Florida, a state once so closely divided that a 0.009 percent vote differential dictated a presidential election, is a swing state no longer.
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis won reelection against—who was his opponent again? Oh, that’s right—Charlie Crist by nearly 20 percentage points. Sen. Marco Rubio beat Democrat Val Demings by more than 16 points.
The New York Times map of the change in votes from 2020 shows a constellation of little red arrows across the state, indicating counties that have become more Republican. Up and down the ballot and all across the state, Republicans trounced Democrats.
A Clinton+30 county in 2016. Pretty astonishing. https://t.co/mKzTlzjnQ4
— Eric Levitz (@EricLevitz) November 9, 2022
And the Democrats who were running weren’t particularly progressive or radical, either. When Crist was governor of Florida, he served as a Republican. Demings was literally a cop. As Slate’s Alex Sammon pointed out, if they want to win, it might be time for Democrats to stop trying to meet Republicans in the middle.
In his victory speech, DeSantis bragged that the Sunshine State had become a destination for people fleeing “leftist” cities and states.
“The woke agenda has caused millions of Americans to leave these jurisdictions for greener pastures,” he said. “Now, this great exodus of Americans, for those folks, Florida, for so many of them, has served as the promised land.”
Maybe DeSantis’ migration theory explains the state’s rightward shift. Maybe all the left-leaning snowbirds have decided that they prefer New Mexico. Maybe Florida’s voter suppression tactics played a role. Whatever the explanation, it’s clear that for at least the next two years, Florida Republicans will have free rein to police children’s education, criminalize health care for trans kids, and erode the rights of certain types of people to cast their votes.