As the GOP primary melted down into a carnival sideshow even Hunter S. Thompson on acid couldn't have dreamed up, many Democrats and neutral voters have been happy to point and laugh at the mess, assuring themselves that someone as bigoted, xenophobic, and misogynistic as Donald Trump could never carry a general election.
It's gut-check time for the naysayers, because this morning, the first big Florida poll since Trump wrapped up the GOP nomination is out, and it shows the Donald in a dead heat with Clinton in the vital swing state.
Quinnipiac polled about 1,000 Sunshine State voters and found Clinton at 43 percent and Trump at 42. That vital swing-state tie isn't just a Florida phenomenon either — the Q-poll finds Clinton and Trump locked up in Pennsylvania and Ohio as well.
The numbers in Florida are all the more shocking, though, considering this is a state Obama won twice and that's stocked with Hispanic voters who have consistently polled under 15 percent for Trump.
What's more, it comes on the heels of a poll from the Miami Herald suggesting Trump will get trounced in Florida's most populous county. The Herald found Clinton leads 52-25 percent in Miami, with a sizable chunk of Republicans crossing over to support her.
So how is Trump even in the ballpark statewide? White guys. Quinnipiac's poll finds that just 25 percent of white men support Clinton — a huge gap that, for now at least, makes up for every other demographic where Trump is badly trailing.
"Republicans' weakness among minority voters is well known. But the reason this race is so close overall is Clinton's historic weakness among white men. In Florida, she is getting just 25 percent from white men," Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Poll, says in a release.
There's also a huge gender gap between the candidates. Clinton leads 48-35 percent among Florida women, but Trump leads men in the state 49-36.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Miami New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Miami's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
On the issues, Florida voters give Trump the nod on economy and terrorism, but voters overwhelmingly agree that Clinton is smarter and more morally sound (a positive sign for a candidate who has struggled to come off as trustworthy in the early going.)
Side note to voters still feeling the Bern: No, he wouldn't outperform Clinton versus Trump in the Sunshine State; Q's poll finds Sanders at 44-42 versus Trump in Florida.
So can Florida's white dudes really carry Trump to a win in November if he continues to alienate women and minority voters?
That all comes down to turnout. And with poll numbers like these, anyone who stays home in November had better be A-OK with the idea of a Donald Trump presidency.