Polls show Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum with a very solid lead over GOP Rep. Ron DeSantis in Florida, along with Dem Sen. Bill Nelson with the edge over GOP Gov. Rick Scott in defending his seat, but I don't buy that lead for a second, because I know Trump and the GOP have an army of angry old white people ready to turn up at the polls in two weeks.
President Donald Trump’s loyalists here at Florida’s premier retirement community fear Andrew Gillum.
It has nothing to do with his race, they insist, when asked about the 39-year-old Democrat who could become the state’s first African-American governor. Instead, The Villages’ deeply conservative residents are convinced a Gillum victory would trigger an era of high crime, higher taxes and moral failing.
“He’ll kill everything that’s good about Florida,” says Talmadge Strickland, a 66-year-old retired firefighter wearing a “Trump 2020″ baseball cap at a rally for Gillum’s opponent. “He will hurt us; he will physically hurt us with his socialist mentality.”
In an era defined by deep political partisanship, there’s perhaps no state where the divide runs deeper than Florida, which is in the grip of a fierce culture clash over guns, race, climate change and the president. Gillum sits at the center of the melee, his campaign a proxy for the larger fight between Democrats and President Donald Trump’s GOP.
Gillum’s fate is inexorably linked to fellow Democrats whose success could determine control of Congress. That’s especially true for three-term Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, who could benefit from Gillum’s appeal among young voters and minorities.
As early voting begins in Florida this week, that link is tenuous.
“New voters and infrequent voters are everything to us winning,” Gillum told The Associated Press when asked about his impact on Nelson’s race. “I think they will vote for both of us, and that will be to his benefit.”
Young people and minorities are traditionally among the least reliable voters, particularly in midterm elections. Meanwhile, white voters in place like The Villages are lining up behind his opponent, former Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis.
Some 50,000 Trump voters guaranteed to turn out in a midterm election could make the difference. It did in 2016. I've talked about The Villages in Florida before, how it's the core of Trump Country in the Gunshine State, and how the flood of retiring Boomers means even more of them will have the time and the anger to go vote.
The rest of us have to show up and vote, because there's about a 99% chance guys like Talmadge Strickland will show up and vote. If we don't, they win every time. And there's every reason to believe that Americans have been so burnt out by the Trump regime that they just don't see the need to vote, maybe ever and have simply tuned everything out.
So no, I don't buy the big turnout numbers at all. Like I said a month ago, I'll be shocked if total turnout is above 40%.
But we have to vote or it really won't matter, ever again.