Florida’s electorate has grown more Hispanic and less partisan since the 2016 presidential election, new voter registration statistics from the Florida Division of Elections show.
The number of Florida voters who register with minor parties or with no party affiliation has increased 4.2 percent since 2016 while Democratic registrations have dipped 0.8 percent and Republican registrations have increased 1 percent.
Democrats in Florida and elsewhere have touted a “blue wave” backlash against President Donald Trump in this year’s midterm elections, but the party has seen a minor ebb in registrations in Florida.
The number of registered Democrats in the state has declined by 38,315 since 2016 while the number of Republican registrations has increased by 43,822. Meanwhile, the ranks of voters who register with other parties or no party has grown by 144,377 over the last 22 months.
Registered Democrats are now 37.2 percent of Florida voters, down from 37.9 percent in 2016. The Republican share of the Florida electorate has slipped from 35.4 percent to 35.3 percent. Those registered with neither party now make up 27.5 percent of Florida voters, compared to a 26.7 percent share in 2016.
“I thought that we would have a stronger Democratic registration than those numbers seem to reflect,” said Florida Atlantic University Political Science Prof. Kevin Wagner.
A little more than 13 million people are registered to vote in Florida’s Aug. 28 primary elections — an increase of 1.2 percent over the 12.8 million who were registered for the November 2016 election. Voters had to register by July 30 to be eligible for the primaries. Voters have until Oct. 9 to register for the Nov. 6 general election.
The number of Latino voters in the state has increased by 107,958 or 5.3 percent over the last 22 months. Hispanics are now 16.3 percent of Florida voters, compared to 15.7 percent in 2016.
Registrations by non-Hispanic whites are up 1.3 percent while black registrations have increased 0.1 percent.
Most of the newly registered Latinos appear to be registering outside the major parties. Democrats have added 30,675 Hispanic voters since 2016 and Republicans have added 8,991. The number of Hispanic voters with no party affiliation has increased by 89,941 since 2016.
In Florida, 38.9 percent of Hispanics are now registered with the Democratic Party, 24.5 percent with the GOP and 36.5 percent with no party affiliation or minor parties.
Florida politics watchers have been eyeing the influx of Puerto Ricans moving to Florida after September’s Hurricane Maria and their potential impact on the 2018 elections.
“We have noticed that a good number of the people aren’t coming from Puerto Rico with a loyalty to one party or the other,” said Wadi Gaitan, a former Republican Party of Florida spokesman who now works for the Libre Initiative, an Hispanic outreach program that promotes conservative economic policies and is funded by the Koch brothers.
Florida Democratic Party spokeswoman Caroline Rowland didn’t comment directly on the registration numbers, but pointed to three special legislative elections and a special Miami-Dade Commission race in which Democrats won seats that had been held by Republicans.
“Florida Democrats have won four special elections, in red areas, because of grassroots enthusiasm and independent voters choosing Democrats,” Rowland said. “Our candidates are speaking about issues like access to health care, investing in our public schools and protecting our environment — which is why voters are choosing Democrats, and we will continue to fight for their support.”
In addition to its 4.8 million Democrats and 4.6 million Republicans, Florida now has 3.5 million voters with no party affiliation and 86,596 voters who are registered with minor parties.
In 2016, Florida had 3.1 million voters with no party affiliation and 345,784 voters registered with minor parties. The largest of those minor parties, the Independent Party of Florida, had 262,599 voters in 2016 but disbanded in 2017. Those voters who did not select a new party were automatically assigned no party affiliation, Florida Department of State spokeswoman Sarah Revell said.
Republicans 4,550,311 4,594,133 (+1%)
Democrats 4,877,749 4,839,434 (-0.8%)
no party/other 3,435,713 3,580,090 (+4.2%)
TOTAL 12,863,773 13,013,657 (+1.2%)
source: Florida Division of Elections book-closing reports for 2016 general election and 2018 primaries.