MIAMI — The most recent visits to Florida by President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence illustrate the reliance of the Republican ticket on two voting blocs seemingly headed in opposite political directions this election: seniors and Latinos.
Last week, Pence stumped in Miami-Dade County with Hispanic voters who, compared to four years ago, have shown a greater willingness to bubble in Trump's name on the ballot. Trump promised seniors in Fort Myers last week that a COVID-19 vaccine would be available first to seniors, who appear to be pulling back from the president amid the pandemic.
In must-win Florida, where tight margins can make even small shifts in voter sentiment consequential, the shifting balance between those two demographics could prove decisive as Trump faces off with Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
"I don't know if there's a more important two blocs in the state of Florida," said Chuck Rocha, the Democratic political consultant behind the Latino outreach Nuestro PAC.
Four years after Trump won Florida by about 113,000 votes, polling suggests he's lost support among senior voters and improved his standing among Latinos. Both the Trump and Biden campaigns continue to spend millions on TV and countless hours on the ground in the state attempting to bolster their standing and hurt their opponent with those two groups.
The president is scheduled to return to Florida on Friday for campaign rallies in The Villages and Pensacola.
During the Fort Myers trip, Trump told a room of seniors that they "will be the first in line for the vaccine. And we will soon be ending this pandemic."
"I'm moving heaven and earth to safeguard our seniors," Trump said, "deliver life-saving therapies in record time, and to distribute a safe and effective vaccine before the end of the year."
Trump, who according to exit polling won seniors by 17 percentage points in 2016 in Florida, appears this year to be struggling to win voters 65 and older by the same margin. He led Biden by 10 points in that group in a University of North Florida poll released Tuesday. Some national polls have found Biden ahead of Trump among older voters by a wide margin.
Any slippage with Florida's seniors could doom Trump. Voters 65 and older comprised 35.5% of the electorate in 2016, according to AARP.