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Latest poll shows Donald Trump narrowing deficit in Hillsborough County

Trump slashed Joe Biden’s lead from 13 points to 9.

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s lead shrunk in Hillsborough County since the last poll conducted in late September, according to a new survey from St. Pete Polls released Saturday.

The latest poll shows Biden with a 9-point lead over Donald Trump in the county at 53% to 44%. The previous poll, by the same pollsters, showed Trump with a 13 point deficit in the county at 55% to 42%.

Things can change swiftly in a presidential election, but none as much as the swiftness by which 2020 seems to alter the daily news cycle.

In the less than two and a half weeks between the two polls, a lot has changed. Sentiments from a raucous first presidential debate, which was the same day the previous poll was taken and likely included most results from voters who had not yet seen or read about the candidates’ performance, might have further tanked Trump’s standing in Hillsborough. Three days later, the world learned of the President’s positive COVID-19 test. But then he swiftly recovered, and managed to portray his fight as the ultimate victory.

Had another poll been taken, say, Oct. 9, when the President was announcing plans to resume in-person campaigning just 10 days after his initial diagnosis, results might have been very different than those in Friday’s poll.

Instead, the latest comes after some bad headlines for Biden, which might have swayed voter opinion. The New York Post reported highly controversial news this week on emails purportedly found on a computer Biden’s son Hunter Biden owned. Those emails, whether legitimate or not, play into the Trump campaign narrative that the younger Biden was corrupt, buoyed to a board position on Ukranian energy company Burisma thanks to his father’s then-position as Vice President.

The report is suspect. The outlet that broke the story is notably pro-Trump, its owner, Rupert Murdoch, is a top Trump supporter and the lead reporter on the story is a former producer for one of Trump’s closest allies at Fox News, Sean Hannity. Further, Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani is said to have been the one to hand over the computer containing the offending emails, a MacBook Pro reportedly left at a repair shop to never be retrieved. The emails have not been verified as authentic and the computer has not been proven to be Hunter Biden’s.

Further, the FBI is now investigating whether the entire thing was part of a Russian disinformation campaign.

Still, the report’s findings are ripe for social media wildfire and could explain a sudden dip in Biden’s support in a county that will no doubt lean his way come Nov. 3.

One of the biggest take-aways from the latest poll is the crossover appeal for both candidates. In the Sept. 29 poll, Biden claimed 16% support from Republican voters, a staggering number for a hyper-partisan top of ticket race. Meanwhile, Trump only claimed 9% support from Democrats.

Fast forward to this Friday and those numbers dipped. Trump’s support among Democrats jumped to 14% while Biden’s dipped from Republicans to 15%, a six point shift that covers the overall drop in Biden’s commanding lead in the county.

There was also a huge shift in support among Black voters, a loyal base for Democrats and Biden. In September, only 6% of Black voters polled supported the President. Come Friday, the new poll showed 13% support. Support among White voters also grew for the President, going from 49.5% last month to 51% in the new poll.

In an even bigger shift, Biden’s lead among voters 70 and older disappeared. He went from having a 49% to 47% advantage among that age cohort to being at a 52% to 45% deficit.

Trump winning Hillsborough has never been an option in the blue county, but his deficit is now more in line with his loss to Hillary Clinton in 2016 when she won by nearly seven points. Trump’s campaign is trying to make gains in blue counties and districts to compensate for any possible underperformance in red areas. The latest poll puts his still behind comparatively, but by far less than the previous poll, momentum that, if continued, could help Trump statewide.

But, this is 2020 and tomorrow’s news cycle is anyone’s guess.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at Janelle@floridapolitics.com.

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Sonja Fitch

    October 17, 2020 at 4:47 pm

    Hillsborough kick trumps ass! Hillsborough is a solid county with solid policies for their residence! Vote Democrat up and down ballot!

  2. Kelly In Neptune

    October 17, 2020 at 5:56 pm

    918 voters. OK. I sure don’t think Hillsborough voters are that stupid to support such a corrupt and incompetent man.

  3. Patrick Henry

    October 19, 2020 at 7:58 am

    The report in the New York Post regarding Hunter Biden’s emails is not “suspect.” Hunter Biden’s lawyer called and asked for the hard drive to be returned to his client. Sorry to say the forgetful drug addict, Hunter Biden, forgot to pick up his laptop from the repair shop and the emails shows he flew with his father on Airforce 2 to China in 2015 when his father was VP and also met with Burisma officials to profit to the tune of over 10 percent of the energy deal (Joe) and Hunter to get 20 percent his Uncle Jim Biden to get 10 percent and Hunter to get over $30 million for “introductions.” The 10 percent for Joe being held by “H” Hunter for” the Big guy.”

    The Biden’s are now caught selling their political power to Communist Chinese for personal financial profit.

    Trump is going to take Florida on November 3.

    Americans are not stupid despite the overwhelmingly biased media support and narrative for Biden.

  4. PeterH

    October 19, 2020 at 10:46 am

    Conspiracy Theory Number 798! “Hunter Biden’s Lawyer Requested Hard Drive” LOL….. you guys will never quit. The entire narrative is built around a Delaware Computer Shop owner’s story who has changed the storyline several times.

  5. Joe Fatala

    October 19, 2020 at 5:33 pm

    More Russian trollbot bulls**t on the emails.

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