Is Florida in play for Biden? State Sen.-elect Carlos Guillermo Smith, and several recent polls, says yes

(Photo by Caitlin Sause)

ORLANDO | As President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump prepare for a rematch of the 2020 presidential election, each candidate is looking to secure every vote they can, especially in the handful of swing states that are likely to decide the 2024 election.

Many didn’t have Florida on the list of those battleground states as Trump won the state in both the 2016 and 2020 elections, however newly elected Florida Senator Carlos Guillermo Smith says don’t count Florida in the red column just yet.

“President Biden is delivering on issues that matter to voters in the state,” says Guillermo Smith. “It’s better jobs, it’s lower costs, it’s a steadfast commitment to protecting Social Security and Medicare. … There’s a lot of evidence not only that folks [in Florida] are moving towards Democrats but they’ve grown tired of these obsessive culture war attacks coming from Republicans like Rick Scott and Donald Trump that do absolutely nothing to improve their lives.”

Several recent polls indicate Guillermo Smith may have reason to be feeling confident in Biden’s Florida performance. A Florida Atlantic University and Mainstreet Research poll released June 12 shows Trump’s Florida lead over Biden is narrowing with 43% of likely voters expressing support for Trump, compared to 37% backing Biden. Another 10% favored Robert Kennedy Jr., while only 6% remain undecided. This reflects a slight tightening from April when Trump led Biden 49% to 40%.

“While Trump is still in front, these numbers suggest Biden has made modest gains and kept the race competitive in the nation’s largest swing state,” said Dukhong Kim, Ph.D., associate professor of political science at FAU, in the poll numbers release. Another poll released June 6 by Fox News suggests that Trump has a four point lead over Biden, which the news organization points out is within the poll’s margin of sampling error.

Guillermo Smith also points to several Democratic victories in Florida since Gov. Ron DeSantis’ re-election win 2022 to show the state’s readiness to elect more Democrats.

“We saw that Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan was elected in Duval County in a historic election last year in a traditionally conservative area of the state. She flipped the mayorship there. We also saw that right here in Orlando, Democratic State Rep. Tom Keane won a special election for State House just a few months ago that was a +11 DeSantis seat,” he says. “Floridians want problem solvers, people who are going to tackle real issues and that’s what President Biden and Democrats in Florida have been doing.”

Something else that is likely to help Biden’s chances in Florida are two state constitutional amendments on the ballot this November — Amendment 3, which would legalize marijuana for adults ages 21 and older, and Amendment 4, which would establish the right to an abortion up until fetal viability or at any point to protect the patient’s health. Both are issues expected to help turn out the progressive vote in Florida.

The Biden-Harris campaign has also been stepping up its focus recently on LGBTQ+ voters for Pride Month. The Washington Blade reported June 11 that the campaign would be debuting new ads targeting LGBTQ+ voters in battleground states aimed at uplifting Biden’s record as “the most pro-LGBTQ+ president in history” while also highlighting “Donald Trump’s history of attacking their rights and his plans to go further.”

“President Biden has been a huge champion for curbing discrimination against LGBTQ people,” Guillermo Smith says. “For making sure that every student is protected in our public schools who identifies as LGBTQ, to make sure that every family is respected as well. And there’s no greater example than the Biden administration’s recent release of Title IX protections.”

The Biden administration’s rule extending Title IX civil rights protections to LGBTQ+ students would also expand the definition of sexual harassment at schools and colleges, and adds safeguards for victims. Title IX, passed in 1972, is a law that bars sex discrimination in education.

“That’s going to be huge for access to bathrooms, for access to classes and activities, and even dress codes that have been such an obstacle for LGBTQ students in our schools at a time when they’re being relentlessly attacked by Governor Ron DeSantis and far-right Republicans,” Guillermo Smith says.

Biden’s efforts to expand Title IX have hit several roadblocks this month with federal judges temporarily blocking it in several states. But even has his administration continues to work on those expansions, Guillermo Smith points out that Biden has not only been the most pro-LGBTQ+ president in our country’s history, but he has also been a champion for young people and the issues they care about.

“He’s been able to offer relief to millions of Americans through student loan debt forgiveness and cancellation. He has been really making historic moves through his office and working through Congress to pass bipartisan legislation to prevent gun violence. He opened the first ever office of gun violence prevention thanks to his partnership with Orlando’s own Congressman Maxwell Alejandro Frost,” he says. “These are issues that young voters deeply care about and it’s really, really important that folks remember this when they’re casting their ballots.”

As both candidates continue to campaign, they are preparing for their first 2024 debate that will be held June 27. The debate, a first between a sitting president and former president, will be 90 minutes with no studio audience and will be moderated by CNN’s Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. The debate also takes place in the final days of Pride Month, something that Guillermo Smith thinks will not go unnoticed by Biden.

“What we would like to hear from President Biden, I’m sure we will hear, is his unwavering commitment to protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination. In particular making sure that we send a important message of solidarity with trans and nonbinary Americans, which we know that President Biden will do as he has continued to stand up against hatred and bigotry,” Guillermo Smith says. “But what we also know is that President Biden is going to be delivering a message of prosperity about how inflation is down, about how he is delivering on the issues that matter to the economy, that he’s creating more jobs, that crime is down and that bringing America backwards in the wrong direction, as MAGA Republicans like Donald Trump have been continuing to try to do, would be a disaster for our country.”

The first 2024 presidential debate between Biden and Trump will be June 27, starting at 9 p.m. ET. It will air live on CNN, CNN International, CNN en Español and CNN Max. It will also stream on

The 2024 presidential election will be Nov. 5. You can find your Florida voting location by going here.

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