So much for the 'blue wave' in Florida

Democrats in Florida are puzzled by several electoral signs that are showing the probability that a "blue wave" in the state is a mirage.  In fact, some analysts are wondering whether a "red tide" will supplant the blue wave.

It's par for the course in purple Florida, where statewide races are usually very close.


"If a blue wave is forming, it certainly hasn't crested.  Maybe there's a red tide coming in and affecting the blue wave?" said Daniel A. Smith, a University of Florida political science professor who studies the state's voter rolls and trends.

So far, there's enough data to show that some of Democrats' hoped-for advantages – concerning Hispanic voters, Democratic voter registrations, Democratic ballots cast or young voters – haven't clearly materialized heading into the Aug. 28 primary.  With close Senate and gubernatorial races, Florida is one of the most important states for both parties in the 2018 midterms.

For this election, the percentage of active registered Democrats is down by nearly 2 percentage points compared with 2016, according to Florida Division of Elections data published Sunday for the primary.  Because Florida doesn't allow last-minute voter registration, the figures are final.

Some Democrats are worried, but they won't say so publicly.  They haven't occupied the governor's mansion in 20 years, and the only statewide elected Democrat, Sen. Bill Nelson, who is seeking reelection, is slightly trailing Gov. Rick Scott in recent polls as the Republican has unloaded on him in a broad TV ad campaign.

"None of us will admit this publicly, but we're worried.  Where's the blue wave?" a Democratic consultant tied to a major Florida campaign said about Florida's 2018 election.  "The party has no money.  The Republicans do. ... But, thankfully, Republicans have Trump, and he's a disaster when the elections are close.  And this election will be close."

It should be noted that in several states, Democratic registrations are up, and pollsters are measuring a level of enthusiasm not seen in a while.  But also note that when it comes to actual voting, key Democratic constituencies aren't turning out.

That Hispanics and young people aren't casting early ballots is predictable.  In fact, the entire "blue wave" theory is dependent on the notion that minorities, young people, single women, and the educated will all turn out in droves to drive the Republicans from office.

There's only one problem with that theory: it's never happened before in off-year elections.  This time, it might be different, given the hysteria ginned up against Trump and Republicans.  When you're told Trump wants to kill you or take away your rights, fear and anger may yet drive these Democrats to the polls.

But so far, at least in Florida, it appears that Republicans have an even chance to blunt the blue wave and pull off some surprises. 

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