For decades, Florida has served as the nation’s biggest and most contested swing state, but that no longer appears to be the case.
For the first time in the state’s history, Florida now officially boasts more Republican registered voters than Democrats, a massive shift from when Barack Obama first ran for president in 2008, when registered Democrats outnumbered Republicans by 700,000.
“Republicans now hold a slight voter registration edge over Democrats, just another sign that the state is moving away from its two-decade-old reputation as the nation’s largest battleground state. It’s also more bad news for Democrats as they try to knock off rising national GOP star Gov. Ron DeSantis next year,” Politico reported Wednesday.
An analysis of voter registration data by Politico found that there are 6,035 more registered Republicans in the state than Democrats, noting further that each party has more than 5.1 million registered voters out of a total of 14.3 million.
“This is a milestone moment in Florida’s history,” noted Helen Aguirre Ferré, executive director of the Republican Party of Florida.
Politico noted further:
Democrats — who once had solid control at all levels of elected office until Republicans won the Legislature and governor’s mansion in the ‘90s — held a substantial edge in voter registration just a few years ago.
During the 2010 midterms, amid the tea party wave and the election of Rick Scott to governor, Democrats had a nearly 568,000 voter advantage. That fell to 264,000 in 2018 when DeSantis barely defeated former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum by more than 32,000 votes to become the state’s 46th governor. Democrats also were ahead of Republicans by more than 134,000 registered voters last year when President Donald Trump comfortably defeated Joe Biden in the state.
DeSantis, who has pushed the Republican Party of Florida to expand its registration efforts and even contributed $2 million to the effort, correctly predicted earlier this month that his party had overtaken Democrats, a factor he attributed in part to people migrating to Florida due to anti-lockdown, anti-mandate policies he pushed during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“You are seeing people move to states that value freedom,” DeSantis said during a breakfast speech at the National Conference of State Legislatures on Nov. 5.
Democrats have been monitoring the situation for months and are well aware of the GOP rise under DeSantis, who is considered a top Republican contender for the party’s 2024 presidential nomination if former President Donald Trump doesn’t jump in.
“It feels a little bit like we’re kind of set up to fail,” an unnamed Florida Democratic official in September. “It’s not any one person’s fault. A lot of these problems have existed for years. But for a party that has been decimated in the last few elections and especially the last one, I’m not seeing a sense of urgency yet.”
Steve Schale, a longtime Florida Democratic strategist, told Democrats earlier this fall that they could be in huge trouble going forward.
“Without a full-frontal, professional and accountable partisan effort to turn it around, sometime before the end of this year, there will be more Republicans registered in Florida than Democrats,” he wrote on his blog.