President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are headed to Orlando to kickoff their bid for a second term later this month, underscoring the important role Florida will play in their efforts to stay in the White House.
Trump is scheduled to be in Orlando on June 18 to officially launch his reelection bid though, of course, his campaign team has already been working hard. So far, the Trump team has reeled in around $130 million, an impressive warchest with 17 months until Election Day.
While it’s the largest swing state on the map, Florida isn’t the chief battleground in 2020 by any stretch of the imagination. Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin are currently getting a great deal of attention and other states–New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina–are also looking competitive.
Still, Florida is a must-win state for Trump. His path to the White House becomes near impossible if he loses in the Sunshine State, explaining why he is launching his campaign in Orlando. It will be interesting to see if Trump looks to win over Central Florida’s growing population in his kickoff as he tries to nail down the Sunshine State.
Headed into 2020, Trump does have a few advantages in Florida. The economy in the Sunshine State continues to remain strong and the GOP has the inside track. There have been plenty of close elections in Florida in recent years and most of them–the 2010, 2014 and 2018 gubernatorial races, the 2018 U.S. Senate contest and the 2016 presidential race–went to the Republicans. Of course, Democrats have more than a puncher’s chance as Barack Obama’s wins in 2008 and 2016 and Nikki Fried’s victory last year show. Trump starts off with a slight edge but Florida remains–as always–down to the wire.
Trump is already drawing the praise from his allies in Florida and fire from his enemies in the Sunshine State but they all seem to be overlooking the fact that Pence is scheduled to attend the event in Orlando. Pence has increasingly been an effective surrogate for Trump on the campaign trail, including in Florida. While there was little chance that Trump would throw his vice president overboard–honestly the only president who could get away with jettisoning his vice president in the past century was FDR–the Orlando appearance shows Pence will be on the ticket come 2020.
While they might have fewer electoral college votes, other states like Pennsylvania and Michigan are expected to get more attention in the months to come. But Florida remains important and if Trump can lock it down, his chances for a second term will improve dramatically. By kicking off his campaign in Florida, Trump shows he is going to go all out to win the Sunshine State next year.
Kevin Derby wrote this analysis. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.