Orange County is definitely becoming less red.
The Florida Democratic Party is touting the latest voter registration numbers from the Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles‘ office showing that Republicans now are out-numbered by voters who either belong to third parties or who declare no party affiliation.
Democrats continue to be the dominant bloc in Orange County, though they, too, actually lost a little market share to “no party affiliation.”
The latest numbers, as of late last week showed the county has 298,050 Democrats, making up about 42.3 percent of the electorate. Though there are a couple thousand additional Democrats now, the party’s portion of the county’s electorate has slipped from 42.8 percent in the November, 2012 general election.
Orange County now has 203,584 Republicans, and they make up 28.866 percent of the county’s electorate. That’s an actual reduction of 247 voters since the November 2012 election. In 2012 the Republicans made up 29.5 percent of the county.
The big gains are with the other/no party affiliation voters. There now are 203,632 voters who fall into that camp, 48 more than there are Republicans. Other/NPA voters now represent 28.873 percent of all Orange County voters, up from 27.6 percent in the 2012 election.
Both major parties agree: The changes are all about Hispanic voters. What they don’t agree on is why.
Here’s what Carlos Smith, chairman of the Orange County Democrats said in an e-mail response to Political Pulse:
“It’s no surprise that in Orange County, where Latino voters make up 1/4 of the electorate thatRick Scott‘s Republican Party has become about as popular as a root canal. Rick Scott and his Republican allies have barely lifted a finger to improve the lives of Central Florida’s Latino population and you see that is having an impact on the GOP’s dismal registration numbers. Minority voters will soon represent 1/2 of Orange County’s electorate, which is why Republicans like Fred Brummer are scrambling to change the rules in county government to keep the GOP and their corporate donors in control. Until the Republican party begins supporting policies popular with minority voters they will continue to bleed voter registration in Florida’s crucial I-4 corridor, which will decide this year’s Governor’s race and the Presidency in 2016.”
And here’s the response Political Pulse got from Lew Oliver, chairman of the Orange County Republican Executive Committee:
“Voter registration stats are nearly perfect reflections of demographics or national trends, rather than local efforts. Actually we’re a little AHEAD of what our numbers should be given the demographics. There aren’t any places in America with the same demographics with better numbers except possibly Miami Dade, although that is solely because of historic Cuban registration, which is now no longer trending the same way as in the past, so the difference is now modest.
“The great grand irony of it all is that the massive predominantly Puerto Rican influx that has accounted for nearly all of this is the result of Puerto Ricans almost without exception fleeing Puerto Rico and other states whose economic opportunities have diminished. What do all those places have in common? Puerto Rico, Chicago, Illinois, New York? Democrat governments. You would think at least of few of them would figure that out. If you like a semi-socialist government where the highest aspiration is a nice secure government job, Puerto Rico is heaven on earth, PLUS nice weather! Sadly, it is also a terrible basket case. As is Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Illinois, New York and just about every other Democrat-controlled state and city in the country.”
By the way, this trend — Republicans falling into “third place” — already has happened in four other counties, Osceola, Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach, according to the Dems.