TAMPA -- To hear it from Donald Trump supporters, don't trust the polls. Trust the crowds to see who'll win November 8th.
“The reason is you have a better ground swelling,” said Bob, a self-proclaimed Trump supporter who showed-up Wednesday at the Hillary Clinton rally in Tampa. “There's a silent majority of the old days coming back again.”
Trump’s massive rallies, say supporters, represent that silent majority. Enthusiastic. Unaccounted for in the polls.
“Tens of thousands of people that are supporting Trump,” said Marjorie, who has been to Trump’s rallies locally. “They may not go out and say it publicly, because they're afraid they're going to be attacked.”
Trump himself has repeatedly challenged the media to show the crowds at his rallies, equating their size and enthusiasm with his projected performance in the general election.
But are rallies a reliable indicator of the outcome of elections?
“It's not an indicator as much as the polling is,” said 10News political expert Lars Hafner.
Hafner says Trump's rallies are unquestionably impressive. But what they possess in enthusiasm, they lack in broad-based diversity.
“And so you can't just play to that sliver of constituency when you have to win women votes, you have to win the minority vote, you have to win a cross-section of the votes,” said Hafner.
Hafner also points out it's easier to attract a big crowd when you hold rallies at night, rather than the daytime when people may be less willing to leave work.
Or – for that matter, as Clinton supporter Barbara Frederick said – waiting in the sun Wednesday for the Hilary rally in Curtis Hixon Park, not everyone is willing to “stand out here in the heat.”
Hafner and democrats also contend that if only crowd size mattered, Bernie Sanders, who drew massive crowds at his rallies locally and nationally, would have been their nominee.
“He had larger crowds but they didn't turn out to vote. So it'll be the same thing,” predicted Breanne Williams, waiting for the Clinton rally to start Wednesday.
Bottom line, says Hafner, elections in states like Florida are won by drawing crowds to the polls, not necessarily rallies.
No way, said Trump supporter Bob. “It’ll be a landslide. And you heard it here first.”