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2020

Soft support among Republicans may doom drive to open Florida primaries

Warning signs flash for the All Voters Vote amendment.

If a constitutional amendment to open Florida primaries fails this year, it will likely be due in part to a lack of support from Republican voters.

A survey released Tuesday by the University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Laboratory shows warning signs among likely voters for the “All Voters Vote” initiative.

The All Voters Vote (AVV) citizen initiative would open primaries for Governor, Cabinet, and legislative races to all voters regardless of party affiliation, starting in 2024, setting up a “top-two” system.

However, the survey suggests that it will struggle to meet the 60% threshold, and if that in fact is the case, it will be because the measure wasn’t sold effectively to the state’s Republicans.

While a full 72% of voters who identify as “no party affiliation” back the open primary bid, along with 61% of Democrats, the measure struggles with Republicans.

Though the amendment is still in positive territory, with 48% of Republicans backing the measure and 45% opposed, the GOP number falls well short of the 60% needed to pass.

All told, the measure has just 58% support, a drastic drop from a February survey from UNF PORL that saw All Voters Vote draw approval from 70% of those polled, including 63% of Republicans.

Demographic breaks tell a story as well. While voters from ethnic minorities back the amendment enough to pass it, White voters appear to be a stumbling block.

A full 77% of the Black voters surveyed want open primaries, along with 68% of Hispanic voters polled. However, only 52% of White voters indicate support for the proposal on the 2020 ballot.

Both Republicans and Democrats whose careers are invested in the current two-party system have issued forceful denunciations of the open primary push.

“It’s not only the Republican Party of Florida,” said Florida GOP chairman Joe Gruters this summer. “The Democratic Party of Florida has also come out against this. This is an attempt to push away our right to assemble and come together as a party to choose the nominees we best believe represent us.”

Senate Democrat Leader Audrey Gibson said the proposal “separates the body of people from the representative that looks like them and best represents their interests.”

“If you’re for Amendment 3, you’re not for the minority community, period,” Gibson added.

Advocates for the amendment, meanwhile, contend that it would actually enfranchise minority voters who refuse to register with one of the two major parties.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at AG@FloridaPolitics.com

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