On Tuesday, Florida residents will go to the polls to choose which candidates will be able to compete in this November’s general election. All the way down to circuit courts and neighborhood school boards, voters will cast ballots in elections for the governorship and Congress.
Ron DeSantis, the governor of the state, and Marco Rubio, a US senator, are up for re-election in 2024 as Republicans and are being challenged by Democrats. Republicans are anticipated to have a significant advantage in the November midterm elections on the House side thanks to a new congressional map created by DeSantis.
Even while Florida has historically been viewed as a “swing state,” Republicans currently hold a sizable advantage. Democrats lost ground to Republicans in Florida’s voter registration lists last year. Additionally, Donald Trump won the state by three points in the 2020 presidential contest, despite Joe Biden defeating him by one point in the electoral college and four points in the national popular vote.
Since then, DeSantis has authorized new voting restrictions to restrict Florida’s access to voting by mail and ballot drop boxes, leading to claims of racial discrimination from the justice department. According to the Pew Research Center, those strategies were more frequently used by Biden supporters in 2020 than going to the polls on election day.
Republicans are predicted to gain 20 of Florida’s 28 congressional seats under the new House map, an increase from the party’s present dominance of 16 of the state’s 27 seats. The most recent round of redistricting produced the state’s extra House seat. Many of Florida’s congressional races this fall have already been decided thanks to Republicans’ extreme gerrymandering, which will significantly reduce Black political power in the state.
According to the Cook Political Report, not a single House race in Florida is seen as a toss-up for the general election. As a result, it is highly likely that the candidates who prevail in the primary on Tuesday will be elected to Congress this autumn. Many election observers are now focusing on statewide races as a result of the underwhelming outlook for Florida’s House elections. All eyes will be on Florida’s Democratic gubernatorial primary, where Nikki Fried, the state’s agricultural commissioner, is running against Charlie Crist, a former governor, and Democratic congressman.
DeSantis has come under fire from Crist and Fried for his combative attitude to Florida’s culture war issues, which could be a preview of the governor’s 2024 presidential candidacy. A state prosecutor who the governor suspended after the lawyer declared he would not enforce a 15-week abortion ban filed a lawsuit against DeSantis just last month. In an effort to draw attention to the operations of a new office created to investigate voter fraud, DeSantis this week also announced charges against 20 people for casting ballots improperly. Voting rights organizations have criticized the arrests as acts of voter intimidation notwithstanding the governor’s lack of specifics regarding the accusations.
On Sunday, Crist said on MSNBC, “Quite frankly, he is anti-democracy.” “I’m a Democrat running to defend democracy and a woman’s freedom to choose. I’m up against an autocrat who wants to rule America,” the candidate declares. However, DeSantis is not reversing his far-right objective; rather, he is choosing to intensify the political approach. DeSantis has endorsed candidates in dozens of nonpartisan school board contests and has run for office alongside rivals who share his views on expanding “parents’ rights” in the classroom.
After passing numerous legislation intended to restrict what may be taught to Florida children, DeSantis has made education a key component of his agenda. DeSantis signed a law prohibiting the topic of race and racism in the workplace and in schools earlier this year. DeSantis signed into law a “don’t mention gay” rule in March that forbids teachers from kindergarten through third grade from discussing children’s sexual orientation and gender identity. DeSantis just approved a bill mandating that students learn about the “victims of communism” every November.
Despite these contentious initiatives, DeSantis has a significant lead over his Democratic rivals going into the general election. DeSantis has accumulated a war chest for his campaign of more than $100 million, and he has regularly outperformed his likely rivals in recent surveys. Democrats have more hope now that Marco Rubio, a former and possibly future Republican presidential candidate, is running for re-election in Florida’s Senate contest. The Democratic candidates trying to unseat Rubio has been led by Congresswoman Val Demings, and polls suggest she may have a chance to accomplish it.
In a poll conducted this month by the University of North Florida, Demings received support from 48% of prospective general election voters, compared to 44% for Rubio. But Democrats are aware that nothing should be taken for granted because they have previously lost heartbreakingly tight elections in Florida. When the incumbent senator Bill Nelson and gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum were both barely defeated by their Republican rivals, the state stood out as an outlier to the Democrats’ “wave” of victories in 2018. Tuesday might offer some crucial hints as to whether Democrats will finally be able to end their losing trend in Florida.
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