Up front: I have no idea if Donald Trump will make a good president.
Also, I make no analysis of policy here. I’m not here to gloat about a Trump victory I didn’t stump for. I’m not here to claim it’s about the wall or Hillary’s infamous “basket of deplorables” comment. I have ideas, but of that I am not certain.
All I was certain of was what I saw in a swing state that I have lived in for the last year. I’ve been all over Florida, from the “redneck Riviera” of the panhandle to Miami. I learned what parts of Florida were deep red, deep blue and purple.
I knew before the national polling experts and pundits that Florida, at least for this election, would go for Trump. As such, so likely would the presidency. Here’s how:
You might have heard about the “I-4 corridor” in the national news. Interstate 4 cuts through central Florida like a backslash on a keyboard, from Daytona Beach, westward through Orlando and Tampa/St. Petersburg. It’s a curious 133-mile long swath of the state, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. It includes the site of NASCAR’s signature event, Disney World, franchises from the top five team sports in the USA and a gorgeous drive across Tampa Bay.
It’s also noteworthy in that north of the interstate is blood-dripping Republican red — Jacksonville, the Panhandle, etc. South of I-4, by a three-hour drive on the turnpike, Miami is midnight Democrat blue. So I-4, which has both urban areas and rural, is mixed. Win I-4. You likely win the state. You also are in excellent position to win the presidency.
I often work in Sanford, infamous for the Trayvon Martin killing. Both Trump and Hillary Clinton held events in that little town. Trump drew thousands. Hillary drew hundreds.
When I leave Sanford, I take I-4 home. There are three pedestrian bridges before I reach my destination. For weeks, people lined the first bridge holding Trump/Pence signs. They also bought billboards on the side of the freeway and built their own on major roads. Not the campaign, mind you, regular people. Some signs were likely illegally placed on the side of the highway for Trump. I saw nothing for Hillary.
I also drove I-4 in its entirety to Tampa to see two NFL games. Same story, except for pedestrian bridges. I saw people shill for Trump at a tailgate for a Rams-Bucs game.
When the “Access Hollywood” tape surfaced, I saw people line the streets in front of Altamonte Mall with their “Make America Great Again” signs. I saw four get out the vote demonstrations last weekend before Election Day. These areas allegedly went for President Barack Obama in two elections. (I don’t know for sure. I wasn’t here.)
I saw the power of belief — where it wasn’t enough to simply vote. People had so much faith in the candidate they wanted to spread the word like gospel. Republicans don’t do that stuff. Democrats specialize in that.
I spent three days in the pro-Clinton Miami area and saw nothing like that. No bumper stickers. No flash mobs. Nothing.
This is something millions never saw in the press or in their own security bubble of California. When I tried to be the canary in the coal mine, I was shouted down by people who weren’t here. I was dismissed by people who claimed to know Florida would automatically vote Clinton because what California says goes.
Now many of you are shocked and angry. I tried to warn you.
Instead, you in California want to blame Florida, the same state that voted for Obama. That’s not a particularly fair response.
Here’s what you don’t know about Florida. Here, people say, “I like Hillary because…” or “I don’t like Hillary because…” In California, it’s “If you don’t like Hillary, eff you.” There’s a huge difference. Californians are not interested in political discourse. They are only interested in capitulation.
I never even argued in favor of Trump. Marco Rubio was my guy in the primaries, although I eventually voted for John Kasich because Rubio took the bait of Trump’s taunting. It didn’t sit well.
But on Election Night, I sat in an easy chair and watched my Facebook feed go from premature gloating to impatience and ultimately, rage.
Permit me one nongloating political forecast: The Democrats and liberalism are not dead. They have four years to figure something out. Maybe they’ll even have an idea or two in time for the midterms. If I see energy for that outside of the Calibubble, I’ll be honest enough to let you know.