The nation's most populous swing state is shaping up to be make-or-break in 2020 for Trump, who likely needs Florida's 29 electoral college votes to make the reelection math work.
So, as Trump prepares next week to hold a campaign re-launch in
In interviews this weekend and in sessions with activists at an annual leadership conference at
"It's next to impossible for Trump to win the general election without Florida," Perez said in an interview. "That's why Florida is a key battleground state."
The foundation of the plan relies upon a massive effort to register hundreds of thousands of voters.
After his loss -- a gut-punch to
At the same time, a campaign volunteer base that Gillum has pegged at 100,000 people remains intact under Bring it Home Florida, a non-profit co-founded and financed by
"We're coordinating as much as we can with as many organizations as we can," said Juan Peñalosa, executive director of the
Registered voter gap closing
The end game is to reverse course on the party's slipping registration advantage over
"We registered a ton of voters in '07 and '08," said Democratic strategist and pollster
That effort, pitched to national donors by the
"You can't spend
Smith said one of the problems Clinton faced in
"Being three months behind in 2019 is a hell of a lot different than being three months behind in 2020," he said. "As long as the pipeline is there when we decide the nominee, that's all that matters."
But there's a difference between planning and executing, and repeated losses by 1% or less since Obama's reelection has bred skepticism and doubt among the ranks. Losses by Gillum and Nelson in races so close they triggered unprecedented statewide recounts have encouraged the belief that
"I didn't see any groundbreaking ideas," said
The state party and
Trump, on the other hand, is highly focused on Florida, where he first rolled out his reelection campaign only one month after being sworn in and will return next week for a re-launch. His campaign manager,
Outreach to people of color
Peñalosa, the executive director of the FDP, stressed in
"We've never really done that in a concerted way in the party, build a stable. We're doing that media market by media market," said Peñalosa. "We're identifying folks with real stories who speak Spanish to talk about what this administration has done to affect their lives."
The party has reason to invest. Perez said a
Trump remains overwhelmingly unpopular with Hispanic voters and has continued to amp up his immigration rhetoric. But he only needs to do marginally better with the demographic in order to be successful. This year, he's gone on an aggressive campaign courting Cuban, Venezuelan and Nicaraguan voters in
Meanwhile, a recent national survey of 1,000 Latino voters by Trump's polling firm,
"We need to take this socialism thing head-on," Perez said Saturday as he spoke to a group of
But if Trump believes
Trump signed a
"What I saw there was sheer incompetence," Perez said in a speech during the party's gala.
For Florida Democrats, the question now is whether the party can competently execute its own plan, and whether that plan is competently put together. Perez told a packed ballroom Saturday night that as long as they stay on message about what
"Some reporter asked me the other day when I was up in
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