Joe Henderson: There’s a bad moon rising for Florida Democrats

Democrats vs republicans are facing off in a ideological duel on blue and red backgrounds. In American politics US parties are represented by either the democrat donkey or republican elephant
Democrats need a better message than 'DeSantis. Bad. Us. Good.'

Voter registration between Republicans and Democrats is now virtually even, as Politico previously reported.

Given how the GOP dominated state politics for more than 20 years, some who haven’t paid attention might think Democrats are signing up thousands of new voters and are about to turn the state blue. But no, not even close.

Republicans won all three branches of state government despite having about 700,000 fewer registered voters as late as 2008. By the end of 2012, that number shrank by nearly 140,000.

Dems still held a margin of about 100,000 in the 2020 election (not that it helped them much).

As of Aug. 31, that number was down to 23,551.

If Democrats managed to lose with that decisive edge in registered voters consistently, what would happen now? There’s a bad moon rising unless they get their act together.

Politico reporter Matt Dixon called it “a five-alarm political fire headed into the 2022 midterms.”

I have some theories about what happened, but first, let me offer this snippet from Democratic consultant Steve Schale’s blog.

“We have to start meeting voters where they are. Too many Democrats assume some ‘modeling score’ is concrete evidence some voters either absolutely will or won’t vote for us, and we ignore them,” he wrote.

“Guess what, we prove the model, and they don’t vote for us, or they don’t show up because we assume they will vote. Republicans do not operate that way. They go after ‘our voters’ aggressively, and the results speak for themselves.”

Democrats, once the party of working people, allowed themselves to be labeled socialist, elitist, taxoholic, and, worse, unpatriotic. Meanwhile, Republicans kept a consistent message: jobs, the economy, security, guns, law and order, and — did we mention — jobs.

And Schale is correct when he says that Democrats tend to write off large segments of voters.

Two words: The Villages.

They allowed Republicans to create a narrative that the teachers’ union ruined public education.

Democrats stammered and stuttered during the riots in the aftermath of the George Floyd murder.

Republicans — looking at you, Gov. Ron DeSantis — managed to flip the story from one of police reform to the need for cracking heads against unruly mobs.

When Republicans fought against a $15 per hour minimum wage, Democrats should have countered that sky-high rentals and wage inequality created major problems for millions of Floridians.

But they did not.

Republicans keep it simple. You know where they stand on the issues, and they march in lockstep in Tallahassee. And when their mistakes hurt people — as we’ve seen during the pandemic — they blame the media for its reporting.

Like it or not, the strategy is political genius. The latest registration numbers prove that.

As we inch closer to the 2022 election, polls show DeSantis’ approval numbers dropping. I don’t think it matters, though.

His campaign chest will have more money than Fort Knox. That will be more than enough to label his Democratic challenger — Charlie Crist or Nikki Fried — a socialist who wants to indoctrinate your kids with critical race theory and teach them to hate America.

The Democrats’ best (and maybe only) hope is to convince the state’s nearly 3.8 million independent voters that they have the best vision.

Of course, it would help to first articulate that vision and keep repeating it until the words sink in. And Dems better hope it’s more than “DeSantis. Bad. Us. Good.”

That didn’t work against Rick Scott or Marco Rubio, and it didn’t work here last year against Donald Trump.

It might be time for a new game plan.

Oh, and registering more voters, too. That might help.

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


  • JD

    September 20, 2021 at 7:08 pm

    That’s the most apt assessment of the situation I’ve seen so far.

  • Purge is Coming

    September 20, 2021 at 7:17 pm

    100s of illegal voters in Alachua County alone.
    3:1 Dems to Reps and NPAs

    • Alex

      September 20, 2021 at 7:24 pm

      Only trouble is you have to prove it, which Republicans consistently fail spectacularly at doing.

      In fact, you cry wolf so often, no one is listening to your lies anymore.

      • Purge is Coming

        September 20, 2021 at 8:13 pm

        Supported by irrefutable evidence and under investigation by FDLE.

        • Alex

          September 20, 2021 at 8:25 pm

          Trump had irrefutable evidence.

          62 times.

          The MyPillow guy still says he does.


          I’ll believe it when you can get a Judge to accept it as evidence, until then, quit flapping your jaws.

  • Alex

    September 20, 2021 at 7:22 pm

    Joe forgets Trump’s honesty in showing us what Republicans actually want to do with our country, and how they don’t want little issues like 600k dead americans distracting us from the important stuff.

    And here in Fla DeAnus carries the flag of their sick dreams.

    • Who's Flapping Now?

      September 20, 2021 at 8:32 pm

      Let’s make a wager. Peter can hold the cash.

      • Alex

        September 20, 2021 at 8:34 pm

        Internet bet alert!!


        (I suggest you remove your head from your ass bubba)

    • Paul Grass

      September 22, 2021 at 10:02 pm

      Most of the 600k dead are in democratic strongholds, so who cares

  • Jerry

    September 20, 2021 at 8:09 pm

    Today’s Democratic party’s campaign message is….”more government, more taxes, less freedoms.” That’s what their policies equate to in a nutshell. Democrats want more government involved in our lives, they want the government to take more of our money, and they want to restrict our liberties. That’s not a winning campaign platform in this state.

    Why the hell would anyone vote for Democrats in Florida? So they can mandate vaccinations, implement gun control, force schools to teach Critical Race Theory, and crash the economy? Sorry but I don’t want to live in New York or California. Ultra-left states plagued with crime, corruption, unemployment, taxes, and homelessness. Why the hell do you think so many people are moving to Florida?? You Democrats keep talking about how awful this state is. Then why is everyone moving here? If liberals are such successful politicians, why isn’t everyone moving out of Florida and running to those liberal states? Look at the census. The liberal-run states are LOSING population. The people who are relocating here want nothing to do with the socialist authoritarians that now make up the Democratic party.

    • Connor

      September 20, 2021 at 10:00 pm

      Agreed although liberals will just call us anti-science, racist bigots for believing that. Probably why they are losing voters….because of how they act with people who don’t agree with them.

  • Alex

    September 20, 2021 at 8:20 pm

    Republicans just want to cheat at elections, keep the darkies down, control womens bodies, turn us back to the dark ages, and pretend they’re the victims of some massive conspiracy that’s taken their rights they can’t name.

    • Jerry

      September 20, 2021 at 8:33 pm

      Democrats are going to demand ID and vaccination records in order to go on airplanes, go to stores and restaurants, go to a football game or movie theater, go to school, and have a job.

      ….but then they think having people show ID to vote is discrimination and too much of a burden.

      • Alex

        September 20, 2021 at 8:37 pm

        Yep, one saves peoples health and lives, the other is election cheating.

        Like I said.

  • No Worries

    September 20, 2021 at 8:28 pm

    Gillum is registering and reengaging 1M new voters.

    • zhombre

      September 20, 2021 at 8:34 pm


    • Alex

      September 20, 2021 at 8:39 pm


      Refuglicans forget DeAnus won by only .4%

  • Charles

    September 20, 2021 at 9:24 pm

    Joe “Jackassery” Henderson with more information presented as to “spotlight his liberalism” This old guy need to be put to pasture and forgotten as soon as possible.
    We need journalists with integrity not washed up political hacks

  • JmjUSA

    September 20, 2021 at 9:32 pm

    Poor demon-rat mouthpiece Henderson used his old tired complaint: the biased typists (no longer journalists) are “victims” of Republicans…
    Just can’t stand it when you are called out for what you are: advocacy not reporters

    • Alex

      September 20, 2021 at 10:00 pm

      Did someone force you to read it?

  • Tom Palmer

    September 20, 2021 at 10:58 pm

    Florida Democrats often seem to be their own worst enemy.

    • Zhombre

      September 21, 2021 at 8:51 am

      You finally said something I agree with.

Comments are closed.


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