Analysis of voter, consumer data shows why boat rallies for Trump are so popular

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Posted at 4:55 PM, Sep 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-18 18:38:31-04

TRUMBULL COUNTY, Ohio — An afternoon at the lake at the end of a Northeast Ohio summer means rest and relaxation.

For Krystina Kominsky, it also means something else: politics.

"I'm a Trump girl," Kominsky said.

The Ohio native now lives in Utah but was visiting family in August when they decided to join a boat rally on the lake at Mosquito Lake State Park.

"Oh, I'm loving the rallies," she said, sitting on the backbench of a friend's pontoon boat. "I was at the rally up in Fairport Harbor and I just think it's fantastic."

This rainy Sunday rally was not the first in the area. In July, Trump supporters organized a flotillia - or Trumptilla as they're known now - on Lake Erie.

"I think we have more Republicans here today than any other party," she said when asked about the people who decided to show up to the events. "I think it's just a show of support."

For the last several months, boat rallies for President Trump have been held across the country. One rally in Texas made national headlines when several boats sank earlier this month.

The water on Mosquito Lake in Trumbull County was quieter and the crowd was smaller. "Oh, it's fantastic," she said about the event. "It's a great camaraderie. We're all of like mind and the goals."

"I saw one gentleman that had a Biden flag and that's great," rally organizer and county commission candidate Dennis Molloy said. "He expresses his freedom. He's American today."

The rally in Trumbull County mirrored those in other states. These events started in Florida and have gotten the attention of the President. Trump tweeted about them three times in May.

There is an old saying in politics that yard signs don't vote. And in a year where traditional campaigning has been stymied, are boat rallies the new yard sign? Of all the things happening in 2020, linking voter data and boater data may not be at the top of the list, but there is crossover between Trump supporters and boat owners, which may help explain the popularity of the events.

The Washinton Post used data provided by analytics firm L2 to show the link. Across the board, the numbers showed people who like boating are more likely to be registered as a Republican. The company used consumer data as a cross-reference. In states like Ohio, the boater-voter crossover is more Republican than Democrat.

"Things like boat rallies like this are kind of the new way of things that people get a chance to get out and have their say and go home and feel good about themselves," Molloy said.

Molloy said these rallies are billed an a chance to support the president and stay socially distanced but it is difficult to stay 6 feet apart on a pontoon. For the last several weeks, the president continued large, in-person rallies. Former Vice President Joe Biden is traveling again but keeping his events small.

Boat-centric events have not caught on with Biden supporters. A quick Facebook search for boating events supporting Biden didn't turn up any results in the area.

We reached out to the Biden campaign for comment. They did not respond to our request.