How Florida Became New Capital of Red State America

In what was an general irritating election night time for Republicans, during which the oft-predicted “purple wave” did not materialize nationally, there was one state above all that supplied a transparent beacon of hope. That might be my adopted state of Florida.

Within the Sunshine State final Tuesday night, Gov. Ron DeSantis cruised to a second time period with an astounding near-20-point margin of victory over former Gov. Charlie Crist, and Sen. Marco Rubio routed challenger U.S. Rep. Val Demings by over 16 factors. Each DeSantis and Rubio received the state’s most populous county, 70-plus-percent Hispanic Miami-Dade County—DeSantis by double digits. Each Republican standard-bearers additionally received majority-Hispanic Osceola County, within the Orlando space, and DeSantis additionally flipped Palm Seaside County from blue to purple.

All different Florida Republicans working statewide additionally received, and Republicans additionally secured supermajority standing in each the state Senate and the state Home. U.S. congressional races in Florida that had been labeled earlier than the election as toss-ups, such because the thirteenth and twenty seventh congressional districts, uniformly broke for Republicans—and sometimes not in notably shut style. Another states, comparable to Texas and Iowa, additionally had good election nights for Republicans; however in no state did the GOP carry out higher, up and down the poll, than in Florida.

All of that is merely astonishing from Florida, the one-time paradigmatic “swing” state that famously determined the 2000 presidential election by a paltry 537 votes out of practically 6 million forged. Certainly, simply 4 years in the past, DeSantis himself eked out his first statewide victory over Democrat Andrew Gillum by a margin of 0.4%. And DeSantis’ victory over Gillum was not even the closest statewide race in Florida that cycle. Rick Scott received his U.S. Senate race over Invoice Nelson that very same 12 months by a microscopic 0.12% margin.

But, simply 4 years later, Florida is not a purple state. It’s a purple state—actually, a darkish purple state. Take into account, as however another knowledge level, that DeSantis received reelection by a bigger statewide margin than did Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, who received his reelection race Tuesday night time by slightly below 14%. Oklahoma is probably the nation’s single reddest state; in each presidential election since George W. Bush’s reelection in 2004, each single Oklahoma county has voted for the Republican presidential candidate.

However in 2022, DeSantis received in former “swing” state Florida by a wider margin than Stitt did in ruby purple Oklahoma.

The underside line is as easy as it could have been jarring to listen to only a handful of years in the past: Florida, the nation’s third-most populous state, has surpassed Texas, the nation’s second-most populous state, because the capital of purple state America.

As Republicans lick their wounds from Tuesday’s numerous disappointments and interact in some deep introspection about what went flawed on the nationwide degree, one key query thus turns into: What classes can Florida Republicans impart to Republicans elsewhere?

President Donald Trump’s 1.2% victory margin in Florida within the 2016 presidential election was prescient as a number one indicator; certainly, within the razor-thin DeSantis and Scott 2018 victories, each Republicans ran effectively forward of nationwide Republicans, who had a down cycle. However the “Florida miracle” story is unimaginable to grasp with out the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Floridian who shepherded the Sunshine State by way of it: Gov. Ron DeSantis.

DeSantis repudiated, far faster than did others, the noxious lockdowns, masks necessities, college shutdowns and (eventual) vaccine passports that characterised these darkish days of full-on COVID hysteria. In taking over what he has known as the “biomedical safety state” so aggressively, DeSantis appealed to each particular person liberty and innate human dignity, pertaining to the selection of whether or not to take a novel vaccine and the power to work and earn a residing.

DeSantis understood, from the get-go, that the nationwide coverage overreaction to COVID implicated not merely liberty considerations, but in addition a blatant try by the American ruling class to subjugate “wrong-thinking” “deplorables.”

The extra populist hue of DeSantis’ COVID-related coverage additionally manifested itself in his strategy to vaccine passports, the place Florida resisted the “let each enterprise resolve for itself” mantra of chamber of commerce/libertarian Republicanism and as a substitute opted for a statewide ban on vaccine passports.

Outdoors of COVID, DeSantis has equally proven a willingness to wield authorities energy for the advantage of good and the detriment of decadence, comparable to his transfer to strip the Walt Disney Co. of extralegal tax advantages for its strident opposition to Florida’s regulation defending kids from academics in search of to indoctrinate children in vogue gender ideology.

Moreover, Florida’s Cease WOKE Act, an anti-“woke capitalism” measure that was championed by DeSantis and will finally be vindicated by the courts, is consultant of the extra “muscular” mentality Republicans should now take to problems with political economic system.

The outcomes converse for themselves. Through the first 12 months of COVID, from 2019 to 2020, Florida had 4 instances as a lot web earnings migration as the following closest state, Texas ($24 billion to $6 billion). And the people and firms transferring to Florida appear to be those that are voting with their ft: Registered Republicans now outnumber registered Democrats in Florida by over 300,000, a shift of practically 600,000 since DeSantis’ minuscule 2018 victory over Gillum.

As the web site Florida Politics reported final week, of the 394,000 lively voters who’ve moved to Florida for the reason that onset of COVID, they’re twice as more likely to be registered Republicans as registered Democrats. The Sunshine State’s model of Republicanism has additionally made additional inroads with the state’s Hispanic neighborhood; as talked about, DeSantis and Rubio received not merely closely Cuban (and to a lesser extent, Venezuelan) Miami-Dade County, but in addition Osceola County, whose Hispanic inhabitants is majority-Puerto Rican.

The way forward for the Republican Social gathering shouldn’t be arduous to seek out. Nationwide Republicans want to easily let Florida and its transformational governor present them the way in which.

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