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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Dems’ Midterm Strategy in FL Emerges Amid Tough Obstacles

At The Hill, Max Greenwood reports on the “bleak outlook” Democrats face in the Sunshine State, albeit with one ray of hope:

The list of concerns is long. The latest voter registration numbers out of Florida show Democrats’ long-held voter registration advantage over Republicans shrinking to less than 24,000, down from about 100,000 at the beginning of the year.

While many will be surprised that Democrats have an edge at all, that’s a significant decline in a short time, even for the third largest state. As for the ray of hope, Greenwood notes:

Recent polls show DeSantis’s approval numbers slipping amid a COVID-19 surge in his state. He has also faced backlash over his efforts to preclude school districts from requiring students to wear face masks, with officials in even some Republican-leaning parts of the state moving to buck the governor’s wishes.

If Covid crisis management is the top issue in Florida a year from now, Democrats should have a solid chance of defeating Governor DeSantis, who has implemented what is likely the worst set of pandemic policies of any governor. But the caveat here is that Dems must run a strong candidate. At present Democratic Rep. Chalrlie Crist is the best-known candidate running against DeSantis.

In early August, Matt Dixon reported at Politico:

A Quinnipiac University poll released this month had DeSantis’ approval rating dipping below 50 percent, with 47 percent approving of his job performance, and 45 percent disapproving. Those numbers dropped to 44-51 when asked about his handling of public schools. The Quinnipiac poll follows other public polling that shows a similar erosion to DeSantis’ approval rating. A St. Pete Polls survey earlier this month showed 43 percent approved of the job he was doing while 48 percent did not.

In the other major statewide race, Democratic Rep. Val Demings hopes to take Marco Rubio’s U.S. Senate seat. Democrats also hope to retake two U.S. House seats they lost in south FL in 2020.

As for Demings chances, Greenwood reports in an August 18th article at The Hill:

One survey conducted by St. Pete Polls for the website Florida Politics shows Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and his main Democratic opponent, Rep. Val Demings, neck-and-neck. Rubio leads Demings by a scant 2 percentage points, 48 percent to 46 percent. That’s still within the poll’s 2.2-point margin of error. 

Another poll commissioned by the gaming company BUSR and fielded by Susquehanna Polling and Research shows Rubio leading in the race against Demings 50 percent to 39 percent, giving him an 11-point lead that sits well outside of the survey’s 3.7 percentage point margin of error….Both pollsters —Susquehanna Polling and St. Pete Polls — hold B-plus ratings from the data website FiveThirtyEight.

Democratic victories in FL are a made more problematic by the GOP’s edge in money. Greenwood reports that DeSantis has $53 million in his campaign war chest, while his two Democratic opponents each have less than $3 million so far. Worse, “the Florida Democratic Party had only about $406,000 in its federal account at the end of August, while the state GOP reported more than $6.3 million in cash on hand, according to Federal Election Commission filings posted on Monday.”

Much depends on the status of the pandemic in Florida a year from now. Also, if Demings has ‘coattails’ in terms of energizing a substantial increase in FL’s Black voter turnout, she could help Democrats in the other races. And Democrats must reduce the GOP’s edge in campaign funds to improve their prospects in the House, Senate and Governor races.

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