Is Florida wave-proof? Or, at least, wave-indifferent? It’s an interesting question, certainly. We’ve just seen an election in which the Democratic party did really well nationally, and yet Florida, which is supposed to be a “swing state,” seems not to have noticed. This year Floridians elected a Republican governor once again, and, more impressively, they replaced a long-serving Democratic senator with his Republican challenger. Meanwhile, the state legislature remains safely in Republican hands, by 73 to 47 in the House and by 23 to 16 in the Senate, as does every single statewide office except for one. It’s odd.
But it’s not new. Despite the massive Republican wave in 1994 — a wave during which Republican Connie Mack III won every single Florida county in his Senate reelection campaign — the Republican candidate for governor managed somehow to lose. But then, in 1998, which was a good year for the Democrats, including in Florida, the same Republican candidate cruised to an eleven-point victory. In 2006, the last “blue wave” year before this one, the Republican candidate won by seven points. By contrast, in 2010 and 2014, which were both big Republican years, the Republican won by 1.2 percent and 1 percent respectively.
Thing have been slightly more “normal” in the Senate. But not entirely normal. Bill Nelson won his election by five points in 2000, despite George W. Bush carrying the state. Nelson then prevailed during two good Democratic years in 2006 and 2012 — as one would expect — but eventually lost his seat during yet another good Democratic year.
It’s extremely hard to predict what’s going to happen here. On to 2020 . . .