Q&A of the Day - Florida’s Primary Election Turnout?  

Today’s entry: @brianmuddradio Yeah, candidates won elections Tuesday, but what does it really say about the state of complacency when turnout is so low? Seems like its jumping the gun to read too much into this. 

Bottom Line: I’ll start by saying I hear you and understand. Florida’s turnout for Tuesday’s primaries was a paltry 26%. A level of turnout that was actually lower by 1% over the midterms four years ago. That doesn’t exactly speak to Floridians being highly engaged in what’s going on around them. You’re not going to hear me defend barely over one-in-four eligible voters taking the time to vote. That said everything’s relative and believe it or not, Tuesday’s turnout was better than average. In the five most recent midterm election cycles preceding Tuesday’s, the average voter turnout has only been 23%. It’s not a secret that the more highly competitive high-profile races that are on ballots, the higher the level of turnout for elections. Given that Florida’s Republicans, which now make up the largest share of registered voters, didn’t have any high-profile competitive statewide races, the 26% turnout compares somewhat favorably. Especially when we compare it to the most recent cycle in which we had a similar primary landscape – 2014. 

The similarities in this year’s midterm election cycle and 2014’s in Florida are almost uncanny. A Republican Governor running for reelection against a Democrat-nominated Charlie Crist with the backdrop of a Democrat President. In that cycle, the August primaries resulted in only 18% turnout in Florida. So, while this cycle’s turnout was anything but impressive, it did represent a 13% increase in voter participation compared to the average midterm primary election and a 44% increase over the most recent comparable cycle. So that’s something. And there’s another interesting dynamic that’s in play. Where people were the most inclined to turn out.  

Only eleven of Florida’s 67 counties are Democrat majority counties. Here’s Tuesday’s turnout in those counties: 

  • Alachua: 29% 
  • Broward: 21% 
  • Duval: 29% 
  • Gasden: 34% 
  • Hamilton: 34% 
  • Hillsborough: 25% 
  • Miami-Dade: 19% 
  • Orange: 22% 
  • Osceola: 18% 
  • Palm Beach: 24% 
  • St. Lucie: 23% 

So, voter turnout was below the state average in seven of the eleven Democrat majority counties, in an election in which they had the highest profile races on the ballot. Moreover, the five most populous counties delivered turnout which averaged only 22%. And that leads to the next point. Approximately 200,000 more Republicans than Democrats voted on Tuesday. Republican turnout significantly outperformed the turnout of Florida’s Democrats despite not having any high-profile top-of-the-ticket races. That without a doubt portends a likely positive trend for Republicans as we head to Florida’s midterm elections, which historically should be favorable for the GOP generally. And on that note, recall that with turnout that was only slightly higher four years ago, we saw a greater than doubling of turnout, hitting 63% in a cycle which resulted in Democrats assuming control of Congress nationally but actually led to Republicans flipping a Senate seat (Rick Scott’s win over Bill Nelson). 

Using history as a guide alongside Florida’s political trends, there’s ample evidence and plenty of reasons for optimism on the right. Especially on back of the monumental shift in school boards across the state based on races that have already been decided.  

Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods.  

Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com  

Gettr, Parler & Twitter: @brianmuddradio  

iHeartRadio: Use the Talkback feature – the microphone button on our station’s page in the iHeart app.  

“Vote Here” Directional Sign Outside of Polling Place

Photo: Getty Images

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