Several times during this election season, the media has struggled to explain the shift in the Democrats’ share of the votes in swing states. Both times I have analyzed the result, the articles have come from Politico. The first time I covered this was in Pennsylvania, where I showed that the issue wasn’t simply that Republicans had registered more voters over the last 4 years. It is that Democrats actually lost voters during that period of time.
Now, a new article from Politico states that Democrats are blaming the coronavirus for Republican gains in the state. An article entitled “‘Somethings in the Water’ Florida Republicans See a Surge in Voter Registration,” Politico reports what has been said by Dems in the state, that is, that Republican gains in the state are as a result of the Coronavirus. Dems want us to believe that Republicans aren’t honoring coronavirus protocols like the Dems are, and as a result, Republicans have had more gains. The problem is, the data doesn’t even begin to support a claim like that. Let’s take a look.
But first, I want to thank the Florida Division of Elections for having amazing access to voter registration data on their website. It makes digging into this much easier. They have provided the data for not only the last 4 years but also the data from 1972-2016.
Let’s first analyze the statements made in the Politico article.
“Top Florida Democrats and longtime activists have increasingly groused in private that they feel pressure from Joe Biden’s campaign to refrain from door-to-door canvassing or holding voter registration drives due to the potential spread of the coronavirus and fears of muddying his messaging on the pandemic.
In the absence of such efforts, a concerted drive by President Donald Trump’s Florida campaign to register voters has helped cut the state’s long-standing Democratic advantage to fewer than 185,000 voters, a gap of just 1.3 percentage points, according to data from the Florida Division of Elections released this week.”
One big problem with that: Democrats held just a 1.6% advantage before the outbreak of the SARS-Cov-2. Since 2010, Republicans have gained 3.77% on Democrats, an average of 0.34% annually. The narrowing this year was 0.35%, or .01% higher than the average. In the last 11 years, only 3 years have slower narrowing, and a comparison to 2016 (another election year) shows that Republicans gained that year, 0.65%. The highest year of narrowing was 2011, at 0.7%.
In 2010, Democrats accounted for 41.11% of Florida Voters, with Republicans representing 36.04% and Independents 22.84%. For Dems to make the argument that Republicans are gaining on Democrats, again just doesn’t match the data. As of the most recent numbers available from Florida, Democrats now make up just 37.00% of the state’s voters, with Republicans making up 35.69% and Independent 27.31%. Democrats’ number (as compared to their registrations) in the state has increased just 12.85% since 2010, while Republicans have increased 24.19 and Independents a shocking 49.95%. The state as a whole has increased by 25.41% over the same period. That means that Republicans have held pace with their share of the total votes in the states while Democrats have lost and Independents have gained, big.
What does this mean? Democrats aren’t losing their battle to Republicans. They are losing their battle to Independents. For the last decade, Republicans have lost just 0.35% of their share of the state’s voters. A number that small is statistically irrelevant over a decade. During that same time, Democrats have lost 4.12% of their share of the state’s voters. Guess who gained every single bit of those losses? Independents. Democrats ended 2010 with an 18.27% advantage on Independents, Republicans with a 13.20% advantage. In 2020, that same advantage for Democrats had narrowed to just 9.68%, or 8.59% closer than their 2010 numbers. Republicans’ advantage narrowed to just 8.38% or 4.82% closer to Independents.
Democrats’ voter registration problems have a lot less to do with Republicans’ gain on them and more to do with them losing voters to Independents. If Republicans truly were gaining, their percentage of voters would have increased at a faster rate than ever before. Instead, it nearly matches the rate of growth from 2016, 0.52%(2020) to 0.49%(2016). If anything, Dems are actually doing better with their voter registration efforts than ever before, with a 0.16% growth in the Democrat share of state voters, compared to a loss, every year since 2010. Republicans saw a 0.57% increase over last year rate (-0.05% to +0.52%), while Democrats saw a 0.47% increase over last year’s rate(-0.31% to +0.16%). In other words, despite Democrats’ losses for all of the years of the last decade besides 2020, they want to blame the coronavirus for a 0.1% Republican advantage in 2020, despite Republicans having a higher advantage in the prior years.
In talking to my colleague at RedState and Florida resident, Brad Slager, he, too, has seen the shift in Florida’s political philosophy, especially in the last year. He related to me about how Florida’s Republicans had done very well in the recent elections, though they were close. A shift of this magnitude means that Dems’ losses to Independents are fueling this shift, not to Republicans.
What does this mean? I believe it means that Democrats are teeing up their excuse for Democrats’ loss of Florida in 2020. Despite the data saying their assertion about the coronavirus is a load of crap, they will likely attempt to say something along the lines that “Republicans won Florida because they don’t care about people’s lives.” I find Politico’s article lazy at best. Sure, Republicans are outpacing Democrats this year, but no more than they have in the past, in fact, less so. Dems might see the writing on the wall, but this poor attempt to cover it with their narrative just doesn’t match up with the data. Something is in the water alright! Dems just don’t like the taste of it.