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How voters flipped Florida to the GOP … with ramifications for the nation

How voters flipped Florida to the GOP … with ramifications for the nation

It was not long ago that Florida had a Democrat governor and a Democrat senator.  Democrats lost one of the Senate seats in 2004 and the second in 2020.  Republicans did better in governors – taking the office in 1998 and holding it since.  President Obama carried Florida in 2008 by 2.8 percent and 2012 by 0.9 percent.  (Do we see a trend here?)

By all measures, Florida was a purplish battleground swing state that could go either way.  As the graph atop this commentary shows that in January of 2020, Democrats had a 250,000-voter registration advantage over Republicans.

By May of that year, the ratio favoring Democrats began to decline – and rapidly.  In less than two years, the Democrat advantage had completely vanished.  In October of 2021, Republican registration surpassed Democrat registration. 

The steeply inclined GOP-favorable trajectory continued until there are now 626,518 more Republican voters than Democrats – as of September 2023.  It is noteworthy that the difference between August 2023 and September is an increase for the GOP of approximately 75,000.  If that trajectory continues, Republicans could have a 1 million voter advantage for the 2024 presidential election.

This seems to explain why Palm Beach County flipped from a Democrat stronghold to Republican.  And why a Republican gubernatorial candidate, Ron DeSantis, carried Broward and Miami-Dade counties for the first time.  And why he had the greatest margin of victory in the nation.  And why Trump carried Florida in 2016 and 2020 – increasing his margin of victory from 1.2 to 3.3 percent respectively.  (Do we see a trend here?)

It was only a decade ago that the Florida Republican leadership were expressing concern that the influx of New Yorkers would push the Sunshine State more securely into the Democrat column.  Apparently, the New Yorkers did not want what they left behind in the Empire State – especially the Big Apple.

The phenomenal growth in Republican registration was not merely due to new residents.  According to polling, the Black and Hispanic communities have begun to incrementally shift their allegiance to the GOP – in Florida and throughout the country.

Florida may be part of a larger national trend than a unique one-off.  In 2023, 35,589 Pennsylvania Democrats changed their voter registration to Republican.  Only 15,622 switched from GOP to Democrat.

This trend has brought the GOP up to a tie with Democrats at the national level.  Past polling put the breakdown at 28 percent Republican to 30 percent Democrat.  The most recent Gallup Poll has the new figures at 27 percent for each party – with 43 percent independent.  According to the Poll, Independents are more likely to vote Republican by a 45 to 43 percent margin.

The fact that Republican registration only dropped one percent and Democrat registration three times that number suggests that the political narrative claiming Trump is driving folks out of the GOP disproportionately is topsy-turvy.  In fact, all the current trends seem to be defying Democrat orthodoxy – and bode well for President Trump and the Republican Party, in general.

None of this can be predictive of outcomes, however.  The political air is too turbulent to predict a safe landing for either side.  But it is a general trend that should be – and is — scaring the hell out of Biden & Co.

So, there ‘tis.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.

5 Comments

  1. frank Stetson

    I think it scares Castor, Crist, Demmings, Deutsch, Frankel, Hastings, etc. more….. I am no expert in Florida numbers, much less what the means for the nation, but I would say — very little. Florida is unique in politics, environment, and economy. Much of these registration shifts might be due to democrats leaving Florida and Republicans coming. Why? Because it’s DeSantistan which draws a certain crowd and rejects others, by policy and law. The actual number of Democrats is smaller now, Republican numbers are bigger, but the entire voter registration base is a lot smaller than in 2020, its zenith year. There are less voters in total in Florida now, and far less Democrats. Saying they all flipped to Republican is mathematically impossible; they either left the State or left the voting registration list (which is hard to do).

    As I have been saying for almost a year, Florida is heading for an economic fall. The bubble looks to be popped in the future with it’s growth based more on volume than quality. Their economy is tragically service based with little diversification. Grocery stores and restaurants (with buffets) are their big businesses. Not things like R&D, manufacturing, or financial sectors. They were attracting higher income jobs but many businesses would rather be in places where business faces less risk from things like weather or DeSantis or government intrusion in general. Obviously, Disney cut back on new investment, but so have many others. By mid-year 2023, over a dozen companies announced down-investing or not conferencing in Florida. Lauderdale said it was down $20M in convention-type bookings. Orlando noted 4 conferences cancelled at its largest venue. Also, if you were LGBTQ, highly educated, wage earner —- would you move to Florida if an alternative was available? If you were woke and living in Florida, would you take an alternative job elsewhere? But if you like book bans, banging on trans, discriminating against LGBTQ, want to end DEI at colleges, believe slavery gave blacks jobs, believe ESG investing the work of the devil, hate getting shots, believe covid a scam, and so on, and so on, then Florida is the most inviting State in the Union. Unfortunately, this will not lift the diversity, or wages of the Florida economy. It’s a bubble of service workers.

    Deutsch Post Holdings, a logistics company has the most workers followed by Publix grocery stores— get the picture. Then an appliance mfg, a mfg actually, and then Darden Restaurants. By revenue, it’s Publix all the way. Top grosser in Florida is a grocery store, ironic ain’t it.

    When it comes to median income, Florida is one of the worst states in the nation. On average, you can make more money in any other state, only moving stops you. Certainly your Florida job is probably not special, just another service job, a dime a dozen, but only 8-cents in Florida. As I noted, the median income is rising, suffering a slight fall in 2020, but rising in every other year as higher educated folks kept coming for new jobs. Inflation was berry, berry goot for Florida wages and I am guessing a depression or flat lining of median incomes in the near future. Many of those new higher paying jobs are leaving the state as business cuts back on doing business in Florida.

    Anecdote time: how many of us are thinking of moving, retirement, work or otherwise, and have put politics on the chart as a metric right along with taxes, COL, and housing prices? I have spent a lifetime living on the edge of civilization, outer exurbia at best, sometimes downright full-bird rural. I even had a 1-mile driveway, half of it dirt, with a ford in wet weather. But as I look for my next move, yes, I have put politics in the mix because I do not want to live in hard red OR hard blue. Matter of fact, I don’t even want to be where they talk about this crap in public. With 5 States of living under my belt, mostly in hard Red areas, that’s a first. And I don’t think I am alone.

    The numbers are what they are, Florida Democrats should be afraid. Horist has reason to be happy with the results. The national numbers are getting closer, Democrats must pay attention, but given the economy, the upset progressives, Joe’s stupid second run (versus handling the baton to the next generation and endorsing a successor), and the personal threat to just saying you’re a liberal, — not surprising. The economy is hanging in there, hopefully trickle down will hit by Spring and we can be off to the races again. I do not think Floridia, or DeSantis is a national precursor.

  2. larry Horist

    Frank Stetson … Long screed from the constant critic who is read by hardly anyone, LOL Your manifest hatred for Florida (assumedly because it is a Republican state) leads you to present a totally negative picture of the state with your usual construction of specious information and disinformation. And no, I am not going to satisfy your desire to have me rebut you point-by-point since you writing has no impact on me or anyone else. You are engaging in rhetorical masterbatioin — and you are the only one getting satisfaction from it. You are on your own, old man.

    • FRANK STETSON

      Nice rant Mr. Horist. It’s all about me and nothing on point. No discussion, just defamation, debasement, and unprofessionalism.

      Amazingly, two days after I make a “master debator” joke about Horist, he creatlively comes up with a similar joke about me. Innovative.

      His new claiim to fame is I have low readership to the point of playing with myself. Well Horist, that’s the point. I do this for myself. If that pisses you off, sorry. But sure as fuck you are impotent to respond. If Horist could count, he would see I have more comments that he gets. My “readership,” not that I care, is based on PBP readership, so basically Horist is condemning himself. The fact that he has no way of actually telling has never stopped Hoirst from stating facts not supported by actual evidence. Old man still just wings it using the same old mantra’s and tropes he has used for decades.

      He can’t debate the merits of his case with facts and consistently gets blown away based on the facts.

      Plus he says I hate Florida. I love Florida. I am an investor in Florida. I do not like DeSantis, I try to tolerate Horist, but getting harder every day.

  3. Mike f

    And now you have a situation in Florida where the republicans have significantly overplayed their hand and have turned the state into a dystopian nightmare. Desantis, in wanting to ‘out trump trump’ pushed through many restrictions on people’s lives that the average voter does not want or care about (don’t say gay, drag shows, feuds with the mouse extreme abortion bans to name just a few). As a result (and his generally disgusting personality, desantis became persona non-grata on the national stage-his political career is over. Of course, while he was off campaigning he let many real issues that florida is facing just simmer (high inflation, insurance problems, etc). Yes, people look at florida and say ‘that’s not what we want for the country’, so I don’t think I’d be trying to sell the florida Republican takeover if I was trying to make inroads in the rest of the country…

  4. FRANK STETSON

    Here’s what Gallop actually says: “In addition to measuring their affiliation with either of the major political parties, Gallup asks Americans in each survey to describe their political views on a liberal to conservative spectrum. In 2023, on average, 36% of U.S. adults described their political views as conservative, 36% as moderate and 25% as liberal. Ideological identification has changed little in recent years; the latest figures essentially match the averages over the past 10 years.”

    The latest figures essentially a match for the decade.

    “From a longer-term perspective, the notable change has been the increase in liberal identification, which was under 20% from 1992 to 2000 and in 2002 and 2004. Both conservative and moderate identification have dipped slightly over the past two decades, but there has been a larger drop for moderates than conservatives since the trend began — moderates were the biggest group from 1992 to 2002.”

    Increase in liberals saying they are liberal. I know the feeling of moderate becoming a dirty word in either party.

    “As 2024 begins, the parties are closely matched based on political party identification and leanings. However, Democrats are clearly in a weaker position than they have been in any recent election year. This is based on the new low percentage of U.S. adults identifying as Democrats, as well as the Republican advantage in leaned party identification. In the past four presidential election years, Democrats had at least a five-point advantage in leaned party identification. They won the popular vote each of those years, though Republican Donald Trump won the 2016 election based on the Electoral College vote.

    This presidential election year is likely to see a drop in the percentage of political independents, as has occurred in six of the past seven presidential election years (all but 2012), amid intense focus on national politics and the two major parties. Still, even with a slight election-year drop — which has ranged from two to five points — independents will remain the largest, and arguably most persuadable, group of voters. In what is expected to be a close election contest, it is critical for each party, but especially Democrats, to nominate a candidate who can appeal to independent voters.”

    Based on NH and IOWA, I am hopeful the indy’s will pull it out for us. Now, and in the future, that’s the battleground in all this.