The current political narrative is and has been that red states are becoming swing states. States like Georgia and Texas, both solid historically red states, have crossed the line and can now be officially categorized as toss-ups lumped in with the likes of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and others. While this narrative keeps getting shattered with the rise and fall of Democratic candidates like Beto O’Rourke, Stacey Abrams, Wendy Davis, and a few others, it’s still the narrative nonetheless. Countless activists and national political figures continue to point to these states as being “in-play” for upcoming statewide/national elections despite their failure to win any races.
What I find interesting is that you never hear about toss-up states that are bucking the media narrative and trending in a Republican direction. Take Florida for example. Florida is considered the Mecca of swing states with it’s tantalizing 29 electoral college votes. This dwarfs Ohio’s 18, Pennsylvania’s 20, Michigan’s 16 and especially Wisconsin’s 10. Florida is the state that decided the Bush/Gore race of 2000 and has accurately predicted every presidential winner since 1996.
There’s just one problem: Democrats have won only one of the past five years of statewide/presidential races in the state which was in 2012 when Obama took Florida and Bill Nelson was reelected to the Senate. Here’s the timeline of statewide and presidential races since 2010.
Rick Scott (R) 48.9% – Alex Sink (D) 47.7% (Governor)
Marco Rubio (R) 48.9% – Charlie Crist (I) 29.7% (Senate)
Barack Obama (D) 50.0% – Mitt Romney (R) 49.1% (Presidential)
Bill Nelson (D) 55.2% – Connie Mack (R) 42.2% (Senate)
Rick Scott (R) 48.1% – Charlie Crist (D) 47.1% (Governor)
Donald Trump (R) 48.6% – Hillary Clinton (D) 47.4% (Presidential)
Marco Rubio (R) 52.0% – Patrick Murphy (D) 44.3% (Senate)
Rick Scott (R) 50.1% – Bill Nelson (D) 49.9% (Senate)
Ron DeSantis (R) 49.6% – Andrew Gillum (D) 49.2% (Governor)
Things were so bad after the 2018 surprise double loss that Politico had this to say:
This election was supposed to be different. Strong Democratic tailwinds were supposed to give Florida its first Democratic governor in 20 years and its first African-American governor ever, Andrew Gillum. Sen. Bill Nelson, who never lost a general election in more than 40 years of holding various elected office, was supposed to win again. But it didn’t happen.
Compounding issues worse for Florida Democrats is Republican Governor DeSantis is enjoying record popularity.
So what’s actually happening here? This can’t be underscored enough: Democrats are nominating crap candidates. Charlie Crist has been affiliated with every political party under the sun (three) and seems to simply say whatever he thinks he needs to say to get in office. As the data above shows, it hasn’t been working out for him. Democrats also nominated Andrew Gillum for governor who had a laundry list of ethics issues during his time as Mayor of Tallahassee.
The longterm trends of the state will be interesting to follow but the data at the moment is clear: Florida is not a swing state.