Conventional wisdom is often anything but wise. Election Day is sitting right in front of us and I’ve compiled my list of wild cards that could determine everything from Florida’s next governor to control of the US Senate and House of Representatives.
Let's start with the Pres-Midterm Election. The first major wildcard is that we’ve shattered every midterm election metric for engagement in Florida prior to Election Day. That being said, we’re not seeing anywhere near Presidential Election turnout in our state. This dynamic makes already nail-biting races that much more difficult to discern because there isn’t a specific cycle we can point to as a potential benchmark for what we’re seeing. This is truly an unprecedented midterm election cycle for Floridians.
Next, there's the changing tide of Florida’s politics specifically since 2000. Florida’s been deemed the ultimate swing state given our size and proclivity for tight state-wide results, it’s earned. But, that’s only part of the story. As is well known, Florida’s state politics have been far more conservative and consistent than our federal decisions for about 20 years. That could be on the verge of changing. Take our Governor’s race for example. Both candidates ran at times on federal issues that literally have nothing to do with the being Florida’s governor. Gillum on Trump impeachment and Medicare for All and DeSantis on border security and 1st and 2nd amendment constitutional issues in addition to state concerns. Even local races have reflected national themes. Part of Florida’s swing dynamic has been the willingness by about a fifth of Florida’s voters to vote split ballots previously. Will we see fewer Floridians voting split ballots and increased partisanship down ballot?
Third, we have the growing GOP trend in voter registration. Democrats have held a lead in voter registration for as long as Florida’s had partisan registration. That being said, Democrats have never had a smaller advantage in registration in an election cycle than this one.
Republicans have closed the voter registration gap on Democrats by 73,243 since the 2016 general election and 187,777 voters since the 2014 midterms. This is widely missed altogether in political circles. Voter registration trends have and continue to favor Republicans in Florida.
Voter registration takes us to what does an independent and a third-party voter look like this year?
The biggest, yet most relevant, cliche in politics is that undecided voters decide elections. Based on all available data independents will decide Florida’s governor's race, Senate race and six US House races 6,9,15,18,26 & 27. In other words, it’s possible that Florida’s undecided/independent voters will literally decide who controls Congress in addition to other key races.
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