Florida is near and dear to Donald Trump—and not just because it’s home to his beloved Mar-a-Lago, one of the private clubs where he spends his weekends playing golf. The swing state was a crucial bellwether for Trump in his unlikely victory over Hillary Clinton, and could be decisive in 2020 if he wants another four years in the White House. It’s no accident, then, that the Sunshine State was where he chose to officially launch his re-election bid with a greatest hits rally on Tuesday evening. The one problem for the president? Like Miami in the year 2050, Trump’s polling is decidedly underwater.
According to a new Quinnipiac poll, Trump currently trails all of his top-tier Democratic challengers in Florida, particularly former veep Joe Biden and democratic socialist Bernie Sanders. Per the poll, Biden leads Trump by a walloping 50 to 41 margin. Sanders also enjoys a hearty lead over the president, 48-42. Other top Democrats are within the margin of error, but still edge out Trump in the poll, with Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, and Pete Buttigieg all narrowly leading the president.
It’s early days, of course, but it’s hard to find a silver lining for Trump, who remains deeply unpopular despite record unemployment and a soaring stock market. “[Trump] trails both [Biden] and [Sanders] in general election matchups and basically ties other leading Democratic challengers,” Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said in a statement Tuesday. “While most Florida voters are feeling better financially, President Trump remains underwater with a 44 precent job approval rating and a 51 percent disapproval rating.”
Still, Trump has pinned his re-election on Florida and its 29 electoral votes, and on Tuesday night, he might be forgiven for feeling hopeful. Tens of thousands of cheering supporters waited hours in the rain to fill the Amway Center stadium in downtown Orlando. The kickoff event was also a boon for the campaign’s digital operation. Rally-goers had to fork over their personal information to receive a ticket, Axios reports, feeding the campaign the sort of voter data that could be crucial to boosting turnout next year.
Outside the propaganda bubble, however, things are less rosy. As he arrived in the city on Tuesday, Trump was greeted by a blistering editorial by the Orlando Sentinel, which has a long history of endorsing Republicans, announcing that the paper plans to endorse literally anyone but Trump in 2020. “After 2 ½ years we’ve seen enough,” the editorial board wrote. “Enough of the chaos, the division, the schoolyard insults, the self-aggrandizement, the corruption, and especially the lies.”
In the early-going, at least, it appears many Florida voters feel the same way. With a year and a half still until ballots are cast, a bad poll obviously doesn’t mean Trump’s cooked or that he can’t raise his stock as the election draws nearer. After the psychic shock of 2016, few pundits will be racing to put too much stock in a single poll, nor should they. But the latest Quinnipiac poll should still worry Trump, especially since it tracks with his campaign’s own internal polling, which shows him losing to Biden in multiple battleground states. (Last week, Trump responded to the leaked numbers by firing several of his pollsters.) Trump launched his campaign in Florida to help build up his voter base and fundraising infrastructure there, and to drum up the kind of enthusiasm that allowed him to carry the state in 2016. This new poll suggests, at the very least, that he’s got his work cut out for him.