In contrast to the rest of the country, where Democrats were able to fend off a red wave of Republican victories this election cycle, the same could not be said for Florida, a traditional swing state that may have turned red permanently, according to experts.
The Sunshine State has long been viewed by presidential candidates as a key battleground for securing votes from both sides of the political spectrum. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio received 58% of the vote compared to Democratic House Rep. Val Demings’s 41%, and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis won with 59% of the vote to his Democratic opponent Charlie Crist’s 40%.
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This is why experts think Florida’s midterm elections in 2022 went red:
An influx of new residents is cementing Florida’s status as a red state
Recent changes in the state’s population, particularly in the months after the COVID-19 pandemic’s onslaught, could be to blame for the Republican stronghold that swept Florida in the midterm elections.
After California and Texas, Florida has 21.5 million citizens in 2020, making it the third most populous state in the country. Census Bureau According to the bureau, as of July 1, 2021, there were roughly 21.8 million people living in the country.
Those figures, according to information made public by the Florida Demographic Estimating Conference in July, are projected to increase to 22 million in 2022. According to the Associated Press, the number of inhabitants in April was 3,795 higher than anticipated in the estimate made public in December, demonstrating the ongoing rise in migration.
According to Michael Binder, assistant professor of political science and faculty director of the University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research Lab, a sizable portion of the migration is coming from the Northeast as people look for lifestyle changes, such as warmer temperatures and possibly politics and policies they agree with.
According to Gregory Koger, a political science professor at the University of Miami, “the available evidence implies that people coming to Florida, either directly or indirectly, based on politics has been part of Florida’s march towards higher support for Republicans during the last few cycles.” “That might be opinions over COVID policy or Florida’s long-standing opposition to an income tax,” the author speculates.
According to Binder, the demography of immigrants from the north is often middle class or wealthier, white, and older, and is “disproportionately Republican.” According to Hans Hassell, director of the Institute of Politics at Florida State University and associate professor of political science, “there’s a considerable association between age and ideological conservatism.”
That idea is supported by the state’s voter registration data. Democrats saw a 1.5% increase in registration for the midterm elections in 2018, while Republicans saw a 2% increase, according to Binder.
Additionally, normally blue counties like Miami-Dade and Palm Beach, which experienced significant migration as a result of the pandemic, changed their political hue to red in 2022. According to state statistics, Broward County had a significant rise in Republican turnout even though it remained a blue county.
According to the experts, who cited voter registration, all of those counties had significant inbound migration during the pandemic. He added that claims that Democrats practice socialism paired with conservative religious beliefs are frequently a disincentive for them to vote blue. “A lot of the folks that are escaping those countries tend to be a little bit wealthier and able to escape and get here,” he said.
According to official voter registration data, the number of registered Republicans substantially outnumbered the number of registered Democrats for the first time in recent cycles. According to the data, there were 1,758,413 registered Democrats, 885,369 independents, and 2,078,430 Republican voters as of the 2022 election.
Voter turnout could cement Florida’s future status as a red state
The experts added that conventional party conduct with regard to voter turnout probably also contributed to the Conservatives’ victories in Florida. Democrats don’t vote as frequently as Republicans, according to Binder. You can anticipate a plus five or plus six Republican turnouts right away if it’s kind of the typical election cycle.
This election year, Democrats had “especially dismal voter turnout,” he claimed. Republicans turned out in lower-than-usual proportions than in 2018, in the mid-to-low 60s, but were still able to easily win the state because there were simply more Republican voters in the electorate this time around, according to Binder. In 2018, the percentage of Democrats who voted measured in the low 60s percentage points, but in 2022, it was about 20 percentage points lower.
In Miami-Dade, there has been a change in the Latino vote in addition to an increase in Republicans who have registered to vote in the county, according to Binder. Despite the fact that Cubans often support the Conservative Party, Hassell claimed that there has been a “decoupling” between the Democratic Party and Latinos from other nations in the region.
The Republican Party’s apparent success in winning over the Latino community “seems to be the result of a prolonged, persistent, and intelligent campaign,” Koger said. As long as there is a consistent flow of immigrants from Latin America, the tendency will probably continue. Hassell stated that although the adults won’t be able to vote immediately away, their kids will.
Koger claimed that during her presidential campaign in 2016, former secretary of state Hilary Clinton won there “quite comfortably,” but since then, Democrats have “seen a genuine aversion of their support among Latinos.” In the most recent election cycles, “we’ve seen Republicans make progress there,” he said. “I don’t think it’s true that Democrats can always count on a Latino vote,” said the speaker.
The analysts added that they thought Florida might stay a red state for the foreseeable future and noted that continuing to lose Miami-Dade County could preclude a Democratic road to victory in subsequent statewide elections.
Future Democratic Party organizations and candidates may find it more difficult to support Florida Democrats because they think their money would be better spent elsewhere, according to Koger.
According to observers, incumbents like DeSantis and Rubio had a distinct edge in this race. Democrats might not have participated if they had believed that certain races would not be close, according to Binder. DeSantis was competing against Crist, a Republican who served as the state’s governor from 2007 to 2011 and lost to Rubio in the 2010 Senate election.
However, the significant victories Republicans enjoyed are not entirely explained by the benefit of incumbency. The analysts claimed that Crist, who lacked sizable campaign finance, had little chance of winning. He didn’t really inspire enthusiasm, according to Binder.
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