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Breaking Down The Broward Vote: How This Election Shaped — And Reshaped — The Democratic Stronghold County

A woman drops her ballot by mail at Broward County Supervisor Of Elections Office in Lauderhill, Fla., on Oct. 5, 2020.
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A woman drops her ballot by mail at Broward County Supervisor Of Elections Office in Lauderhill, Fla., on Oct. 5, 2020.

Newcomers unseating incumbents. Close city commission races in Dania Beach and Hallandale Beach. Broward County's political makeup has shifted slightly after the most recent election.

One of the big stories out of the election was that the counting process ran smoothly in Broward County. And really throughout Florida.

There were no remnants of the issues from the 2018 recount debacle.

There were some other changes in this election for Broward: Several long standing incumbents in city races were unseated for new challengers. Democrats still won, but it was victory by slightly smaller margins.

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WLRN's Caitie Switalski Muñoz spoke with Kari Hebert, assistant professor of political science at Broward College. Hebert said that, for her, students are a window into local political trends.

The following conversation has been edited for clarity and length.

WLRN: Broward County keeps its reputation for being this Democratic stronghold in Florida. But the Democrats' margins of victory have shrunk compared to past elections where, you know, where do you see that changing the most in Broward?

HEBERT: Broward County has quite a few nonparty affiliates that really allows for quite a bit of room in the elections, because now we're not talking so much about party. We're talking about individuals. We're talking about specific policies. And that can really change the face of the election.

With Broward, I'm seeing it in my classes with a younger generation. Most of my students are in that 18 to 27-year-old range. I really see a push back between trying to be classified as a particular party. They say that they're more open minded to the policies and the people.

It makes the job harder for us trying to figure out how the county is going to go.

What are the biggest questions about this election cycle that your students came to you with?

They were really wanting to know about the Electoral College. That always comes up, right?

What really resonated this campaign, more than any other that I've seen, is just this overwhelming emotional reaction — whether it was positive or negative — to President Trump. Particularly in Broward County, among my students, that was the perfect demographic to really hear that play out.

The social media had a huge impact on their interpretation of events. And I've even had students in class they're like "Professor, just because I'm Black doesn't mean that I am going to automatically support Biden."

We have to be careful when we classify voters by race and by ethnic status. You know that they don't all vote the same way. At the end of the day, at least for Broward County, for my students, it was really more of a referendum on Trump.

Read More: Biden's Win Shows Rural Urban Divide Has Grown Since 2016

What strategies do you think that the Democratic Party needs to consider in Florida to keep Broward voters engaged at a high level?

I find this a lot with my students. When we talk about Broward, it's a very different conversation than when we talk about the state. Just get out of Broward County and it's a very different political environment.

I think the Democratic Party is very active in Broward County, they continue to use their resources in Broward County to get out the vote. Whereas, I don't know that they are working in other parts of the state.

We're seeing this nationwide. It's the city versus rural divide. And you see, if you look at the map with these recent election results, it's almost to a fault. Every single city is blue. The further away it becomes much more red.

Caitie Muñoz, formerly Switalski, leads the WLRN Newsroom as Director of Daily News & Original Live Programming. Previously she reported on news and stories concerning quality of life in Broward County and its municipalities for WLRN News.
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