Trump has dug himself into a deeper hole in Florida, highlighting how far he's slipped among seniors

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty ImagesPresident Donald Trump walks into Trump International Golf Club before a Super Bowl party February 3, 2019 in West Palm Beach, Florida.
  • A new Quinnipiac University poll has President Donald Trump down 13 points to former Vice President Joe Biden in Florida.
  • As troubling as the poll might be for the Trump campaign, the overall trend – particularly with voters aged 65 and older – is the major dynamic to pay attention to.
  • Since April, Biden has gained 5 points on Trump in Florida, while Trump has seen his approval for his coronavirus response fall by 9 points.
  • While Trump has gained 4 points on Biden among seniors in Florida, he still trails his Democratic challenger with them and remains unpopular among a majority of Sunshine State seniors.
  • Quinnipiac polls have been found to over-sample Democrats in 2016 and 2018, but the shift in Trump’s approval numbers and polling vs. Biden spell trouble in one of the most important states for the Electoral College in 2020.
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President Donald Trump, officially a Florida man, is slipping in his new home state to former Vice President Joe Biden.

A new Quinnipiac University poll spells trouble for the president’s reelection prospects, even factoring in Quinnipiac’s tendency to over-sample Democrats in the recent past (FiveThirtyEight gives them a +0.2% mean-reverted bias for Democrats and a B+ rating).

The Thursday poll shows Biden leading Trump by 13 points in the Sunshine State, up 4 points from April.

Trump getting only 38% of the vote in Florida come Nov. 3 would be a shock and remains an unlikely prospect given the GOP’s power in the state populated by wealthier retirees and a strong base of Republican voters in the Cuban-American diaspora.

Even so, the underlying trend is bad for Trump.

The president still trails Biden among seniors in Florida by 49% to 46%. Even though that’s a 4-point improvement from April, Trump won the same group by 17 points over Hillary Clinton in 2016, according to exit polls. That enabled Trump to narrowly win the state by 1 percentage point.

If Trump cannot secure a firm majority among seniors in a state like Florida, his campaign will be left with minimal options to cobble together the 270 electoral votes needed to defeat Biden.

Biden’s advantage among seniors, a high-turnout group typically favouring Republicans, is one of Trump’s biggest impediments to pulling off his 2016 feat of losing the popular vote but nonetheless winning the electoral college.

Forty-six per cent of Florida seniors have a “strongly unfavourable” view of Trump. That category was not included in the April poll, where Trump’s overall approval among the demographic was only 42% to begin with.

Compare that to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who sits at 51% approval among voters 65 and older, and a troubling dynamic comes into view for the president relative to a pro-GOP base of voters who have also soured on DeSantis over his coronavirus response.

To get back to a safe position in Florida, Trump will have to ramp up his favorability with seniors compared to Biden rapidly.

But getting away from trailing Biden with seniors to that 17% advantage from 2016 will be a steep task with less than four months to go, and the coronavirus shows no signs of slowing down in the Sunshine State yet.

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