On Tuesday, June 18, Orlando’s Amway Center will host the official kickoff of President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign with an event featuring First Lady Melania Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Second Lady Karen Pence.
By choosing Orlando, the Trump campaign is signaling its heavy emphasis on winning the Sunshine State in 2020. However, one of the president’s signature policies – tariffs – could jeopardize his chances here come November 2020.
Since taking office, President Trump has used tariffs as a negotiating tactic in striking new trade deals, which the president says will put “America first.” Most recently, the President announced that the U.S. would raise tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods to 25%.
In response, 600 of the largest companies in America, including 19 from Florida, wrote a letter to the president warning that higher tariffs will be paid by American companies and consumers.
Most economists agree. In fact, President Trump’s own Economic Advisor, Larry Kudlow, stated in an interview with Fox News that “both sides,” meaning China and U.S. consumers and businesses, will suffer from higher costs due to tariffs.
In Florida, evidence suggests tariffs have already had negative consequences. According to research by Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, Florida companies have already paid $601 million in new import duties, and $153 million in retaliatory tariffs from other nations.
As businesses raise their prices to make up for lost income due to tariffs, consumers will likely face higher sticker prices at the store for affected goods. Going into 2020, this poses the risk of alienating many voters.
There’s evidence this is already happening. A recent Monmouth University poll found that nearly half of all Americans believe tariffs are harmful, and another poll by Fox News showed similar results. In Florida, shedding any support due to tariffs could spell trouble for the Trump campaign.
However, Trump campaign officials express confidence in winning the state, as the president’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, recently told the Broward County Republican Party that Florida was “Trump country.” Officials point to Republican victories for U.S. Senate and Governor in 2018 as proof that the state is a lock for the GOP.
However, a look at the numbers casts doubt on such surety. Senator Rick Scott and Governor Ron DeSantis, while claiming victory in a Democratic wave year, each did so by less than 1% out of eight million votes that were cast (Scott’s margin was just 10,000 votes). In 2016, President Trump won by just over 1%.
This means President Trump will need every vote he can get in order to keep the state red in 2020. It also means that a lot of time and money is sure to be spent here over the coming months. Yet questions remain over whether the impacts of tariffs will be the deciding factor on Election Day.