An increasing number of Republican 2016 Trump voters are now voting for Joe Biden and Florida seniors may be the 2020 election barometer.
Florida’s Republican seniors jumping ship
With less than two weeks left to vote in this 2020 General Election, the swing state of Florida is one of the most sought after prizes by both Joe Biden and Donald Trump, with 29 electoral votes representing over 10% of the 270 votes needed to win the presidency.
All of these electoral college votes went to Donald Trump in 2016 in a very narrow win, by less than 113,000 votes in a state where over 9.4 million ballots were cast. Well over half of those total votes were cast by Florida’s large community of seniors who supported Trump over Hillary Clinton by a 17% margin.
Four years later and in the midst of a developing third wave of COVID19, it’s quite a different story.
National polls show Biden leading Trump with seniors by margins ranging from 10 to 20% but in the very conservative panhandle state, the race for the senior vote is much tighter, with recent polls now showing Biden having a slight edge in a statical toss up among seniors.
The fact that Trump has lost nearly 20% of senior support in Florida in just 4 years however, is creating a lot of concern in GOP circles, acknowledging the critical importance of these 29 electoral votes for Trump to have any chance to reach the 270 needed.
The Trump re-election campaign has seen the red flags with their own internal polling and why both Trump and Vice President Pence are scheduling so many trips to Florida in the closing days of the campaign.
GOP encouraged by voter registration numbers
Many Republican political activists are encouraged by recent news showing that more Floridians have registered to vote as Republicans than Democrats since the 2016 presidential elections, with 5.30 million registered Democrats and 5.17 million registered Republicans in the state today – an edge of about 134,000 voters in favor of the Democrats. But the size of that margin has fallen from 327,000 in 2016.
However what those numbers don’t tell you is that at the same time, Florida’s population has grown more racially/ethnically and age diverse with over one-third (36 percent) of the state’s registered voters registering as nonwhite and 46 percent now reporting to be under 50 years of age.
With these changes, an increasing number of younger and nonwhite voters are registering neither as Republicans or Democrats but as Independent, other party or no party affiliation (NPA) registrations – up to nearly 30% of the total registered voters now in Florida.
That’s well over 4 million votes in Florida that are up for grabs and with nearly every poll showing they are favoring Biden now by a 5 to 8 point margin, it’s more good news for the Biden campaign.
Increasing number of prominent Republicans support Biden for president
A growing number of prominent GOP members are now publicly voicing their support for Joe Biden including former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, joining nearly 600 other well known Republicans who are voting blue in this 2020 election.
They represent a long list of Republicans willing to cross party lines to speak out against President Donald Trump and voice their support for Joe Biden with their public endorsement.
Many Republican and conservative PAC’s have formed this year to oppose the re-election of Donald Trump and the Lincoln Project is probably one of the most prominent, producing countless video ads severely attacking the president.
The Lincoln Project is led by several high-profile Republicans, including John Weaver, Rick Wilson, George Conway, Reed Galen and Jennifer Horn and many of their video ads have gone viral; widely shared not only on social media but on prime time television including regular spots on Fox News evening broadcasts.
John Kasich, the former Ohio Governor who challenged Trump for the GOP nomination four years ago and has called himself “a lifelong Republican,” has also become a prominent voice in the GOP’s “Never Trump” movement. Kasich announced his endorsement for Biden on the first night of the Democratic National Convention this year and was joined onstage by former New York Republican Representative Susan Molinari, Quibi CEO Meg Whitman (who ran for governor of California as a Republican in 2010) and former New Jersey Republican Governor Christine Todd Whitman.
‘Every time you think it couldn’t get much worse, it does’
Also voicing her support for the candidacy Joe Biden this year is Cindy McCain, widow of the late Senator and former GOP presidential candidate John McCain.
It’s not a small gesture from a woman whose husband ran for president as a Republican in 2008 and passed in August 2018 from brain cancer, which brought to an end a friendship with Joe Biden that lasted decades.
McCain recently spoke in an interview from her home in Arizona, explaining that she was finally prompted to do so by “The Atlantic” article that claimed President Trump called troops “suckers” and “losers.”
“That was the final straw for me,” she said in the interview.
Cindy McCain, campaigning for Biden with Senator Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota told voters on Wednesday why she believes the former vice president should be elected.
“Every time you think it couldn’t get much worse, it does,” McCain said about why she’s backing Biden during the virtual event for Minnesota Women for Biden.
“The divisiveness, and the division, and the hatefulness,” McCain said, describing what she says is America’s current political climate.
“And so for me I know people want to figure out why I would — I would vote for a Democrat number one, but I’ve known Joe Biden for 40 years,” said McCain.
Cindy McCain blames the current president for mismanagement, especially on COVID-19, proclaiming “it’s time that we not only change our leadership but ask more of leadership,” she says.
When asked what her message is to her fellow Republicans, she said “we are still Republicans. We’re always gonna be Republican – probably – but we are just, right now, putting country over party.”
Just before John McCain died, Joe Biden made an unannounced and unpublicized visit to the McCain ranch to check-in on his old friend.
“I’ll never forget my husband saying to Joe, ‘you know, I really miss those good fights we had on the floor. We had a lot of fun, didn’t we?’ Cindy McCain recalls. “And that was the true temperament of both of them. Even as ill as my husband was, he not only remembered that but loved it and, of course, they had a great laugh over it.”
The story is evidence of a bond that was decades-long.
“Joe is the kind of man that – he never forgets, he never forgets a friend, and he certainly never forgot my husband, and I will always be grateful for that,” Cindy McCain says.