Saturday, January 19, 2019

Is Florida Lost to the Democrats?

Probably not. But it is true recent Florida results have not been good for the Democrats. And, of course, we have the obligatory breathless New York Times article pronouncing the state "a swing state drifting away". The article quotes Alex Sink, a former Democratic Presidential candidate, saying:
“We just live in a red state here...I think it’s just tilted toward the Republicans now, and I hate to say that.”
Perhaps Ms. Sink is giving up too easily. Cook Political Report's electoral college ratings have Florida rated a dead tossup for 2020. And here are the results (D-R) of the last 3 Presidential elections in the state: -1.2, .8, 2.8. And here are results of 2018's Senatorial and gubernatorial elections, respectively: -.1, -.4.
I dunno. Looks pretty close to me. Consider also how close the two 2018 statewide races were. Historical patterns indicate that white vote share should decline by quite a bit between 2018 and 2020--possibly down to the low 60's--as demographic change and Presidential turnout patterns combine to push up the minority vote. Given voting patterns in the 2018 election, that would probably be enough by itself to flip tiny Republican margins in 20118 to tiny Democratic margins in 2020. Looked at another way, Gillum and Nelson might well have squeaked out victories had they had the advantage of the turnout patterns we're likely to see in 2020.
So it seems way too early to put Florida in the red state category. It will not be easy to win in Florida in 2020 but not prohibitively difficult either. It's still a tossup state. Here's my formula for victory in Florida:
The formula starts with Democrats carrying blacks overwhelmingly while solidly carrying Latinos, with strong turnout on both fronts. (The state’s large, relatively conservative Cuban American population means Democrats can’t feasibly generate the 2-to-1 Latino advantage they typically enjoy elsewhere--that said, 2018 performance among these voters was relatively weak.). Then the Democrats need to be competitive among white college-educated voters in Florida, where they have been making real progress, while avoiding deficits among white non-college-educated voters that reach into the 30s. Indeed, if they could push the white noncollege deficit down to the high 20's, they would be in quite good shape.
So there you have it. Easy, no. Doable, yes. They call 'em tossups for a reason.
About this website
No state stunned Democrats more than Florida, where Republicans thwarted the forces that are lifting Democrats elsewhere. The battleground state is tilting more to the right.

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