Five big voter registration facts to know
By Jim Saunders
News Service of Florida
Slightly more than 14.5 million voters are registered to cast ballots in the Nov. 8 election, according to a newly posted “book closing” report on the state Division of Elections website. Here are five takeaways from the numbers:
THE BIG PICTURE:
Florida has 14,503,978 registered voters for the general election. That is up more than 9 percent from the 13,278,070 registered voters during the 2018 midterm election. The state this year has 5,277,394 registered Republicans, 4,971,444 registered Democrats and 3,992,985 unaffiliated voters, with the rest of the voters scattered among third parties. The Coalition With A Purpose Party has the fewest registered voters, with 69.
The Republican Party of Florida last year erased the Florida Democratic Party’s historical edge in voter registration and far outdistanced Democrats this year. In 2018, Democrats held a 263,269-voter advantage. This year, they trail Republicans by 305,950 voters. To put an even-finer point on it, Republicans gained a net of 595,796 registered voters during the past four years, while Democrats gained 26,577. The number of unaffiliated voters, meanwhile, increased by a net of 443,891 since the 2018 midterms.
DOMINATING THE MAP:
While Democrats traditionally held a voter-registration advantage, Republicans have dominated statewide politics since the late 1990s. The new registration numbers better reflect those election results. The GOP leads in registration in 53 of the 67 counties — and held majorities in 26 counties. Granted, many of those majorities are in lightly populated rural counties. But others are in places such as St. Johns and Sumter counties that have seen explosive population growth during the past few decades.
COUNTING ON STRONGHOLDS:
While Republicans dominate in rural, suburban and mid-sized counties, Democrats have maintained advantages in urban areas. The 14 counties with Democratic registration edges include Broward, Duval, Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Orange and Palm Beach counties. One exception is Pinellas County, where registered Republicans outnumber Democrats by fewer than 10,000 voters. Democrats hold registration majorities in two counties — Leon County and neighboring Gadsden County.
Congressional and legislative candidates in November are running in districts that the Republican-controlled Legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis approved this spring. The registration numbers reinforce that the once-a-decade reapportionment process will benefit the GOP. For example, registered Republicans outnumber Democrats in 20 of the 28 congressional districts. Two of the districts with more Democrats are in the Orlando area, one is in the Tampa area, and five are in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.