Sachs Media and Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce recently hosted a candid conversation with Peter Schorsch, the influential publisher and executive editor of FloridaPolitics.com. Moderated by CEO Ron Sachs, the discussion covered the spectrum of the biggest Florida stories of 2020.
Below is a recap of Peter Schorsch’s top takeaways from the year so far, and some predictions for the future.
Nationally COVID-19 has gone horribly, but Florida has fared better than expected.
President Trump’s national response to COVID-19 has not gone well, as shown from the 200,000 Americans who have died from the virus. Florida has fared better than expected despite media criticisms of Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Schorsch does not believe the pandemic is slowing down, and more precautions are needed – specifically, we would be in a better place with a statewide mask mandate.
He also commends mayors, sheriffs, and local government leaders as pandemic heroes for rising to the challenge during response efforts.
The pandemic model for Florida’s schools is not working.
The process of sending Florida’s youngest population back to school has been disorganized and is not working for teachers or families. Peter Schorsch says that having teachers manage multiple classroom formats causes more stress and is not an effective model.
The BLM movement will have a lasting impact on politics and society.
The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and the passing of George Floyd and other Black Americans have led to a larger reckoning for our country. Schorsch believes it’s no coincidence that the #MeToo movement preceded the BLM movement, with both marking a shift in demographics and power in our country.
A special legislative session is likely coming to Florida.
Peter Schorsch believes a special session is likely before the end of the year to consider Gov. DeSantis’ legislative proposal to curtail violent protests. He doubts the governor and legislative leaders will wait until March in order to take action before more protestors make their way to Florida.
The death and legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg could help Democrats this election.
With the recent passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Schorsch sees an opportunity for Democrats to benefit as Republicans rush to push forward with their next nominee.
Due to Justice Ginsburg’s prominence, the swift nomination efforts by Republicans could alienate moderate women, leading them to vote for former Vice President Joe Biden in the presidential election.
Regardless, Schorsch believes that if President Trump is successful at pushing through his nominee before the election, it will make him one of the most transformative presidents in history. He emphasized that the impact of President Trump’s actions will last a generation or longer, well after his presidency is over.
Florida’s 2022 governor race will depend heavily on the 2020 election.
Two years before the next big election in Florida, Peter Schorsch cannot predict what will happen because so much depends on the 2020 election. In his view, Gov. DeSantis’s best result would be for President Trump to carry Florida but lose nationally.
Democrats’ nomination of Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is also not as locked in as people may expect, and other legitimate contenders may emerge – potentially including former Tallahassee Mayor and Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum, former Rep. Gwen Graham, Rep. Val Demings, Rep. Stephanie Murphy, and Rep. Ted Deutch, among others.
He also said he believes former governor and current Rep. Charlie Crist may once again run statewide, potentially in the next governor’s race or against Sen. Marco Rubio in the next U.S. Senate race.
Donald Trump will probably win Florida (again).
Schorsch will not be surprised if President Trump wins Florida again despite current polls. He predicts the polls will show Trump edging ahead as Election Day draws closer.
The 2020 presidential election is not a close race.
He is predicting the race will not be as close as many expect, with Biden up significantly. If traditionally solid Republican states like Florida, Georgia, and Texas demand extra effort from Republicans, it will divert resources and help assure a Biden victory nationally.
The first presidential debate will be a big deal.
The upcoming September 29 presidential debate is forecast to be a highly watched event, one likely to be dominated by television-oriented President Trump. Schorsch expects Vice President Biden to have a blunder or two and anticipates there will be plenty of memes from Twitter to come from the night.
Democrats should lower their expectations for the vice presidential debate.
Senator Kamala Harris’s first vice presidential debate on October 7 will not be the saving grace for Democrats this election.
Even with her prosecutor background, Peter Schorsch says, people should not assume it will give her added might against Vice President Mike Pence because being a prosecutor is not the same as being effective in a debate.
Instead, he says Democrats should focus their energies on swaying suburban moderate white women to their side.