Democrats may have declared victory in Florida during the last two presidential cycles, but they shouldn’t be so certain they’ll have the same results in 2016.
Florida, perhaps the most hotly contested swing state in the country, appears to be at risk for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, who is failing to build up momentum akin to her predecessor and former boss, President Barack Obama.
Obama ran an energized campaign in both 2008 and 2012, making history when he helped the Democrats walk away with consecutive victories in the Sunshine State, the first time since President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Clinton, however, has failed to gain that same enthusiasm, and lags behind by several points in important demographic groups like Hispanics, whites, and young voters (many of whom favored Democratic primary contender Bernie Sanders).
Meanwhile, Trump has begun to narrow the gap between he and Clinton, and now leads in several battleground states, including Florida. Recent polls also show Trump gaining traction in Ohio and Iowa, and he’s begun to dig into Clinton’s lead in other states like New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.
All signs seem to point to a more organized campaign by Hillary Clinton -- she’s opened 57 field offices while Trump has opened up just a few. Team Trump has largely lagged behind in this effort -- in August, the campaign promised it would have 25 offices open by the end of the month, but that never happened.
Now the Trump campaign team plans to have 27 offices open throughout Florida.
Clinton has spent millions in campaign ads attacking the billionaire businessman who has taken the Republican Party -- and America -- by storm.
Unfortunately for Clinton, voters don’t feel enthusiastic about her candidacy, which could pose problems with voter turnout. According to the Florida Divisions of Elections, 72 percent of voters came to the polls in Florida 2012, a drop from the nearly 75 percent that showed up in 2008.
Democrats typically tend to hone in on South Florida to carry them to victory in national elections, while Northern Florida and many other parts of the state tends to go red. Central Florida and West Florida, including Hillsborough and Pinellas County, are tossups.
Clinton and Trump have both hit the Tampa Bay area several times. When Clinton appeared in Tampa earlier this month, she urged voters to help her edge out her Republican opponent.
"We are stronger together. It can not be done by one person, it must be done by all of us," Clinton said.
Polls vary on what Clinton will actually do if she makes it to the White House. Many voters don’t feel like the former Secretary of State would do much to actually change Washington.
A recent CBS poll found only 20 percent of voters believed Clinton would change Washington, while 49 percent felt the same way about Trump.
Clinton’s health took a tumble this month, putting her out of the spotlight temporarily. A bout with pneumonia made her campaign go silent while Trump’s raged on all the while.
Meanwhile, Trump has prioritized spending time in Florida. He frequently makes stops throughout the Sunshine State, where he is a resident of Palm Beach. He appeared in Miami last week to hold a rally after polls put him on the upswing going into the rest of the month.
Trump has also had fervent support from his state party. The Republican Party of Florida has held fast to its nominee, remaining confident Republicans would emerge with a win come November.
“As Mr. Trump’s ‘second home’, the importance of victory in our state is even more evident, and come November Florida will go red for Donald J. Trump,” said Blaise Ingoglia, Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida.