Republican turnout rises in traditionally blue Miami-Dade

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — In an extraordinary sign of trouble for Democrats and bodes well for the GOP in Florida ahead of Election Day, the number of registered Republicans voting in Miami-Dade County surpassed Democrats on Wednesday — a day after President Joe Biden visited the area during an election campaign.

Florida’s most populous county, Miami-Dade – with more than 1.5 million registered voters – is a Democratic stronghold along the state’s Gold Coast along with the largely blue counties of Broward and Palm Beach. for a generation. They had provided a bulwark of reliable Democratic votes against Florida’s less populated Republican counties, including most of the Panhandle and the Southwest Coast.

Less than a week before the election, Miami-Dade looked more red than blue.

“This is not what we expected,” said Christine Alexandria Olivio, a Democratic House candidate in Florida’s 26th congressional district in South Florida. “We’re getting our asses kicked right now.” She was running against Republican Representative Mario Díaz-Balart, Florida’s longest-serving congressman.

Registered Democrats still outnumbered Republicans in Miami-Dade, but the latest numbers indicated that Democrats — at least so far — were voting less than their GOP counterparts.

The swing to higher Republican turnout in the county — with just a week left until the election — was widely interpreted as a sign of support among area Hispanic voters for incumbent Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis — and a lack of support. enthusiasm for his Democratic challenger, Rep. Charlie Crist. The county is nearly 72% Hispanic.

During Tuesday’s campaign appearances in South Florida, Biden criticized DeSantis – widely expected to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024 – as “Donald Trump personified” and said the governor’s race here was ” one of the most important races in the country”.

A large number of voters in Miami-Dade — more than 487,000 — are unaffiliated with either party, but turnout among those voters has so far been relatively low.

Nearly 27% of GOP voters in Miami-Dade had voted Wednesday, compared to 21% of Democrats and 14% of unaffiliated and third-party voters. In raw numbers, Republicans and Democrats were roughly neck and neck, both topping 118,000 voters and Republicans gaining a slight advantage by mid-morning. More than 66,000 with no party affiliation had voted.

“We don’t draw our own base,” Olivio said. “Democrats know the message. So why don’t they show up?

DeSantis could become the first Republican governor to win in Miami-Dade since Jeb Bush in 2002. Only Broward County has more Democrats registered in Florida. Political polls in recent weeks have consistently shown DeSantis ahead of Crist statewide by double digits.

The governor’s contest was among the top races this year, attracting the most interest among Florida voters. Senior U.S. state senator Marco Rubio is also facing re-election to try for a third term against his Democratic challenger, Rep. Val Demings.

“The average person has woken up and is fed up with this nonsense,” Alina Garcia, a Republican candidate for a State House seat in Miami, wrote in an email. That’s why you’ll see our proactive and very effective Governor get re-elected and, quite frankly, maybe win in Miami-Dade County.

The county-by-county turnout figures — updated every 15 minutes — were compiled by Fresh Take Florida, a news service from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. Last week, in another unusual step in Florida, Republicans statewide cast more votes overall in early voting in person and by mail ballot than Democrats. On Wednesday, Republicans remained in the lead with more than 178,000 votes statewide.

Turnout figures show the number of ballots received from registered voters of each party but do not indicate how each person voted.

Democratic turnout was still leading in other traditionally blue Florida counties: Alachua County, home to the University of Florida; Broward County in South Florida with nearly 600,000 Democratic voters; the small county of Gadsden, west of Tallahassee; Leon County, home to Florida’s capital; Orange County, home to Orlando; Osceola County, south of Orlando; and Palm Beach County in South Florida, home to former President Donald Trump.

Republican turnout had also overtaken Democrats in Duval, home to Jacksonville, and Seminole counties, northeast of Orlando. GOP turnout was also surprisingly high — but still behind the Democratic vote — in Hillsborough County, home to Tampa.

In Pinellas County, west of Tampa, Republican turnout was also high relative to Democrats. The county is home to Crist’s seat in Congress.

The political climate could become even more dire for Democrats on Election Day: In previous elections, Democrats have traditionally voted early, with Republicans – who have shunned voting by mail as unreliable – showing their highest turnouts on polling day. It’s unclear why that pattern looks different so far this year, but the numbers show Republicans seem more comfortable voting by mail.

There were signs of a Republican push in South Florida in previous elections.

Lower-than-expected turnout among Miami-Dade Democrats was widely credited with helping Trump win Florida in 2020, even as Trump lost the presidency to Biden. Trump lost Miami-Dade by about 85,000 votes but won statewide by 371,686 votes.

Miami-Dade’s turnout in 2020 was just 74% — lower than 55 of Florida’s 67 counties.

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This story was produced by Fresh Take Florida, a news service of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communication. The reporter can be reached at [email protected] You can donate to support our students here.

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