Every hour on election night, at the top of the hour, the news networks “call” a bunch of races at once—namely, the ones in districts and states that are so overwhelmingly tilted to one party or the other that the existence of any results at all makes it safe to say that that party’s candidate is going to be the winner. Oh, breaking news, John McCain is projected to win South Dakota? You don’t say. Or, in this year’s terms:
Then, after that, it’s time to get to the too-close-to-call partial results in purple states. Florida was once the archetype of such a state; in fact, some years back, the U.S. had an election night that lasted one month and six days because the winning candidate’s final margin of victory in Florida, out of about 6 million votes cast, was 537.
Not so anymore:
The time stamp on that bad boy is 8:01 p.m. EST, a minute after the last polls closed in the state. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio was also an instantly declared winner; both he and DeSantis are winning their races by margins in the upper double digits with most precincts reporting.
What happened? One, Florida’s population continues to get older because of retirees, and the United States’ oldest voters are its most conservative as a group. Two, there’s been a big swing among Latino voters in the state toward the Republican Party. This could have something to do with Bernie Sanders–influenced Democrats’ adoption of the descriptor socialist, an alarming term to immigrants (and the descendants of immigrants) who left communist dictatorships in Central and South America. It could also have something to do with the broader national realignment of culturally conservative voters toward the Republican Party.
Or—and this is admittedly a slightly speculative theory—it could be because the sheer Republican energy emitted by the number of speedboats, gated communities, and get-rich-quick business ideas in circulation in the state has, over the course of decades, permeated the molecules of its atmosphere to the extent that anyone who spends more than three hours breathing oxygen inside its borders becomes disproportionately likely to support the elimination of the capital gains tax, the legalization of machine gun sales at gas stations, and the adoption of a “wearing sunglasses”–oriented foreign policy.
It could be that! In any case, in a Democratic stronghold in the state, they did just elect the first Gen Z congressperson.