No reporter in Florida knows the state’s political mysteries and ever-shifting formulas for winning better than Politico’s Marc Caputo, our latest guest on Political Party with Adam Smith.
The Miami-based scribe who has been covering the Joe Biden campaign all cycle, has over the years done his share of slicing and dicing and analyzing Florida’s melting pot electorate – Cubans, Puerto Ricans, African Americans, Venezuelans, Haitians etc. This year, though, he is particularly focused on the biggest chunk of Florida’s electorate: White folks.
“If you could boil down the entire presidential election to one demographic and one state, it’s whites in Florida,” Caputo said. “Does Joe Biden get 40 percent of them?”
Hillary Clinton in 2016 won just 32 percent of Florida’s white vote, and polls consistently show Biden doing much better than, albeit not necessarily 40 percent.
But Biden’s relatively strong showing with white voters, especially women and seniors, is a big reason why Caputo and other savvy politicos will be closely watching counties like Pinellas, Sumter, Collier, and Lee when the vote counting begins Nov. 3. All are counties Trump won in ’16, and how much Biden can shrink Trump’s margins of victory in those counties will be decisive.
“Pinellas is a great county because it’s so much vote by mail, and it’s very white,” he noted. “It gives you kind of a good flavor for whites.”
Caputo is experienced enough not to make any predictions about Florida. The main question is whether Republicans continue chipping away at the Democrats’ mail vote advantage and have another big turnout advantage on Nov. 3, the final day for voting.
He likened the campaigns to competing car sales pitches:
“The Biden campaign as an Oldsmobile with a lot of miles on it. They’ve made the case it’s pretty reliable. They’ve been very good at putting that car in front of the buyer, so to speak, to entice them to buy without looking too much under the hood. Trump is probably more of an older sports car. And the question is, will I spin off the road and die in it?”
Listen for much more, including why Caputo carries a gun, what political journalism lost because of travel restrictions, and how he voted for Pat Buchanan in 2000 – on purpose.