Republican Maria Salazar leading in Florida district Trump lost by 20

The Miami Herald reports that GOP candidate Maria Elvira Salazar is up two points against Democratic rival Donna Shalala. What’s surprising is that this is a district Trump lost by 20 points:

Shalala, a Democrat running in a district that President Donald Trump lost by nearly 20 percentage points in 2016, is trailing Republican TV journalist Maria Elvira Salazar by 2 percentage points in a Mason Dixon-Telemundo poll…

Salazar’s unique background as a journalist in a party dominated by President Donald Trump and her appeal with older, Spanish-speaking voters has enabled the GOP to remain competitive. Shalala, one of the most experienced first-time congressional candidates, won a competitive Democratic primary by less than 5 percentage points and has faced criticism from liberal Democrats and Republicans alike for her tenure leading the University of Miami, when campus janitors went on a hunger strike over low wages and the school acquired Cedars Medical Center.

“The numbers look good, they’re great,” Salazar campaign manager Jose Luis Castillo said…

Salazar has a net favorable rating of 22 percentage points and Shalala has a net favorability rating of 4 points, though more voters recognize her than Salazar. Forty-two percent of voters support Shalala while 44 percent support Salazar, with 13 percent undecided.

As always, there are a bunch of caveats here. First, the margin of error in this poll is 4 points, so a 2-point lead isn’t statistically significant. Also, Shalala raised $1 million in the last quarter and just started airing TV ads. Salazar hasn’t released her fundraising totals yet. And finally, Shalala will get some support from her old pal Hillary Clinton in a couple weeks. That’s bound to bring in more money and a bunch of free media.

Still, it’s significant that Salazar is competitive at all in a district that leans this Democratic. A couple of guys who watch these races more closely than I do say this all comes down to Salazar being a much more appealing candidate than Shalala who is running in an overwhelmingly Hispanic district but doesn’t speak Spanish.

So this isn’t a sign that the Kavanaugh confirmation has generated a red wave in Florida, more like a sign that good candidates can outperform even in tough districts. Here’s Maria Salazar’s announcement from June: