Florida has not become a solidly red state as pundits confidently declare. Barack Obama won the state twice, and a Democrat just got elected mayor of Jacksonville, the state’s largest city. Joe Biden thinks Florida is up for grabs in 2024, and his political antennae are pretty sensitive.
As for DeSantis’ commanding victory in 2022, he was running against a ghost candidate and a Democratic Party that couldn’t find a pulse. In 2018, he defeated Andrew Gillum, an ethically challenged Democrat who had called for abolishing ICE. Even then, DeSantis won by less than a point.
Densely populated South Florida is not the American South. It teams with migrants from the North who may like Florida’s lower taxes and its weather in February. And they may dislike left fringe ideas on gender pronouns and such.
I know lots of these people, and one thing they want is access to abortion. And their reasons go beyond wanting a way to end their 16-year-old daughter’s unwanted pregnancy. They do understand that abortion bans force mostly poor women into having children they can’t afford. Unwanted children living in poverty are more likely to fall into lives of crime and other dysfunction. These voters know that even in a state with a meager social safety net, the bills come to them.
Meanwhile, Florida is one of only 11 states that hasn’t expanded Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act, thanks in part to DeSantis. Who pays for the unnecessary emergency room care — for the sore throats or a couple of stitches?
If Florida Democrats find an acceptable candidate, they might just recapture the governorship. America probably doesn’t want to become DeSantis’ Florida. Florida may not like that either.