthusiasm for the potential of a Biden presidency. Like poll after poll and state after state, even among Democrats there is an enthusiasm gap while none really exists for Trump.
Although Trump is not Florida’s native son, he is their adopted son now and they will show their love for him by giving him their 29 electoral votes.
Trump wins with no less than 299 electoral votes with no more than 239 for Biden. The GOP retains the Senate with a 55-45 majority and wins the House 221-214.
Big questions going forward: (1) who replaces Trump in 2024 since we all know the talk begins sometime in December 2020? (2) will Trump get to replace yet another Supreme Court Justice?, (3) who will be the next Speaker of the House- Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise, or some dark horse?, and (4) will the Democrats retain Nancy Pelosi as Minority Leader?