OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
The state of Florida has long been considered to be a battleground state for elections.
But in recent years, the state has not only gotten more conservative, but it also appears that Republicans are only growing stronger in the Sunshine State.
According to a report from The Hill, several Democrats are sounding the alarm about how “bleak” Florida is looking for them.
“It feels a little bit like we’re kind of set up to fail,” an unnamed Florida Democratic official told The Hill. “It’s not anyone person’s fault. A lot of these problems have existed for years. But for a party that has been decimated in the last few elections and especially the last one, I’m not seeing a sense of urgency yet.”
The report details how in 2008, registered Democrats outnumbered Republicans by 700,000 voters.
Today, Republicans only trail registered Democrats by around 23,000.
Steve Schale, a longtime Florida Democratic strategist, is telling Democrats that they could be in huge trouble going forward.
“Without a full-frontal, professional and accountable partisan effort to turn it around, sometime before the end of this year, there will be more Republicans registered in Florida than Democrats,” Schale wrote on his blog.
“That has NEVER happened before. And, given their voters have higher turnout scores — this isn’t a great place to start,” he added.
Republicans are also aware of their massive gains, and they do not plan to slow down.
“In a state like Florida, when you consider that you get 1,000 new residents a day, you really can’t stop. You have to keep going and you have to keep engaging,” said Helen Aguirre Ferré, Republican Party of Florida’s executive director.
Another party leader was even blunter.
“We are going to flip Florida and we’re going to make Florida red permanently,” said Florida GOP State Chair Sen. Joe Gruters.
Democrats in Florida are a minority and that minority is liable to grow once the GOP-controlled legislature begins its redistricting process later this year, leaving them further behind and making it even more difficult for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to keep her iron grip on the lower chamber.
Democrats fear that Republicans will use the state’s massive population growth as a means of eliminating some of their congressional seats.
That enormous growth, however, makes it much more likely that Republicans, who control 16 of the state legislature’s 27 seats, are going to be looking hard and fast at paring that down during redistricting in a way that will help lock in a GOP majority for years to come.
As Politico notes, “Gov. Ron DeSantis remade it by appointing several conservative-minded justices, leading to fears that this time around the GOP may have an easier time in crafting a map friendly to them,” though Democrats have said they’ll go back to court again if need be to challenge Republican maps they see as unfair.
One of the districts, Florida’s 13th Congressional, that could go away belongs to current Rep. Charlie Crist, a Republican-turned-Democrat and former governor who is challenging DeSantis next year.
“The Pinellas County district does not have enough voters in it now. Expanding it north would likely bring in more Republican voters and it could probably be done in a way that does not violate Fair Districts,” Politico reported.