Thursday, November 15, 2018

An Angle to the Florida Election Fight That Most People Don't Seem to Notice

It's a given that when an election runs even a little close, one side will demand a recount and the other side will pull out all stops to prevent a recount. Especially in Florida.

But this year, there's an added reason why Republicans are especially desperate to hold on to the governorship, and to have two Republican Senators who won't be inclined to intercede with, say, the US Department of Justice on certain matters.

That reason is Amendment 4. It passed with 64.5% of the vote and it restores the vote to convicted felons (excluding, for some reason, those convicted of murder or felony sexual offenses).

How many new voters will this create? Toward which party will they likely lean?

The number I've heard for those who will become eligible to vote is 1.6 million.

Let's assume that half of those can actually be prevailed upon to register. That's 800,000.

I've seen varying statistics for race/ethnicity of convicts prisoners, but the conservative estimate seems to be: About half of them are African-American. That's 400,000.

And somewhere around 90% of African-Americans who vote usually vote for Democratic candidates. That's 360,000.

Other racial/ethnic groups don't break for either party to such a high degree, so those non-Africa-American inmates (35% "white," 15% "Hispanic," give or take) are probably pretty much a wash.

In 2014, Rick Scott beat Charlie Crist for governor by about 64,000 votes.

In 2016, Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton for president in Florida by 112,000 votes.

So you can see what 360,000 newly minted Democratic voters means for the future of Republicans in Florida statewide elections.

The Democratic strategy regarding voters is to register as many of them as humanly possible, and then get as many of those registered voters to the polls as humanly possible. And yes, I'm well aware that sometimes "humanly possible" means "fake it and hope we get away with it."

The Republican strategy regarding voters is to make it as difficult as possible for people who might not vote Republican to 1) register to vote and 2) actually vote.

So the Republicans' only hope of holding on to Florida next time is to keep control of the state's executive branch this time -- and spend the next four years throwing up as many roadblocks as they can think of to prevent the "former felon vote" from actually coming into existence.

And it would also be helpful to have two Senators who can be relied upon to not lobby the Voting Section of the US Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division vis a vis complaints about the GOP's voter suppression campaigns in their state.

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