For Florida Democrats, Orlando is the New Miami for Reliable Voter Support

Matt O'Hern
Florida 2022 Gubernatorial Election results by county, with red representing a Republican county, and Blue representing DemocraticPhoto byNew South Politics

When it comes to reliable support from voters, Orlando has become the new Miami for Florida's Democratic Party. Not only do the Democrats have a sizable lead of more than 140,000 voters over Republicans in Orange County, (home of Orlando), but Republicans in the county are also outranked by independent voters.

Since 2016, Florida’s registered Republican voter base has expanded, particularly in South Florida. Of all the regions of the Sunshine State that have seen the most significant shits, Miami is by far the leader. Last month, Governor Ron DeSantis not only surpassed expectations, but conquered territory once thought hopeless for Republicans, including major metro areas including the former liberal safe haven that was Miami-Dade.

Two US Congressional members from Miami, Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar and Carlos A. Giménez, flipped their formerly blue stronghold districtics red in 2020, and held those seats for re-election in 2022. While certain analysts including Aaron Zitner at the Wall Street Journal credit Trump for strengthening the GOP’s appeal to blue collar, “working class” voters, there is another major factor that shouldn’t be ignored that occurred prior to Trump’s arrival at the White House. 

In 2014, President Obama broke a 5-decade-long embargo against Cuba and the Castro regime, with the intention of normalizing trade. Obama’s move pleased free market capitalists and Democrats alike, but there’s reason to believe it was a fatal blow to the former stronghold for the Florida Democratic Party. Prior to Obama’s Cuba shift, fear of socialism dominating America was based on mere speculation, but the alarmists became prophets among South Florida’s hispanic community, particularly in Little Havana. Coupled with Biden’s unwillingness to address Maduro’s chokehold on Venezuela, Hispanics in South Florida have every reason to believe Republicans who warn that Democrats are sending the United States down a path toward socialism. Ironically, the very demographic that Republicans feared they would lose during Trump’s presidency is now solidifying not only Marco Rubio’s re-election but Governor DeSantis, as well, thanks to DeSantis’ firm stance against federal government intervention and DeSantis’ pro small-business perspective throughout the COVID pandemic.

If Democrats want to win back any of these defectors, they will have to concede that the Hispanic community is more socially and fiscally conservative than the majority of the most vocal current leaders in the Democratic Party. Senator Elizabeth Warren is the perfect example of a leader rallying the wrong crowd, and just this week, South Florida Congresswoman Frederica Wilson joined Warren in calling for total forgiveness of college student loans. When industrial and agricultural blue collar Hispanics hear rants from Ivy League academics turned Senator, it re-enforces the feeling that DC elites are out of touch and catering to wealthier, college-educated liberals in the northeast, who have don’t have to worry as much about the impact of inflation and other economic challenges. Until that changes, Georgia may be replacing Florida as the most coveted swing state, because the Sunshine State is becoming a darker shade of red, and the “purple” status of the Obama presidency / Rick Scott governor era, now seems like a distant memory.

Comments / 13

Published by

Matt O’Hern’s journalism experience includes political news reporting for various organizations and news publications in Florida since 2005. O’Hern graduated from Samford University in Birmingham, AL with a degree in journalism.

Orlando, FL

More from Matt O'Hern

Comments / 0