Biden is taking a swing at winning Florida, hopeful that abortion can boost Democrats in the GOP-trending state

  • The Biden campaign sees abortion as an issue that can put Florida in play for Democrats this fall.

  • Floridians will vote on a ballot measure that could enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution.

  • But it'll be a tough road for Democrats, as registered Republicans now outnumber them in the state.

In recent decades, Florida was often seen as the quintessential presidential swing state.

Republicans dominated the Panhandle and North Florida, while Democrats usually cleaned up in Miami, with the I-4 corridor between the Orlando and Tampa areas serving as a swing region where independents often helped decide the outcome of statewide races.

However, Florida has not backed a Democratic presidential nominee since Barack Obama in 2012. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton narrowly lost the state to Donald Trump in 2016. And President Joe Biden lost the state to Trump by 3 points in 2020.

But the Biden campaign is banking that abortion could give them a chance to win Florida this fall, despite the distinct red hue that the state has taken on in recent years.

In November, Florida voters will have a chance to vote on whether or not they want to enshrine abortion access in the state constitution via a referendum. This comes as a strict six-week abortion ban, which was approved by the GOP-controlled legislature and signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis, will go into effect on Wednesday.

Since the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Republicans have struggled to counter Democratic messaging on reproductive rights, with the issue playing a major role in key 2022 Senate races and last year's elections in Kentucky and Virginia.

The Biden campaign hopes to capitalize on what is poised to be robust voter support for abortion rights in Florida. With its 30 electoral votes, a Biden victory in the state would give the president considerable breathing room as he aims to hold swing states like Arizona and Georgia that he flipped in 2020.

But Democrats face a challenging political environment in Florida.

Trump effectively made Florida his political home base after leaving the White House in 2021, and the former president has deep support among Republicans up and down the ballot in the Sunshine State. DeSantis won reelection over former Gov. Charlie Crist by nearly 20 points in 2022. For the first time since Reconstruction, no Democrats hold statewide elected office in Florida.

More consequentially, there are now nearly 900,000 more registered Republicans than registered Democrats in Florida, a warning sign for Democrats given the state's high voter turnout in presidential years. As recently as 2020, Democrats had a voter registration edge in the state.

But the Biden campaign believes abortion rights can give them the lift that they'll need in a state where even some Democrats are skeptical of the president's chances.

"This campaign's posture reflects the seriousness with which we're taking Florida," Biden campaign communications director Michael Tyler told reporters last week.

"You've seen our investments begin to pop up in the state of Florida," he continued. "We've got staff on the ground. It is one of many pathways that we have to 270 electoral votes, and we're going to take it very, very seriously."

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