Florida Republicans have overtaken Democrats in the voter registration race, Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisDeSantis vows to fight federal vaccine mandate: It’s ‘going down’ Overnight Health Care — Biden unveils January vaccine deadline Kinzinger open to running for White House, Illinois governor MORE announced on Friday.
“Today for the first time in the history of Florida we’ve now overtaken Democrats,” DeSantis said at the National Conference of State Legislatures. The governor’s comments were first reported by the Tampa Bay Times.
The latest Florida voter registration numbers available to the public date back to August and show Democrats outnumbering Republicans by fewer than 24,000 voters. Political parties, however, often have more up-to-date figures at the county level.
DeSantis’s announcement would mark a major turning point in the Sunshine State. For years, Democrats have touted a massive voter registration advantage over Republicans. In 2008, when former President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Businesses’ post-holiday vaccine mandate Tuesday election results raise questions about Biden agenda ‘An earthquake’: GOP rides high after Democrats’ Tuesday shellacking MORE carried Florida by about 200,000 votes, there were nearly 700,000 more registered Democrats in the state than Republicans.
But that advantage has eroded over the years as the GOP invested heavily in bulking up its numbers in the state. Democrats, meanwhile, have long complained that the state party lacked a cohesive and long-term voter registration strategy.
The GOP’s newfound voter registration advantage is likely to throw the state Democratic Party’s challenges into even starker relief. Democrats have suffered a series of disappointing defeats in Florida in recent cycles, often losing key races by razor-thin margins.
The 2020 election proved particularly devastating for Florida Democrats. Former President TrumpDonald TrumpWhite House asking Senate Democrats to meet with Powell this month: report DOJ sues Texas over new election overhaul Good Republicans in government may be Democracy’s last hope MORE not only carried the state for a second time in a row, but won it by more than 3 percentage points – a veritable landslide by Sunshine State standards.
Democrats also lost two South Florida House seats that they had managed to flip in 2018, as many voters in Miami-Dade County swung to the right.
Manny Diaz, the chair of the Florida Democratic Party, has vowed to build out the party’s voter registration operation. Still, Republicans aren’t showing any signs that they plan to slow down their efforts. Politico reported in September that DeSantis had pumped $2 million into the state GOP’s voter registration push.