Florida’s Future Is Bright Red - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Florida’s Future Is Bright Red
Gov. Ron DeSantis delivers his reelection victory speech, Nov. 8, 2022 (WSVN-TV/YouTube)

It should be clear, after the Republican clean sweep in Florida on November 8 and disappointing results elsewhere, that Florida is now the center of the Republican universe. Politically, the state is a brighter red than Santa Claus’s holiday suit. Political and cultural changes make it unlikely that Florida’s political color will change in the foreseeable.

Not only did Republican governor Ron DeSantis win reelection by almost 20 points, and Republican senator Marco Rubio take down his Democrat challenger by 16, but Republicans swept all statewide offices as well. This makes Tallahassee, save for journalists, FSU professors, and state bureaucrats, an almost Democrat-free zone. Post-election, Florida’s delegation to the U.S. House now stands at twenty Republicans and eight Democrats, a pickup of four for the GOP.  Republicans maintain significant majorities in both houses of the state legislature. 

These lopsided and unambiguous results should put to rest the idea — mostly put about by wishful-thinking Democrats — that Florida was trending purple. This notion was given some credibility after Florida went narrowly for the glib little hustler from Chicago in 2008 and 2012. But even in those years Florida was putting up more Rs than Ds. Republicans have controlled both state houses since 1996, and the state has had a Republican governor since Jeb (Jeb!) Bush won that office in 1998. 

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If anyone was surprised by November 8’s Florida results, it would have to have been Democrats who assumed that Hispanics would continue to vote reflexively for Democrats. They didn’t. Both DeSantis and Rubio carried Democrat stronghold Miami-Dade County, which is more than two-thirds Hispanic. DeSantis won it by 11 points; Rubio by nearly 10. In 2016, Hillary Clinton carried Miami-Dade by 29 points.

Not that many years ago, Democrats smiled when proclaiming that demographics are destiny. But this hasn’t worked out the way they wanted and expected. They assumed that the growing number of Hispanics in Florida and across the nation would remain in the Democrat camp, in the words of the old hymn, forevermore. They did for a while, but politically Hispanics have been moving steadily in the Republican direction.

Hispanics now make up 17 percent of Florida voters. Of course, Hispanics are hardly monolithic, but it’s fair to say that a large portion of those who qualify for this label are hard-working, family-oriented, culturally conservative people who are hardly keen on the woke policies of the current Democrat Party. Many escaped from socialist hellholes and don’t want to see America going down that ruinous road. (Democrats insist that they’re not socialists. Maybe not. But try making a living on the difference between socialism and the Democrats’ agenda.)      

Conservative Floridians have long been concerned that all those folks fleeing blue states because of the unlivable wreck leftist policies have made of their former homes might bring their deep-blue politics with them. That doesn’t appear to be what has happened. While it’s hard to find research that specifically answers the question of whether blue migrants bring their politics to their new addresses, there were reasons before November 8 to believe that new arrivals out of the blue vote more like those from where they’ve arrived than like those from where they left. There are more reasons to believe this now that the votes have been counted.

The “leftugees” fleeing states such as New York and California tend to be people with enough resources to afford to relocate and who also understand why they had to pull up stakes. This has worked to the advantage of states like Florida and Texas, which offer newbies more personal freedom, a lower cost of living, lower taxes, no state income tax, less crime, a business-friendly environment, more job opportunities, and less leftist cultural engineering. The sunshine is a bonus. If these new neighbors couldn’t recognize high taxes, prosecutors who don’t prosecute, uberregulation, and left-wing insanity in schools as the things that made their former homes unlivable, then they would not be nimble enough to find Florida or Texas with GPS.

The only cloud on Florida’s political horizon is the almost certain battle between DeSantis and Donald Trump for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. This is being written before Trump’s promise of a November 15 announcement, the subject of which it is no challenge to predict. Were it that the Donald decided not to run in 2024, the news would be only marginally less shocking than the sun coming up in the west one morning. 

The battle will be joined, and it will be vicious. Trump will not have it any other way. He’s already thrown a couple of low blows, calling DeSantis “Ron DeSanctimonious” days before the election (demonstrating once again how devoted he is to Republican candidates not named Donald Trump) and hinting darkly that he knows dirty secrets about DeSantis that he will reveal if DeSantis challenges him. Charming. This battle will be a national as well as a Florida story. So we all need to buckle our chin straps.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (John Springs/The American Spectator, spectator.org)

Ron DeSantis (John Springs)

DeSantis won the governor’s race by the slimmest of slim margins in 2018. But in four years he earned a landslide reelection on the basis of competence and courage. Competence in such matters as hurricane preparedness and cleanup. Courage in standing up to the medico/politico establishment to keep Florida’s businesses and schools open during the COVID panic. Courage in standing up for parents against teachers unions and woke corporations with large ears and large contempt for the wishes of a majority of Floridians. And courage in standing up to a leftist media that has cowed many a politician of each party. He has enormous political capital just now, and he’s amassed this capital without the drama and childish insults that are Trump’s stock-in-trade. The Donald has never faced an opponent with the political assets of Ron DeSantis. It would be a serious mistake to underestimate him.

Many Floridians have told me that they like DeSantis and believe he would be a good president but would hate to lose him as governor. Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez, who would step in if DeSantis resigned to run, is a competent, conservative Cuban-American from Miami-Dade County. Florida would be in good hands with her in the governor’s mansion. And many DeSantis fans anticipate and approve of this. This is why, at DeSantis’s election night victory party, so many were chanting: “Two more years! Two more years!”

Welcome to the center of the Republican universe.

Larry Thornberry
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Larry Thornberry is a writer in Tampa.
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