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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

How Trump’s visits to Florida and Pennsylvania may determine which party controls Congress

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President Donald Trump addresses supporters during a campaign rally in Charlotte, N.C., on Monday. Several polls show him in the lead in Pennsylvania, but he’s trailing in other swing states like Florida and Pennsylvania. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

UPDATED Tuesday, 6:50 p.m. to include comment from Robby Mook, campaign manager for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential bid.

The largest battlegrounds in this year’s midterm elections are home to the two Florida towns that Donald Trump visited on Monday to rile up a large crowd of voters.

While Florida’s “most recent polling” puts Trump’s performance at 32 percent, up 11 points since the 2016 presidential election, and “his approval rating highest of his presidency,” as the Miami Herald recently described it, Trump’s personal approval rating in Florida remains at 40 percent, according to the University of Florida.

Florida is also home to the state’s 29 electoral votes, which may very well determine who can claim the Oval Office in 2020.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania’s 33 electoral votes are key to Democrats hoping to pull off a comeback in the House of Representatives in January.

Unsurprisingly, Pennsylvania’s polling numbers show a battle for the blue state between Trump and Hillary Clinton, even if the most recent marks represent a statistical dead heat, as NBC News reported Monday evening.

Pennsylvania “has gone red more often than anything else since 1948.” Ronald McNutt, a political science professor at Lafayette College, told NBC News. “When you go all the way back to 1783, until 1950, it’s been a blue state. And since 1950, red states have started to win.”

Trump won the state in 2016 by taking 52 percent of the vote, and recent polls by Quinnipiac University, surveyed Pennsylvania voters and shows both candidates at 46 percent.

The trend lines should give Democrats hope.

“Pennsylvania is a pick-up for Democrats right now, but like Florida, they are there because people are disgusted with Republicans, not because people are trending blue,” D.J. Jordan, the communications director for Democratic Governors Association, told USA Today.

According to the Associated Press, a recent Quinnipiac poll shows Clinton leading Trump by 7 points, but in a sign of the changing times, some voters told Quinnipiac that they would give Trump an opportunity to make a second term.

“It will be a close election,” said Tom Baldino, a Florida State University political science professor, quoted in the Herald. “It will be a closer election than the last presidential election, but I think it is Trump’s election to lose.”

Robby Mook, campaign manager for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential bid, said Sunday night on CNN’s “State of the Union” that, while Trump may be energizing supporters in what Mook called “a shock to the system thing,” the candidates who are running on night-night college campuses in key swing states know how to win.

Trump is “always going to have a very strong core of support,” Mook said. “But people who are in places like Philadelphia and Chicago, in the suburbs, where these races are being won — people who vote when they are interested and motivated in issues that are important to them — they have to make the president accountable for his performance.”

Trump’s visit to Florida on Monday “underscores that he is not worrying about stopping any semblance of a recount or any other attempt at a recount,” Mook said.

The election results will be a “tragic loss” to the U.S. if Trump and the Republicans keep control of the House and the Senate, Mook said.

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