For the first time since the 1870’s (before African-Americans, then mostly Republicans were disenfranchised by Jim Crow laws), Florida in 2021, had more registered Republicans than Democrats. This proved the culmination of many years of neglect by Democrats, both the mainline party and associated NGO’s/outside entities. The bottom line is this – here in Florida, the GOP has pushed voter registration while the Democrats have been very casual about it, failing to invest time and effort toward registration. Resources have been allocated to registration in the past, but often with a scatter-gun approach, which may have benefited some consultants and outside entities financially but didn’t move the needle.
With this in mind, it was welcome news that on Monday, The Florida Democratic Party, Florida Senate Victory, Florida House Victory, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, and the Florida Alliance announced the launch of a $2.5 million investment to register voters in key markets leading up to the 2022 election. But is it too little, too late?
Florida Democrats Chair Mayor Manny Diaz said “The right to vote is sacred, and the Florida Democratic Party and our allies are giving everything we have to ensure that no Floridian is denied that right in the midterms. This multi-million-dollar joint voter registration initiative is another critical step in our continuing efforts to connect with a diverse group of first-time voters who deserve to have their voices heard.”
Diaz’s words are music to the ears of any person concerned about the competitiveness of Florida’s elections, as one-party rule in Tallahassee has created a state that is very different culturally and economically, than the one many of us grew up in.
But the reality is this- due to GOP efforts on the ground in this state, the higher turnout goes in Florida, the more it seems to benefit the GOP which is the reverse of public perception. Here in Florida, Republicans have been better at engaging historic non-voters, new residents and working-class Floridians that traditionally skip elections. Democrats failure to engage these groups has helped lead to the situation the party currently finds itself in.
Any move by the Democrats to commit resources to registering new voters and engaging unlikely voters is a welcome departure from the recent past. The way we see, any new efforts cannot hurt.
But will the party, facing near certain defeat in 2022, abandon efforts after the election saying it “didn’t work?” Additionally, will they aggressively target new residents and infrequent working class voters, engaging a group where the GOP has effectively run-the-table recently in this state?
The proof will be in the pudding so to speak, if this effort is successful at turning the tide which is squarely against the Democrats in this state. It’s good Chairman Diaz has made this move, but let’s hope it’s the start of an intense, long-term, multi-cycle commitment and not just a talking point for 2022, following the events of 2021.
If this effort is not a long-term one, where a commitment is made through let’s say 2026 or 2028, it will in fact be “too little, too late,” to turn the tide in Florida.