For the first time in the state of Florida’s history, Republicans now outnumber Democrats in official voter registration totals. According to the Florida Department of State’s Division of Elections, there are 5,118,657 registered Republicans and 5,114,039 registered Democrats.
The Florida Capital Star reported as early as September that Democrats weree poised to lose their lead. As recent as 10 years ago, Democrats held a 700,000-voter registration advantage.
Florida Democrats have worked to try and alleviate the narrowing margin, most notably by having former 2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum launch a voter registration campaign in 2019. However, the new voters never came to fruition for Democrats as former President Donald J. Trump carried Florida by a wider margin in 2020 than he did in 2016.
“The last time Florida Democrats had a sustained, year-round, fully funded partisan voter registration effort was 2012, and well, we’ve seen how well not having one works,” said Steve Schale, a Democratic operative. “If we do literally one thing … over the next 3-4 years, it would be to invest in a real, professional, partisan voter registration efforts.”
However, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republican Party officials, in essence, took a victory lap earlier in November when the numbers were looking more and more like a Republican overtaking.
“It’s absolutely a monumental day,” said Republican Party of Florida Chairman Joe Gruters. “Basically it’s a landmark day for Florida. It’s the first time in state history there are more registered Republicans than registered Democrats.”
In 2022, Florida’s Democrats are running Congressman Charlie Crist (D-FL-13) and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried (D) to challenge DeSantis, but rumors have circulated around how the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) will likely skip on supporting Democratic challengers to DeSantis.
Democratic operatives at the national level feel Florida is too expensive of a state and is already a lock for DeSantis.
“I spoke to them two weeks ago. We had a pretty candid conversation. DeSantis is looking strong politically and financially, and there are states like Massachusetts, Maryland and Arizona where they see potential pickups on top of incumbent protection,” said an anonymous consultant working with the DGA, to POLITICO. “They might do some money, but they are not going the way they have been in the past. There are not going to be multi-million-dollar checks.”
Despite the seeming Republican momentum in Florida, Florida’s Democrats feel the Republicans voter registration lead is an artificial one.
“What we’re showing in our analysis is that Republicans are playing accounting shell games with the voting numbers. They’re moving a disproportionate amount of Democrats to inactive, compared to Republicans,” said Florida Democratic Party spokesman Jose Parra. “And this is them moving to generate a press release to make them look good. But this is not in any way, shape or form them having a massive voter registration effort.”
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