- Florida’s statewide Republican candidates, Ron DeSantis and Marco Rubio, have outperformed GOP candidates nationwide among college-educated voters, Latinos and young people.
- DeSantis’ and Rubio’s performances among these groups are a significant improvement for the GOP, which has historically struggled for their support.
- The results are fueling support for DeSantis to seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.
Florida’s statewide Republican candidates – Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Marco Rubio – outperformed other Republican candidates across the country among key demographics previously considered tough for the GOP, according to the results of an exit poll.
DeSantis, who was reelected to a second term as governor, defeated Democratic challenger Charlie Crist among college-educated voters by 13 points, with 56% of their votes, and among voters with advanced degrees by 11 points, garnering 55% of their votes, according to the National Election Pool, a standard exit poll conducted by Edison Research and reported by NBC News. By contrast, Republicans nationally trailed Democrats among these groups by 6 points and 16 points, respectively.
College-educated voters, which in 2020 made up 41% of the national electorate, have long been a strong Democratic constituency, with The New York Times calling them a “firmly Democratic bloc” in 2022. In the 2020 presidential election, Joe Biden won the demographic’s support with 60% of their votes, continuing a trend since the 2008 election of Democrats winning the group.
Ron DeSantis won postgrads by 7 points pic.twitter.com/VGgULVd1Rk
— Ye (@YePolitics_) November 9, 2022
DeSantis also outperformed Republicans among Latino voters, winning them by an 18-point margin, compared to the GOP losing them nationally by 21 points, as well as non-white voters more broadly, earning 46% of their votes compared to 30% for the GOP nationally. Among young voters aged 18 to 29, another Democratic-heavy constituency, DeSantis outperformed Republicans by 8 points, winning 43% of them in Florida compared to 35% for the GOP across the United States.
These results were mirrored by Rubio, who was reelected to a third six-year term, winning college-educated voters by 11 points and advanced degree voters by 3 points, as well as Latinos by 15 points. He also outperformed Republicans among young voters by 5 points, though he was outperformed by DeSantis in this group as well as all other categories. (RELATED: DeSantis, Rubio Pummel Dem Challengers In Dominant Wins)
DeSantis and Rubio likely benefited from a heavy Republican swing in Miami-Dade County, which encompasses the city of Miami, and is one of Florida’s largest population centers. The majority-Latino county voted by a margin of 11.3 points for DeSantis and 10 points for Rubio, despite voting for Joe Biden over Donald Trump in the 2020 election by a margin of 7.3 points.
Both candidates also outperformed Trump in Palm Beach County, where Trump lives at his Mar-a-Lago estate and which has historically been Democratic, voting for Biden in 2020 by 12.8 points. Rubio came within 0.3 points of defeating his challenger, Democratic Rep. Val Demings, in the county, while DeSantis won it outright by a 2.9-point margin.
The strong performance by DeSantis and Rubio in Florida comes after Republican candidates in other races failed to meet expectations of a “red wave,” which had been widely forecast by Republicans and even some Democratic commentators. At the time of publication, the GOP had lost a Senate seat in Pennsylvania being vacated by Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, which was won by Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, and had failed to unseat other Senate Democrats in New Hampshire and Washington State, with other battleground races not reporting results.
The GOP also lost key battleground House races in Rhode Island, Texas, New York and Pennsylvania, as identified by Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball, an elections monitor, where Democratic incumbents were reelected. Some Republicans have blamed their losses on Trump’s role in the primaries, with losing GOP nominees having received his endorsement over more moderate Republicans.
Their losses, as well as DeSantis’ wins, have fueled speculation that DeSantis may seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, challenging Trump, who is widely expected to announce his candidacy to do so. As of publication, betting markets had DeSantis listed with better odds than Trump, while Democratic elections strategist Mark Penn, a former advisor to President Bill Clinton, told Fox News that the numbers show that DeSantis would be “impossible to beat in 2024.”
The offices of DeSantis, Rubio, and Trump did not respond to a request for comment.
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