Why did Democrats lose Florida?

Visit Dave Trotter’s new site Voting Trend. This post was cross-posted from the new site which will focus not only on Florida but voting trends across the globe.

Yes, it was Miami-Dade.

Still, to put blame solely on Miami-Dade would be wrong. When all the results are certified, Miami-Dade will have provided the largest net positive gains for Republicans in the entire nation, with over 200,000 votes gained this cycle. However, this only counts for a lost of those 200,000 votes. Joe Biden is currently losing the state by 374,394. Therefore, even if Biden had a net loss of zero votes in Miami-Dade, he would have still lost the state by a wider margin than Hillary did in 2016. Why?

First, let’s look at the Democrats.

While all eyes are focused on Miami-Dade County, the second biggest Democratic failure was in Osceola County, another Democratic stronghold. As of now, Democrats have suffered a net loss of over 11,000 votes in Osceola County. One might assume that the reason for the collapse in both Osceola and Miami-Dade was Hispanic voters. However, neighboring Orange County, which has the third highest amount of registered Hispanic voters in the state after Miami-Dade and Broward, saw the second best performance for Democrats, netting nearly 15,000 votes. Of course, we have to delve into the precinct-level data to see where those gains were made, but race might not necessarily be the deciding factor.

Democrats also lost a lot of votes in places where they needed to close the margins. In Southwest Florida, Democrats lost a net of just over 26,000 votes from Manatee County down to Monroe County. While vote-by-mail numbers looked good for Democrats, in-person voting devastated any possibility of closing the margins.

Another big problem was Central Florida. Democrats saw a net gain of nearly 42,000 votes in Orange, Seminole, Pinellas, Hillsborough and Brevard (which is one of the bright spots for Democrats). Still, they lost nearly 42,000 votes in Volusia, Osceola, Lake, Polk and Pasco. Basically, this makes Central Florida a complete non-factor in the election.

Election night wasn’t totally bad news for Democrats. They did make some gains. In Duval County, Democrats gained nearly 25,000 votes, making it the best performing Democratic county in the state. Democrats also saw net positive vote gains in unexpected places, like Brevard County (~3,000 votes), Escambia County (~5,500 votes), Clay County (~1,000 votes) and Okaloosa County (~2,600 votes). While these are positive gains that Democrats can build on, they weren’t enough for this election.

Now, let’s look at the Republicans.

For decades, Republicans in Florida understand that winning elections is done by closing margins. The place that they have placed a lot of time and effort in reducing those margins is in Miami-Dade, of course, but in Broward and Palm Beach Counties as well. As of now, Republicans have gained a net of nearly 8,000 votes in Broward County and just over 5,000 votes in Palm Beach County. While these don’t seem like massive amounts, it’s enough when the Democratic strategy is to “run up the numbers” in South Florida. If anything can be learned from this election, it’s that the “running up the numbers in ‘the big three’” is not a strategy for electoral success for Democrats. They need to expand their electorate.

Another bright spot for Republicans is their performance in North Florida. Larger Counties, like Marion*(~7,000) and St. Johns (~1,500), saw gains. However, it’s the small counties, that are rarely talked about, which helped the Republicans out a lot, such as Baker (~1,500 votes), Columbia (~2,100), Suwannee (~1,500), and Wakulla (~1,300).

Overall, the biggest failure of the election will be in South Florida. In almost every other state, the largest metropolitan areas saw a net gain for Democrats. In the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale and Palm Beach media markets, Democrats had a net loss of nearly 223,000 votes, possibly the most of any metropolitan area in the nation. Therefore, Democrats need to expand their map, which is something they failed to do this election.

*Marion can technically still be considered Central Florida, but it is more culturally tied to North Florida.

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