(Tampa Bay Times)
The president’s visit to Florida has unleashed an unprecedented surge of Republican interest in campaigning in the Sunshine State - a sign of good news for Democrats trying to put a dent in the Trump administration’s fortunes.
“It comes from the heart, it comes from what’s happening with the administration,” said John Sides, a Republican pollster and professor at George Mason University who is working with some political parties across the United States to identify potential Trump voters. “People are getting a feeling that this is very real.”
Trump’s visit to Florida, widely seen in polls as a must-win for Democrats looking to replicate the results of the 2018 House special election and the Senate special election in Kentucky, comes without a Republican candidate in the race to fill the seat left vacant when Rep. Tom Price, Trump’s pick for health care secretary, resigned Friday amid accusations of using private funds to pay for private flights, private rooms and spa services for his family.
The Democratic campaign to fill Warren’s vacant seat has launched a $5 million online “field day” to mobilize Democratic voters ahead of the Florida contest, which will determine whether Democrats can keep a statewide House majority for the first time in decades. Florida is crucial to Republicans, who have been attempting to flip the district, and Democrats are hoping that the visit will serve as a launching pad to gain a significant share of the popular vote.
While Trump and the Freedom Caucus have largely been shut out of the debate, some on the right have said that they plan to back the candidate that the Republican establishment, which is widely viewed as weak, backs.
One party’s message to Florida voters: it’s about a vote, not about party.
What would the Democrats do in this vulnerable Congressional district? They should focus on keeping this seat as an anti-Trump blue wave. They can win this district in their favor. Max Boot (@MaxBoot) January 17, 2017
The president’s visit to Florida’s Second Congressional District is nothing unusual, as both Democrats and Republicans agree to events this far out of the home stretch to show support for their candidates.
A Democratic campaign official estimated that more than 1,000 people participated in one of the most recent events at the Pinellas Park Center in Hillsborough.
It has become increasingly clear that not only will Trump bring strong turnout in these areas, but that they will bring significant momentum to Democratic candidates potentially making for the first truly competitive House race for years.