That long-awaited blue wave Florida Democrats hope will lift them to sweeping victories in the U.S. Congress, Legislature and governor’s mansion has yet to appear in the state’s voter rolls.
In fact, with less than 100 days before the Nov. 6 election, Democrats are actually seeing their share of the Florida electorate shrink.
The percentage of Democratic voters slipped in Florida, according to final voter registration numbers for the Aug. 28 primary released over the weekend by the state’s Division of Elections.
Among the 13 million Floridians who were registered to vote in time for the primary, 37.2 percent, or 4.8 million, are registered as Democrats, compared to 35.3 percent, or 4.6 million, who are registered Republicans.
In 2012 and 2014, that Democratic advantage was more than twice as large — and Republicans still controlled both state houses.
In raw numbers, Democrats now have 245,301 more voters than Republicans, compared to a margin of 259,321 in the 2016 primary and 327,438 in the 2016 general. In 2014, the Democrats had 455,140 more voters in the primary than Republicans and 455,946 more for the November elections.
The reason for the drop can be explained partly by the growth in another group of voters, and it’s not Republicans (their share has remained largely flat in the past decade). The growing group is instead those who are are registering as “No Party Affiliated.”
The newest data, which count all Floridians who registered by July 30, shows a definite uptick in NPA voters, who of course, could lean left or right.
A few points must be kept in mind before drawing conclusions about the general election.
First, no voter is guaranteed to actually vote, in any election. So turnout will, obviously, play a role.
Further, the largest get-out-the-vote efforts haven’t yet picked up, and both parties register many new voters between primary and general elections.
Still, Democratic groups — and nonpartisan efforts like March for Our Lives organizers whose policy preferences have been embraced more in Florida by liberals than conservatives — have certainly been suggesting that they would be witnessing at least a ripple by now.
Hillsborough County has the highest share of Democrats in Tampa Bay, with 39 percent of its voters (326,369) in the party, compared to 32 percent (265,099) Republicans. Democrats also edge Republicans in Pinellas, 36 percent (232,500) to 35 percent (231,500).
Republicans are the plurality in both Hernando and Pasco counties. In Hernando, they outnumber Democrats 54,426 (41 percent) to 41,964 (32 percent). In Pasco, the electorate is 134,489 Republicans (39 percent) and 108,199 Democrats (31 percent).
Democrats have targeted seats to try to flip as they attempt to retake majorities in both the Florida Senate and U.S. Congress.
For the Florida Senate, the party is focusing on five seats:
- Senate District 8: Democrat Kayser Enneking is challenging incumbent Republican Keith Perry. (Enneking will have to get past primary opponent Olysha Magruder first.)
- Senate District 16: Democrat Amanda Murphy is challenging likely Republican primary winner Ed Hooper in the race for the empty seat last held by Clearwater Republican Jack Latvala.
- Senate District 18: State Rep. Janet Cruz is challenging Republican incumbent Tampa Republican Dana Young.
- Senate District 22: Democrat Bob Doyel is challenging Republican incumbent Kelli Stargel. (Doyel will have to beat primary opponent Ricardo Rangel before he can officially square off against Stargel.)
- Senate District 36: David Perez is challenging Republican Manny Diaz Jr. for the seat formerly held by the termed-out Republican René García. (Perez will face Julian Santos in the Democratic primary.)
Registered Democrats have a seven-point lead over Republicans in District 8, slim leads in Districts 18, 22 and 36, and trail by six points in District 16.
The only district where voter rolls have clearly shifted bluer since 2016 is District 36. In that Miami-Dade district two years ago, there were 5,024 more Republicans than Democrats. The NPA voter bloc grew and Democrats held ground. Now, the parties are virtually equal. Democrats lead by just 173 people.
There will be hard-fought races at the federal level, as well. In the districts with the seven closest Congressional races, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in just three.
Among those, Democrats have made the biggest strides in Districts 7, 26 and 27:
- In trying to defend Stephanie Murphy, D-Winter Park, registered Democrats in the 7th District enjoy a 9-thousand-voter lead over Republicans, which was nonexistent two years ago.
- In District 26, held by Carlos Curbelo, R-Miami, 36 percent of voters are now Democrats, while just 30 percent are Republicans. There are more than 22,000 more registered Democrats.
- And in the pro-Clinton District 27 left vacant by a retiring Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, Democrats are now 35 percent of the voting bloc, compared to just 32 percent for Republicans. Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 13,000.
Democrats lost more than a point to Republicans only in District 6, the district vacated by Governor hopeful Ron DeSantis. There, more than 205,000 voters, 38 percent, are Republican, to the Democrats’ 177,000, or 33 percent.
Contact Langston Taylor at 727-893-8659 or [email protected] Follow @langstonitaylor.