It was fun, as the early election results came in, to watch national and many local news outlets tie themselves in knots trying to characterize what was going on in Florida. Having willingly put on intellectual blinders that reduced every race, every vote to binary over-simplicity — blue wave or red undertow? Pro-Trump or anti-Trump? — they missed a whole raft of subtleties and interesting outcomes that didn’t fit neatly into the paradigm.
And so, a day or so after the vote, one observer was ready to declare — even before the recount saga began — that the election results meant Florida was clearly a Republican stronghold where voters had failed to stand up to Trump’s “incivility and cynicism.” Another observer saw a “continued rightward trend” in the wins by Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis.
Left and right are becoming increasingly less useful in talking about elections, particularly in Florida. It’s a bit of a stretch to see the outcomes of two statewide races — for governor and U.S. senator — as any kind of trend when, in a state of 21 million people, they were decided by a number of votes less than the population of Clermont. Particularly since in a third statewide contest, that for agriculture commissioner, a Democrat who was a lobbyist for medical marijuana defeated — by another narrow margin — a rock-ribbed Republican legislator who trumpeted his backing by the NRA. A moderate Republican won a fourth statewide race, that for chief financial officer.
The truth is that Florida went every which way during the election — there was something for almost everyone to like.
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