GOP Turnout Effort Proved Solid in November

Where The Votes Are

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING TUESDAY DEC 4, 2018

Republican voters in Sarasota and Manatee performed better in the general election than Democratic ones in every state House District, even ones where Democratic candidates ultimately won the day.

SRQ’s most recent Where The Votes Are analysis of results from the November 6 general election show the dominant political party in the region remained poised even amid talk of a blue wave. That allowed the party to hold onto all of the local offices already in Republican control, and helped contribute to narrow victories at the state level for U.S. Senate and Governor.

“It’s clear that the energy generated by [President] Trump in 2016 hasn’t just stuck around, but it has gotten stronger at the local level,” says Christian Ziegler, Republican state committeeman for Sarasota and a newly elected county commissioner. “That, coupled with great candidates like Ron DeSantis and many of our House candidates, helped turn the “Blue Wave” to the “Blue Hype” in 2018, and I suspect the same will happen in 2020.

That’s not to say Democrats had nothing to celebrate in November. State Rep. Margaret Good, D-Sarasota, won her first full term in the Florida Legislature, but by just 1.4 percent of the vote. Why so close? In part because Democrats turned out just over 29,000 voters in Florida House District 72 and Republicans turned out more than 37,000. Good still won a share of independent and crossover Republican voters to hold the seat.

In neighboring Florida House District 71, Republican state Rep. Will Robinson, R-Bradenton, won an open seat by more than 11 percent of the vote. There, Republicans turned out more than 34,000 votes and Democrats less than 25,000.

Faith Babis, who lost a state Senate race to Joe Gruters, says she felt happy at high Democratic turnout for a mid-term, but that Republican turnout just proved too strong. “The Dems would have had to have near 100-percent turnout to overcome that.” she says. But Babis also sees a bright side. “In my race, I received a little over 92,000 votes in Sarasota County," she says. "There are only 98,406 registered Democrats in Sarasota County.”

Looking purely at turnout, Republicans also saw a higher percentage of votes in deep blue Florida House District 70, where state Rep. Newt Newton, D-St. Petersburg, faced no Republican opposition. There, more than 61 percent of Republicans came out compared to about 57 percent of Democrats. 

Gruters, outgoing Republican Party of Sarasota chairman, ultimately says Rick Scott’s successful Senate campaign helped keep numbers high here. “Rick Scott’s machine got us across the line,” he says.

All of these results will be discussed this morning at SRQ’s Where The Votes Are presentation. Doors open at SRQ’s Downtown Sarasota offices at 7:30am, with the presentation scheduled for 8am. A $5 cover includes coffee and donuts, and Political Editor Jacob Ogles will present a precinct-by-precinct analysis of election results and look at voter demographics in the region.

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