FLORIDA — Donald Trump returned to the Sunshine State Tuesday night, a state that is so important to his re-election chances that strategists now say his campaign is committed to spending more than $200 million to win it.
- Critics point to discrepancy between rhetoric, results
- Republican Party of Florida chair: Republicans "crushing" in fundraising
- More Decision 2020 stories
That's according to a report published by Bloomberg this week, which attributes that formidable financial figure to people "familiar with the campaign."
State and national Democratic Party officials are skeptical about the report. They say there's always a discrepancy between the rhetoric from the Trump administration and the results.
"Floridians keep hearing what Trump and Florida Republicans 'are going to do,'" says Florida Democratic Party executive director Juan Penalosa. "Trump was going to provide FEMA funds to the panhandle. He was going to help Venezuela. He was going to lower healthcare costs and honor our troops."
"Trump has not kept one promise," Penalosa went on. "If he does intend to keep the promise of spending $200 million to attempt to buy an election, he is going to face a great deal of opposition from the millions of people he has marginalized, dismissed and lied to."
Gruters: Republican base "more excited than ever"
The president’s visit to the BB&T Center in Broward County came as a new poll shows independent support for the impeachment inquiry has increased after public hearings held earlier this month.
The POLITICO/Morning Consult poll shows 44 percent of independent voters support the inquiry, a 4-point increase from a week ago. Independent opposition to the inquiry dropped 8 points to 39 percent.
But if independent support for the president has weakened of late, Republican support for the president has only increased in the Sunshine State. That's according to Joe Gruters, Republican Party of Florida Chairman.
“Our base is more excited than ever. What we’ve seen in the last two weeks is the impeachment numbers have completely flipped,” Gruters told us this past Saturday night in Tampa. “We’ve always been ahead here in Florida with our internal numbers, but what this whole impeachment thing has done has empowered our base to come around and coalesce around the president, and we’re going to have more money, more volunteers and more excitement.”
“This impeachment thing – the longer it stretches out, the more it benefits the president,” adds Christian Ziegler, the vice chair of the Republican Party of Florida. “You don’t have to look any further than independent numbers, Wisconsin numbers – they have flipped. Now the majority of Wisconsin voters say 'don’t impeach the president.'”
Ziegler is referring to a Marquette University Law School poll released last week that showed that 40 percent of those surveyed in Wisconsin support impeaching and removing the president. It was 44 percent last month.
When it comes to fundraising, the Republican Party of Florida is “crushing" the Democrats, says Gruters. That edge in fundraising is why “we’re winning the voter registration efforts," he says.
Gruters may be accurate about the Republicans overall registration numbers for 2019, but the Democrats have been pumping up the effort in signing up new voters on their side since the summer.
"We have outgained the Republicans in voter registration for four months in a row since our ramp-up. And it's continuing," Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo said in St. Petersburg earlier this month.
Battle to register voters
Both the Republican and Democratic parties in Florida are in an intense battle to register voters. The Florida Democratic Party has invested more than $3 million into their 2020 campaign voter registration efforts, and increased staff levels to over 90 paid staff.
"The DNC is making historic early investments to build the general election infrastructure our eventual nominee will need to defeat Donald Trump in Florida," says Maya Hixson, deputy director of Battleground State Communication for the Democratic National Committee. "Trump has broken countless promises to Florida families; he's tried to cut Medicare and Social Security, is jeopardizing protections for people with preexisting conditions, and hurting working families at every turn. Floridians are sick of Trump's failed promises and they will hold him accountable at the ballot box in November."
Democrats continue to lead Republicans overall in registered voters in the state, but the margin is closing. At the beginning of October, there were 4.986 million registered Democrats in Florida, and 4.741 million Republicans.
Voters without a party affiliation is at 3.638 million.