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  1. Florida Politics

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

President Donald Trump, shown greeting Ron DeSantis and his wife Casey at a campaign rally in Fort Myers on Oct. 31, was not on the 2018 ballot but his presence still loomed large in Florida during the election. [Doug Mills/The New York Times]
Published Nov. 7, 2018

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.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Tallahassee Mayor and Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum talks with reporters before addressing a group of gay and lesbian Democrats in Tallahassee on Aug. 19. (AP Photo/Brendan Farrington)
    Gillum accused Florida’s Republican governor of “routine” voter suppression.
  2. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis talks to reporters in Tampa on Aug. 21. Delays in his filling vacancies on the state's five water management district boards have twice led to those agencies canceling meetings to levy taxes and set budgets, which one expert said was unprecedented. OCTAVIO JONES   |   TIMES  |  Times
    Vacancies lead to canceling two agencies’ budget meetings.
  3. Vice President Mike Pence reacts during an immigration and naturalization ceremony in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House grounds, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) ALEX BRANDON  |  AP
    Katie Waldman, a former University of Florida student senator, was accused of helping discard independent student newspapers with a front-page endorsement of a rival party’s candidate. | Analysis
  4. Richard Swearingen, Florida's Commissioner of the Department of Law Enforcement, testifies before state lawmakers on Monday. Florida Channel
    But law enforcement officials are getting behind a “threat assessment system.”
  5. Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, urges the Florida Board of Education to hold schools accountable for teaching the Holocaust and African-American history, as required by lawmakers in 1994. The board was considering a rule on the matter at its Sept. 20, 2019, meeting in Jacksonville. The Florida Channel
    School districts will have to report how they are providing the instruction required in Florida law.
  6. The Mar-a-Lago Resort in Palm Beach. JOE RAEDLE  |  Getty Images
    It wasn’t immediately clear how much Mar-a-Lago would charge to host the Marine Corps Birthday Ball — or even if it might do so for free.
  7. In this March 24, 2018, file photo, crowds of people participate in the March for Our Lives rally in support of gun control in San Francisco. JOSH EDELSON  |  AP
    ‘Guns are always a volatile topic in the halls of the legislature,’ one Republican said.
  8. Pasco County school superintendent Kurt Browning says Fortify Florida, the new state-sponsored app that allows students to report potential threats, is "disrupting the education day" because the callers are anonymous, many of the tips are vague and there's no opportunity to get more information from tipsters. "I have an obligation to provide kids with a great education," Browning said. "I cannot do it with this tool, because kids are hiding behind Fortify Florida." JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |
    Vague and anonymous tips often waste law enforcement’s time and disrupt the school day, says Kurt Browning, president of Florida’s superintendents association.
  9. Tonight's LGBTQ Presidential Forum is hosted by Angelica Ross of FX's Pose. Twitter
    A live stream of the event and what to watch for as 10 candidates meet on stage in Iowa.
  10. In this April 11, 2018, file photo, a high school student uses a vaping device near a school campus in Cambridge, Mass.  [AP Photo | Steven Senne] STEVEN SENNE  |  AP
    "The department does not appear to have the authority to do anything.”
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