STATEWIDE — Once the dominant force in Florida's politics and governance, Democrats are now on the cusp of being outnumbered by Republicans for the first time in state history.
What You Need To Know
- Florida’s Democratic voters are declining
- A surge of new Republican voters has grown
- Party’s vice chairwoman says there is a decline of young people registering to vote
The party that boasted a 700,000-registered voter advantage on the eve of Barack Obama's historic election in 2008 has seen its lead narrow to just 23,000 voters as of the end of August of 2021, according to the Florida Division of Elections.
The development can be traced to a number of factors, including a surge in new Republicans during former President Donald Trump's time on the national stage and GOP successes in registering newly-arrived immigrants from countries like Venezuela.
But the pull-no-punches vice chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party says the biggest driver is a marked decline in young people registering to vote.
"A voter registration card and your child being able to register to vote is just as important as taking a freaking driver's license off to school," Judy Mount declared at a recent fundraiser. "You have to be involved, and if you're not a parent setting that example, by all means, call my number. I'll set it for you."
Unlike many of the party's top brass who hail from the state's Democratic power center of South Florida, Mount lives in Marianna, a small town in the Florida Panhandle where “Dixiecrats” — Democrats who vote Republican in general elections — are the norm.
The lessons she has learned there, she says, have informed her statewide organizing efforts. With the Governor's Mansion and a U.S. Senate seat on the 2022 ballot, Mount is working to convince current and prospective Democrats that Republican policies are not working for them.
"You see what is happening to you every day, whether you're watching it on the news, whether you're working in it, whether you see it in the school system. Whatever you see, you see that this is not for the people, and we are for the people," she said.
It is unclear, however, if some of the more controversial elements of Tallahassee's GOP agenda — a transgender sports ban, anti-masking policies and a looming Texas-style abortion bill — will hurt Republicans. Stoking grievances and sparking controversy largely powered Trump to the White House and remade the Republican Party in his image.
For now, Mount is focused on the numbers.
"I'm looking to register anybody that is willing to become a Democrat and be a Democrat from heart and put the work into helping others. Voter registration is how we're going to win this thing in 2022," she declared.