Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Politics

Voters clearly stood up to incivility and cynicism. Not in Florida.

So, that was an enlightening election. Not just the results, but the implications.

Basically, these midterms say that Florida is a purple state in theory only. The truth is you live in a Republican stronghold, and it is folly to argue otherwise. That goes for the state Legislature, the congressional delegation and the Governor’s Mansion, too.

Florida Democrats have a sizable lead in registered voters, and a fatal deficit in enthusiasm. Or brains. Or money. Or all three.

Elsewhere, voters clearly stood up to incivility and cynicism.

Not in Florida.

RELATED: Florida election results: Follow Governor, U.S. Senate and all races here.

RELATED: Ron DeSantis defeats Andrew Gillum in Florida governor’s race.

RELATED: Rick Scott wins Florida U.S. Senate race, defeating three-term incumbent Bill Nelson.

President Donald Trump called Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum a "stone-cold thief’’ and voters did not blink. He made immigration sound like a zombie apocalypse and the crowds cheered. He told Republicans to show up at the polls as if he were on the ballot, and in Florida they listened.

Let’s face it, this election wasn’t really about Ron DeSantis. Or Rick Scott, for that matter.

This election, like a lot of midterms, was a referendum on the current presidency. And judging by the number of congressional seats flipped, a good portion of the nation decided to send Trump a stern warning.

Not in Florida.

DeSantis, your new governor, ran a campaign that was comically bereft of vision or details. And it didn’t matter. He beat a more charismatic candidate. He beat a candidate who had led in most of the polls.

Now it’s also true that Gillum is a small-town mayor with a flimsy resume who may, or may not, be in trouble with the FBI, but that was practically an afterthought in the DeSantis campaign.

He basically beat Gillum by running on the platform that Trump can do no wrong. That was the theme of his earliest ads, and that seemed to be the opinion of his supporters.

Democrats may have outdone themselves when it came to voter turnout in this midterm, but Republicans turned out to be even more energetic.

In other states, voters took a stand against a president’s lies.

Not in Florida.

The state that handed Trump a victory over Hillary Clinton by 1.2 percentage points in the 2016 election, just reconfirmed its commitment with a 1.0 percentage-point victory in the 2018 gubernatorial race.

And, mind you, this isn’t about parties or policies. Floridians have disagreed about those for years, and still managed to maintain some semblance of camaraderie and propriety.

This is about a president whose main loyalty is to his own glory, and who thinks nothing of attacking anyone who disagrees with him. A president who lies repeatedly and unashamedly.

And yet Florida voters are seemingly okay with that. In fact, they seem oddly infatuated with the idea.

This state has been trending more and more Republican for the past two decades, and that’s fine. There are arguments to be made that lower taxes and less regulation have boosted the economy. The GOP is pushing immigration reform, and the idea is resonating with a lot of Florida voters.

Not to mention, Scott’s leadership over eight years has actually increased his popularity and softened his edges.

But this election wasn’t about partisan ideas. There was little in-depth discussion of policies in either the governor’s race or Bill Nelson’s vanishing Senate seat. This election felt more like a family squabble gone horrifyingly awry.

And despite the repeated close finishes in statewide races in Florida, this election feels as if it set a new standard in Republican domination. This election says Democrats can’t win in Florida even when they have momentum.

In races all around the nation, voters rejected the politics of fear and anger.

Not in Florida.

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