Republicans have set a landmark by overtaking Democrats in the voter registration race for the first time in the sunshine state’s history, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Friday at the National Conference of State Legislatures.
“When I got elected governor we had 280,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said. “Today, and it will probably be fully publicized very soon, for the first time in the history of Florida we have overtaken Democrats. There are more registered Republicans in Florida than Democrats.”
For many years, Democrats have led with a significant numerical advantage in the southern state. Back in 2008, when then-President Barack Obama carried Florida, there were 657,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans.
The official voter registration advantage for Democrats was down to 263,000 in 2018, and then, down to 134,000 in 2020.
The number has steadily gone down, primarily due to the GOP’s investment in voter registrations with DeSantis reportedly pumping in $2 million last September. The 2020 elections were decisively won by former President Donald Trump by more than three percentage points, something which is considered a veritable landslide in Florida.
Despite DeSantis’ announcement, the Florida Democratic Party said Friday that the Republicans were misinterpreting the numbers. According to Democrats, they still hold an advantage of 79,429 voters, with 5,452,958 registered Democrats and 5,373,529 registered Republicans.
Official reports from the Florida Division of Elections in August show Democrats holding a lead of almost 24,000 voters. The numbers from September are due next week, while those from October are only going to be released in December.
The political parties generally carry more up-to-date information with them regarding numbers from their own research and analysis, up from the county levels.
“According to our analysis, Republicans are basically playing a shell game with the numbers,” Jose Parra, Florida Democrat Party spokesperson told Florida Politics. “This is not due in any way, shape, or form to some vast voter registration effort.”
DeSantis explained to the crowd that Republicans from all over the country were moving to Florida to escape restrictions related to the pandemic, rises in crime and lawlessness, among other factors, which he blamed on Democrat leadership. He joked that the closely-contested New Jersey gubernatorial race should have been won by Republicans if so many hadn’t moved out to Florida.
“Once these areas go deep blue they get destroyed,” the governor said. “How many places that are deep blue are well governed in this country? Can you name me some?”
“Tell me where you can find this success story of ‘woke progressivism’ imposed on a people,” DeSantis added. “I don’t see it.”
Florida’s population has been growing at a steady rate of almost 1,000 per day, mostly through migration.
“The level of enthusiasm in support of registering Republicans is unprecedented, and this is a true milestone moment in Florida’s history,” the Republican Party of Florida’s executive director, Helen Aguirre Ferré, said, according to Fox News.