U.S. Rep. Val Demings appeared on Face the Nation Sunday morning, offering her late-game appraisal of the state of play in the Sunshine State.
Demings, who was talked about as a potential vice presidential pick for Democratic nominee Joe Biden before he chose Sen. Kamala Harris instead, said that an early win is possible, meaning the presidential race could be “over.”
“If Joe Biden and Kamala Harris win Florida, and we expect if we win it, we win it early in the night, then it is over for Donald Trump,” Demings told Face The Nation host Margaret Brennan.
“We are taking absolutely nothing for granted on the ground. Florida, a swing state, has always been very close,” Demings said, adding that she was “excited about what we are seeing on the ground.”
Demings said that Biden had spent a “significant amount of time” in the state, noting that Harris and the candidates’ spouses likewise had visited.
Brennan pointed out potential cautions, including underperformance among younger Black and Latino voters, which Demings didn’t seem to address.
“About a year ago, the Florida Democratic Party started working to encourage vote by mail,” Demings said, calling it a “big push” in that direction, “then from vote by mail to early vote.”
“A lot of the voters who would be probably be standing in long lines — and we’re excited about long lines, don’t get me wrong — chose vote by mail and are returning them that way,” Demings suggested, an answer that continued not to address the question.
With worries mounting among Democratic strategists that the mail ballot harvest may prove to be a bust, Demings’ answer did not address what seems to be an issue with the Biden campaign: an inability to match the President, who emerged from COVID-19 quickly and seemingly stronger than before, in his energetic close.
Brennan pressed Demings on where the ballots were, but the Congresswoman offered another non-answer, pivoting to a denunciation of the White House response to COVID-19.
The Real Clear Politics average of polls shows a tightening race in Florida, with Biden up just 0.7% over Trump. And Democrats, many of whom have not faced tough strategy questions this cycle, are starting to have to field questions surrounding its “ground game” and “grassroots” efforts Republicans have raised for some months now as Democratic detriments.
Senator Harris, asked about Democratic sluggishness in Miami-Dade when she was in South Florida Saturday, managed to speak about operational realities in terms as vague as Demings.
“Election night, I think, will determine who has come out, who hasn’t, and we can have that conversation then, but I’m feeling a great sense of enthusiasm,” Harris told reporters in Lake Worth.
Some Democrats, such as Rep. Frederica Wilson, put a finer point on the emerging crisis for Florida Democrats.
“I screamed. Hollered. I called. I lobbied from the top to the bottom,” Wilson told POLITICO last week, expressing frustration about getting resources for ground game from the most well-funded presidential campaign in history.