'Where woke goes to die': Why Florida is now a red state

'Where woke goes to die': Why Florida is now a red state
Image via Gage Skidmore.

When election results in the 2022 midterms were coming in on Tuesday night, November 8, it was obvious that the gigantic red wave that Fox News and Fox Business pundits were predicting had not materialized. Republicans may still obtain majorities in both chambers of Congress; as of Wednesday afternoon, November 9, voters were still being counted in U.S. House and U.S. Senate races. But if Republicans do flip the House — which is still a strong possibility — it won’t be by the 40 or 50 seats the way GOP strategists and the Republican National Committee (RNC) were hoping.

But there was one state where, for Democrats, there was no good news to be found in statewide races in the 2022 midterms: Florida, where Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis ran as a combative far-right culture warrior and defeated Democratic challenger Charlie Crist by around 19 percent. To make matters worse for Democrats, incumbent Republican Sen. Marco Rubio defeated Democrat Val Demings by about 16 percent.

Democrats won gubernatorial races in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New York State, Massachusetts, Illinois, Maine and Maryland. They flipped a U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania that has been mostly in GOP hands for decades. But in Florida’s statewide races, Democrats got crushed.

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MSNBC’s Joy Reid has been arguing that Florida, which former President Barack Obama won in both 2008 and 2012, should no longer be considered a swing state and is really a red state now. In light of DeSantis and Rubio’s victories, it’s hard to disagree with her.

In an article published by News 6 WKMG-TV’s Click Orlando website after the midterms, reporter Donovan Myrie laid out facts and figures showing how red Florida has become.

“Florida, you are now a red state,” Myrie writes. “The opinion of this writer? Nope. The opinion of WKMG-TV? Nope. The decision of the voters of Florida? Bingo.”

Myrie continues, “On Tuesday evening, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis handily beat former Gov. Charlie Crist, Attorney General incumbent Ashley Moody beat former State Attorney Aramis, Florida’s CFO winner was incumbent Jimmy Patronis, and the state’s new agriculture commissioner will be Wilton Simpson. On the national front, Sen. Marco Rubio beat hometown favorite Rep. Val Demings. All of these winners are Republicans, and all won by about a 17-20% margin.

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Dr. Jim Clark, WKMG-TV’s political director, stresses that the 2022 midterm election results in Florida were by no means a national trend. But in the Sunshine State, according to Clark, there is no doubt that Republicans won big.

Myrie quotes Clark as saying, “This time, the pollsters underestimated. What’s striking to me is that it looks like we’re only seeing this red wave in Florida. It doesn’t seem to be as big a sweep across the country. This does, however, set up Gov. DeSantis as a larger figure in the Republican Party and a threat to former President Trump.”

Historically, Miami-Dade County has been a Democratic stronghold. But DeSantis won it by 11 percent, while Rubio won it by 10 percent.

Republicans, Myrie notes, have enjoyed major voter registration gains in the Sunshine State.

According to Myrie, “Just two years ago, registered Democrats in Florida outpaced Republicans 5.3 million to 5.1 million. But in the last two years, there has been a shift in registered voters away from the Democratic Party: from 5.3 million in 2020 to just 4.9 million in 2022.”

When DeSantis delivered his victory speech, he stressed that he was not the only Republican who enjoyed a major victory in Florida. DeSantis declared that voters in Florida had “rewritten the political map.”

DeSantis told the crowd, “We have respected our taxpayers, and we reject woke ideology. We fight the woke in the legislature. We fight the woke in the schools. We fight the woke in the corporations. We will never, ever surrender to the woke mob. Florida is where woke goes to die.”

It’s important to keep in mind what kind of Republican DeSantis is. Had Crist suffered a major defeat at the hands of term-limited Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan — a popular conservative GOP governor in a deep blue state — that would have been one thing. Crist, in fact, is a former Republican.

But DeSantis didn’t play to the center. He ran on his far-right record and won, and he wasn’t alone.

The “red tsunami” turned out to be a mirage in much of the United States; in Florida, it was real.

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