Donald Trump and Joe Biden are both heading to Florida on Thursday, where they will hold their respective rallies just hours apart, as the candidates chase votes in the swing state essential for a win next week.
Florida, now the president’s home state, is crucial for Trump to earn a second term as it’s the 2020 battleground state with the most Electoral College votes.
Both candidates will hold their campaign events in the gulf coast city of Tampa, where they will encourage voters to turn out on November 3 in an area of Florida known for its rapid residential growth, including sprawling suburbs.
Besides holding the rallies in Tampa, the similarities in campaigning end there.
Trump is holding his midday rally in a lot just outside Buccaneer’s Stadium, which also happens to be an early voting location in Hillsborough County.
The close proximity will surely cause a log jam for those looking to cast their early votes in-person at that specific location. Meaning, the president can seriously amp up voter turnout for him before, during and after his rally.
The Hillsborough County election supervisor has already issued a statement warning voters of traffic delays.
Although electioneering is prohibited within 150 feet of a polling station, the rally is technically on the outskirts of the no-electioneering boundary – meaning there is nothing that can be done to stop the president from holding the event despite fuming from the Biden camp.
Trump’s rally is expected to mirror his hundreds of others, with thousands of fanatic supporters gathered in close-proximity to one another. And if his previous coronavirus-era rallies are any indication, there will be no social distancing or requirements for face coverings.Biden’s campaign event, which will be held Thursday evening, will be a drive-in rally style to ensure social distancing.
Democratic nominee Joe Biden and President Donald Trump are heading to Florida on Thursday for competing rallies in Tampa as they chase voters in the crucial swing state just days before the election
Biden’s was joined by his late son Beau’s daughter Natalie (right) for his campaign swing through Florida on Thursday
Biden and his granddaughter departed rainy New Castle, Delaware for the Sunshine State
Ultra Trump loyalists began arriving at Raymond James Stadium, where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play, hours ahead of the president’s rally
Thousands of Trump supporters lined up to gain access to the afternoon rally
A new poll in Florida released Thursday shows that in the days before the election, 51 per cent of likely voters in the swing state prefer Biden over the 47 per cent who support Trump – a 4 per cent margin in a poll with a 4.4 per cent margin of error
Trump won Florida in 2016 by a margin of 1.2 per cent, earning 48.6 per cent of the vote to Hillary Clinton’s 47.4 per cent – the state would be a major win for either candidate.
According to a new NBC News/Marist poll released Thursday, Biden has 4 per cent more support in the Sunshine State than Trump – especially field by his support among seniors and independent voters.
Of the 743 likely voters polled in Florida October 25-27, 51 per cent say they support Biden to the 47 per cent who favor Trump. Notably, the poll’s margin of error is at plus or minus 4.4. Percentage points.
Only 2 percent of Florida voters are undecided or are voting for someone other than Trump or Biden.
Florida has been deemed by Cook Political Report as a toss up, and with 29 Electoral College votes, it is the most influential ‘toss up’ state.
The dueling rallies highlight the importance of the region, as Tampa embodies a wide variety of Floridians with urban, suburban and rural demographics as well as a spectrum of races and everything from working class to retired Americans.
If Trump is going to have an upset victory again, Florida is the state that will help him achieve that, and if Biden wants to stop the president’s chance at reelection, Florida is the one state that could do that.
More than 73 million Americans have already voted, whether absentee or early voting by mail or in-person.
Florida is deemed a ‘toss up’ state, and is the 2020 swing state with the most Electoral College votes at 29
Trump and Biden have kicked into high gear with rigorous campaign schedules as they try to energize the millions who have not yet voted and will turn up in-person on Tuesday.
The president is also planning to rally in South Florida this weekend while the former vice president is holding a Thursday event earlier in the day before his rally in Democrat-rich Broward County, which just north of Miami encompasses Fort Lauderdale.
While the Election Day vote traditionally favors Republicans and early votes tend toward Democrats, the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 227,000 people in the U.S., has injected new uncertainty about the makeup of the electorate.
The visit to Florida comes as Biden has framed his closing argument to voters on responsible management of the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘Even if I win, it’s going to take a lot of hard work to end this pandemic,’ Biden said Wednesday during a speech in Wilmington, Delaware. ‘I do promise this: We will start on day one doing the right things.’
Trump promises the nation is already on course to ‘vanquish the virus.’
The president spent Wednesday in Arizona, where relaxed rules on social distancing made staging big rallies easier. Thousands gathered in close proximity without wearing masks – a trend that was expected to continue through more than a dozen events in the final sprint to Election Day.
After his rally in Tampa Thursday evening, Trump will travel with first lady Melania to Fayetteville, North Carolina for another rally.
He has scheduled a much more ambitious campaign schedule in the days leading up to the election than the Democratic nominee – sometimes holding three rallies a day along with other campaign and presidential duties.
Biden, meanwhile, heads later in the week to three more states Trump won in 2016: Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan, where he’ll hold a joint Saturday rally with former President Barack Obama.
The pandemic’s consequences were escalating, with deaths climbing in 39 states and an average of 805 people dying daily nationwide – up from 714 two weeks ago. The sharp rise sent shockwaves through financial markets, causing the Dow Jones Industrial Average to drop 900-plus points.
President Donald Trump waves to the crowd after speaking at a campaign rally in Phoenix Wednesday – part of his ambitious campaign rally schedule in the week ahead of Election Day
Trump, who frequently lauds rising markets, failed to mention the decline on Wednesday. But he promised that economic growth figures for the summer quarter, due Thursday, would be strong, declaring during a rally in Bullhead City, Arizona, ‘This election is a choice between a Trump super-recovery and a Biden depression.’
Trump is betting on the GOP´s vast field and data operations, and efforts known as ‘poll flushing’ – monitoring precinct lists for who has and has not yet voted – to provide a late boost of votes on Election Day. The Republican National Committee, which has more than 3,000 field staff and claims more than 2.5 million volunteers, will use that information to reach out to Trump supporters who have not voted throughout Election Day to ensure they get to the polls.
‘We will continue our historic voter outreach efforts by knocking on over 4.5 million doors and making 15 million more calls to ensure voters turn out to the polls and vote for President Trump and Republicans up and down the ballot,’ party spokesperson Mandi Merritt said.
Nowhere may those efforts be more important than in Florida. Without the battleground state’s 29 electoral votes, Trump’s path to victory is exceptionally difficult.
Trump is banking on local news coverage of his visit to overcome a substantial advertising deficit stemming from a late cash crunch. Biden and his allies are outspending Trump and his backers by more than 3-to-1 in Florida – about $23 million to about $7 million – in the final push to Election Day, according to data from ad tracking firm Kantar/CMAG.
In both Hillsborough County, which includes Tampa, and the adjacent Pinellas County, Democrats are crushing vote by mail. As of Wednesday morning, more than 53,000 Democrats had voted by mail in Hillsborough than Republicans. In Pinellas, the largest of the four counties in the state to switch from Obama to Trump in 2016, that number was just shy of 30,000 more Democrats voting by mail than Republicans.
Republicans in both counties have a slight edge in the state’s in-person early voting, which began last Saturday as Trump himself voted in Palm Beach County downstate, and the GOP will likely need a strong showing on Tuesday to overcome Democratic leads.
Because of concerns about submission deadlines, Postal Service backlogs and the potential for drawn-out legal challenges, Democrats are pressing their backers who have yet to return a ballot to head to the polls in person. Trump, meanwhile, is banking on enthusiasm among his Election Day supporters to overcome indicated Democratic strength in some early returns.