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What Andrew Gillum vs Ron DeSantis in Florida will tell us about 2020

The governor's race in Florida not only says a lot about where the Democratic and Republican parties are tod...

Posted: Aug 29, 2018 6:10 PM
Updated: Aug 29, 2018 6:10 PM

The governor's race in Florida not only says a lot about where the Democratic and Republican parties are today but could also tell us where they are headed in the future.

Republican Ron DeSantis is the Donald Trump of the 2018 Florida gubernatorial campaign. He was backed by Trump in the primary, and the endorsement helped him shoot up in the polls.

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Democrat Andrew Gillum represents the ascendent wing of the Democratic Party. He's a young, black progressive in a party that is becoming more liberal, younger and more diverse. In other words, Gillum is a picture of what the Democratic presidential nominee might be like in 2020.

A win by Gillum over DeSantis would be a clear indicator that Democrats would be in a strong position in Florida headed into 2020 after Hillary Clinton lost the state to Trump in 2016.

The state hasn't elected a Democratic governor since 1994. Democrats have also struggled in presidential elections since that point. Yes, they won the state a few times. Florida, though, never voted more Democratic than the nation as a whole. That is, the state continued to have a red tint to it.

On the other hand, a DeSantis win would be a sign that the Republican and Trump brand are not as weak as perhaps some thought in the state. A DeSantis win would fit with polling that has Trump's approval rating in Florida running ahead of where it is nationally.

The intrigue in this race, though, doesn't just come because it is a Democrat versus a Republican in a key swing state.

It comes from how Gillum differs from Democrats who have run in the past. Normally, you wouldn't think that a diverse candidate who represents the left flank of the party is a strong general election candidate in a state like Florida.

If Gillum wins, he'd turn that conventional wisdom on its head.

Gillum sets a contrast with Republicans in a way that many electorally unsuccessful Democrats in Florida haven't.

Democrats have mostly tried to win Florida with more moderate candidates. They literally put up former a Republican in Charlie Crist to run for governor in 2014, for example.

Gillum clearly isn't in the more moderate camp with his calls for Medicare for all. A Gillum win would put a feather in the gap of progressives like Bernie Sanders heading into 2020 who think Democrats work best with a strong left message.

Gillum stands out in other ways versus most prior Democratic candidates for statewide office in Florida. Specifically, he's a black man who made an exclusive appeal to young voters.

That sort of sounds like Barack Obama who won the Sunshine State and the presidency twice.

Clinton, though, couldn't follow through on Obama's electoral success. While Clinton lost for any number of reasons in 2016, one big cause was the lower black turnout. Perhaps that was to be expected without Obama being on the ticket. Still, it was notable. Worrisome to Democrats since 2016 is that the low turnout of black voters has continued into the 2018 cycle.

A Gillum win with higher black turnout would suggest that Democrats can raise black turnout again in 2020 as long as they have the right candidate. It doesn't have to be a black candidate, either -- Doug Jones, a white man who served as the lead prosecutor in a case against two Ku Klux Klan members responsible for the 1963 bombing of a black church, upset Roy Moore in last year's Alabama Senate election thanks to high black turnout.

A Democratic candidate who says they can deliver black votes like Gillum would have a powerful message in a primary.

Clinton also struggled mightily among younger voters. Whether you look at the exit polls or voter files, Clinton's inability to match Obama's numbers among young voters was a pivotal cause of her defeat.

Like with African-Americans, a Gillum win on the backs of young voters could be a sign that they would vote in high numbers for the right candidate in a general election. That would be music to Sanders' ears for sure.

Of course, the election could backfire on Gillum and those have a similar message to him.

If DeSantis wins, expect those Democrats who are more centrist and traditional to point to Gillum as a warning sign of what can happen when you try to win over people in a swing state with a progressive message aimed specifically at minorities and young voters. Gillum detractors could argue that Democrats would have blown their best chance at winning the governorship in a generation.

In this way, Gillum is a big bet for progressive. If he wins, he'll be a model for them. If Gillum loses, he'll be used against progressives in 2020.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 605426

Reported Deaths: 9642
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion836221331
Lake45189680
Allen32646547
Hamilton29240315
St. Joseph27260380
Elkhart24354344
Vanderburgh19292248
Tippecanoe17905133
Johnson14974293
Porter14707168
Hendricks14295248
Madison10909220
Vigo10688179
Clark10581139
Monroe9338110
Delaware9089134
LaPorte9007162
Howard8177143
Kosciusko803182
Warrick668798
Hancock6639104
Bartholomew6443100
Floyd6377109
Wayne6106161
Grant5965115
Dubois554079
Boone549467
Morgan535595
Henry505564
Marshall502684
Cass482663
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Noble471257
Jackson421947
Shelby413881
Lawrence389179
Clinton372043
Gibson369159
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Montgomery343354
Knox334339
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Washington183722
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Owen163637
Fulton163130
Orange157234
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Rush154418
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Franklin147833
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Parke13038
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Pulaski96837
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Benton86510
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Martin73013
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Switzerland6575
Union6267
Ohio4867
Unassigned0375

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 853982

Reported Deaths: 10599
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin100550707
Cuyahoga849601082
Hamilton63509448
Montgomery42863417
Summit34586759
Lucas31151616
Butler30735231
Stark25598430
Warren19552140
Lorain18847223
Mahoning17215337
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Delaware1430578
Licking13130137
Trumbull12739313
Fairfield1269181
Greene11975136
Medina11504168
Clark10867265
Wood10289158
Allen9826126
Portage9213108
Miami911373
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Marion7437113
Tuscarawas7339181
Columbiana7286124
Pickaway721750
Wayne6987171
Muskingum693941
Erie6113127
Hancock549090
Ross546098
Scioto536364
Geauga503855
Darke467892
Ashtabula451073
Lawrence450154
Union447728
Sandusky434762
Mercer432488
Huron425441
Seneca424865
Auglaize421164
Shelby420522
Jefferson416769
Belmont412740
Washington385240
Athens37669
Putnam373575
Madison352129
Knox350222
Ashland342838
Fulton336543
Defiance328282
Crawford320573
Preble319137
Brown309121
Logan305532
Ottawa290143
Clinton287943
Williams277167
Highland273718
Jackson262445
Guernsey251325
Champaign249728
Fayette235130
Morrow23124
Perry228718
Holmes223874
Henry217349
Hardin211333
Coshocton204521
Van Wert201145
Gallia195426
Wyandot194651
Pike173917
Adams173015
Hocking171024
Carroll154216
Paulding143421
Noble120340
Meigs108024
Monroe100631
Harrison88421
Morgan82629
Vinton69513
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