Florida redder than ever; 5-minute midterms analysis

The Watsco Center flies a University of Miami flag alongside an American flag as students vote inside at the polling station. Photo credit: Sam Peene

In the 2022 midterm elections, President Joe Biden and the Democratic party secured monumental national wins, despite media projection of a “red wave.” However, in the state of Florida, sweeping victories on behalf of the Republican party turned the long standing purple state, a deep red.

Florida Results

Florida voters have re-elected Ron DeSantis for a second term as the state’s governor. With nearly a 20-point margin and an extreme cash advantage, DeSantis overcame challenger Charlie Crist. His win declared Florida, a long standing swing state, under Republican control.

“The people have delivered their verdict: Freedom is here to stay,” DeSantis said during his victory speech on election night. “Now, thanks to the overwhelming support of the people of Florida we not only won this election; we have rewritten the political map.”

DeSantis began his career as the first Republican gubernatorial candidate to win Miami-Dade County (MDC) since 2002. And since his appointment, the number of registered Republicans in MDC exceeded the number of Democrats for the first time in history, and have continued to lead since.

Eyes are now on DeSantis as a potential party nominee against former President Donald Trump for the Republican presidential candidacy in 2024.

“What I thought was going to happen became a reality,” said Kyle Sullivan, a third-year registered Republican studying finance. “I knew DeSantis was going to win, not because of hopes I had, but because of the statistics out there towards incumbents.”

The republic attorney general candidate, Ashley Moodly will rejoin him in office after defeating Democrat candidate, Aramis Ayala.

Winning by 16.4 point margin, Marco Rubio became the first Florida Republican to secure three terms in the Senate. He defeated Val Demings, former Chief of Police for Orlando and representative for Florida’s 10th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives who campaigned avidly throughout Miami-Dade and Broward Counties.

In a speech acknowledging her loss, Demings congratulated her opponent and told Florida Democrats not to give up. After a shockingly poor statewide election, many democrats are feeling lost and are looking for internal change within the Florida Democratic party.

Some are going so far as to suggest removing chairman of the Florida Democrats Manny Diaz, a former mayor of Miami. Diaz however blames the hard loss primarily on the lack of funds provided to the state, not on party leadership.

“Funding and resources that have helped keep our state competitive were zeroed out and redirected elsewhere this cycle. While in the 2018 midterm elections the national organizations invested nearly $60 million to Florida Democratic efforts, in 2022 their investments plummeted to $1.3 million, barely 2% of what we got in 2018,” he said in a Facebook statement on Nov. 12.

The largest digression for Florida Democrats can be seen in the Miami area, where many long standing solid blue districts flipped red. Some news outlets and Republican party members credit Rubio with the increased influence of the Republican party on hispanic voters, others look at the lasting influence of the Trump administration and GOP groups that formed as a result of his campaign.

In response to Florida’s new red status, students at the University of Miami are experiencing a wide range of emotions. Sullivan told The Miami Hurricane he feels validated by the election results. Caro Miranda, a senior studying economics on the pre-law track also feels satisfied with Florida’s results. Other’s though are wondering what this means for the future of the state.

“I feel frustrated,” Romina Dominguez, a second year student at UM studying creative writing and political science, said. “I don’t yet know how this will affect my day to day life but I know that I can expect my access to reproductive and contraceptive healthcare to be significantly limited in the future.”

With a total of 20 seats won, the Republican party gained four seats in the U.S. House of Representatives while the Florida Democrats held onto eight congressional seats.

One of the final elections pertaining to the University of Miami area was for the District 27 congressional representative. Shortly after 8:00 p.m. on election night, the closely contested race was called for the incumbent candidate, Maria Elvira Salazar. District 27 is almost 70% hispanic voters, covering most of Miami, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Palmetto Bay, Pinecrest and Kendall.

Florida voters also voted down all three statewide ballot measures to amend the Florida Constitution.

National Focus

As the final votes are counted which party controls the House remains unclear however, with the Republicans only one seat away from the 218 majority needed it is likely to flip red.

Even with New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney’s lost seat in District 18, Democrat performance exceeded expectations, winning battleground elections and flipping seats in Michigan and Ohio. Republican wins pickup across the country, especially in Florida, but with a smaller majority than was expected.

Until Saturday Nov. 12, the Senate majority had not been announced. During the days following election night the race for control was neck and neck. With Senator Catherine Cortez Masto’s victory in Nevada, the Democratic Party secured power in the Senate.

Speaking on the elections for the first time since Tuesday, Joe Biden said on Wednesday that the Democrats had a strong night, referring to the predicted red wave he said “didn’t happen.”

“While I’m saddened by the outcome in Florida, I have read about a lot of good news resulting from election night around the country,” UDems Director of Communications, Riley Simon.

Some races are still yet to be called. Due to Alaska’s ranked-choice voting system counting will take up to 15 days. If Alaska’s candidates do not win a majority of first-choice votes, the winners may not be announced until Nov. 23.

Sen. Raphael G. Warnock and Herschel Walker are headed to a runoff for Georgia’s Senate seat on Dec. 6. In the House, 20 seats remain unprojected. Most of these races are in California, Arizona and New York.

Many made history in this year’s election, emerging victorious from a pool of candidates considerably more diverse than those preceding them. With an estimate of 27% of youth voters turning out to vote, this year’s midterms mark the second highest youth voter turnout in almost three decades.

“This election definitely had the best turnout for ages 18-25 probably ever,” said Simon. “So I think our generation is coming of age and is ready to continue the good fight.”

This year’s election has also brought many firsts. The first female governors were elected in Arkansas, Massachusetts and New York, Democrat candidate Wes Moore is the first Black person to be elected governor of Maryland and Maxwell Frost is the first member of Gen Z to be elected to Congress. For the first time in the nation’s history lesbian, gay, transgender and queer people ran for office in all 50 states.

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