Republicans say they’ve flipped Florida voter registration for first time

elephant donkey
Democrats are disputing the numbers and crying foul.

Republicans have taken the lead in Florida voter registration for the first time in history — a landmark day, Florida Republicans declared Friday.

“It’s absolutely a monumental day,” said RPOF 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.”

Not so fast, Democrats say. They’re disputing the numbers and crying foul.

The Florida Democratic Party said Friday the RPOF and the Florida Division of Elections have been interpreting electoral roll rules to manipulate the numbers. Democrats, the Florida Democratic Party insisted Friday, still hold an advantage of 79,429 more eligible, registered voters than Republicans.

Officially there has been no change, as the Florida Division of Elections has not updated the state’s public reports on voter registration counts since the August report. That most recent report shows Democrats clinging to a 24,000-voter advantage. The September numbers are due out next week. The October numbers, which Republicans are celebrating Friday, are due for official release in mid-December.

The parties, however, are privy to early voter registration data, and they support that with their own research and analysis. So they stay up-to-date in almost real time.

The Republican Party of Florida did not release its latest counts.

The Florida Democratic Party says it is counting 5,452,958 registered Democrats and 5,373,529 registered Republicans.

Gruters said the official Division of Elections voter registration report coming out next week will show Democrats still holding an advantage, down to about 12,500 in September. The report to be released in December, with October’s numbers, should show Republicans up for the first time in state history, he said.

Gruters, a Senator from Sarasota, credited Republicans’ dynamic, year-round, long-term voter registration efforts, all the way down to local levels.

He also contended Florida is attracting thousands and thousands of Republicans moving in from throughout the country, many of whom fleeing political, economic and COVID-19 policies they do not like in Democratic-controlled states, to embrace Florida’s policies. For that he credited Republican leadership, starting with Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Senate and House leadership.

Florida’s population has been growing by about 1,000 people a day, mostly through migration.

“I think the Governor and his policies set the tone,” he said.

DeSantis pushed that message as well Friday.

“Welcome to the freest state in the United States,” DeSantis said Friday at the National Conference of State Legislators’ 2021 Legislative Summit in Tampa.

“When I got elected Governor, we had 280,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans in the state of Florida. Today, and it will probably be fully publicized very soon, today for the first time in the history of Florida, we’ve now overtaken Democrats,” DeSantis said.

“I think, what you’ve seen in terms of some of this migration to our state, much more than just taxes,” the Governor continued. “I think it’s fleeing the restrictions, I think it’s fleeing the lawlessness and the crime and many other things. We’re proud of that.”

Florida Dems spokesperson Jose Parra said Friday the Division of Elections is playing with the numbers to aid Republicans, to impress GOP donors, and to discourage Democratic donors.

He said they have been moving hundreds of thousands of voters from active status to inactive status, dropping them from the counts, even though they still are eligible to vote. That practice has reduced Democrats’ rolls far more than Republicans’ rolls. He said it has been going on for some time. So, much of the narrowing of Democrats’ advantage over the past few months has been more of an accounting move than an actual change in makeup of the electorate.

“According to our analysis, Republicans are basically playing a shell game with the numbers,” Parra said. “This is not due in any way, shape, or form to some vast voter registration effort.”

Regardless, available numbers show the Democrats’ advantage has been narrowing for more than a decade. Unless Democrats can find a way to change the trends, their voter registration total will fall behind Republicans’ eventually, if not now then soon.

Democrats once had a registered voter advantage of 657,000, in 2008. That year Democrats enjoyed a 42% share of the electorate, compared with 36% for Republicans. Since then, the RPOF has been chipping away at the spread almost continuously, at least according to records kept by the Division of Elections.

By the 2018 General Election, the Democrats’ official voter registration advantage was down to 263,000. By the 2020 General Election it was down to 134,000.

Gruters vowed that Republicans’ goal is to build a lead, so that “Florida remains red permanently. This is not a short-term issue. This is something we’re focused on for the long-term, and we’re very, very excited.”

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected]


12 comments

  • Ron Ogden

    November 5, 2021 at 5:50 pm

    Pinellas County is one place where voter registrations are narrowing fast. It used to be Dems were thousands ahead. Today it is 242,747 D to 242,506 R. Republicans will outnumber Dems going into next fall. Buh bye Charlie!

  • Alex

    November 5, 2021 at 6:09 pm

    As my Grandpa always said;

    “Figures don’t lie, but liars can figure”

    I’ll wait for some good data analyst(s) to break it down and get to the facts.

  • tom palmer

    November 5, 2021 at 6:12 pm

    Actually, once upon a time Pinellas and Sarasota counties were the lone strongholds for Republican voters who moved there from up North. That was before Nixon’s Southern Strategy that converted the segregationists and their allies to the GOP. Meanwhile, the Dems haven’t been very aggressive in telling their story so the stats are not surprising.

    • Tom

      November 6, 2021 at 9:12 am

      Palmer and Joe, LBJ predicted that that the Dems had lost the south for a generation or more. It’s public record.

      Stop blaming Repub. party.
      Repubs are the party of working people, blue collar, middle class, business owners, thrivers and difference makers.

      As a student of the presidency, Congress and electoral politics I know what it takes to re build a party.

      DeSantis, America’s Gov. has rebuilt the FGOP into a state powerhouse.

      It’s astonishing that the Dems have collapsed and are so dysfunctional.
      The DNC will not be spending money in Florida.

      LMAO.

    • Zhombre

      November 6, 2021 at 5:30 pm

      Nixon’s Southern Strategy was over 50 years ago. Most of the ardent segregationists in the South are long dead. Blacks wield political power in many Southern states. Atlanta, for instance. Lt Governors of North Carolina and now Virginia are black. You’re beating the carcass of a horse that long ago died, shriveled, rotted and reduced to bones.

  • Ocean Joe

    November 5, 2021 at 7:15 pm

    This will help bring Florida back into line with other Deep South states, like Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, Louisiana and cement our return to the confederacy where we can compete with our neighbors for the bottom of the barrel and project our own version of Huey Long or George Wallace onto the national stage.

    • Zhombre

      November 6, 2021 at 5:24 pm

      Not bloody likely. The case you’re making is absurd; you’re living in the past, as if nothing in the South has changed since 1965 and that ain’t the case; wake up prior to senility, I urge you. Florida will remain a populous, well run state that people from other states will migrate too.

  • Tom

    November 6, 2021 at 8:48 am

    Joe, you have become a larger misinformation agent than Alex.

    Florida is the freedom, liberty state thanks to Gov Ron.

    People’s are abandoning Dems across the state. The grassroots bottom up, blue collar jobs, jobs Repub party has provided new opportunity.

    People have fled blue state tyrannical Govs/States. Blue Virginia and blue corrupt New Jersey show that this week. They are red now.
    LMAO, two blue states flipped without corrupting the voter rolls.

    You cocoon liberals are in total denial. Ocean, Alex, weasel peter h, are all struggling.
    Lincoln org got ass kicked, racist org.

  • martin

    November 6, 2021 at 3:53 pm

    Lets Go Brandon

  • Impeach Biden

    November 6, 2021 at 7:04 pm

    Congratulations to Joe Biden.

    The number 1 recruiter of new Republican voters throughout the United States.

    Let’s go Brandon!

  • John Burk

    November 17, 2021 at 11:08 am

    A couple of issues here, first is the rise of independents and regardless if the GOP or DEMs are ahead by a few thousand registered voters it makes no difference if you can’t get independents to support your candidate. Secondly, we are a closed primary state meaning you have to be registered with a party to vote in that party’s primary election. For most Floridians the primary IS THE ELECTION meaning if they don’t belong to the majority party in their area they have zero voice. So I suspect that we have many people registered to the party they oppose making any chance of a true and accurate count of “true party members” impossible.

Comments are closed.


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