‘President Trump’s approval ratings in Florida have remained fairly steady across our polling, and he continues to have a strong base of support in this state…’
(Anthony Man, Sun Sentinel) A poll released Wednesday shows a closely fought 2020 presidential race in Florida, with President Donald Trump doing well.
The poll also found that for the first time during his presidency, Florida voters are more positive than negative about Trump’s performance.
If the 2020 election were held now, a race would be tied between Democrat Joe Biden and Republican Trump, with 50% each, according to the Florida Atlantic University Poll.
The president holds a narrow lead in a head-to-head matchup with Bernie Sanders. Trump holds larger, but not commanding, leads over three other Democratic presidential candidates: Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris.
Enormous attention is going to northern industrial states—Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin—that Trump narrowly won in 2016. But Florida will have a prominent role in the November 2020 election.
It awards 29 electoral votes—more than one-tenth of the total needed to win the presidency. And it typically produces close contests. In 2016, Trump won the state with 49% of the vote, 1.2 percentage points ahead of Democrat Hillary Clinton.
The survey, from FAU’s Business and Economics Polling Initiative, showed:
- Trump, 50%. Biden, the former vice president and former U.S. senator from Delaware, 50%.
- Trump, 51%. Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont and losing candidate for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, 49%.
- Trump, 52%. Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Ind., 48%.
- Trump, 52%. Warren, a U.S. senator from Massachusetts, 48%.
- Trump, 53%. Harris, a U.S. senator from California, 47%.
One big caveat about the results. All are within the poll’s margin of error, which is plus or minus 3 percentage points. In the Trump–Biden contest, for example, that could mean one has 53% and the other has 47 percent. Or Sanders could have 52% and Trump 48%.
In the hypothetical head to head matchups, Trump does better against the potential Democratic challengers in Florida than nationally.
In a May 17 nationwide Fox News poll, Biden had 49% to Trump’s 38%. And Sanders had 46% to Trump’s 41% in the Fox poll.
The president’s approval from Floridians has increased in recent months, and he’s now in positive territory for the first time since FAU began asking about approval/disapproval in March 2017.
The poll found 47% of Florida voters approve of Trump’s performance, with 44% disapproving, which is a net positive of 3 percentage points.
In March, FAU pollsters found 44% approved and 45% disapproved, a net negative of 1 percentage point.
In February, FAU found 41% approval and 46% disapproval of Trump’s performance, a net negative of 5 percentage points.
In September 2018, the same poll found 39% approval and 47% disapproval, a net negative of 8 percentage points.
The Florida findings continue the trend throughout the Trump presidency—he fares better in the Sunshine State than nationally. The Real Clear Politics average of nine polls conducted in May shows a national approval of 43% and disapproval of 54%, a net negative of 11 percentage points.
“President Trump’s approval ratings in Florida have remained fairly steady across our polling, and he continues to have a strong base of support in this state,” Kevin Wagner, an FAU political scientist and research fellow at the polling initiative said in his survey analysis.
Biden holds a large lead—39%—among Democrats asked who they would favor for their party’s nomination. The poll report termed it commanding.
“Biden does well across the board in Florida, and his strength among moderate Democrats appears largely unchallenged so far,” Wagner said.
There’s one bright spot for Sanders, who was far behind Biden among Democrats, with 12%.
Among 18-to-29-year-olds, Sanders was ahead of Biden, with 25%. But Biden led among all other age groups: 21% among 35-to-49-year-olds, 56% among 50-to-64-year-olds, 53% among people 65 and older.
Biden’s standing in Florida is similar to the 38% he holds in the Real Clear Politics average of five national polls of Democratic primary voters conducted in May.
Sanders is faring better nationally, at 18%, than he is in Florida, a state where he didn’t do well in 2016. Sanders held only one rally in Florida before the Democratic primary—when he had to travel to Miami anyway for a nationally televised candidates’ debate.
Other Democrats in the FAU poll:
- Warren, 12%.
- Buttigieg, 9%.
- Harris, 7%.
- Beto O’Rourke, former congressman from Texas, 5%.
The other candidates received statistically insignificant support. Julian Castro, former secretary of housing and urban development had 2%. Six other candidates had 1 percent.
Eight other candidates were at 0%, including the only Floridian running for president, Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam.
“Someone else” was the choice of 9%.
The importance of the state’s presidential preference primary is unclear.
Florida’s primary is almost 10 months away. And many of the current crop of 23 candidates are likely to be out of the running by the time Sunshine State voters go to the polls on March 17, 2020.
The four major early states in the nominating process—Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada primaries and caucuses—are all in February. Another 13 states—including giants California and Texas—vote on March 3. And another dozen primaries and caucuses take place in the two weeks leading up to Florida.
“Even though Joe Biden has a substantial lead among the Democrats, with almost 10 months to go before the Florida Democratic presidential primary, there is still plenty of time for the other candidates to make up ground,” Monica Escaleras, director of the FAU Business and Economics Polling Initiative, said in a written analysis of the results.
Republicans are overwhelmingly supportive of the president, but some would like him to face a primary challenge in 2020.
At this point, potential challengers don’t fare well. Trump would receive 85%; U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, 5%; former Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, 2%; former Gov. Bill Weld of Massachusetts, 1%, Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, 0%. Weld so far is the only declared primary challenger to Trump.
The results come from an FAU Business and Economics Polling Initiative survey of 1,007 Florida registered voters conducted online and through automated calls to people with landline telephones from Thursday through Sunday. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. Breakdowns for smaller groups, such as Democrats, Republicans and breakdowns by age, have higher margins of error.
(c)2019 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.