It's No Longer a Close Call in Florida

Analysts look behind the embrace of Republicans and ahead to a lengthy GOP reign
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 9, 2022 2:41 PM CST
It's No Longer a Close Call in Florida
Democratic candidate for Florida governor Charlie Crist reacts during a televised debate against Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, at Sunrise Theatre in Fort Pierce, Fla., Monday, Oct. 24, 2022.   (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Both parties have gotten used to Florida being just as likely to go with either party, in any election—a state whose presidential race winner and loser have been separated by 0.009% of the vote and whose 2000 race was so close it took more than a month to count the ballots. But after Tuesday, there's no longer any swing in the state. Gov. Ron DeSantis' double-digit reelection margin over a Democrat who once held the job as a Republican, almost matched by Sen. Marco Rubio in his defeat of a former police chief, and a series of smaller races made it clear that Florida has a Republican present and future. Here's how several analysts see it:

  • The flip: Republicans won a list of counties that Joe Biden carried in 2020, including Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, Duval, Pinellas, Palm Beach and Osceola. Just Broward, Orange, Gadsden, Alachua, and Leon counties stayed all Democratic. Republicans have won before in Florida, Charles CW Cooke writes in the National Review, but not by margins like these. Florida's flip happened for all the reasons voters and the GOP have been citing: COVID-19 policies, federal spending, distrust of Biden, he says. "And, above all," Cooke writes, "it was about a state where the Republican Party has gotten it right—both electorally and politically—for a long time." His full opinion piece can be found here.
  • How success was built: The effort began almost three decades ago under Gov. Jeb Bush, Bianca Padró Ocasio and Ana Ceballos write in the Miami Herald. Republican supermajorities in the legislature kept it going, and former President Donald Trump sealed it. "The base, built on a coalition of new and old residents, honed a deeply conservative social and economic message designed to appeal to suburban voters, rural voters and Hispanic communities, particularly Cuban Americans," they write. This election, more Republicans were registered voters than Democrats for the first time in state history. One GOP pollster thought the party nearly unbeatable. "I was wondering how we could lose," he said, "and that would be a very strong turnout from Democrats on Election Day, which we saw no traces of." You can read the full piece here.
  • The trends: Retirees are making Florida older, and older Americans are the most conservative, Ben Mathis-Lilley writes in Slate. Also, the GOP is adding Latino voters, possibly because the "socialist" label hung on Democrats gets a bad reaction from people whose families had bad experiences with communist dictatorships in Central and South America. Or maybe, Mathis-Lilley writes, GOP culture has so soaked the state over the decades that "anyone who spends more than three hours breathing oxygen inside its borders becomes disproportionately likely to support the elimination of the capital gains tax, the legalization of machine gun sales at gas stations, and the adoption of a 'wearing sunglasses'–oriented foreign policy." You can read the full piece here.
  • The real world fallout: DeSantis called Florida "the promised land" for people fleeing "leftist" cities and states in his victory speech. That could be true, Abigail Weinberg writes in Mother Jones. Or "maybe all the left-leaning snowbirds have decided that they prefer New Mexico," she writes, adding, "Whatever the explanation, it's clear that for at least the next two years, Florida Republicans will have free rein to police children's education, criminalize health care for trans kids, and erode the rights of certain types of people to cast their votes." You can read the full piece here.
(More Election 2020 stories.)

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