Sunday, September 18, 2016

Last Call For The Deplorable Election

In Florida, the people keeping Donald Trump close in the most important swing state prize are white suburban voters like the folks of Pasco County north of Tampa.  Given years of a Republican governor and GOP supermajority in the state legislature in Jacksonville, they blame Obama for their considerable problems and will take Donald Trump in a heartbeat if it means destroying Hillary Clinton and a legacy of those people having real political power previously only reserved for a country of white, male presidents.

Southwest Pasco County looks tailor-made for Trump: 90 percent white, nearly 90 percent without college degrees, median household income of about $34,000. Also, widespread anxiety over crime and a deteriorating quality of life.

In the 1970s, this was a blue-collar retirement mecca that attracted Northeasterners who could buy a comfortable two-bedroom ranch with attached garage for $10,000. Many of these same homes sold for more than $140,000 during the peak of the housing bubble in 2006, only to see their values plummet to less than $50,000 today.

The numbers help explain how Trump is defying the conventional political wisdom that Florida's fast-changing demographics will make the state a steep climb for a Republican nominee so weak among minority voters.

That conventional wisdom also may underestimate Clinton's unpopularity based on conversations inside the VFW post, outside the Walmart and inside Jimmy's Restaurant.

"She should be in jail, and you or me would be if we did what she did with those emails," said Dorothy Jay of Holiday over lunch at Jimmy's with her husband. "At least Trump is not going to be taking payoffs from people wanting something."

"I don't trust her, and we don't need another four years of Obama," said Alan Jay, who moved with his wife to the area from Long Island in 1994. "Trump's problem is that he has diarrhea of the mouth. He speaks before he thinks, but what comes out of his mouth is honest."

Republican pollster Wes Anderson, who works for the Rebuilding America Now super PAC helping Trump, said Clinton has at least as much to do with Trump's strength in Florida as Trump.

"Everyone talks about Trump's negatives, and we kind of miss the point that Hillary Clinton has just as strong negatives as he does — and in some ways hers are more telling," Anderson said. "This is a change election, and she is anything but that. Whether she likes it or not, she wears the mantle of the political establishment. ... That is actually what's happening in Florida."

Even as Clinton dramatically outspends Trump on TV ads in Florida and builds a more robust voter-turnout operation, the candidates are virtually tied. The average of recent Florida polls compiled by on Friday had Trump with 45.1 percent support and Clinton with 44.4 percent.

"The assumption is it's because Trump is running up the score in the markets where Republicans have to run up the score when they win Florida," said Anderson. "I think that's only half of the story. There are lots of places where she is underperforming, and I do think it's going to come down to Tampa and Orlando."

The I-4 corridor in the center of the state connecting Tampa to Orlando to Daytona Beach will most likely decide Florida, and Florida is by far the largest swing state up for grabs in November.  As Cincinnati is to Ohio, Tampa and Orlando are to Florida, the place where voters will decide the presidency.  Donald Trump is counting on Pasco County to turn out heavily for him.

The question is can Clinton mobilize her voters?  Barack Obama showed the way in 2008 and 2012.  Will Clinton do the same to counter the rage Trump voters have to punish and shatter the Obama coalition?

I hope so.

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