Despite polls showing a favorable year for Democrats in the Sunshine State, the Republican Party narrowed the voter registration gap to 134,242.
The book closing count ahead of Election Day shows that there are 5.3 million registered Democrats and 5.2 million registered Republicans in the state. Republicans now trail Democrats 36.7%-35.8%, less than a single percentage point out of the state’s 14.4 million active registered voters.
Republicans narrowed that gap by more than 129,000 voters compared to the 2018 midterms, when there were 4.9 million Democrats and 4.7 million Republicans. When President Donald Trump was elected in 2016, Democrats had 4.9 million registered voters while Republicans had 4.5 million, a gap of 327,438 active registered voters and 2.5 percentage points.
“That’s what you call winning,” Republican Party of Florida Chairman Joe Gruters told Florida Politics.
Polls show former Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden ahead of Trump in the 2020 race for Florida’s crucial 29 electoral votes. The Real Clear Politics polling average shows Biden up 2.7 percentage points, and FiveThirtyEight’s presidential election model gives the former Vice President a 72% chance to win the state at the time of publication.
Republicans have touted their voter registration gains in the Sunshine State. Gruters says internal polling looks good for Trump.
Since the primary book closing on July 20, when they were down by 263,269 active registered voters, Republicans halved the gap. Gruters attributed gains since the pandemic struck Florida to the party’s continued ground game.
“Increasing the size of your base is what matters, and we have no doubt that we’re going to be able to turn out our voters in Florida,” Gruters said.
However, Democrats in the state are pointing to their vote-by-mail advantage. Democrats have returned 1 million ballots while Republicans have returned 623,395. There are also still 1.5 million Democratic ballots not yet returned compared to 1.2 million Republican ballots.
“The reality is Democrats have amassed an overwhelming vote by mail advantage and turned out in historic numbers for the primary election in August,” said Biden for President Florida Communications Director Carlie Waibel in a statement. “Democrats are leading in the metrics that will determine this election and returning their ballots at a higher rate than Republicans — and we aren’t letting up.”
But Gruters credited Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Republican National Committee, and the Trump Victory team for energizing and registering voters in the state.
“Today’s voter registration numbers are proof of Florida’s enthusiasm for President Trump and Republicans,” Trump Victory spokeswoman Emma Vaughn said. Democrats just can’t compete with that type of passion and Trump Victory’s superior ground game and infrastructure. The Sunshine State is ready to deliver.”
Republicans’ gains come despite efforts by prominent groups backed by former New York City Mayor and billionaire Mike Bloomberg and 2018 gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum to register more Democrats. Gillum’s plan included registering 1 million new Democrats while Bloomberg pledged $100 million to Democrats’ Florida efforts.
“When we’re faced with all that, we still ended up crushing the Democrats,” Gruters said.
Part of the crushing came in Miami-Dade County. Since the Aug. 18 primary book closing, they added 29,873 new Republican voters there, while Democrats added just 11,274.
Gruters pointed to enthusiastic support from the Cuban American community in Miami and Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced‘s endorsement for Trump.
“With people who have experienced more government control and socialism, I think for them it’s a no-brainer,” Gruters said. “There’s a good chance we could win the Hispanic vote outright.”
Democrats still hold a 40.5%-27.4% registration advantage over Republicans in the county, and there are more independent voters than Republican voters.
Since the books previously closed in July, Republicans also made gains in the I-4 Corridor, except in Orange and Osceola counties.
In Pinellas County, Republicans increased their registration by 10,131, while Democrats managed just 6,117. In Hillsborough County, Republicans increased by 12,621, and Democrats by 11,171. At the east end of the corridor, Brevard County Republicans added 8,051 and Democrats added 3,437, and Volusia County Republicans added 8,395, while Democrats added 3,192.
In the middle, Seminole County Republicans held onto and increased a longtime hold that had been slipping away. Seminole Republicans added 3,755, while Democrats added 2,881. That increased the Republicans’ advantage to 0.5% over Democrats. That gap was 0.2% in August.
But in the heart of the I-4 Corridor, Democrats continued to dominate. Orange County Democrats increased registration by 16,997 since August, while Republicans added 10,382. In Osceola County, Democrats added 3,952, while Republicans added 3,714.
Statewide, there are 3.8 million voters with no party affiliation and 216,317 third party voters.