I suspect that few in the national press have yet grasped the scale of what happened in Florida last night. This midterm was a disaster for the Florida Democratic party on every conceivable level — a disaster with which Democrats here will be contending for years. In addition to sending Rick Scott to the Senate and Ron DeSantis to the governor’s mansion, to electing the Republican in every other statewide race, and to ensuring that Republicans continue to control both chambers of the legislature, Floridians voted “Yes” on Amendment 5, which inserts into the state constitution a requirement that any increase in taxes or fees must be (a) presented in a standalone bill, and (b) approved by two-thirds of the legislature. Given that the state has no income tax — and, indeed, that it has the lowest overall tax burden of any of the heavily populated states — the combination of these results all but ensures that Florida will remain a low-tax, low-spending place for the foreseeable future.
At the beginning of the night, Florida Democrats conceded grimly that if they lost this one they might as well pack up and go home. That sentiment was understandable. Going into the race, Senator Nelson remained the only statewide-elected Democrat — a position he’d been in since 2005. Now that he is gone, there are none. And the thing is, that’s not especially strange. At the presidential level, Florida remains a swing state. At the state level, it does not. Not really. By the end of Ron DeSantis’s first term, the GOP will have controlled the governor’s mansion for 24 straight years.
To add insult to injury, DeSantis’s election guarantees radical change within the one institution in the state that had remained left-leaning: the state supreme court. At present, the court has a 4-3 “progressive” majority. On DeSantis’s first day in office, he will get to replace three of those four, thereby turning that into a 6-1 “conservative” majority.
As our 0-for-3 former president once said, elections have consequences. The consequences in Florida are dramatic.