In the last two decades, perhaps no state has received more political attention, especially at the presidential level, than Florida. Anyone over age 30 recalls well the 2000 Bush-Gore drama.
The overall presidential winner has also carried Florida every election but one (1992) the last 60 years.
President Donald Trump won last time by only 100,000 out of over 9 million ballots cast. There’s no U.S. Senate race like 2016, when having Marco Rubio — who easily defeated his Democrat opponent, totaling 200,000 more votes — on the ballot undeniably aided Trump.
Let’s talk to some voters:
A friend runs a small business in Tampa. He works with folks of all views, ages and ethnicities. I can sense his frustration.
“Today, the truth is binary, and we seem to be living in two different Americas,” he explained. “Everyone has an agenda, and since I can’t fully trust the media or even what the candidates themselves say, I’ll vote for whoever I think is more likely to preserve our liberty. For that reason, I’ll probably vote for Donald Trump. Far from my ideal candidate, but presumably the man less in debt to special interest groups and foreign countries, and therefore in a better position to fight for our freedom.”
Tampa sits in Hillsborough County, Florida’s fourth largest. George W. Bush and Barack Obama won the area easily but Hillary Clinton took the county by only 40,000 votes in 2016 and lost the Sunshine State. Current polling in Hillsborough shows Biden leading Trump by a dozen points.
My father-in-law resides in Miami, where Biden visited last week. A businessman originally from Colombia, he says 20 years after immigrating to Florida, “this is the most confusing election” he’s faced.
“Knowing well how populism and liberal jargon has hindered political coexistence and harmony across Latin America — driving most countries into an unprecedented hatred for their institutions, while blaming traditional rules, respect, and moral principles for the unrest and challenges currently on the rise — I’m scared of a similar atmosphere toward the general election in America,” he warned. “I prefer to align with programs, positions on moral issues, trustworthiness and a candidate’s background, rather than parties, campaign slogans or isolated acts.“
He doesn’t care for abortion, drug legalization or disrespect for religious traditions, yet also dislikes “voting for an exponent of deception, narcissism, disloyalty and racism.”
“I understand you can’t be naive and look for perfect candidates, but I’ve never felt farther from what I’m seeing on both sides of the presidential race,” he explained. “For Congress, I clearly find the Republican agenda more appealing.”
I then spoke to a Vietnam veteran in suburban Orlando, where the president resumed rallies this week.
“Our last election for governor resulted in a very narrow win for the Republican against an obviously-flawed Democratic candidate, which was frightening,” he said. “If the Democrats win, it will be all over for our country. We have almost an entire party that seems bent on the destruction of America as we know it. We have a presidential candidate not in full command of his senses; everyone sees it, but like the emperor with no clothes, we choose to ignore it. We have a vice presidential candidate who is the MOST radical member of the senate. This is the stuff nightmares are made of.”
Lastly, I reached out to an acquaintance in South Florida’s very liberal Broward County. A retired management consultant with a doctorate, he lived in Indianapolis before retiring.
“My sense is the violence that’s occurring is having an effect on what people may be thinking, since overall, police are respected,” he believes. “The Hispanic population has tremendous influence throughout Florida. Specifically, the Cuban-American community is, on the whole, politically conservative. Even though I find Trump a bit much to chew on, I am going to vote for him. Having Biden as president would be a disaster for those who are significant members of the business and financial community. The Democrats are having a childish reaction to Trump, and I know they will do anything to stop or impede another conservative justice.”
Trump and surrogates are all around his adopted home state right now.
With millions of Floridians already voting and ballot-counting underway, how informed are those votes?