Republicans understandably celebrated when, for the first time, their number of registered voters in Florida surpassed Democrats.
But why, you may ask, is that a big deal? Haven’t Florida Republicans mostly cleaned the Dems’ clocks for the last quarter-century or so anyway?
Yes, they have.
Many of the statewide races were close, of course. However, that shouldn’t have happened given the substantial lead in registered voters Democrats held during much of that era. That margin is gone now.
The GOP now has a little more than 4,000 more voters than Democrats, which shouldn’t necessarily send Dems into a fit of desperation. I mean, after all, more than 3.8 million Florida voters have no party affiliation.
Here’s the problem for Democrats, however. The voter edge they once held was a mirage.
Republicans purged thousands of names from the rolls, most of them Democrats, for not voting. Those people remain eligible to vote, but will they?
There also is the matter of Florida’s new voting restrictions, which appear primarily aimed at those likely to lean Democratic.
And then there is this issue:
Republican voters — generally older and more conservative — reliably turn out to cast their ballots. However, too many Democrats get fixated on a single issue. If the candidate doesn’t check all the right boxes, enough Democrats decide voting is not worth the bother.
That Primary system also rewards candidates on the extreme end of issues. An example of that is how progressive voters gave Andrew Gillum the edge over Gwen Graham in the 2018 Democratic Primary.
He attacked her centrist policies, particularly on her support for the Keystone XL pipeline. Graham was blasted for what enough people saw as her tepid support for Obamacare. He won the nomination, but it probably cost Democrats a real chance to win the Governor’s race. Most voters live in the middle.
Instead, Gov. Ron DeSantis won the Governor’s Mansion for Republicans and has since transformed himself into a rising star in his party. Democrats can only fume.
Now, Dems face a DeSantis juggernaut in 2022, and the polls predict more misery for them. Of course, that could change if the omicron virus turns into something serious in Florida. The virus seems to have a mind of its own.
For now, though, Republicans are giddy.
In the U.S. Senate race, Val Demings trails Republican Marco Rubio by 12 points in a Redfield & Wilton Strategies poll. Rubio leads Alan Grayson by 11 points in the same poll.
Florida may soon be as red as a sunburned tourist on Daytona Beach.
So the question begs, can Democrats do anything about it?
I guess we’ll find out in November 2022, just 11 months away.
The clock is running and there’s a clear underdog.