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Voter Registration Numbers Tell a Story of Change in Florida

October 26, 2018 - 1:45pm

By the time polls close Nov. 6, nearly 13.3 million Floridians will have the opportunity to cast ballots for a governor, a U.S. senator and dozens of other state and local candidates.

New totals show that about 264,000 more voters are registered for the general election than were eligible to vote in the Aug. 28 primaries, with registered Democrats continuing to maintain a relatively small edge over Republicans.

Doubtless, political professionals have looked carefully at the new registration numbers to try to figure out what they mean for this year’s elections. But the numbers, posted on the state Division of Elections website, also offer an interesting peek at how Florida voter-registration patterns have changed during the past two decades --- a period of almost-total Republican control of state government that started when Gov. Jeb Bush was elected in 1998.

Here are five takeaways from the new numbers, looking at the short term and the long term:

THE BIG PICTURE: Going into the November election, 13,278,070 Floridians are registered to vote. That is up from the 13,013,657 who were registered to vote in the August primaries.

With Florida growing steadily for decades, it’s not surprising that the number of registered voters has also steadily climbed. During the last mid-term elections in 2014, for example, Florida had 11,931,533 registered voters.

In 1998, when Bush and Democrat Buddy MacKay ran for governor, Florida had 8,220,266 registered voters. And consider this: Sumter County had 26,002 registered voters in 1998. This year --- with the massive Villages retirement community helping fuel growth --- Sumter County has 96,497 registered voters.

NO PARTY, NO PROBLEM: Florida has 4,944,867 registered Democrats for the November election and 4,681,598 registered Republicans. That 263,269 margin is similar to the 245,301 difference in the August primary. Meanwhile, Republicans have narrowed the gap since the 2014 general election, when Democrats held a 455,946-voter edge.

But as Democrat Andrew Gillum and Republican Ron DeSantis run for governor and Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Rick Scott run for U.S. Senate, the real story could be in voters categorized as “no party affiliation.” That fast-growing group totals 3,549,094 registered voters for the November election, up from 2,778,547 in 2014.

The trend is even more pronounced in the long term: In 1998, no-party voters made up about 13.5 percent of the total voters. This fall, they make up 26.7 percent.

WHERE THE VOTES ARE (AND AREN’T): With time dwindling before the November election, don’t be surprised if you see the statewide candidates --- particularly Democrats --- spending much of their time in Southeast Florida, Orlando and the Tampa Bay area. The reason is fairly straightforward: That’s where the votes are.

Combined, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties have nearly 3.54 million registered voters, or more than a quarter of the overall total. Add in Orange, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties and the total grows to 5.86 million, or about 44 percent of the total. All six of the counties have more registered Democrats than Republicans, though Pinellas is almost evenly split.

On the other end of the spectrum, the six counties with the fewest voters --- Lafayette, Liberty, Glades, Union, Hamilton and Franklin --- combine for a total of 38,420. Lafayette and Liberty each have fewer than 5,000 registered voters, while the others are below 8,000.

SOUTHERN DEMOCRATS NO MORE: While registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in the state’s urban counties, the GOP has the advantage in large swaths of the state, including dominating in mid-sized counties. The GOP has a registration edge in 42 of the 67 counties heading into the general election.

Voters in much of Florida have always been conservative, but the days of the traditional Southern Democrats are largely gone. Democrats still have more registered voters in many rural parts of the state, but 25 counties have flipped from Democrat to Republican in registration advantages since 1998.

In 1998, for example, registered Democrats made up slightly more than half of the voters in Bay County; now they make up about a quarter. In nearby Walton County, Democrats made up 59 percent of the registered voters in 1998; now they are about 19 percent. In another Panhandle county, Holmes, Democrats made up 86.6 percent of registered voters in 1998; now they are about 30 percent.

SOME DEMOCRATIC MAGIC: While Democrats have lost ground in registration in many parts of the state, they have been buoyed by changes in the Orlando area. Orange County has 798,373 registered voters for the November election, including 339,550 registered Democrats and 211,038 registered Republicans.

That represents a massive change over the past two decades. In 1998, Orange County had 353,852 registered voters, with Republicans slightly outnumbering Democrats by about 6,000 voters. The number of no-party voters in the county also surged during the period, going from 49,082 in 1998 to 241,405 this year.

Democrats also have built a big advantage in neighboring Osceola County. The percentage of voters registered as Democrats has remained about the same compared to 1998, at slightly less than 43 percent. But registered Republicans have dropped from 37.4 percent to 22.6 percent.


Mayor G. and his supporters. Do you not realize corporate taxes are considered part of their operating expenses and are therefore aded into the cost of their productss or services? Subsequently those tax increases are paid for by those who consume corporate products or services. That would be you and I that pay the tax so wake up people. Raising corporate taxes to pay for free stuff is nothing more than a ruse to promote the socialist pipe dream!

Exactly the point i was going to make. I'm so glad to know others figured out the Dems strategy to get support for raising taxes is so flawed and outright lie when they try to hoodwink the average citizen into thinking somehow that raising corporate taxes will stick it to the big guy and your taxes won't go up. Hogwash and fiddlesticks! Thanks Trolleytrooper for making your statement simple and easily understood.

You are most welcome and I'd like to add something else to ponder that resembles the domino affect. As the Fed. interest rates and/or taxes increase the price paid for products or services goes up, too. At some point those products or services become more costly than consumers are able to pay and sales drop off. A drop in sales results in profit losses. For a publicly or privately held corp., loss of profit means it's necessary to downsize by reducing their labor force and raw material purchases or move their operation off shore. And another thing, compounding the Citizen labor issue is the influx of "cheap labor" promoted by socialist activists and provided by illegal aliens and foreigners with work visas. Then there are those who claim our Citizen workforce is not capable of filling available jobs so importing foreign workers, be they legal or illegal, is the solution. How many potential workers have been aborted since Roe v. Wade? Think back to the end of the Bush admin. and the beginning of the Obama admin. when the housing/banking industries were collapsing. This is a cycle I've been witnessing for the last 50+ years since my life's work has been in the housing industry. What once required minor economic adjustments to recover has evolved into major catastrophic events requiring trillions of taxpayer dollars and many years to correct. What is their end game and the least destructful way to stop them - I think I know - vote Constitutional conservative for there are not very many dominos left to fall!!

Submitted by Andrew G on October 26, 2018 - 2:34pm - this is not from Mayor Gillum's campaign nor his public addresses. Be careful. there are terms from GOP PAC ads built into the comments for this "Andrew G" account all geared toward over stating Gillum's positions.

Thank you captain obvious. Don't worry, nobody is under the illusion that's from the Killum campaign. They would never be that honest.

Ditto Tao! Gillam has been well Alinsky himself? He talks faster than Obama, other than that he's a clone. Nothing has been said about his marital status? Obama fooled us for 8 yrs with Michael (aka Michelle) My other concern is hurricane Michael and why it hit the panhandle where all the conservative-especially Republican-voters are. I'm sure the Dems are gleeful that it'll be much more difficult for the voters to participate. These storms are steered to areas where the ptb want them as Harvey in Texas last year. Unfortunately, until the American people wake up and fight geoengineering, this will go on.

A little history on Dems changing to repubs. Dems use to be the party of the racists but when Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act, the repub went to the Southern Strategy by pandering to racists of the south to switch from dem to repub!!……………...And it worked so well the racist, far right have taken over the party so come November 6, women, decent people of all kinds including the decent repubs left, will vote many of you out of office...………….And this election the Dems will be the undercount. ;^)

I can't belieive that people still believe that myth of the Southern Strategy. The South changed from Dem to GOP due to Northern migration to the South and for economic reasons like embracing free markets and lowering taxes to attact small business not because it became more racist. . Really? Ask yourself. Is the New South more racist under GOP than it was under Democrat segregationists? Wouldn't these new converts to the GOP have re instituted segregationist policies? etc, etc, It's called the New South for a reason.

First, yes the old Democrats were just as racist as some current Republicans, probably far more. But you cant pretend those people didn't become Republicans for the most part. The deep south was heavily Democrat. Now by your theory, how do you explain the fact that Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Texas are solid Republican? Yes migration to Texas and Florida accounts for some of it, but all the rest went from heavy Democratic majorities where a Republican couldn't get elected, to the complete opposite. Florida remains evenly divided, but Republicans hold office due to stronger voting, gerrymandering (invented by Democrats in Boston) and voter suppression tecniques. Democrats fled the party when the Supreme Court ordered desegregation of schools and forced bussing to achieve it. Democrats fled when LBJ, joined by moderate Republicans and northern Democrats passed the Civil Rights Act and the Great Society legislation. Southern Democrats (Thurmond, Eastland, Sparkman, etc.) warned LBJ the Democrats would lose the south forever, which may be true. I know, I was here. Maybe you were too.

Largely agree with you but there are some instances where it seems like racism played a role. The Deep South beginning to break away so strongly when the Democratic Party started moving towards desegregation starting in 1948 and then especially 1964 makes it pretty unmistakable. Almost all of Mississippi and almost a super majority of Alabama voters voted for Goldwater in 1964. That is WAY too high for simple demographics and migration to change. Fact is, they were pissed about the Civil Rights Act / Voting Rights Act and other changes, and it changed the way they vote at the presidential level pretty quickly and long-term as well, even if they supported the Democrats at local and state levels for a long time after. "Racists switched sides" is a really weak argument but it's not completely without some merit.

Let us all hope that those that aspire to leadership positions are true leaders and not people who seek power and lust for money. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

That's all well and good ... BUT ... the BIGGEST THING this state and this country need to get back to is ... OF THE PEOPLE ... BY THE PEOPLE ... FOR THE PEOPLE. The last of those is clearly missing from the current iteration of the Republican Party ... which has clearly been representing only monied special interests rather than "The People" in general!

Right Ted because the hate America party has no monied special interest contributing to them . Look at Andy Killum, let's go down the list: Soros,Tom Steyer, Planned Parenthood and every anti gun group under the sun. And those are the ones we know of. But hey thanks for playing.

Sadly, I'm choosing the lesser of the evils. I don't want state taxes nor will I vote for someone who follows Alinsky straegies....therefore, I'm voting Republican

I agree. How many people died in that civil war? Why did we have this war? The man who spoke those words was also the man who presided over the northern armies.

It is a simple choice this election, people or special interests...choose wisely Florida.

Ditto Andrew G. above. Florida is for all Floridians, not just one or two.

We are running strong and the FBI nonsense hasn't hurt. Besides, with the infusion of cash from the Steyer group and the Open borders folks - we are going to run heavy ads and blanket the state with mail. When we win, we are going to embarrass the legislature into taking care of those in need with a significant increase in the corporate tax rate.. It is time for Florida companies to pay their fair share. We will also be looking at all fees and seek to increase where we can so we can provide low income housing, food and at the top - health care. Florida is a wealthy state and we all must pay our fair share and take care of the least fortunate. I am committed to economic equality no matter what it takes. Thanks for your vote!!

Geez Andy Killum , that's some laundry list of radical leftist goals. Look on the bright side, if you can't make it here you can always run for office where you came from, Chicago. New Jersey's another possibility. They would love you up there.

Andrew Gillum is nothing more than a snake oil salesman. He’s a fraud, liar and admitted progressive socialist. If elected he will destroy the economic boom Florida is experiencing. Unemployment will increase, welfare needs will increase, crime will increase. Taxes will increase. If this is what you want, then please just move to New Jersey, or better yet, move to Cuba or Venezuela!!

Do you even know what socialist means? Just throwing it around casually like that makes it lose meaning. I can see plenty of reasons why Republicans would want to support someone else, but god, quit with the party talking points.

The 'mad bomber' would love you!

Anonymous , Are you really going to go there ? You know that Rep Scalise was shot by a Bernie Bro socialist. And Rand Paul suffred broken bones due to his nutcase Democrat neighbor.

Good luck with that Mr. Mayor. The last time a Democrat was elected by the people of Florida was around 28 years ago in 1990. The people of Florida elected "The He Coon Who Walks at Night" in 1990. That was Governor Lawton Chiles.

You got the votes in my family Sir. In fact, about 90% of the street I live on is voting for you. Good luck!

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