‘This one big thing’
The next question is how those new voters will vote.
The 2018 election only solidified Florida’s reputation for razor-thin margins, with races for U.S. Senate, governor and agriculture commissioner determined by less than a percentage point combined.
In the time after Election Day, as Florida Democrats’ dreams of a blue wave of new Puerto Rican voters failed to appear, many turned to a new hope in the voters enfranchised by Amendment 4.
But Democratic strategist Steve Schale said it’s unlikely the new voters will automatically start to swing elections in the Democrats’ favor.
“People who live in Florida — just as we saw after [Hurricane] Maria — think, ‘This one big thing is going to dramatically reshape the state,’” he said. “I don’t believe that.”
Schale said the Democrats’ registration margin over Republicans in Florida has dipped from about 670,000 in 2008 to 260,000 in 2018.
“My party has to show up and register voters,” Schale said. “Could that potential pool of a million and a half people have an impact on politics? Absolutely. But none of this matters if parties can’t reach out.”