Florida is officially a red state. Here’s the proof

Shift in registrations favored Republicans in 2022 while non-party affiliation voters were a no-show for Democrats on election night

ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida, you are now a red-state. The opinion of this writer? Nope. The opinion of WKMG-TV? Nope. The decision of the voters of Florida? Bingo.

On Tuesday evening, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis handily beat former Governor 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.

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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.

How bad a drumming was this for the Democrats? In 2002, Republican Jeb Bush beat Democrat Bill McBride by around 13%. Up until tonight, that was the largest margin of victory in a governor’s race in Florida in 20 years. The last time a Democrat beat a Republican for the top seat in the state was Lawton Chiles back in 1990.

Yep, red state.

“This time, the pollsters underestimated,” News 6 Political Analyst Dr. Jim Clark said. “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.”

For DeSantis, this win was big and in stark contrast to four years ago.

In 2018, DeSantis barely beat Democrat Andrew Gillum (the difference was .4% or 32,463 votes). Tuesday’s win over his Democratic opponent was lopsided, and in doing so, the Governor flipped EIGHT counties that went to Gillum in 2018: Duval, Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Seminole and St. Lucie.

And as the governor’s race went, so did many (but not all) of the races in our area.

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.

Did everyone suddenly just turn Republican? Not exactly. Registered GOP voters in the state did jump, but not by the same margin as the Democrats losing voters. For the Republicans, 5.1 million in 2020 to only 5.2 million in 2022.

So where are the approximate 200k “missing” voters? Technically, you’ll find them in the non-party affiliate voters’ category: 3.7 million in 2020 to 3.9 million in 2022.

All of these are simple numbers. They don’t take into account the other political parties for registered Floridians voters, the number of voters who moved into the state, the number who moved out of the state, new voters coming of age, voters who didn’t register for 2022, or those who have died since 2020.

And these numbers are rounded: the Dems lost exactly 331,810 registered voters, the Republicans gained 108,382 voters, and non-party affiliate voters surged by 233,699. The net effect: Dems were down by 331,810 while Republicans and NPAs were up by a combined 348,081. Want the exact numbers? See below.

So, what does this mean going forward? Is Florida entrenched as a red state for the foreseeable future?

“The Democratic party is in disarray,” Clark said. “They will probably fire their chair and they need to re-organize from top to bottom. This is as much a DeSantis victory as it was a Democratic disaster.”

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About the Author:

Donovan is WKMG-TV's executive producer of digital enterprise