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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

More On Florida’s Democratic Meltdown

From “Don’t call Florida a red state yet: Left-leaning groups say their voters stayed home” by Ashley Lopez at nor.org:

Florida Republicans won elections up and down the ballot by staggering margins this year….Dwight Bullard, a former state lawmaker and senior political adviser for a social justice advocacy group called Florida Rising….said he and other groups who predominantly work with Black and Latino voters in Florida — key voting blocs for Democrats — were dealing with unmotivated constituencies and a well-funded and well-organized opposition.

…Anthony Verdugo, founder and executive director of the Christian Family Coalition Florida, said conservative mobilization efforts like his have been working hard for years. He said they really caught a lot of momentum, though, in the past year.

“The governor’s office and the Republican Party focused on a very aggressive voter registration campaign,” he said. “Florida has always — since its founding — been a majority Democrat registered state. December of last year we crossed the threshold.”

Verdugo said his own group registered about 1,300 conservative faith voters in just a three-week period last fall. He also credits Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who he said did an effective job rallying the party’s base by running on a lot of cultural issues. As a result, Verdugo said, Republicans had a more consistent and clearer message for their voters than Democrats.

Joshua Karp, a Democratic strategist, said he’s skeptical that this amounts to a huge political victory led by DeSantis though….”He won about 4.1 million votes four years ago,” Karp said. “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.”

It’s all about the money

Statewide turnout was down by more than half a million votes compared to 2018. Karp blames a lot of this lack of motivation among Democratic voters in Florida on money.

Tessa Petit, executive director of an immigrants rights group called the Florida Immigrant Coalition, said the electoral arm of her group was pleading with national donors to help them get out the vote. But she and other groups fell millions of dollars short in fundraising.

“The investment went down a lot,” Petit said. “The donors pulled back because I think they kind of — I don’t know maybe they lost faith in the party altogether.”

Four years ago, money was flowing into Florida for groups like the Florida Immigrant Coalition, Petit said. That year, DeSantis won the governor’s race by a mere .04% of the vote.

Petit said this lack of funding is why Miami Dade County in particular saw a 10 percentage point drop in turnout this year compared to the last midterm election. Because of the diversity in the state, she said, it takes a lot of money to get out the vote in communities of color. Petit said this is why national donors should not pick and choose what years to invest here if they want to see results.

“Florida is not a state that you can date,” she said. “You gotta get into a you know — you gotta get into a relationship, a committed relationship with Florida.”

Here’s a couple stat nuggets from Jennifer Borresen’s “DeSantis, Republicans win big: How Florida went from swing state to red state — in visuals” at USA Today:

DeSantis won 57% of the Hispanic vote, compared with 42% for Crist, according to exit polls by major news organizations. And he won not only the traditionally GOP-leaning Cuban-American vote but also Puerto Ricans, who historically tend to vote Democratic.

DeSantis’ strength with Hispanic voters helped him carry Miami-Dade County, a majority Hispanic county.

Since March 16, 2020, an estimated 394,000 active voters have flocked to Florida. According to voter and consumer data tracking firm L2, 193,300 Republicans and 96,900 Democrats have moved to Florida in that time.

If you are wondering if Florida and perhaps Texas Democratic campaign strategists could learn something from the GOTV skills of Georgia’s Democratic activists and candidates, you are not alone.

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