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04th Nov 2020

Unreported world: Trump’s Florida flotillas

Josh Kaplan

Boaters for Trump in Florida

All across America unofficial campaign events have sprouted in support of President Donald Trump.

Organised at a local level, largely on Facebook, they are attended by thousands. One of the largest in the key swing state of Florida is Boaters for Trump. It’s events like this that were largely missed by the media and pollsters who called 2016 for Hillary. The question is, will the same thing happen in 2020?

In Fort Myers, Florida, we attended a flotilla with some 1,000 boats sporting Trump flags and swimwear patterned with the Stars and Stripes. Boaters for Trump organisers say a previous rally held here broke a world record for largest boat parade, apparently around 11,000 vessels.

It’s difficult to find any comparable kind of event being organised for the Biden campaign, which can be put down to a rational fear of the coronavirus pandemic. Trump supporters are far less cautious. In fact, as we interviewed boat owners who had joined the flotilla when they pulled in for beers and frisbee at a beach bar they accosted us for wearing masks.


Whoever wins Florida will very likely win the election. If Biden can flip the state, the election is over for Trump. If Trump can hang onto it, we won’t know if he’s won potentially for several days because his other key states will be much slower to declare because counting laws are different at the state level. Whilst Florida already has a well-oiled mail-in ballot and early voting system, thanks to its elderly population and regular natural disasters, which is permitted to start counting before polling day, places like Pennsylvania do not.

Since 1964 whoever wins Florida has won the White House. As Florida goes, so goes the nation.