Florida’s Political Landscape

After recruiting pro-jobs candidates and investing more than $19 million in get-out-the-vote efforts, the Florida Chamber saw positive 2018 momentum and midterm election results.

• Voters supported Florida Chamber-backed candidates in 80 of 86 endorsed races.
• Four Florida Chamber-backed amendments to Florida’s constitution passed — with 11 total Constitutional Amendments passing.
• The balance of power in the Florida Legislature remained with Republicans —with the Florida Senate at 23 Republicans to 17 Democrats, and the House at 73 Republicans to 47 Democrats.

While we saw positive outcomes, we know that Florida’s political landscape is constantly changing. With the 2020 election just around the corner, in order to prepare for what’s ahead, we must look to the past, starting with the 2018 midterm election.

Here’s What Florida’s 2018 Midterm Election Data Told Us:

Turnout rose significantly across all voter segments compared to the prior midterm.

So much so, that voters posted a near record midterm turnout with 62 percent of voters casting ballots, coming close to the 66 percent turnout record set in 1994. Increasing the traditionally low turnout among voters under 30 was a goal of many groups in 2018, and our analysis shows these efforts had mixed results. Voters under 30 accounted for 10.5 percent of all ballots cast in the 2018 general election, an improvement on the 2014 midterm where voters under 30 cast just 8 percent of all ballots in Florida. But with just 36 percent of registered voters under 30 casting ballots in 2018 young voters remained the least likely age group in Florida to vote.

The way voters are voting is shifting.

Prior midterm elections showed Election Day voting accounting for almost half of the ballots cast, whereas the 2018 midterm saw a more even split in the number of ballots cast through vote-by-mail, early voting and Election Day voting. However, our analysis shows Republicans were down in early voting and vote-by-mail ballots and instead rallied to record turnout on Election Day. Republicans posted a five percent advantage over Democrats on Election Day which resulted in a nearly 1.7 percent overall turnout advantage for the race.

More No Party Affiliation (NPA) voters are registering each month.

Our analysis of voter trends suggests that the plurality of Florida voters will be NPA in the next decade and produce a significant shift in Florida’s electoral laws. With more NPA voters, we expect a move to open primaries and a continuing decline in the power of parties to influence electoral outcomes.

We do not believe however, that the growth of NPA voters or a move to open primaries will necessarily decrease partisanship or ideological conflict.

So, the truth is, while it’s too early to make predictions about the political outcomes in 2020, the Florida Chamber will continue to put the long-term ahead of the short-term to help lead Florida in the right direction and secure Florida’s future.

The Florida Chamber will continue to watch for personal injury trial lawyers, government unions, those against smart growth and out-of-state billionaires with special interest agendas attempting to bankroll their candidates into office.

Here’s What’s Impacting Florida’s Political Landscape