Donald Trump has been trailing in Florida polling to Joe Biden since early March — when the novel coronavirus pandemic began to ravage the U.S. While being behind in any poll is bad news for his re-election campaign, Florida is particularly important, CNN notes, because no Republican has won the presidency without winning there in nearly 100 years.
The new CNN/SSRS poll shows Biden leading Trump in Florida, 51 percent to 46 percent. Other recent polls, such as one by Quinnipiac University, show Biden with an even wider lead at 51-38. Trump is behind Biden by an average of 8 percentage points in live interview polls since June 1.
The news should be taken as one of the “biggest warning signs yet” for Trump’s re-election chances, according to CNN’s Harry Enten. While he conceded that the margin is likely to close at the two campaigns enter their last 100 days to the election, he added that if Trump doesn’t take Florida, he is in a bad position to get enough points to get re-elected.
Enten wrote that Florida is a “bellwether” marker that is a “must-win” for the current president, and it’s one that he has struggled to defend.
Florida leans to the right, which means that it would likely be difficult for Biden to win there in the general election, Enten noted. But, unlike Trump, the former vice president would still have a “clear path” to get enough electoral votes to take the Oval Office.
If Biden were to take Florida, he would need just the states that former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton took in 2016, plus nine more electoral votes from a somewhere such as Michigan — in which he currently leads polls — to win.
While the margin in the Florida is likely too close, the analyst pointed out that Florida is an indication of how Trump is viewed overall in the country, particularly given his response to the pandemic.
“But for now, Florida is emblematic of larger challenges Trump faces. It’s been a state ravaged by the coronavirus, which has almost certainly contributed to Trump’s problems in the state,” he wrote.
The analyst predicted that if he doesn’t turn the public’s attitude around toward his handling of the disease, he will likely face challenges across the country.
“Trump likely can’t win if he doesn’t turn around his low approval ratings on the coronavirus. His approval rating in Florida on the issue is just 42 percent among registered voters in the latest CNN poll,” he wrote. “Were that to remain the case through Election Day, Biden’s likely the next president.”