Democratic activists dispute claims that Florida is now 'officially a Republican stronghold': report
The United States’ 2022 midterms will be remembered for the “red wave” that never materialized. Republicans suffered a long list of disappointments, losing gubernatorial races in Pennsylvania, Arizona, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, New Mexico, Illinois, New York, Maryland and other states. Republicans narrowly recaptured the U.S. House of Representatives, but Democrats held the U.S. Senate. Moreover, Democrats flipped the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and the Minnesota State Senate and flipped both houses of the Michigan State Legislature.
But there was one state that really did experience a major red wave in the 2022 midterms: Florida, where far-right Gov. Ron DeSantis was reelected by 19 percent and Sen. Marco Rubio was reelected by 16 percent. Although Democrats exceeded expectations in one state after another, Florida was an unmitigated disaster for their party.
MSNBC’s Joy Reid has been arguing that Florida should no longer be considered a swing state — that it has become a full-fledged red state. And Reid was saying that even before the 2022 midterms.
If Florida has become a lost cause for Democrats, that’s bad news in presidential elections — as the Sunshine State will have 30 electoral votes in 2024 (up from 29 in 2020). It’s possible for a presidential candidate to lose Florida but still win the election; President Joe Biden did it in 2020, picking up 306 electoral votes despite losing Florida to former President Donald Trump. But without Florida, Democrats need to work extra hard in Arizona, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia and Wisconsin.
However, some Democratic activists, according to National Public Radio (NPR) reporter Ashley López, are pushing back against claims that Florida has become a total red state.
“Florida Republicans won elections up and down the ballot by staggering margins this year,” López explains in a late November report for NPR. “Some political experts say this election could mark the end of Florida's long-time status as the biggest swing state in the country, but Democrats and third-party groups say they are not convinced Florida is officially a Republican stronghold. They say there's a more complicated explanation for what happened in Florida during the midterms.”
According to Dwight Bullard, a senior adviser for the group Florida Rising, and Democratic strategist Joshua Karp, Democrats had a major turnout problem in Florida in the midterms — too many of their voters simply stayed home.
Karp told NPR, “(DeSantis) won about 4.1 million votes four years ago. He won about 4.6 million votes this time. So, he certainly increased by a few hundred thousand people the size of his coalition. In a state like Florida, that's a few percentage points. What really happened is Democrats did not show up to the polls.”
Bullard believes that DeSantis’ voter suppression efforts had a “chilling effect” in the midterms, including the well-publicized arrests of 20 people who voted in 2020.
The Florida Rising senior adviser told NPR, “What we were hearing on the ground was people who had the right to vote feeling as though, 'if I did it, it might actually get me arrested again.’”
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