The Florida Primary Democratic Turnout Buoys The Parkland Activists' Work
Florida's primary election voter turnout is up — way up. Exactly who these newly participating voters are is anyone's guess, but Parkland activists see Florida voter turnout as a sign that the young people will win, as David Hogg first said at March for Our Lives in March. Compared to the last midterm primary with a governor race, in 2014, an extra 1.3 million people voted, a 75 percent increase.
Hogg took to Twitter to hammer home this fact Tuesday night. "As others have said before, these elections will be won not by turning Democrats into Republicans or Republicans into Democrats but by turning the non-voter into a voter, tonight is proof of that," Hogg tweeted. "Turnout is up! & The young people are winning."
The area directly around Parkland in South Florida saw some of the biggest increases, Parkland activist Jaclyn Corin posted on Twitter. She noted that in Broward County turnout more than doubled, whereas in Miami-Dade county, an additional 100,000 people made it to the polls. But enthusiasm spread far and wide across the state.
And Democrats are seeing the biggest gains — so much so that the Florida Democrats tweeted that "Democratic turnout in a primary has not been this high in Florida since 1978."
Some 1,508,984 Democrats turned out to vote in the Florida governor's race, but they were beat by Republicans, who received 1,618,013 votes. That's a total of some 3.1 million votes. Republicans also had a higher percentage of their voters turn out — there are some 250,000 more registered Democrats in the state. Florida is a closed primary state, so independents are not allowed to participate.
The overall change from 2014, however, benefits the Democrats. That year, just some 1.8 million voted in the primaries for governor. Republican candidates received 949,144 while Democrats received just 837,796. Votes for Democratic candidates, therefore, have increased by 80 percent, while for Republicans it's just a 70 percent rise.
Parkland activist David Hogg told The Washington Post that the winner of Florida's Democratic nomination for governor, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, is a role model to get young voters engaged. "A lot of the young people I know were excited by him," Hogg said.
"Young people are fighting for people who are not middle-ground,” Hogg told The Post. "Democrats do not want a Republican light, and Republicans don’t want a Democrat light to be their governor."
Both parties could potentially be motivated by candidates further from the center, as Hogg suggested, but their age is also noteworthy. Gillum and his Republican counterpart, Trump-backed U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, are historically young candidates — just 39.
Gillum's campaign is counting on the youth vote. Geoff Burgan, a spokesperson for the campaign told the Tampa Bay Times in June that young people would be key to his win.
"I think the mayor's path to victory heavily involves African-American voters, young voters, people who have typically dropped off [from voting]," Burgan told the paper. "If that were to increase in '18, I would say that's a good thing for the state of Florida; that's a good thing for our campaign."
Hogg tweeted what Florida voters can do next to make sure their preferred candidates win in November. "It's important that you go tonight to their website to sign up to work on their campaign to see them elected November 6th," Hogg wrote. "We will not win using hate. We will by campaigning, registering new voters & voting."
The primary turnout is a good sign that of engaged voters who may do just that.