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Trump's Odds of Winning Florida in 2020 Not Good - Here's Why

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Jun/18/2020

BetOnline offers odds on each state results for the upcoming 2020 US Presidential election.  Overall, Republican candidate and sitting President Donald Trump is a slight underdog of +120 to win the contest that matters - the Electorial College - at BetOnline.  The Democratic candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, is a -130 favorite.  It's interesting to note that Biden is a near lock to win the popular vote at -450.  2016 Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton indeed won the popular vote in the last election.

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There is an argument to be had that, if Trump is unable to win Florida, the election will likely go Biden's way.  This is especially true if Trump fails to pick up one or two states in the Midwest or Rust Belt (i.e. Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania).

BetOnline currently lists Florida at Democrats winning -105.  They are not the favorites and the value here is excellent.  Trump is -125 favorite to win here.  The numbers have been fluid these past couple of weeks.

To be clear, the state is home to diehard supporters of Trump who he can count on for their vote regardless of pandemics, protests or economic hardship.  As I sit here writing this, a boat just left dock along the Riverwalk in Tampa waving the Trump 2020 flag.  Likewise, Democrats who did not vote for Trump in the last election probably will not do so in this election. 

There is little wiggle room in the state of Florida for the current US President.  Trump supporters believe their candidate can win here again.  Those who oppose Trump fear he can win here again.

The 2016 United States presidential election in Florida was won by Trump with a plurality of just 49.0% of the popular vote that included a 1.2% winning margin over Hillary Clinton, who had 47.8% of the vote.

Even prior to the pandemic with the unemployment numbers low and state economy performing well, there were already components at play that threatened to cut into that 1.2% margin assuming all else stayed the same.

An Amendment 4 victory means that more than one million ex-felons are now eligible to vote in the state of Florida.  These individuals could not do so in 2016.  Of course, not all former prisoners will be voting for Biden.  But most experts do believe the number will skew more favorably towards the former VP.

Additionally, about 30,000 to 50,000 Puerto Ricans moved to Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Puerto Ricans cannot vote for the US President while living on the Caribbean island.  They can while living in Florida.

Traditionally, Puerto Ricans on the mainland have been considered stalwart Democrats. 

A Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that 52 percent of respondents said Trump did a “poor” job with his response immediately following the devastation brought on by Maria. Only 15 percent said Trump’s response to Hurricane Maria, which killed more than 3,000 residents after making landfall in September 2017, was “excellent,” “very good” or “good.” And of those only 3 percent said the response was "excellent".

It can be argued that a large chunk of those Puerto Ricans moving to the mainland were most negatively affected by Maria.

These two components close the gap but still give Trump a chance of winning Florida assuming all else stays the same as 2016. At least 70 percent of ex-convicts and 70 percent of re-located Puerto Ricans would probably need to show up at the polls to ensure Biden gets over the hump.  Even then, nearly all of them would have to actually vote for Biden.  That's not a given.

Now enter the pandemic and associated economic crash.

Florida, more so than most US states, relies heavily on tourism and the hospitality industry.  Perhaps no single industry has been more negatively affected by the pandemic. 

Hundreds of thousands of folks living in the state filed for unemployment as a result, and herein lies the problem.

For weeks, a significant number of these individuals were unable to collect due to a flawed phone system and website.  The blame quickly shifted to former Republican Governor - now Senator - Rick Scott.

Gary Fineout and Marc Caputo of Politico wrote back in April:  

Privately, Republicans admit that the $77.9 million system that is now failing Florida workers is doing exactly what Scott designed it to do — lower the state’s reported number of jobless claims after the great recession. 

“It’s a sh-- sandwich, and it was designed that way by Scott,” said one Florida Governor Ron DeSantis advisor. “It wasn’t about saving money. It was about making it harder for people to get benefits or keep benefits so that the unemployment numbers were low to give the governor something to brag about.”

Republican Party of Florida chairman Joe Gruters was more succinct: “$77 million? Someone should go to jail over that.”

The Democratic party is mostly immune from this fiasco, simply because there are very few Democrats in charge in Florida.

Just 40,193 Floridians who had filed for unemployment since March 15 have received their benefits by May 1, according to a new website the state launched that week.  That’s less than 3 percent of the more than 1.5 million claims filed.

It's not clear the breakdown of Republican and Democrat voters impacted.  The danger here is that a certain percentage of those Republicans will take their anger out on the Republican party come November.  Unfortunately for Trump, neither the current Governor, Scott or even the other Republican Senator who has mostly managed to avoid scrutiny over this matter, Marco Rubio, are on the November ticket.  Trump is.

Republican voters who got heartburn during the months of March, April and May could opt to stay home or, dare we say it, vote for the Democratic candidate.

This scenario gains further traction as unemployment benefits are set to run out and the jobs are not coming back as quickly.  Florida's daily new coronavirus case numbers in Mid-June were higher than any time since the start of the pandemic. 

And that brings us to the actual handling of the pandemic. 

Florida's most vulnerable population, those over the age of 50, tend to trend more favorably leaning towards Trump. Should the coronavirus numbers continue to climb and the response at either the local or federal level be viewed as lacking this too could negatively impact the current US President's chances of winning the state.

In 11 polls in Florida since the beginning of the year, Biden led in eight, and Biden and Trump tied in two. The president hasn't led in one since March. 

- Chris Costigan, Gambling911.com Publisher

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