Florida Democrats love personality-based politics. They love to run against something but not really stand for anything. They love floating various electoral theories publicly while doing the same basic flawed things over and over again. Well, unfortunately for Florida Democrats, making President Donald Trump, a part-time Floridian a bogeyman was a flawed strategy in so many ways, not the least of which is because Trump despite being nationally disliked has never quite been as unpopular in Florida as Democrats like to think. We learned that in 2016 and again in 2018.
The idea of nationalizing the 2018 elections and going after Donald Trump as the sole uniting issue to turn Democrats out was not the idea of operatives in Florida. However, what should have been obvious to those on the ground in this state is that feelings towards Trump are more lukewarm, particularly among working class voters than they are outright negative. As we wrote about last month, Trump’s views on trade appear to have a different impact in Florida than elsewhere.
The mistake Florida Democrats made was never recognizing among swing-state voters, Trump is far less polarizing in Florida than in other states. While like the entire country, hard core Democrats dislike Trump, for months polling has shown some lukewarm disapproval or tepid support for him in a soft middle – a middle made up of what would normally be working class Democratic voters.
This is different than other states that fit Florida’s profile where Trump is either loved by generally 40% of the voters and loathed by about 55 to 60%. But in Florida views of Trump have never been quite as clear cut. Perhaps it’s virtual home state advantage with the President’s name on various golf clubs and high rise building in the state that makes him less polarizing relatively speaking here.
It’s difficult to say where Florida Democrats go from here. Years of hand-wringing have led to constant electoral defeats and sloppy assumptions being made over and over again. But one thing we should know by now is voters prefer to vote FOR something rather than AGAINST something. Making the election about Trump and victimization, be it racial or economic didn’t work. Time for another rethink.