OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
Democrats just got some more bad news as they head into November’s midterms and the 2024 presidential elections.
The Republican Party has now taken the edge and made Florida a solidly red state, which could have devastating consequences for Democrats. Things are so bad in the Sunshine State that the Associated Press published a report detailing how Democrats are “shocked and scared” that the state is now “solidly red.”
“Democrats are increasingly concerned that Florida, once the nation’s premier swing state, may slip away this fall and beyond as emboldened Republicans capitalize on divisive cultural issues and demographic shifts in crucial contests for governor and the U.S. Senate. The anxiety was apparent last week during a golf cart parade of Democrats featuring Senate candidate Val Demings at The Villages, a retirement community just north of the Interstate 4 corridor. Once a politically mixed part of the state where elections were often decided, some Democrats now say they feel increasingly isolated,” the AP reported.
In 2018, DeSantis beat Democrat Andrew Gillum by 32,436 votes out of more than 8.2 million ballots cast in the election. The race required a recount because it was so close.
Now, four years later, Republicans have erased a voter registration advantage that Florida Democrats had for decades.
In 2018, Democrats enjoyed a 263,269-vote advantage. As of Sept. 30, Republicans had a lead of 292,533 voters — a swing of nearly 556,000 registered voters over DeSantis’ first term.
“It’s shocking and it’s scary,” state Democratic Party Chair Manny Diaz said about DeSantis’ rise.
“We’re no longer a swing state. We’re actually annihilating the Democrats,” said Florida GOP Chairman Joe Gruters, a leading DeSantis ally.
The AP report added:
Democrats are particularly concerned about the trend in Miami-Dade County, home to 1.5 million Hispanics of voting age and a Democratic stronghold for the past 20 years, where the GOP made significant gains in the last presidential election. In two weeks, the region could turn red.
“We have seen so many Hispanics flock to the Republican party here in Miami-Dade County,” Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Núñez said at an event with other party leaders last week. “I’m going to make a prediction right now: We are going to win Miami-Dade County come Nov. 8.”
Democrats in Florida are a minority and that minority is liable to grow once the GOP-controlled legislature begins its redistricting process later this year, leaving them further behind and making it even more difficult for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to keep her iron grip on the lower chamber.
Democrats fear that Republicans will use the state’s massive population growth as a means of eliminating some of their congressional seats.
That enormous growth, however, makes it much more likely that Republicans, who control 16 of the state legislature’s 27 seats, are going to be looking hard and fast at paring that down during redistricting in a way that will help lock in a GOP majority for years to come.
Several Democrats are sounding the alarm about how “bleak” Florida is looking for them.
Steve Schale, a longtime Florida Democratic strategist, is telling his party that they could be in huge trouble going forward.
“Without a full-frontal, professional and accountable partisan effort to turn it around, sometime before the end of this year, there will be more Republicans registered in Florida than Democrats. That has NEVER happened before. And, given their voters have higher turnout scores — this isn’t a great place to start,” he said.
“It feels a little bit like we’re kind of set up to fail,” an unnamed Florida Democratic official told The Hill. “It’s not any one person’s fault. A lot of these problems have existed for years. But for a party that has been decimated in the last few elections and especially the last one, I’m not seeing a sense of urgency yet.”
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is one of the most popular governors in the nation and even has some Democrats endorsing him.