On Tuesday, Donald Trump managed to capture an astounding 66 out of 67 counties in my home state of Florida. Despite Marco Rubio’s home court advantage, Trump managed to garner extraordinary support from all three of Florida’s distinct regions: North, West and South.
Trump’s accomplishment was an impressive feat in and of itself, but the symbolic significance of his victory in Florida – and the consequences for Democrats and establishment Republicans –cannot be overstated.
The Trump base is huge
It affirms the vastness of Trump’s fan base that he has created in less than one year. Florida is hyper-diverse and is a microcosm of the United States. Trump’s appeal included all of Florida’s Republican voters. The people of Florida have spoken, and they want Trump.
There is an enthusiasm gap
In the most important swing state in November, Florida Republicans cast more than 550,000 votes than Democrats did. And Republican turnout in Broward County (Fort Lauderdale area) a.k.a the home of the hanging chad recount site in Bush v. Gore — beat Democratic turnout by double digits, with statewide Republican turnout besting Democrats by almost 20%.
Now that’s an enthusiasm gap that should worry Democrats. And since Florida’s primaries are closed — barring right-leaning Independents who likely would have supported party-outsider Trump — Tuesday’s impressive Republican turnout will likely increase when November comes around.
With no excitement in Democratic strongholds like Broward County, Democrats’ have much to be concerned with heading into the November election. Astoundingly, more than 200,000 newly registered voters joined Republican ranks in Florida over the past eight months.
Vice President John Kasich?
John Kasich’s continued candidacy is the final establishment vestige remaining in this race. As seated governor and leader of Ohio’s Republican apparatus, Kasich needed Tuesday’s Ohio win to bolster his own credibility.
Heading into the convention, Kasich will benefit tremendously from his pocketful of delegates, which he can leverage to influence policy and gain primetime coverage.
For a Republican to win Ohio in November, it would behoove our nominee to befriend Kasich and, through him, the Republican establishment in Ohio. Kasich will not lead the ticket, but a Kasich Vice Presidency or Cabinet appointment may be on the horizon.
Where does that leave the GOP establishment?
After this extended campaign season, many primaries, many miles traveled and millions of votes cast, Republican voters have made what they want clear. They want an outsider. To ignore the will of the people would be more than a disservice to the party; it would be an affront to the American democratic process and tradition.
Whether we like it or not, the people want something different. The Republican establishment, which I consider myself to be a part of, is now faced with two choices. We can either unite behind our nominee to expand the party and hopefully win in November, or we can hand the Democrats an easy victory. It is entirely up to us. We can ignore Trump’s hyperbole of the day of riots, but should we fail to read the real warning signs, we do so at our own peril. If the party apparatus decides to reject the will of the people, the Republican Party will capsize completely.
Ed J. Pozzuoli is the president of Florida-based law firm Tripp Scott. He was the co-chairman of Jeb Bush for Governor (Broward). He also served as an integral member of the Bush/Cheney legal team in the 2000 presidential recount litigation. He is an active member of the Republican Party and served as the chairman of the Republican Party in Broward County, Florida.