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 5:10 PM
Updated: Aug 29, 2018 5:10 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.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 331863

Reported Deaths: 7494
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22855279
Hinds22625437
Harrison19462326
Rankin14765286
Jackson14233251
Madison10658227
Lee10398178
Jones8713169
Forrest8164157
Lauderdale7528243
Lowndes6761150
Lamar665988
Lafayette6446124
Washington5497139
Bolivar4907134
Pearl River4889149
Oktibbeha476898
Panola4719112
Marshall4648106
Warren4612125
Pontotoc438873
Monroe4243137
Union424379
Neshoba4179180
Lincoln4088115
Hancock402788
Leflore3562125
Pike3511111
Tate348988
Alcorn343174
Sunflower342293
Adams331987
Yazoo330573
Scott330175
Simpson313690
Copiah311467
Itawamba309580
Coahoma308285
Tippah298368
Prentiss292563
Covington280183
Marion278980
Leake277975
Wayne269942
Grenada265688
George259851
Newton256064
Tishomingo235769
Winston235084
Jasper225748
Attala220373
Chickasaw215960
Stone209137
Holmes194974
Clay191554
Tallahatchie181542
Clarke181480
Calhoun177332
Smith175334
Yalobusha169240
Walthall140448
Lawrence137026
Greene134934
Amite131843
Noxubee131135
Perry130838
Montgomery130644
Carroll124531
Webster116732
Jefferson Davis112934
Tunica110827
Benton104425
Claiborne104231
Kemper100329
Humphreys99033
Franklin85923
Quitman83519
Choctaw80919
Wilkinson73232
Jefferson69028
Sharkey51518
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 565510

Reported Deaths: 11468
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson828061584
Mobile44938853
Madison36534532
Tuscaloosa26589465
Shelby26409255
Montgomery25598623
Baldwin23319324
Lee16691179
Calhoun15030332
Morgan14877288
Etowah14563368
Marshall12723235
Houston11302292
Elmore10576217
St. Clair10449251
Limestone10420158
Cullman10198204
Lauderdale9883253
DeKalb9226191
Talladega8705187
Walker7545286
Autauga7388113
Jackson7216117
Blount7147139
Colbert6522142
Coffee5962131
Dale5224117
Russell463942
Chilton4603117
Covington4502125
Franklin439781
Tallapoosa4343156
Escambia414782
Chambers3813124
Dallas3674163
Clarke361562
Marion3354106
Pike323179
Lawrence3176101
Winston289672
Bibb276165
Geneva267383
Marengo257367
Barbour241860
Pickens238862
Butler233571
Hale230578
Fayette223863
Henry203345
Cherokee192347
Randolph192244
Monroe190241
Washington174539
Macon167252
Crenshaw163457
Clay161859
Cleburne158445
Lamar149138
Lowndes143854
Wilcox128431
Bullock125342
Conecuh117730
Coosa115229
Perry109628
Sumter107532
Greene95935
Choctaw63125
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