Democrats’ performance in the 2022 midterm election defied history for how the president’s party usually fares during midterm elections, as they maintained the Senate majority. However, recent projections show Republicans now have the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, and some Republicans in Texas and Florida, among other typically red states, won big.
In Florida, incumbent Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’s victory, defeating Democratic challenger Charlie Crist by over 1.5 million votes, was touted in the mainstream media as forecasting his eventual 2024 presidential bid. In Texas, incumbent Republican Gov. Greg Abbott defeated Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke by over 885 thousand votes.
Democratic data services firm, TargetEarly, found that both Florida and Texas were two of the only battleground states that had lower early voting turnout than in 2018. As early voting is often a good sign for Democrats, the deficiency of it in these states was a warning sign of what was to come. However, others have attributed the Republican wins in both states and in the House races to the deep level of voter suppression and redistricting that has taken place.
“Voters in Texas and Florida aren’t different from voters anywhere else. Texas and Florida are voter suppression states,” Dallas writer Brandon Friedman tweeted.
Dave Wasserman, a political reporter, took to Twitter to discuss redistricting and its effect on House races.
“Republicans wouldn’t be slight favorites to win House control right now if they hadn’t been able to gerrymander far more states than Dems,” Wasserman tweeted.
Desantis has become a popular figure among Republicans. in recent years. He has been known for governing with a far-right agenda passing bills like the Parental Rights in Education Act aka the “Don’t Say Gay Bill” as well as attempting to pass a “Stop WOKE” bill that was blocked by federal judges in Florida.
Since DeSantis’ win, former president Donald Trump took to his social media platform, Truth Social, to take credit for delivering DeSantis’ 2018 win. Trump said he sent in the F.B.I. to intervene in the vote count to stop the election from being stolen. DeSantis defeated Andrew Gillum by 32,000 votes.
Also in Florida, Republican incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio defeated Democratic Rep. Val Demmings by 1.2 million votes for the state Senate. Both DeSantis and Rubio were able to flip Miami-Dade County from blue to red for the first time in two decades.
People have pointed out the voter suppression in Florida in the forms of drop boxes being eliminated, new voter ID requirements and intimidation efforts, and election police.
Implemented by DeSantis and the Republican Florida legislature, 20 former felons were arrested in August for casting illegal ballots in the 2020 Presidential election. Police bodycam footage of the different arrests showed the men and women, many of whom were Black, had not realized that they violated any law.
They believed they could vote under Florida’s Amendment 4, which had restored voting rights to former felons. However, felons convicted of murder or sex crimes were barred from voting, which is what the 20 had been convicted of. Many have pointed out this was politically motivated.
Another issue was the Democrat’s lack of outreach on the ground in Florida. Florida political consultant Nikki Barnes called out the Florida Democratic Chair Manny Diaz on this.
“Democrats had a great night Tuesday all across the country because those states had plans…. Florida wasn’t a part of that group because there was no plan to win in Florida,” she said.
She also noted it was not an issue of funding for the candidates, but rather a lack of infrastructure in place by Diaz for them in the state.
“It’s not a candidate issue. It’s a state party infrastructure issue, things that we did not have like we had in 2018 and in previous years when we came close in margins,” Barnes said.
Trinity Webster-Bass, a broadcast journalism student from Jacksonville, Florida, gave her reaction to the results out of her home state.
“I honestly wasn’t surprised…. There was still a part of me that really wanted to see change, to see people in those positions that actually serve my community,” Webster-Bass said.
Bass says this is a reason to fight even stronger going forward.
“I think we should be prepared to fight and organize even harder, especially in the face of election deniers and voter suppression,” she said.
Over in Texas, Abbott was able to defeat O’Rourke by over 10 percentage points. O’rourke previously lost in his Senate bid to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018.
Texas Democrats are facing many of the same questions as Florida Democrats regarding what will need to be done to rebuild to have a chance at winning statewide, especially ahead of the 2024 Texas Senate race that Cruz will be defending once again.
Copy edited by Alana Matthew