Pensacola, Florida
Sunday December 17th 2017

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Outtakes—The Unlikely Conversion

By Rick Outzen

Once again Florida will be the state that decides who will be the next president.

The latest New York Times Upshot/Siena College poll has the race in Florida as a dead heat.

A little more than a month away from the vote, Democrat Hillary Clinton leads Republican Donald Trump by a single point, 41 to 40 percent, among likely voters in a four-way race that includes Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party and Jill Stein of the Green Party. The race is tied in the head-to-head race, 43-43.

Considering all of the outlandish statements made by Trump, Clinton’s inability to pull away from her GOP rival must be troubling to her campaign managers. As unlikeable as the New York billionaire may be to some, the former Secretary of State has distractors that want anybody but her elected to the White House.

Trump dominates the white likely voters in Florida, 50-30 percent, while Clinton has healthy margins among Blacks, 82-4 percent, and Hispanics, 61-21 percent.

The Clinton campaign will need an Obama-type “Get out the vote” campaign to drive new and unlikely voters to the polls in November. In 2012, Karl Rove and other Republican political strategists were convinced the black community and young college voters had lost their enthusiasm for President Barack Obama and would stay home. They believed Mitt Romney would win by a landslide.

Of course, they were wrong, which led to Rove’s memorable meltdown during Fox News election night coverage as he watched Ohio and Florida go for Obama.

Like Romney four years ago, Trump has a considerable lead among the likeliest voters, the older, generally whiter voters who vote in every primary and midterm election. He has a five-point lead with voters who cast ballots in the 2014 midterm election. Among registered voters with a greater than 90 percent chance of turning out, Trump has a seven-point lead.

Like Obama, Clinton will need to attract less regular voters where the poll showed she had a sizable lead. Among registered voters who did not vote in 2014 midterm elections, Clinton has a 10-point lead. Can she convince them to turnout in the presidential election?

Clinton will have to inspire unlikely voters and help them realize their votes matter. In other words, convert the unlikely to likely.

On the Republican side, Trump will continue to fire up his base and maybe create enough chaos that the unlikely voters get more disillusioned and stay away from the circus.

It’s a toss up.