Much was made in the 2016 election about the growth of the Hispanic voter. Minority voters are not evenly distributed in this country, and in metropolitan South Florida, that is readily apparent. Where we are based, Broward County, just north of Miami, became majority minority years ago, but the electorate is just catching up.
Primary Performance by Minorities Lags
White voters comprise 45% of the Broward County Electorate by registration. In November 2016, a Presidential election, turnout was up across the board, and White Voters were only 47.5% of the vote, slightly above their percentage of the electorate. However, in the August 2016 Primary, where most of the real decisions are made, White voters were 55% of the electorate. In the lower turnout primary (17% vs 72% in the general), the electorate is whiter and generally older.
This causes power to shift subtly, as county wide partisan races are nearly determined entirely in primaries, since Broward County generally votes for Democrats by a 2:1 margin over their Republican opponents. Judicial races, which are non-partisan, will be placed on the primary if there are two candidates instead of the general.
Demographic Trends are Clear, Pace is Delayed
Everything happening on a national scale is happening in Broward County, and it’s happening at the Primary level, just delayed 8 years. If you are campaigning in Broward Primary in 2018, you are facing an electorate with an ethic makeup that looks more similar to a 2010 general election electorate.
Hispanic Voters now turn-out in equal numbers to African Americans for the general election, about 1 point less than White Voters, but in the primary election, the turn-out rate is half that of non Hispanic Voters. This will result in a lower representation of Hispanic interests in judicial elections, since many of them will be determined before they turn to vote.
Trends within the Primary Electorate
Trends show that the white share of the electorate declining about 2.5% each election. It comes in fits and starts, but it is possible that 2018 will be majority, minority, but most likely in 2020 or 2022 we will see this shift in Broward County. This will change in 2018 if Hispanic voter turnout matches White and Black turnout, which would push the white vote under 50%, but most likely it will take a few more cycles.
Gender and Partisan Affiliation is more Constant
Party affiliate shows a slight decline in Republican voters in Broward County, but the pace could be flipped by a single election with an upturn in GOP voters.
Gender remains pretty constant at 55% Female – 45% Male.
Broward Politics Should Become More Diverse
The political establish of Broward may be slow to shift, but as the minority turnout increases each cycle in the primary season, the political leadership of Broward County should continue to shift. The Democratic Party will continue to dominate Broward County politics, but Black and Latino candidates will have a stronger reservoir of ethnically aligned voters in primary races, which should over time make our leadership more representative of the people.