Breaking up is hard to do. But in the spring of 2024, when Democratic nominee Kamala Harris and her running mate Julian Castro (screenshot this) unroll their maps and start to make strategic decisions about where to invest not just time and money but also dreams and emotions they need to finally end the most abusive relationship in political history: Democrats and Florida
Based on the results of the last three election cycles, the temptation of Florida’s flirtations and promises of sealing the deal need to be turned down for good. With Joe Biden achieving the seemingly impossible, winning the Presidency without carrying Florida — the crown jewel of swing states — Democrats can finally govern and campaign without having to prioritize the whims of this crazy, high maintenance ex.
Free from Florida, Dems are now co-dependent no more and should be empowered to live a happier life without their abusive ex to worry about.
That means having to say, “Ok, this idea is really popular nationally but how is it going to play in Florida?” has held them back for too long.
Florida has demonstrated that whether Democrats nominate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Joe Manchin, they will be branded as a Socialist and it will actually work. That’s why it’s time for Democrats to ditch Florida and focus on retaining 270 Electoral Votes without them. The implications for this are wide, but mostly result in Florida’s political priorities getting treated like so much shit packed up and left on the front porch with the locks changed. Florida, Democrats just aren’t that into you anymore.
HERE’S WHAT DUMPING FLORIDA MEANS FOR THE BIDEN AGENDA
First and foremost, there might finally be a real conversation and action towards ending the economic embargo of Cuba. Obama moved towards this by drastically easing restrictions to the island for the first time in 50 years, opening commercial travel and tourism that didn’t require lying on a customs form about “cultural exchanges” and “academic research.” Trump quickly reversed this decision despite open commerce with the island being very popular because it is opposed by one demographic: Cubans in Florida.
Make no mistake, if this group had settled in Alabama instead of Florida, the US would have ended the embargo decades ago. Imagine not being able to implement a policy that would simultaneously appease lefties who want to get Che shirts right from the source and rich guys who yearn for the right to buy $100 Cohibas legally. But since Cuban dissidents represent a sizeable voting block in a state that neither party could afford to abandon due to the historically slim margins of victory, the entire country had to capitulate to their influence. No more though, Florida’s Cubans overplayed their “That’s Socialist!” hand to the point where it isn’t even worth trying.
Cuba is such a third rail issue that potential Biden running mate (and Thetan Level 8) Rep. Karen Bass had her chances sink after it was discovered that she said something moderately reverential about Fidel Castro after he died. Consider that we have a fully peaceful and normal diplomatic relationship with Vietnam, a country that we actually lost a war against over communism, while we still maintain an antagonistic posture with Cuba. Maybe this wouldn’t be the case if the refugees from that war settled in an actual swing state instead of California and Minnesota.
Florida Republicans may have also lost their status as the political epicenter of the south to their stateline neighbors in Georgia, where the electorate is decidedly different.
Biden’s surprise victory there (to some) should be an electoral map game changer for Democrats. Four years from now, Democrats would be smarter to invest in holding Georgia than flipping Florida based on how one state is reflecting the country in becoming younger and more diverse while the other is hardening as a funny car derby that happens to have 29 electoral votes..
The implications of this are that Democrats will gain much more electorally by investing in the political goals of young progressives, upwardly mobile African-Americans, newly woke suburban women and the urban working class than maintaining more moderate goals that do not repel moderate seniors and right leaning Cubans in Florida.
Dumping Florida for Georgia could mean a no-holds barred focus on student debt relief, climate change, voting rights, police reform, expanding Medicare, raising the income cap on Social Security and other policies that would be considered too far left leaning for swing voters in Florida. Georgia also has way cooler friends than Florida, with Stacey Abrams, Keisha Lance Bottoms, John Ossoff, Raphael Warnock and Lucy McBath all gaining some level of national visibility. This group of younger and more engaging figures represents a deeper bench than any other blue state and will demand an increased focus and investment from the Democratic Party. Florida has Debbie Wasserman Shultz and Donna Shalala. If Democrats are smart, four years from now HBCU graduates and members of the Divine Nine could replace Miami Cubans as the swing state powerhouse constituency.
Not only is Florida high maintenance, it also has expensive taste. Abandoning Florida as a key electoral target also frees up the embarrassing amount of campaign cash that Democrats have wasted there that can be used to hold or expand their map in 2024.
Switching this strategy up will put Republicans against the wall elsewhere if they are slower to re-prioritize and reallocate funds. More money and time will be what it takes to hold not just Georgia, but also Arizona and possibly flip North Carolina and Texas. This would obviously have a negative impact on Florida Democrats seeking office down ballot and might cause further losses in Florida’s House delegation, as well as ceding the Governor’s mansion and the US Senate seat that are up in 2022. It’s possible that dynamic Democratic candidates emerge that could beat Ron DeSantis or Marco Rubio and change this momentum, but until there are major investments made in the state, Florida should be off the table. Florida needs to find its Stacey Abrams and build up its party infrastructure by activating new voters rather than trying to grab moderates that have demonstrated themselves to be out of reach.
Teasing Democrats is a game for Florida, but everyone knows it’s real boo is Donald Trump. He has a love affair with Florida because it’s the only state that actually reflects his personal version of reality. In Florida:
- The size of boat parades really do mean more than poll results;
- Covid is overblown and herd immunity is a viable strategy
- Large groups of Latino voters actually do like him
- Old guys with fake tans are normal
If the Democrats couldn’t win this year with COVID impacting seniors so lopsidedly, or in 2018 when youth energy was maxed out after the Parkland shooting, there isn’t a formula to win there anytime soon without a major shift in the electoral landscape.
This may come from activating some dormant constituencies through more progressive national policies (which would have to be paired with a grassroots organizing effort). The only problem with any of this is that old habits die hard, and it will be hard for Democrats to hand Florida the L by shunning them without getting wooed back with more false promises.
Long story short, expect more than a few Dems to fall for the 3 AM text, “Hey. U up?” from their old temptress, the Sunshine State.
As for me, making up my mind in 2018 not to drop one cent on Democrats winning Florida ever again was one of the best betting decisions I’ve ever made. I didn’t let polls, demographic changes or Bloomberg money change that for 2020. However, it was hard when I had a bunch of smart people and my own hopes for a Biden blowout telling me this was the year. So while it’s doubtful that DEMS will start to treat Florida like every other busted state with a boyfriend (looking at you, Tennessee), ditching 30 years of electoral dogma and playing a little hard to get might be what puts Florida back in their win column. In 2032.