Florida, the New Capital of Red State America

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On a frustrating election night for Republicans, where the oft-predicted “red wave” failed to materialize nationally, there was one situation above all that provided a clear beacon of hope. That would be my situation in Florida.

In the Sunshine State Tuesday evening, Gov. Ron DeSantis cruised to a second term with an astounding near-20-point margin of victory over former Governor Charlie Crist, and Sen. Marco Rubio routed challenger Rep. Val Demings by more than 16 points. Both DeSantis and Rubio won the state’s most populous county, 70-plus percent Hispanic Miami-Dade County—DeSantis by double digits. Both Republican standard bearers also won majority-Hispanic Osceola County, in the Orlando area, and DeSantis also flipped Palm Beach County from blue to red.

All other Florida Republicans running statewide also won, and Republicans also secured supermajority status in both the State Senate and the State House. U.S. congressional races in Florida that were labeled before the election as toss-ups, such as the 13th and 27th congressional districts, have uniformly broken for Republicans—and often not so closely. Some other states, such as Texas and Iowa, also had a good election night for Republicans; but in the state the GOP does better, up and down the ballot, than in Florida.

All this is simply amazing Florida, the paradigmatic one-time “swing” state that famously decided the 2000 presidential election by a paltry 537 votes out of nearly 6 million cast. Indeed, just four years ago, DeSantis himself won his first statewide victory over Democrat Andrew Gillum by a margin of 0.4 percent. And DeSantis’ victory against Gillum was not even the closest statewide race in Florida that cycle; Rick Scott won his US Senate race over Bill Nelson that same year by a microscopic 0.12 percent margin.

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But, just four years later, Florida is no longer a purple state. It is a red state – in fact, a dark red state. Consider, but one more data point, that DeSantis won reelection by a larger statewide margin than Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, who won his reelection race Tuesday night by just under 14 percent. Oklahoma is perhaps the single reddest state in the country; in every presidential election since George W. Bush’s re-election in 2004, every Oklahoma county has voted for a Republican presidential candidate. But in 2022, DeSantis won in the former “swing” state of Florida by a wider margin than Stitt in ruby ​​red Oklahoma.

The bottom line is as straightforward as it would have sounded just a few years ago: Florida, the third most populous state in the country, has overtaken Texas, the second most populous state in the country, as America’s red state capital. .

As Republicans lick their wounds from various disappointments Tuesday and engage in some deep introspection about what is wrong at the national level, a key question thus becomes: What lessons can Florida Republicans impart to Republicans elsewhere?

President Donald Trump’s 1.2 percent victory margin in Florida in the 2016 presidential election was prescient as a leading indicator; In fact, in the razor-thin DeSantis and Scott 2018 victories, both Republicans ran well ahead of the national Republicans, who had the following cycle. But the story of the “Florida miracle” is impossible to understand without the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Floridian shepherding the Sunshine State through it: Governor Ron DeSantis.

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DeSantis rejected, faster than others, the harmful lockdowns, mask requirements, school closures and (eventually) vaccine passports that characterized the dark days of the COVID hysteria. In taking on what he calls the “biomedical security situation” aggressively, DeSantis appeals to individual freedom and inherent human dignity, regarding the choice of whether to take a novel vaccine and the ability to work and earn a living. DeSantis understood, from the beginning, that the national policy overreaction to COVID is not only a matter of liberty but also a blatant attempt by the American ruling class to subjugate the “wrong thinking” “deplorables.”

The more populist color of DeSantis’ Covid-related policies also appeared in his approach to vaccine passports, where Florida rejected the “each business decides for itself” mantra of the chamber of commerce/libertarian Republicanism and opted for a statewide ban on vaccines. passport Outside of COVID, DeSantis has shown a willingness to use government power for good and to the detriment of decadence, such as his actions to remove The Walt Disney Company from extra-legal tax benefits for his strong opposition to the Florida law that protects children. from teachers who seek to indoctrinate youth in vogue gender ideology. Furthermore, Florida’s Stop WOKE Act, an anti-“woke capitalism” measure championed by DeSantis and ultimately having to be proven by the courts, is representative of the more “muscular” mentality Republicans now have to take on issues of political economy.

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The results speak for themselves. During the first year of COVID, from 2019 to 2020, Florida had four times more net income migration than the next closest state, Texas ($24 billion to $6 billion). And the individuals and companies moving to Florida appear to be the ones voting with their feet: Registered Republicans now outnumber registered Democrats in Florida by more than 300,000, a shift of nearly 600,000 since DeSantis’ minuscule 2018 win over Gillum. As the Florida Politics website reported last week, of the 394,000 active voters who have moved to Florida since the start of COVID, they are twice as likely to be registered Republicans as registered Democrats. The Sunshine State’s brand of Republicanism has also made further inroads with the country’s Hispanic community; as mentioned, get DeSantis and Rubio not only heavily Cuban (and to a lesser extent, Venezuelan) Miami-Dade County but also Osceola County, which has a majority Hispanic-Puerto Rican population.

The future of the Republican Party is not hard to find. National Republicans should let Florida and its transformational governor show the way.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Josh Hammer

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Josh Hammer, a constitutional attorney by training, is an opinion editor for Newsweek, a podcast contributor with BlazeTV, counsel at the First Liberty Institute, and a syndicated columnist.

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