© 2023 All Rights reserved WUSF
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

For Every New Registered Democrat In Florida This Year, Republicans Have Added Two

Former Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum has played a vocal role in registering voters in Florida through 2019.
Wilfredo Lee
Associated Press
Former Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum has played a vocal role in registering voters in Florida through 2019.

Despite much-publicized efforts by the Florida Democratic Party and its allies, state data shows Republicans in the swing state are far outpacing Democrats when it comes to the raw number of registered voters.

Between January and September 2019 -- the latest month for which data is available -- Republicans registered a net 23,084 new voters in the state, compared to 10,731 Democrats, according to the Florida Division of Elections.

That’s more than a two-to-one net advantage for Republicans.

The numbers take into account voters who have been removed from the voter rolls for any reason, while also factoring in new registrations.

President Trump’s 2020 campaign pointed to the numbers as a crucial sign that Republicans are looking towards having an advantage in the must-win swing state. 

"While Democrats are busy coming up with fabricated voter registration numbers, impeachment conspiracy theories, and radical socialist policies that would raise taxes and kill jobs, the RNC and Trump Campaign are lapping the Democrats on every front: organizing, fundraising, volunteer training, registering voters, and more,” said Trump Victory Spokesperson Emerson George. “Trump Victory is already in every corner of Florida with a sophisticated, community-centered ground game that will deliver President Trump another victory in 2020.”

George referenced a contested claim made by Democratic voter registration group Forward Florida, led by 2018 Gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, that it had registered 100,000 new voters in the state this year. Through September, state data shows under 27,000 new voters have registered in 2019 through third-party organizations like Forward Florida. Gillum told Politico that it likened the discrepancy to a difference between how the group counts new voters, and how the state counts new voters. Forward Florida considers anyone who filled out a voter registration form as a “new” voter, even if they were just updating their voting address.

Joshua Karp, a spokesperson for Forward Florida, dismissed concerns on Democratic voter registration numbers, and pointed to what he said is a strategic build-up of efforts before 2020.

“There’s two numbers that really matter right now. The first one is -- we still have ten months before the voter registration deadline for 2020,” said Karp. “The other number is the current gap between Democrats and Republicans that are registered in the state.”

Democrats have over 200,000 more registered voters than Republicans in Florida, and has long held that advantage. But in election cycle after election cycle, the Republican Party has been better turning out its voters to the polls, despite the slight numerical disadvantage. Over the last two decades, it has translated to a near Republican monopoly on Florida politics. 

Karp said a major factor in the 2019 numbers is the fact that the state has removed over 370,000 registered voters from the rolls this year, even as over 450,000 new people registered to vote. “Those voters skew Democrat,” he said, citing an internal analysis. The removals account for one reason why the overall number of registered voters is largely flat, said Karp. 

Voters can be removed from the statewide rolls if they request to be removed, if they move out of state, are in prison, or if they don’t vote for two presidential election cycles in a row.

The Florida Democratic Party expects that its numbers will improve when data for October, November and December are published by the Florida Division of Elections.

Doing better than both the Republican and Democratic parties was the net amount of new voters that are not affiliated with any political party. State data shows that more than 50,065 net new voters registered as independents in 2019 -- more than both the Democratic and Republican parties combined.

Winning Florida is crucial to any presidential candidate hoping to win in 2020. The largest Democratic super PAC, Priorities USA, has prioritized spending money in the state in the lead-up to the election.

For its part, a senior Trump campaign advisor said Florida is so important to President Trump’s reelection strategy that it considers the state along the lines of the South, or the Northeast. Whereas a broad, multi-state region might have its own dedicated reelection staff, Florida is the only state that is in its own category.

“Florida is its own region for us,” said the senior advisor. “There’s no question that we need to win there.”

Copyright 2020 WLRN 91.3 FM. To see more, visit WLRN 91.3 FM.

Daniel Rivero is a reporter and producer for WLRN, covering Latino and criminal justice issues. Before joining the team, he was an investigative reporter and producer on the television series "The Naked Truth," and a digital reporter for Fusion.