Officials from the Donald Trump campaign expressed confidence in its Florida position Monday on a call with media, noting that the campaign has cut into Democratic leads in ballots received and questioning the Joe Biden ground game’s ability to bring it home.
Campaign manager Bill Stepien and senior adviser Jason Miller were confident in the President’s performance across the map, while Stepien offered comments that provided insight into rhetorical confidence from the campaign.
One reason for optimism, said Stepien, is that it’s “really hard” to convert traditional Election Day voters to early voters.
“Democrats are leaving absentee votes on the table because they don’t have a ground game … leaving votes on the kitchen table,” Stepien said.
Republicans are outperforming Democrats in in-person voting in every battleground state, he added, which “isn’t normal.”
Stepien noted that for seven straight days, the GOP has cut into a sizable Democratic edge in ballots received in Florida.
A nineteen point lead at the start of early voting has dwindled by more than 2/3, to “less than 6%,” and that will continued “every single day because we have the best grassroots operation ever created.
“What we’re seeing is what we’ve been saying for months — ground game matters,” Stepien said, and the Trump “grassroots operation is the best that has ever been built.”
Polls have shown the Trump campaign running behind Biden, but Stepien said they are “closely tracking … more and more actual votes being cast every single day.”
Stepien predicts that Democrats will continue to struggle to get voters used to voting on Election Day to vote by mail.
“A TV ad doesn’t change the habit,” he urged.
The President will have surrogates in the state in the coming days, but he himself just wrapped up roughly 24 hours in his home state Saturday morning, when he voted in West Palm Beach.
“I hear we’re doing very well in Florida and everywhere else,” Trump said to reporters at the polling place.
He said the campaign was “doing tremendous” in Pensacola Friday night.
“The votes are coming in and we’re way ahead of where we’re supposed to be,” Trump added.
Those comments jibe with Stepien’s more so than surveys of the race, which show the incumbent at a stretch-run disadvantage.
If there are real worries for the President, it’s in drastic underperformance in battleground regions of the state that leaned to him in 2016 but aren’t buying in this year, according to surveys.
Several St. Pete Polls surveys released earlier this month tell a tale of swing district disenchantment.
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 more than 1%.
However, Republicans such as Senator Rick Scott, who contend Trump will win regardless of what a survey says, have pointed to a lack of ground game from the Biden campaign as a fatal flaw.
Whether that matters in the virtual realm of 2020 is one of the big questions to be resolved, finally, next week.