Why bury my lead? Here’s my advice to the president: “Leave New York for Florida. Make Florida your state of residence, and you’ll go on to win re-election in 2020.”
I’d like to think I have some standing to offer the president a bit of council. In December 2014, I penned a column titled “Why Trump Should Run.”
I wrote: “The elite media will scoff at a potential Donald Trump candidacy for president. They will consider it a publicity move and a bluff. The Washington insiders will write off Trump as completely unqualified to be a presidential candidate, much less president. And as usual, they will be wrong.”
The day before the 2016 elections, I appeared on major Fox affiliates and also with Newsmax. I knew the polls were flawed, and said so. I declared Donald Trump would carry Florida, North Carolina, and Michigan — and would pull off an amazing upset. And that’s precisely what he did.
Now, as we look forward to 2020, the question is: Can he do it again? The same useless polling that botched 2016 suggests it highly improbable. And once again, those polls could be wrong.
Opinion surveys today have so many cell phone interviews, which skew heavily towards younger voters and Democrats, that even the raw numbers can’t be rescued. What we do know is Florida elected a Republican governor and displaced incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson with former Gov. Rick Scott, in a midterm election that heavily favored Democrats. And Democratic voter registration numbers in Florida are on the decline.
I’ve polled Florida as much as anyone over the years. When a Florida poll says global warming is the No. 1 issue in a state where residents are still terrified of another Great Recession, I know it’s off. It’s jobs and the economy in this state.
To be sure, Florida’s demographics are in flux. The state has seen a massive influx of Puerto Rican voters in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. Traditionally, those who leave “the Commonwealth” tend to vote Democrat.
Another factor to keep in mind: The socialist turmoil in Venezuela. There are about 200,000 people of Venezuelan heritage in Florida, and you’ll notice President Trump, Gov. DeSantis, Sen. Scott, and Sen. Marco Rubio are all decrying socialism every chance they get. With the rise of the socialist strain in the Democratic Party, make no mistake this issue resonates powerfully both among those who hail from Venezuela, as well as with Cuban-Americans — who comprise about 6 percent of the Florida electorate.
How all that will play out in 2020 remains to be seen. But this much is clear: To win in 2020, President Trump needs a base of operations from which he can branch out in attempting to win other potentially razor-tight states like Georgia, North Carolina, and possibly Virginia. Why do that in New York, where Democrats are putting every facet of his life under a microscope, when he spends most of his free time at the historic Mar-a- Lago resort on Palm Beach island in Florida anyway?
What’s rarely reported by the media is that each time President Trump arrives at his home in Palm Beach, spontaneous groups of supporters waving American flags and holding pro-Trump banners line the roads there. Where I live in Tampa, it’s not unusual to see boats cruising on Tampa Bay with large flags that declare “Trump 2020.” The same is true in many parts of the state.
So why stick around in New York, a city that sent Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Congress, and that’s indifferent to Amazon’s 25,000 jobs.
Of course, the New York-centric mainstream media would howl about it. I’m pretty sure Trump could hardly care less.
Trump has derided the nanny state tax-and-spend ways of New York’s current leadership. He proudly notes that these large liberal cities are losing residents every day. So, why not join the exodus? Do what New York’s other septuagenarians do: Head south to Florida, it will drive your enemies bonkers.
Florida, mind you, has never had a native son elected president. As a “true” Floridian, Trump would be able to identify with a state where his leadership is appreciated. Moreover, his “home state” status would probably help him with Florida voters. Even if that edge was just an extra 5,000 votes, Florida is a state where a 5,000-vote margin can be considered a landslide.
Can Trump change his residency? As an attorney who has dealt with such issues in the past, my short answer is yes. I would suggest that as commander-in-chief, the guideline used for troops stationed abroad would apply to the president anyway — and Trump could easily meet them.
Of course, the blowback from Democrats and the media would be strong, but none of it would matter. Trump has the right to live wherever he wants. The Trump Organization would still be in New York, so the on-going investigations and harassment could continue unabated. It would just be easier for Trump to ignore it. Instead of going to “his Mar-a-Lago retreat,” Trump would be simply commuting home each week. From there, it would be a quick dash to visit supporters throughout South Florida at a moment’s notice on weekends.
If he’s lucky, his critics would label it a tax dodge. Florida, after all, has no state taxes.
Trump’s best comeback: “I don’t need a tax break. But I can’t in good conscience support tax-and-spend cities and states that prefer to elect socialists.”
That alone would send a message not only to Floridians, but to other hinterland states as well. His message: “I’m one of you, and I’m practicing what I preach.”
Making such a bold move could put Trump over the top in 2020. I’m convinced that the polls still do not properly reflect his political strength, and I believe he will be re-elected either way.
But to the president, I say: Why not go where your heart is?
President Trump, your new home state awaits you.
Matt Towery is a graduate of Cambridge University and Florida’s Stetson University College of law. For 15 years he wrote a syndicated column for Newsmax. A retired pollster, author, TV analyst and former Georgia legislator, he now resides in Florida.
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