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 71 Republicans to 46 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. And while turnout among voters under 30 has been a focus during elections, our analysis shows young voters had the lowest turnout compared to turnout in 2016 of any single segments. Voters under 30 accounted for only 10.5 percent of all ballots cast despite accounting for 16.7 percent of total registered voters.

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 majority 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 judgements about the political environment 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.