Florida has become a central hub for political controversy, especially in the last two years. Once considered a swing state, Florida’s current reputation is one of loud conservative presence. This only becomes clearer as midterm elections approach and more Floridians register to vote or update their registration and select the party they feel best aligns with their views.
While there is no consistently observable increase in registrations for the Florida Democratic Party, the increase on the Republican side is prominent. From July to August of 2022, every county in Florida observed a net increase in registered Republican voters. Contrastingly, the number of registered Democrats increased or decreased with no discernable connection throughout the state. These records come from the Florida Division of Elections, where active registered voters are recorded monthly by party affiliation.
One area with a notable increase in Republican registrations includes the various counties near Tampa including Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Manatee Counties. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tampa Bay area became known as the “young Republican’s paradise,” as it became a place to avoid lockdown restrictions. Though the metropolitan area is primarily led by Democrats in office, many government leaders in the area hold moderate views. Now it is one of the many hotspots in the state for Republican registrations.
This red wave of Republican Floridians likely comes from the success and popularity of Gov. Ron DeSantis. In September Mason-Dixon Polling and Strategy reported that 52% of registered voters in the state plan to vote for DeSantis, while only 41% say they will choose his opponent Charlie Crist.
The Mason-Dixon Poll also found that Gov. DeSantis’s approval rating remains favorable, with 55% of voters approving of his performance. His actions as governor of Florida have received national attention, both positive and negative. It is evident that even though several bills he has signed have been met with divisive discourse nationally, like the “Don’t Say Gay” bill or the “Anti-riot” law, as the bills have come to be known, the people of the state continues to support him.
Alongside this increase of registered Republican voters, there has also been a growth of registered voters with no party affiliation. In the ten largest counties in Florida, the largest increase in registrations was with no party affiliation. Contrastingly, five of these counties saw net decreases in registered Democrats from July to August of this year.
This trend of an increasing number of voters with no party affiliation, or independent voters, is occurring nationwide. A Gallup Poll conducted in early 2021 found that 44% of Americans identify as independent voters, the highest amount recorded since 1988. However, the poll also found that three out of every four independents leans towards favoring one of the two dominant parties.
Favoring a party yet choosing to not identify with it serves as evidence that partisan politics may be on the decline. The two-party system has long been a topic of debate and this increase of independent voters may be a sign that more are beginning to disagree with it.
For more stories on the election, check out the SFMN voter guide.