President Donald Trump is leaning into a Florida strategy, and one poll shows progress being made.
A survey released Tuesday from the University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Lab shows the Florida race with Democrat Joe Biden is too close to call.
Biden, who was up six points in the previous UNF PORL poll (conducted after the first presidential debate), clings to just a one point advantage, 48% to 47%.
This survey was conducted with an eye toward “hard to reach” voters who were brought in, such as in 2016, for Trump. The President’s reelection campaign says that this demographic trend is recurring down the stretch, with rally attendance reflecting new voters being brought into the mix.
The edge Biden does have is attributed to a 10 point lead among independent voters.
The gender gap is a wash. Trump is up 16% with men, but down 15% to Biden among women.
The party splits are also mirrors of each other with 88% of Republicans approving of Trump, and 87% of Democrats polled disapproving.
The pollster warns, as others have, that at the very least a “long night” is in store for those with a rooting interest in the presidential derby.
“While some polls have shown Biden with a big lead in Florida and other key states, we made an effort to capture hard-to-reach voters and our results suggest that it might be a long night on November 3rd,” said Dr. Michael Binder, PORL faculty director and associate professor of political science. “This is Florida, and elections are never easy here, I expect this race to come down to the wire.”
The attempt to get the “hard to reach” voter, a cohort sometimes described as “shy” Trump voters, is worthy of note.
Vote preferences were used to categorize where the vote might lean, as were strong approval or disapproval ratings crossed with a likelihood of voting.
“Partisan registration, sex, race, and age weights were created from the September update of the Florida Voter File to match the active registered voters in Florida combined to a turnout model similar to 2016,” the pollsters assert in a media release accompanying the results.
The poll echoes what others have found, that Biden is leading, but not by margins large enough to expect an outcome either way.
A look at down-ballot polls, however, suggests bad news for Trump.
Several St. Pete Polls surveys released Monday and previously showed Trump underperforming in areas he won four years ago. For example, Trump is down 11 points in Florida House District 60 in Tampa, a district he carried in 2016 by less than one point. In House District 69 in Pinellas County Trump is down nearly 15 points. He won that district four years ago by three points. A poll earlier this month also showed Trump down more than 13 points in Pinellas County as a whole, which he won four years ago by just over 1%.
In addition to public polling that indicates Biden has an edge, the former Vice President enjoys another considerable advantage: money.
Over the past four months, Biden has raised over $1 billion, a massive amount of money that has significantly eclipsed Trump’s once-overwhelming cash advantage.
That’s become apparent in advertising, where Biden and his Democratic allies are on pace to spend twice as much as Trump and the Republicans in the closing days of the race, according to data from the ad tracking firm Kantar/CMAG.
“We have more than sufficient air cover, almost three times as much as 2016,” said Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien, who insisted Trump has the advantage with the campaign’s field staff and data targeting.
Though Trump has pulled back from advertising in Midwestern states that secured his 2016 win, he’s invested heavily elsewhere, including North Carolina, where he is on pace to slightly outspend Biden.
Concerns about a possible loss to Biden that have been spilling into the open in recent days have been percolating behind the scenes at the Trump campaign. Trump himself has alternated between disbelief and anger at the idea that he could lose to a candidate whom he views as washed up and incompetent, according to three campaign and White House officials not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations.
Trump has directed anger at press coverage but also has vented about his chief of staff, Mark Meadows, whom he blames for mishandling his hospitalization for the virus and COVID relief talks.
He has asked some of his closest advisers if a campaign shakeup was needed, according to the officials. The president was encouraged to hold off on any moves so close to Election Day.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this post.