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Not way back, such a shift would have appeared out of the query in a state infamous for its tight election margins and nail-biting recounts. Mr. DeSantis received the governorship by about 32,000 votes in 2018, hardly a mandate. His aloof character didn’t precisely sparkle.
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However starting in 2020, a politically attuned Mr. DeSantis seized on discontent with coronavirus pandemic insurance policies, betting that financial prosperity and particular person liberties would matter extra to voters in the long term than defending public well being. Greater than 73,000 Floridians have died of Covid-19, but public opinion polls have proven that Mr. DeSantis and lots of of his insurance policies stay fairly standard.
Dad and mom, particularly, who cheered the governor’s opposition to Covid-19 restrictions in colleges, have remained lively on problems with curriculum and tradition.
“I believe the governor is extra standard than Disney — I believe the governor is extra standard than the previous president,” mentioned Anthony Pedicini, a Republican strategist in Tampa. “In case you’re operating for workplace as a Republican in Florida and also you aren’t toeing the DeSantis mantra, you’ll not win.”
The query now for Mr. DeSantis — and nearly everybody else in Florida — is whether or not the rightward lurch will cease, both by court docket intervention, company backlash or, come November, electoral rebuke. However given Florida’s traits lately, the extra possible consequence may very well be a sustained marketing campaign towards a brand new, extra inflexible conservative orthodoxy, one which voters might very nicely ratify this fall.
The state’s swift and sudden rightward tilt has occurred as Florida has swelled with new residents. Between July 2020 and July 2021, about 260,000 extra folks arrived than left, a internet migration larger than every other state. The pattern started earlier than the pandemic however appeared to speed up as distant employees sought heat climate, low taxes and few public well being restrictions.
Culturally, Floridians have been much less conservative than their leaders. They’ve voted by giant margins to legalize medical marijuana, prohibit gerrymandering and restore felons’ voting rights. (Final yr, Republican lawmakers handed limits on the usage of such citizen-led poll initiatives.) So the current rash of laws has been met with trepidation within the state’s huge cities, that are nearly all run by Democrats.
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