Q&A of the Day – Florida’s Voting Trends Compared to the Country
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Today’s Entry: @brianmuddradio As the voting age of GenZ continues to grow as a voting block this will become more challenging, how does this breakdown look in FL?
Bottom Line: Yet another great question as we continue to unpack what proved to be one of the most unusual and complicated midterm elections our country has conducted. In Florida, we were of course the great outlier. As I mentioned in the immediate wake of the midterm elections, Florida has rapidly gone from being considered the ultimate swing state to being the ultimate outlier. This question was specifically predicated on a key theme I’ve regularly discussed in breaking down what happened in the midterms – the Generation Divide.
A recap of what happened:
- 18-29: D+28
- 30-44: D+2
- 45-64: R+11
- 65+: R+13
As mentioned, there’s something in here for everybody at a certain level. Republicans can feel good about Millennials not only following the historical pattern of finding common political sense as they’ve established themselves in the real world with families, but by becoming more conservative more quickly than their parents. The GOP can also feel good about Xer’s becoming more conservative in voting patterns than their parents at the same age. But Democrats can be thrilled that the kids with ballots are starting out from the most leftist positioning we’ve seen in the post-30's data analytics age. But about what specifically happened in Florida.
By now it’s well known that only five of Florida’s 67 counties voted blue in this year’s midterms. A record low number in the history of the state of Florida in any election cycle. That included three of Florida’s four most populous counties, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Hillsborough all breaking for Republicans for the first time in the state’s history as well. The way that was done was by Governor DeSantis capturing a median of 8% more of the vote across all counties statewide compared to four years ago. That’s especially instructive because it meant it wasn’t just about Hispanic voters in South Florida breaking hard for Republicans, though that was a huge part of the story. It was a move towards the right by voters of all demographics and geographies across the state. The best comparison I can offer about what happened in Florida last Tuesday would be a presidential context. Reagan won a decisive victory in the 1980 Presidential election. By 1984’s election his policies proved so effective he won a record 49 states having won over wide swaths of voters which didn’t break for him originally, creating a generation of generally more conservative voters. Now, here’s what’s important in the context of potential staying power. How much of what happened was specific to DeSantis and how much might be sustained independent of him on the ballot?
- DeSantis’ improvement per county median: 8%
- GOP improvement per county median: 6.2%
It’s likely safe to say that Republicans down ballot significantly benefited from DeSantis’ popularity. Still, he actually only outperformed the party as a whole by a median of 1.8%. What that means is that there’s the potential basis for this performance being sustained even in future elections. And of course, speaking of the future, about the whole demographic breakout thing. All of this data is based on exit polling which was thin when specifically diving into exclusively Florida. That’s to say I’d take our state’s data as a generalization as opposed to gospel.
- 18-29: D+21
- 30-44: even
- 45-64: R+13
- 65+: R+15
Republicans fared better across all age groups in Florida when compared to the country overall. Also note, this is based on all votes cast in partisan races, not exclusively the governors' race for example where DeSantis carried higher percentages than the average Republican on the ballot. That included only having lost voters 18-29, which is quite the accomplishment and provides yet another angle as to why Florida’s Republican Party had a historic election result. Notably, the youngest voters did vote 7% more conservatively than voters under 30 nationally in answer to your question. Now, here’s another key to throw into this conversation. Turnout was lower in this year’s midterm elections than in 2018 and Florida’s turnout relative to 2018 was lower than the country overall. And turnout dropped by the highest percentage among Democrats in Florida and most specifically young Democrats. So, is it a case where Florida’s younger voters are really less liberal than those across the country, or was it the case that many of them just weren’t as motivated to vote in Florida this election cycle, perhaps due to the perception of weak Democrat candidates? That’s less clear. No doubt the news was and is great for Republicans in Florida, but it’s also clear that a lack of Democrat voter enthusiasm in Florida was a factor that could change in future election cycles. Especially a presidential election cycle in two years.