What a selection of down-ballot polls may tell us about Donald Trump vs. Joe Biden in Florida
Joe Biden is keeping his lead against Donald Trump.

Biden is over-performing and Trump underperforming in several Florida districts.

Recent state polls show President Donald Trump neck and neck with former Vice President Joe Biden, but are those statewide polls deceptively more than the sum of their parts?

Rather does an examination of at least ten recent polls in down-ballot contests tell us more about the true state of the Trump vs. Biden contest in Florida.

A disclaimer: As with any analysis, this should be taken with a grain of salt. If 2016 proved anything, it was that polls can be grossly wrong. However, not to toot our own horn, but keep in mind our election forecast for Florida primaries was spot on in all but one race.

Biden is polling better than Trump — or better than Hillary Clinton fared in 2016 — in several areas.

In Florida’s 13th Congressional District in Pinellas County, Clinton finished ahead by three points but Biden is polling +14. In Florida House District 69, which has significant crossover with CD 13, Biden is up eight points even though the district has a slight Republican edge.

Just to the south in Florida’s 16th Congressional District in the Sarasota area, Biden is down only a half-point even though Trump carried that district by 11 points in 2016. This should be sounding alarm bells to Susie Wiles and Co.

In Pasco County, Trump is under-performing compared to his 2016 results. He carried the conservative county by 22 points in 2016 but leads by 18 points in a recent St. Pete Polls survey. Further, Biden is performing better than Clinton did four years ago with 39% compared to Clinton’s 37% in 2016.

Even in northeast Florida’s CD 4, where Trump overwhelmingly stomped Clinton in 2016, he’s lost some ground. He was +28 four years ago, but is polling four points lower this year.

In surprisingly competitive SD 3, Biden is up ten points despite Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis having a +4 approval rating in the district, among other positive indicators for the GOP.

Looking at Central Florida, Senate District 9 is a +3 or +4 district for Republicans, yet Biden holds a five-point lead over Trump in the Seminole County seat.

There is a lot to read into these trends, but one thing is clear. If Trump continues to under-perform in conservative areas while Biden over-performs in Democratic-leaning districts, Trump has a lot of ground to gain in South Florida.

It’s a strategy that is no secret.

South Florida, save for a few pockets here and there and a Cuban population that votes Republican, is a reliably Democratic region that makes or breaks statewide elections for Democrats. Trump’s Florida campaign probably doesn’t expect to carry South Florida, but they are trying to lower the margin, particularly among Hispanic voters, to put a dent in Biden’s overall statewide vote.

Given the trends in other regions, district-specific polls show a mixed bag for the Trump campaign.

Trump carried Florida’s 18th Congressional District by nine points in 2016. Now Biden is up one point.

There’s more bad news in Florida House District 89, a district which includes Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. There, Biden leads 52% to 44%.

Reviewing the down-ballot races, Miami-Dade is obviously the place Trump can close the gap with Biden.

Consider Senate District 39, which covers parts of South Florida including Miami and the Florida Keys. There, the most recent poll has the district +9 for Republicans, up from just +1 in July.

This analysis is based on a series of both public and private polls. Most are linked to, but some, which are either entirely or partly private, are not.

Taken as a whole, the down-ballot analysis shows exactly why both candidates are focusing so much on Florida. Both candidates see Florida wholly in play and, as with every presidential election, a must-win. But district by district, it looks like Trump’s path to Florida victory might be more challenging than Biden’s.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

One comment

  • Sonja Fitch

    September 21, 2020 at 3:38 pm

    Wonderful! The goptrump cult has to be beat up and down ballot! The magaots have got to get out! Vote Blue! Vote Democrat up and down ballot! Blue wave!!!!!

Comments are closed.


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