USF’s Susan MacManus: Pandemic changed Florida politics forever

Retired USF political scientist Susan MacManus
Retired USF political scientist Susan MacManus

In the past four years, Republicans solidified their control in Florida, and it all started with the pandemic, says Susan MacManus, the retired University of South Florida political scientist who is one of the most quoted experts on Florida politics and voter trends in the state.

“The pandemic changed politics forever and a day in our state,” MacManus said Tuesday on WMNF Tuesday Cafe with Sean, guest-hosted by Tom Scherberger, the regular co-host for WMNF WaveMakers.

The shift began in 2020 when Democrats decided to suspend door-to-door canvassing while Republicans “never took their foot off the pedal.”

In 2020, registered Democrats slightly outnumbered registered Republicans in Florida. But now, Republicans enjoy an 850,000 edge over Democrats.

With Republicans in control of both chambers of the the Florida Legislature, the governor’s office and the Cabinet, the only bright spot for Democrats is young people, MacManus said.

Voters who register as non-party affiliated, or independent, now comprise 35 to 38 percent of all voters, and a plurality of them are younger voters, MacManus said. But they are hard to reach with traditional messaging and media, and they are increasingly turned off by both political parties. Younger voters are animated by candidates and issues, particularly climate change and diversity. “Younger voters are turning their backs on parties,” MacManus said.

Florida would be more competitive if Democrats chose statewide candidates who are more moderate and speak to the issues  that resonate with independent voters and moderate Republicans, she said.

Not only did the Republicans gain an advantage in registration by grassroots canvassing, MacManus said, a significant number of voters swtiched from Democrats to Republican or NPA.

To listen to the entire interview, click on the link below:




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