‘Red has become the new purple’: Is Florida no longer a battleground state?

Fate of Democratic Party in Florida “grim” say analysts

Incumbent Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, his wife Casey and their children on stage after speaking to supporters at an election night party after winning his race for reelection in Tampa, Fla., Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell) (Rebecca Blackwell, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

DORAL, Fla. – Miami-Dade County’s shift from blue to red is driving a historic shift in Florida with republicans now a super majority in what was once considered a battleground state.

Democrats are now sending a message to party leadership and Democratic donors that choosing not to invest in funding, candidate organization, voter registration and Get Out the Vote drives could mean Florida will no longer be a swing state, leading to some analysts to say rather than a red wave, Florida is facing a blue retreat.

“The democrats just didn’t show up,” said NSU political science professor Charles Zelden.

“We’ve had a turnout problem,” said former Congresswoman Donna Shalala.

“Florida seems to be a shining example on the Hill for Republicans,” said former Broward County Democratic Party Chairman Mitch Ceasar.

Conservative commentator Laura Ingraham posted on Twitter that “Florida is still the model for the country” adding that Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Marco Rubio gave “a ‘tour de force’ performance.”

“Those kinds of commentaries were correct,” said Ceasar. “Red has become the new purple. I think we are no longer a swing state.”

Added Zelden: “The democrats made a triage choice that they would emphasize other states than Florida. You can’t argue that it didn’t work, but it came at the cost of losing Florida.”

It’s a sentiment expressed by Congressional Democratic candidate Annette Taddeo during her concession speech Tuesday.

“Even Democrats are sending a message to the Democratic Party,” she said, adding that Democrats were hamstrung statewide by a deficit in robust candidate organization, funding and voter registration drives. “Organizing, registering voters, it is constant work, it is not election season work, it is all seasons all the time.

“I only got $50,000, the rest of the money I had to raise on my own, my opponent got millions of dollars from so many groups including the Republic Congressional Campaign Committee, so it is very difficult when you are up against so much money and so many attack ads.”

It’s a feeling of being financially outgunned and organizationally outmanned.

“I think there’s some serious concerns about national money coming in anymore, which makes this you know, a problem, a circular argument, in effect, because how can we get better if the money doesn’t come in,” said Caesar.

Ground zero for the historic shift of Republicans outpacing Democrats is in Miami-Dade County.

“I think the fact that Dade County flipped is literally political malpractice,” said Caesar. “That should have never happened. It’s just one symptom of other problems. Also, the fact that Republicans overtook us with registration, and apparently was successful in getting those people out to vote for the first time, too. So, I think the Democratic Party has some very significant challenges. And if they don’t invest in Florida, pretty soon, it will be gone.”

“Goes to show that you need organization not just a good message, it is not enough to give people a reason to vote, you need to help them along, help them towards voting, encourage them to vote, and the democrats didn’t do that in Florida,” said Zelden, who was then asked by Local 10 News’ Christina Vazquez what he thinks is in store for the future of the Democratic party in Florida.

“Dim. Grim,” he said. “They are going to have invest a fair amount of resources in they expect to win races statewide in the near future.”

Said Ceasar: “Republican money donors have always been more disciplined, frankly, than Democratic donors. I think people have to recognize at the very least, if you want to make Florida competitive for a presidential election, you’re going to have to do the work years in advance. It doesn’t happen overnight.”

Local 10 News has reached out to the Florida Democratic Party for a statement.

Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida release (Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida)

About the Author:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."