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Will Florida Ever Be a Battleground Again?

Are demographics electoral destiny? If so, the Republicans won't be gloating for too long.
Photograph by Getty Images

Florida has been the swingiest of swing states for multiple cycles—notably in 2000, when it was the ultimate electoral battleground. Democrats won the state in 2012 by a razor-thin 0.9 percentage point margin. And in this year’s gubernatorial race, incumbent Republican Rick Scott narrowly edged out former Democratic governor Charlie Crist.

But while electorally the state has bounced back and forth, the demographic line is much straighter and less ambiguous—which could mean that Florida will swing less and less in national elections. The state is inexorably becoming more diverse, with growing populations of blacks, Hispanics and Asians, and fewer and fewer of the aging whites who’ve buoyed Republican prospects in years past.  If each racial and ethnic group votes the same way and turns out at the same rate as they did in 2012, according to a simulation by Patrick Oakford of the Center for American Progress, the Democrats’ margin would expand to 3.4 percent. "It doesn't mean Republicans will never win Florida,'' said Democratic political consultant Joe Trippi. "But it means it will become more and more of an uphill fight.''