As vote counts continue to be posted, it is clear that Republican hopes and dreams of a huge wave election have been dashed. Instead of a large House majority and solid control of the Senate, Republicans will be lucky to have small majorities in each chamber, and even that outcome is not secure at this moment.
But in one state, Florida, Republicans have triumphed in tsunami-like proportions. With 98% of the vote counted, Marco Rubio has a 16.4% landslide lead over Senate challenger Val Demings, and Governor Ron DeSantis has a 19.4% lead, a gigantic increase over his fraction of one percent squeaker victory 4 years ago.
It’s going to take some time to figure out why the rest of the country isn’t behaving like the Sunshine State, but 3 factors suggest themselves.
Ron DeSantis displayed gutsy leadership in confronting Covid, enduring taunts as “DeathSantis” and far worse, as he refused to cower before the might of Dr. Fauci, the medical establishment, Big Pharma, the media, and Democrat politicians. As a result, Florida prospered as other states closed down their businesses and schools. (The other governor who resisted the panic, South Dakota’s Kristi Noem won with an even bigger margin: 26.8 points with 97% of the vote counted.) Note the sign on his podium as he addressed supporters at his campaign headquarters in the wake of his victory, with his cancer-survivor wife at his side:
He similarly stood up to Disney, one of if not the state’s largest employers when it pushed homo- and trans-sexual indoctrination for school children. And his handling of Hurricane Ian demonstrated great competence.
It’s worth noting that he supporters began chanting “Two more years, two more years!” obviously encouraging him to run for president.
Hispanic voters are moving toward the Republican party in large numbers, and there are lots of Hispanic voters, especially Cubans, Puerto Ricans, and Venezuelans, in Florida, groups that may be in the forefront of this movement.
Voting integrity systems have been put in place in Florida after the state became a national laughingstock in the wake of the 2000 presidential election, and “hanging chad” became a symbol of questionable vote totals. Florida permits any registered voter to request an absentee ballot, but the request has to be received by the office of the local Supervisor of Elections by the close of business 10 days before the election. Only the voter or an immediate family member can make the request. There are no mass mailings of vote-by-mail ballots.
Armed with more data, there will be refinements to this explanation of Florida’s unique red wave status in the coming days. But it is a phenomenon that Republicans must closely examine before 2024.
Correction: at the time of writing this, results were not available from South Dakota on Real Clear Politics, so I mistakenly said that Governor Noem was not on the ballot.