Once again, President Trump is the big winner in the Tuesday primaries
Tuesday, March 17, was another primary day, this time in Florida, Illinois, and Arizona. Showing that Bernie’s momentum is completely stalled, Joe Biden won significantly in both Florida and Illinois. However, Trump was the candidate who walked away with the highest number of votes in Florida – despite his being an incumbent and the negative media drumbeat since it sank its teeth into the coronavirus outbreak.
The energy has gone out of Bernie’s campaign. Bernie and his supporters presumably hoped that Joe Biden would have another bad night during the Democrat primary debate on Sunday. If that happened, even though the momentum seemed to be moving in Biden’s direction, voters might have look at a mentally incompetent Biden and, reluctantly or not, cast their vote for the morally incompetent Bernie in the remaining primaries.
As it happened, though, Biden and Bernie were pretty much neck-and-neck in the Sunday debate. Both were old men endlessly repeating their messages: Biden’s was, “I’ve already done all that before (but don’t blame me for any of the problems America has), and I can do it again.” Bernie’s was, “I hate America and what to fix it by turning it into Cuba.” Both stumbled a bit on words, but nobody could hold that against either of them. The important thing was that, merely by appearing not to be senile, Biden won.
Given Biden’s Sunday victory, his Tuesday night victory in the Illinois and Florida primaries was pretty much a foregone conclusion. As of this writing, Biden’s leading in Arizona, but with fewer than 5% of votes counted, that could change.
With 98.68% of votes counted in Florida, Biden had received 1,070,826 votes, and Bernie received only 395,834. Showing the damaging effects of early voting, Michael Bloomberg received 147,594 votes, which were presumably siphoned off from Biden.
Bernie’s poor showing in Florida was almost a foregone conclusion. His manifest love for Fidel Castro alienated the Cuban population, while his equally manifest love for every two-bit anti-Semite and his hatred for Israel alienated the Jewish community. Both of those blocs vote, and they weren’t going to vote for Bernie.
What was staggering about the Florida vote, though, was the number of votes cast for Donald Trump. In a field of four Republican primary candidates (with Bill Weld, Joe Walsh, and Roque De La Fuente being the primary candidates no one remembers), Trump got 1,160,192 votes. What this means is that, despite running virtually unopposed as the incumbent president, Trump managed to get almost 100,000 more votes than Joe Biden did – and that was in an election that Biden dominated on the Democrat side of the aisle.
It’s true that, if early voting hadn’t siphoned off Bloomberg votes, Biden probably would have received more votes. Likewise, in the final election, many Bernie voters may consolidate behind Biden. Nevertheless, it’s striking that 1,160,192 people roused themselves during a time of coronavirus to vote for an incumbent candidate who is under non-stop attack from the media. It speaks to a significant level of support.
Florida’s twenty-nine Electoral College votes are amongst the most important in a presidential election. In 2012, Obama squeaked into a victory by a margin of only .88%. Four years later, Trump beat Hillary by 1.2%. And as many remember, back in 2000, Bush won Florida – and the White House – when he received 0.01 percent more of the vote than Gore did.
Florida is a critical state, and it’s anybody’s bet which way it’s going to go. I wouldn’t dare to predict what will happen this November, but it’s certainly worth noting the enthusiasm for Donald Trump in this challenging March.