Dueling appearances from President Trump and former President Obama kicked off statewide early voting in Florida.
Florida Republicans are pouring out of the trenches.
After weeks of Democrats outvoting them by mail, Republican voters stormed early voting precincts in person this week, taking large bites out of their opponents’ historic lead in pre-Election Day ballots.
The Democratic advantage was still huge as of Saturday morning: 387,000 ballots. But that’s a 21 percent reduction from Democrats’ high water mark, set three days prior. The election is in 10 days.
President Donald Trump was one of those GOP voters going to the polls, kicking off Florida’s statewide in-person early voting period Saturday by casting his ballot in West Palm Beach and livestreaming an event to urge supporters to show up and catch Democrats. Further south, in Miami, former President Barack Obama held a rally for his former vice president, Joe Biden, at Florida International University.
The split-screen schedule of the two presidents, each of whom carried Florida with different voter coalitions, shed light on the different strategies of the two campaigns in Trump’s must-win state, with the president trying to supersize older and white voter turnout and Obama seeking to boost young Black and Latino voting.
“One of the biggest shortcomings in 2016 was Hillary Clinton was unable to assemble the Obama coalition, especially among younger Black voters and especially among younger Black men. The Biden campaign has accurately identified that that’s a challenge they need to overcome this time,” said Tom Bonier, CEO of the Democratic data firm TargetSmart.
“So Obama [going] there is probably one of the items on the checklist and why the Obama visit makes sense.”
According to TargetSmart’s analysis, Black voters ages 18 to 29 have cast 15.8 percent of the total ballots so far in Florida. That’s half a percentage point down from the same period in 2016. Bonier pointed out that the total vote of that group, along with nearly all other demographics in the state, is up in raw votes and that “it’s not as if the numbers are bad. There’s opportunity.”
Bonier pointed out that white voters without a college degree, Trump’s most loyal supporters, have a smaller share of the vote so far compared with 10 days before the election in 2016.
But Republicans are expecting those white voters to show now that in-person early voting has started in every county. As for young Black voter turnout, it’s problematic for Biden that he’s not even matching Clinton’s 2016 totals, which still weren’t enough for her, said Florida’s top Republican data analyst, Ryan Tyson.